Archive for August 17th, 2011

You an EXPERT? Leave the public domain works alone and write your own stuff.

OK this is just my opinion (as is most of what you’ll read on this blog), but I think co-opting public domain* materials to create your own books or info products is a cop-out.  It’s not illegal, but it is a lazy shortcut that shortchanges the reader, the person whom you, as a writer, want to be keeping at the forefront of your focus.

“Wow – those seem like fightin’ words, Laura!”

I suppose they do, because I am adamant about this. And here’s why:

I believe that whether we acknowledge it or not, we each have an area of expertise. It doesn’t have to be business related, but there’s probably something in your life that you do better than most people, even if it’s just taking the time to chat with Grandma and Great-Aunt Edna when they come to visit. If you’re writing a book you plan to sell, owning that expertise is crucial.

The question to ponder is: How did you develop your expertise? Perhaps you studied, read, researched, interviewed, and/or put in lots of hands-on time and effort developing this specialized knowledge. The fact is, now you have that knowledge, and that’s what people are paying you for.

By the time you get to the point where you are willing to commit to writing a book, I honestly feel that you should have enough experience, opinions, and knowledge to craft your OWN book. That’s not to say that you can’t and won’t use other experts’ knowledge as source material for your work, but in writing your book, you are publishing your thoughts, your opinions, your expert point of view.

On the other hand, reading a public domain book, rearranging a few words, and putting it forth as your own do not make you an expert. If you’re honest, you’ll admit that  this amounts to nothing more than a cheesy get-rich-quick scheme, and we all know where most of those wind up, don’t we? If making money is your only reason for writing a book, you might want to rethink that.

I encourage you: If you want to write a book, write a book. But put in the work, time, energy, effort, and money to become a REAL expert. Your readers will thank you, and it will pay off in your business.


* Here’s a great explanation of public domain and the accompanying questions of copyright.


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