In a recent post, I recalled an old trope from the original Star Trek series, Dr. McCoy’s fondness for saying, “I’m a doctor, not a (fill in the blank)!” to describe my feelings upon reading Kristine Kathryn Rusch’s Business Musings article Rethinking The Writing Business (Part 1). In my post, I’m a writer… not an IP licensor, I described myself as a lowly writer, not cut out for today’s IP-centric market.
But upon reading further and into the other articles in the series, I was found myself recalling a specific moment of that series: In the episode “Mirror, Mirror,” Kirk, McCoy, Uhura and Scott are transported to a mirror universe, and have to secretly plot a way to get back home. Kirk and Scotty, planning to make clandestine programming changes to the transporter, decide Scotty needs McCoy’s help in Engineering; at which point McCoy protests, “I’m a doctor, not an engineer!”
Scotty turns to him and insists: “Now, you’re an engineer.” In point of fact, if you’ve ever watched Star Trek, you know that although McCoy complains a lot, he manages to do quite a few things beyond the duties of a doctor over the course of the series… whatever is necessary to get the job done.
And so I considered Kristine’s articles, which included the assertion that a book is, in fact, a form of licensing of a series of products, the collection of characters, elements and premises that are in the book. I came to see that my books, all 17 of them, represented licensed products of the various characters and elements therein.
The fact is: I’m already an IP licensor.
And suddenly I was looking at the new SF project I’d started to develop in a different light. I’m doing more than outlining a new story; I’m developing properties, premises, characters, arcs, vehicles. All of these are individual bits of intellectual property that I can not only assemble in different combinations to tell different stories, but also apply to multiple venues, like written books, audiobooks, games and movies.
It sounds exciting, but overwhelming, at the same time… especially considering I’m a self-publisher, and quite unfamiliar with the selling of any type of products other than ebooks (for that matter, based on my track record, I’m clearly not that savvy about selling the ebooks either). I don’t know what would be involved with selling my IP content elsewhere without access to agents or industry contacts in venues other than ebooks… or if any of that is even conceivable for a guy with no help, no connections and no money.
But I’m putting the cart before the horse, here; or, to be more accurate, worrying about selling a product I don’t actually have yet. The first thing is to catalog and secure your IP elements; until that’s done, there seems little point in sweating the myriad licensing options and opportunities. Strictly speaking, I’m getting overworked about a problem that doesn’t exist, when I shouldn’t let it distract me from the work I need to get done in the first place.
So, head forced dutifully back down, I’m concentrating on the task at hand: The outlining and notes that will make up the IP I’m developing. Once that’s done, I’ll start to think about how I’m going to use my IP, who I may want to sell it to, and how the hell I’m going to do that. Maybe, ultimately, I won’t be able to find a way to sell my IP, and I’ll end up putting it aside and developing something else. But there’s no point fretting about that now. One step at a time.