Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Wednesday Writers Tip... Your online legacy

Not too long ago I was searching a stock photo site for submission requirements when I came across an interesting post by one of the site’s submission coordinators.
He’d lost contact with one of his photo contributors. After hunting around and making calls he finally made contact with the photographer’s widow. It turns out the photographer unexpectedly died leaving no information about his stock photo site account for his heirs, or any contact contact info regarding his heirs for the site managers. The site’s coordinator needed to ask the widow if she wanted to keep the account and continue selling her husbands photos or if she’d rather take it down. The widow, being overwhelmed with her loss, decided to take the account down.
This got me thinking. How many accounts do we, as creatives, have online that our family or friends have little idea about? How many income-generating accounts do we have that could continue to provide income for our loved ones after we’re gone?
I think this is especially pertinent for independent  
writers, publishers, photographers, artists and musicians. 
Personally, my income-generating accounts aren’t providing enough income at this time to make it worthwhile for my family to keep them going. But in the future, when I have a larger book list, someone in my family may find the income enough to make it worth keeping the account open.  
I suggest that authors, photographers and musicians (whose work is electronic and can continue selling copies) and artists with inventory, who sell their creations online, think about the future of their online accounts and social media.
If you haven’t already shared your enterprises with your loved ones, consider showing them what you have out there. You don’t need to give them all your account information or access, but just make them aware. 
You could write a will and in it designate who you want to continue or take down your accounts, who will inherit your copyright, who will tell your followers on Facebook that you are gone, who will read all the messages of sympathy and remembrance that will follow. In the will you can list the URLs, user names and passwords to be handed over to your beneficiary.
If you are fortunate to be receiving a good income from your online accounts, then you probably have a publisher, business manager or a lawyer who has already thought of this and implemented it. But for those of us just starting out, trying to build a business, these are things to consider. 
If you have any advice or an experience to add, I'd love to hear it. 

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