In my story I have a chapter that was requested by another person while I was accepting requests. Now as I am getting a second draft and Betas, I was wondering what kind of legal stuff I would need to take care of. I just want to do this now before I finish touching everything up so I don't have to worry about it later.

I live in the USA and plan on publishing there as well.

The request was submitted through onsite PM in response to this posting. I did PM them the other day to see if they were okay with publishing it and they said it was fine, but I don't know what exact legal permissions I need to ask for. And no, there was no money involved.

What kind of permissions(if any) do I need from the original requester?

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    What exactly do you mean by "while I was accepting requests"? Was this a formal process with some kind of paperwork, or do you just mean that someone said, 'hey, why don't you write a chapter about X?" and you said, "great idea, I'll do that!"? Commented May 16, 2021 at 22:26
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    I agree with DM-with-secrets. You need to clarify what you mean here. If people just asked you to write about stuff in a given chapter, you still did the writing and own the material. If they own the idea, it gets complicated, and if money was involved, more complicated.
    – DWKraus
    Commented May 17, 2021 at 4:52
  • @DM_with_secrets, updated the question so it should answer that now. Commented May 18, 2021 at 12:11
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    One choice is that you could mention them/their contribution(s) in the acknowledgements if you are the one that did all the writing and they just provided an idea/suggestion for said writing. (Although you should probably check with your lawyer first if this is the correct course of action or not.)
    – Joe Kerr
    Commented May 18, 2021 at 15:22

1 Answer 1


Official Answer:

Don't take our word for it. consult an attorney specializing in copyright, or ask your publisher about it when and if they decide they're interested in the book.

Unofficial Answer:

You retain ownership of what you write. It is quite common for authors to get ideas from other people and sources, but as long as you are not taking whole major concepts from others and replicating works they made, you should be fine. The polite thing to do is acknowledge the people who did beta reading and fed you ideas. But as long as the story was fundamentally yours, it's yours.

That's not to say people who are angry or greedy can't try to push the issue if they think they can. But that's unlikely to happen unless your book is successful. Now, nothing is truly original in stories any more, so research similar story elements and add some references to these elements to establish that the idea is not uniquely tied to a specific contributor. If, for example, they suggest you have a goddess of the hunt in your story, research Artemis/Diana and make references to those mythologies (odds are, your contributor would have gotten the idea from that source material anyway).

Also, the chances are, people only want a mention in the credits for what they gave you (especially if you aren't an established author). So give them that, and they won't have a reason to be angry.

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