Thursday, June 13, 2013

Getting to Know: James Daily, Ryan Davidson and Law and the Multiverse Part 4

Please read Part 3 of the interview before reading Part 4

Book Questions

I read in Geek Speak that Daily and Davidson “retained an agent by the end of 2010, and the auction for the book rights was held within a few months.” Because I am not familiar with the whole book and publishing process, I had to ask them about the agent and auctioning of book rights.

Let’s start from the beginning. When The New York Times article about the site was published, they were instantly contacted by publishers, producers, and agents. Daily and Davidson realized that they knew “almost nothing” about how these contracts work. This is where having an agent is helpful. According to Daily, “many publishers will not consider a book proposal unless the author is represented by an agent. Plus, a good agent will know which publishers to try to sell a given book to.” Their current agent was one of the first agents to contact the duo and yes, they have a happy relationship.

In regards to auctioning for the book rights, I was confused because were they not the copyright holders to the contents of the book? If so, what in the world are book rights and what’s the purpose of the auction? Daily explains that, yes, they are the copyright holders and the auctioning for the book rights has to deal with the right to publish. “There were several publishers interested in buying the right to publish the book, so an auction was held to determine which publisher we would sell to.” Davidson adds that “we didn’t write the book “on spec.”” This means that they did not write the book first and then see if anyone would publish it. “Rather, we wrote a book proposal, which our agent shopped around to various publishers.” Because there were several publishers, who were interested in commissioning the duo to write the proposed book, an auction was held to see which one of them was willing to pay the most. “This is how a lot of books actually get written, particularly non-fiction ones.”

Now that we know how the book came to life, why should people buy their book? What makes it special compared to any other book out there? Daily stated that “No other book explains legal principles in such a fun, interesting way.” Davidson believes that it’ll be difficult to find a “more engaging introduction to the basic legal doctrines of the American legal system. As a caller in one of our radio interviewers put it, “You’re giving civics lessons to people who would never otherwise have one.” That guy got it.”

Even though their book is for educational purposes, does the duo see it as a possible indirect promotional tool for the comic industry? Yes they do. As Daily puts it, “we hope it gives comic book readers a new appreciation for the depth of some of their favorite fictional worlds.”

© 2013 Linda Thai

Photography by Linda Thai

Stay tune for Part 5 of the Law and the Multiverse interview.

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