Monday, June 27, 2011

Prepare Before You Die

Panzer and I were talking today about the passing of his friend Raistlin (Eben). The last few weeks have not been good for the literary scene.

We've lost Lilian Jackson Braun, of cat mystery fame; Robert Kroetsch, the Canadian author; Newton Thornburg, author of Cutter and Bone; and Martin H. Greenberg, anthology editor at Tekno Books.

Like everyone else, I think we tend to avoid thinking about death. Perhaps that's one of the reasons we began writing: to make ourselves immortal through the written word. But as writers we have an obligations to our readers and cyber-friends to prepare for our death.

Here are five things you should do immediately:

1) Make a list of all of your passwords. If you're like me, your computer is passworded and your writing files are passworded. Then there's your blog, Twitter, Facebook,etc.

2) Now your spouse or designated friend can post your death to your blog, etc., as Raistlin's friend did. That way you won't just disappear from cyberspace. This same spouse or friend can leave your blog up for several days to allow your readers to post their comments. Then leave instructions if you want your blog removed.

2) Add to your password list, your passwords for your Amazon account, Smashwords account, Goodreads account, etc.  so your spouse or designated friend can close these accounts, too.

3) Leave instructions for how to access your submissions program/spreadsheet/agent's contact information so your manuscripts can be withdrawn from consideration until your estate is settled.

4) You should have a list of all your sold manuscripts, the rights sold, and the copyright dates. You will need this information for the executor of your literary estate (whether this is your agent, your attorney, spouse or designated friend).

5) And finally, don't forget to leave instruction about what to do with your journals, diaries and personal papers. Do you want them given to your university,  completed or just destroyed?

This list is by no means complete. Depending on your genre, you may need to add or delete things from your own list. But, do make a list and follow up by doing the things on the list to make it easier for your spouse or friend to notify your readers and friends, and to make sure your last wishes are known and followed.

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