Containers and Copyrights

When you eat out and have left overs, you bring home the excess food in a box. When organizing a child’s room, we often use baskets to hold all their toys. When we write, we use paragraphs to hold our sentences. And sentences are the container for words.

It is useful to see words as the toys that we put into a basket. However, it is even more helpful to see how all the toys in one basket are alike or different, and how we need the diversity in each basket. For example, let’s build a sentence together:

Get it!

This is a short sentence with only a verb and a noun. More often, we have a noun followed by a verb. In this case, it is the noun and get is the verb. We could also call this subject and predicate. Subject being the noun and the verb being the predicate.

I rock!

So, in this sentence I is the noun or subject and rock is the verb or predicate. Every sentence you will ever write needs both a subject and predicate. The ONLY exception is when the subject is understood.


The understood subject is (you) and go is our predicate.

Can you see how having containers help? We cannot plant a seed or a plant without a container. Sometimes the container is a pot full of dirt and sometimes the container is the garden. The garden might contain many more seeds or plants.

In writing, we often see the container much like the garden. A book is much like the garden in that we plant multiple seeds or plants where seeds and plants are actually the sentences and paragraphs.

Containers can be big or small. Containers can be plain or decorative. Containers can also be genius or terrible. Grammar is not an optional component, but it is actually the backbone of any writing container. It is okay to get your book written down, but before you go to print, make sure you get it edited. There are two kinds of editing: Copyediting and Developmental or Content Editing.


Copyediting is the line-by-line check for grammar and punctuation (actually punctuation is part of grammar, but most people see it as something else). This should be the last thing that you do before publishing. However, it is sometimes helpful to do it more than once, if you have a lot of corrections to do. That way, you make sure that you’ve gotten them all.

Developmental or Content Editing

Developmental or Content Editing is not the same as Copyediting. While grammar may come into play during Developmental Editing, it is not the focus. Actually, Developmental or Content Editing has more to do with the flow of a manuscript.

For book-length manuscripts, flow is important and often as important as reworking it for redundancy and undeveloped plots, characters, and book structure. While you may think these are minor things, consider the reader. Consider why you are writing whatever it is you have written.

If you have not hooked your reader in the opening scene or paragraphs, you may have lost the reader. If your book really gets going on page 17, what makes you think that your reader will read that far? Most readers will read the first few paragraphs of a book, if they are not pulled into the story by the paragraph three, they put the book down and do not buy it! The same goes for non-fiction. If the reader has not found the relevancy of your book by paragraph three, your reader will not buy the book!

So let us move from conventional containers and see how words fit into containers. The short story container is short, which is a subjective word rather than giving us anything exact. However, as a magazine publisher, we might restrict your word count for a short story. So when submitting one of your containers, you’d need to see how big or small your container needs to be.

Let’s say, you’ve used a container for a short story that is 4,000 words, but the magazine’s limit on short story containers can only be 3,000 words. To submit your container, you’ll need to shave 1,000 words off of your container.

Most containers are plain, giving only words. However, many writers attach images to their containers, which dresses them up! When you approach the publisher, you will want to justify your decoration. And you must make sure you have the rights to the image. If you took the photo yourself, then you own the rights to the image. Understand that most publications assume the rights to any material submitted and accepted for publication. What this means is if you want to publish your work and your image in another publication, such as a book, you need to get permission from the magazine.

Most magazines publish in their guidelines what rights they will take. For example, in Weeping Cherry International Review (, the magazine that I publish, I don’t actually take any rights, well in theory, I don’t. I am actually taking One-Time Electronic Rights, which means that I have the right to publish your piece one time in an electronic format. I also have Archival Rights, so that your piece can be available in back issues. However, the right to grant someone else the right to publish your material rests solely with you. I also do not have the right to take the material and compile it into a book. To get clear on all your Copyrights, read this article or check with a Copyright or Literary Attorney.

When you publish a book, the publisher is asking you for ALL rights, which really does mean: Every. Single Right. This is one of the motivators for Indie Publishing. If you publish it yourself, use your own publishing company or your business name as the publisher, then you retain all your rights and can re-use the information in your book for many other things, such as courses, mini-series of Kindle Books, and many, many other things.

Containers of any size and form, such as articles, short stories, poetry, true short stories, column-type articles, book reviews and most any other type of written material has an automatic copyright as soon as you put it down on paper.

Work-for-Hire Containers are not copyrightable by the person hired to do the work. For example, if you hire me to rewrite or ghost write your book, it isn’t MY intellectual work. Even if I created it with only a hint of information from you, I still have no legal right to the material, because I agreed to do the work as a work-for-hire arrangement. With or without a written contract, once you have hired someone to do some specific work on your manuscript, they have no legal right to it. However, it is always good to have a written contract so that there are no misunderstandings. Also, if the person was unscrupulous who took on the rewriting or ghost writing of a manuscript, without a contract, it will be harder to prove that the person unlawfully has laid claim to the copyright.

Checking out your container, getting the appropriate editing, and be aware of what copyrights that you are giving away when you get published.

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