For some reason, we receive a fair amount of email from folks looking for contact information for particular writers. On occasion those searching for copyright permissions inquire as well. Below you’ll find advice on locating writers, poets, their estates and copyright holders.
Finding an Author
One of the best sources for locating living authors is the Poets & Writers Directory. Previously published in book form, it’s now available exclusively on the web. You can search by name or by location.
Why not see if the author has their own website? A Google search may turn one up. If not, you can try just typing the author’s name as the web address. (For instance, edwinromond.com for poet Edwin Romond.) Try variations, such as the name with and without hyphen, and with the various endings .com, .net, and .org.
You could also try contacting one of their publishers (either in print or online) to see if they will forward a letter.
If you are fortunate enough to be able to attend a reading, workshop, or signing, you may be able to speak to the writer there.
Whichever method you use, please be aware that most writers keep very busy schedules and are unable to reply to all their mail.
Literary Estates & Copyright Permissions
If you’d like to publish a particular writer’s work you’ll need to gain permission from the copyright holder first. Generally speaking, you’ll need to contact either the publisher of the work, the writer, or estate.
The copyright holder’s name, and possibly their contact information, will likely be found on the copyright page of the book in question.
Publishers often handle permissions for work published in books; use the address on the copyright page to contact them. If the work is in a literary magazine, is out-of-print, or the publisher is no longer in business, you’ll probably need to contact the writer instead. (To locate a writer, follow the steps above.)
If the author is no longer living you’ll need to get permission from their estate. There are a few methods of finding the estate:
Try Googling the author’s name (in quotes) with the phrase “literary estate,” or “estate of” also in quotes.
If the author has their own official website, you’ll probably find the information you need there.
Or, try one of the following resources:
- CopyLaw.com – How to Locate Copyright Holders
- Poets & Writers Directory
- WATCH: Writers, Artists & Their Copyright Holders. Searchable.
- Society of Authors. Represents various literary estates.
- Authors Registry
- Copyright Clearance Center
- Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America. Literary estates.