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Five Questions with Author Roberts Marks by Copyright Alliance

February 7, 2017

This week we would like you to meet one of our Individual Creator Members, Author Robert Marks

1.What was the inspiration behind becoming a professional writer? What do you enjoy most about the creative process?

I was inspired to pick up my pen by Dennis L. McKiernan’s book The Eye of the Hunter, and it was Harlan Ellison’s work that showed me what I should do with my pen now that I’d picked it up…but I NEVER felt like it was a choice. Writing is a calling for me – any time I have ended up working in a non-related field, it hasn’t lasted long, and it just felt wrong. As far as my favourite part of the creative process, there’s a feeling I get at the end of any large project that amounts to, “Holy crap…I did that?!” It’s a delightful combination of disbelief, surprise, and pride.

2.Can you take us through your process? How long does it take? Does everything you produce make money?

Everything I write generally goes through a minimum of three drafts, at least one of which I read aloud to make sure everything flows properly. Depending on the size of the project, this can take anywhere from a couple of days to weeks to months.
Most of what I write I do try to monetize, but, like any professional writer, I’m still left with a large backlog of unsold material. Let’s just say there’s a reason that I make most of my money by running a small publishing company and doing corporate writing.

3. Have you experienced copyright infringement and if so how has it affected you personally and financially?

The first time I found Diablo: Demonsbane on a pirate website, I felt like I had been stabbed in the back. The e-book market was so small, even at that point (which was years after release), that a few pirated copies downloaded could have a massive impact on my royalties. Although it’s impossible to really measure that impact with accuracy, ever since I’ve wondered just how much Demonsbane was impacted by pirated copies.

4. What is the best piece of advice that you would give other creators about copyright and how to protect themselves?

Educate yourself about what it is – after all, it’s the legal framework that defines how you deal with those who publish and release your work – and then try not to worry about it too much. Piracy is a huge problem, and you do have to be aware of it and be willing to contact the appropriate authorities when you discover it, but if you spend all of your time trying to police the Internet for illegitimate copies of your work, the only thing you’ll do is drive yourself crazy with paranoia.

5. What is your biggest copyright-related challenge?

Strangely, it’s something that I’ve come across more as a publisher than a writer, and that’s malware disguised as pirated e-books. More than a few times, I’ve come across links to e-books I’m publishing which have not yet been released – and as the publisher, at that point in time I know exactly where every copy of that file is – and were obvious attempts to trick people into downloading them (I remember seeing at least one or two cases where copies were being offered before the e-book in that format had even been generated). At that point, DMCA takedowns actually become an effort to protect the public.

Robert Marks
Author, Editor, Publisher, and Researcher

Are you one of our Individual Creator Members? Participate in our Five Questions series! Please email us at cawebsite@copyrightalliance.org. And if you aren’t already a member of the Alliance, you can join today – at no cost – by completing our Individual Creator Members membership form!