A small publisher has expressed interest in reading a manuscript of mine, but their request worries me a little. I received several pages of restrictions on persons, places, and products I shouldn’t use, and it seems far more restrictive than I was led to believe from working with agents and reading other authors.
A few examples”
Real people/club/group names need permission. Real people that are mentioned, used as a character, a group of people (a club), band, etc. requires permission. I use the late Tony Accardo in a scene described by a mobster fifty years after the fact. Is this a problem? I know of writers (James Ellroy comes to mind) who do this regularly. Considering what Ellroy has his “real” characters do, I can’t believe he got permission from the estate. I also like to use real musical groups when sending a character to a nightclub. (“They went to the Birchmere to hear Tower of Power.” Then describe a few tunes as background music.)
If you use a real town or city name. Every “real” name used (includes but not limited to) all businesses, places, schools, used as part of a scene or any action takes place in…you must have written permission.
Avoid using real street names if they can be connected to real places. Chicago is pretty much a character in this book. Changing the street and place names will detract from the color and setting of the book.
They also are particular about generic names instead of product names, even when a character may be using them. “Photocopy” instead of Xerox; “tissue” instead of Kleenex, etc. Problem is, many people use these in conversation. I’m concerned making things too generic will spoil some of the tone, and I know I’ve seen this done. I’m having a hard time believing so many written permissions are needed.
Are they just fussier than usual about this, or is there a whole level of permissions required I’m not hip to? I know a lot of Crimespacers use real locations and product names; am I just hopelessly naive?