Friday, October 10, 2014

Is This Name Taken?

When literary agent Laurie McLean needed a name for her new agency, she wanted something clever but also something that could be used in marketing her business. She was after attracting authors who are sensitive to words and so she could not just slap any name on her agency. Laurie McLean and Associates sounds dull and plodding like the old school agencies, and she planned to be different.

After much thought, Foreword Literary was born.

It said a lot in a few letters. Foreword to imply going ahead, onward and upward, leaving the past behind. Foreword to suggest thinking ahead and what author would not want their agent to be thinking ahead to the next deal and the next novel? On foreword thinking a career is built. Foreword to hint at the agent's aggressiveness when dealing with recalcitrant acquisitions editors, because you want your agent to be foreword in their approach. Getting a foot (metaphor for manuscript) in the door of a major publishing house is not accomplished by the shy, retiring type.

Sorry, but this name is taken.

Apparently there is also a small publication called Foreword Magazine, and they hold a copyright on their name.

And because they hold a copyright, they informed the partners of Foreword Literary that the agency was in violation of the law. There's a nice bit of showing instead of telling. The magazine showed the literary agency that they would take them to court and sue them for using the name Foreword in conjunction with a literary endeavour. Just by noting the existence of a copyright and a lawyer.

The agency could have made a case for itself. It's Literary, not Magazine, so technically it's not the same. Arguing that would take money to cover legal fees, however, and the agency is too new to have very deep pockets. Then there is the fight itself, which might not have been worth fighting at those prices.

Foreword Literary is about to become Fuse Literary. Still has a little cuteness to it from a marketing angle, with a suggestion of lighting a fuse and blowing a hole in the wall of Random Penguin House or HarperCollins to get your manuscript under the nose of the right people. Lighting a fuse to get your career started with a bang, perhaps. It's all a bit more violent than being foreword, which could mean rude, but after you've used up your best selection it's hard to get very enthused about the second place finisher.

There'll be an updated website in time, and updated e-mail addresses to go with it. Planning to submit to one of Foreword's agents any time soon? Be sure to mention the changes in your query opening, something about hoping the e-mail you have will work because, you know, the name is taken and Foreword has to sit somewhere else in cyberspace.

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