Writing Books/WRITING


I am writing a book on relaxation. There are many books that give techniques and steps to relax, or to massage, or to breath correctly. For example, ..now breath slowly for 3 seconds, hold for.... or they give specific steps for massage or they do the same for specific yoga movements. I'm wondering if those steps are copywrited or can someone else write a book citing those same steps almost word for word?

Before I respond, let me make sure you plan to use the expertise of an editor before you submit your manuscript or self-publish it. I found at least four typos or other errors in the short paragraph I received. True, it was a first draft, not a polished paragraph, I’m sure, but those errors are still an indication of a tendency to miss obvious misspellings, so I want you to be aware of the issue. Don’t let it stop you from writing your book, though; simply get feedback from an expert before you take the final manuscript into the publishing phase.

As to your question about copyrights, if you are an expert in the field of relaxation—that is, you have mastered the art and have a new approach for teaching it—you will automatically write your book from your own perspective and not cite the same steps word for word that someone else has written. Techniques cannot be copyrighted, but the words and word order used to describe the techniques can be, so don’t use or even look at anyone else’s descriptions of the techniques when you write your own, and then yours will almost certainly be unique. If your descriptions are unique, not copied from some other source, you won’t have infringed on any copyright.

If you still have concerns, check with an attorney familiar with copyright law. To find an attorney with that expertise, check with the Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts organization in or closest to your location.

I hope you'll also sign up for my free newsletter for writers. To do so, go to www.zebraeditor.com and click on the yellow box at the top that says "Free Newsletter."

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Bobbie Christmas


Book Doctor Bobbie Christmas owns Zebra Communications, a book-editing firm in metro Atlanta. She not only edits books, she also helps writers power up their prose to increase their chances of success. She is the author of Write In Style (Union Square Publishing), a creative-writing guide that won three awards.


Bobbie has spent more than 40 years in the publishing and communications industry and has run Zebra Communications, a book-editing company, since 1992. The editor of many publications and periodicals, she has worked with book publishers and trade magazine publishers as well as working in marketing communications and corporate communications.

Past president, Georgia Writers Association; past vice president, South Carolina Writers Workshop; charter/lifelong member, Florida Writers Association; Southeastern Writers Association; Atlanta Writers Club; Society for the Preservation of English Language and Literature (SPELL); International Guild of Professional Consultants

Write in Style (Union Square Publishing), A Cup of Comfort (Adams Media Corporation), A Cup of Comfort for Friends (Adams Media), A Cup of Comfort for Mothers and Sons (Adams Media), Haunted Engounters (Atriad Press), Remembering Woolworth's (St. Martin's Press), First-Time Home Buyer magazine, HomeBusiness Journal, Apparel Industry Magazine, Edge Magazine, Atlanta Jewish Times, Time Travel Australia, American Writers Review, Points North, That's Entertainment, Atlanta Parent, Agnes Scott Alumnae Magazine, etc.

Journalism: University of South Carolina plus four decades of working in publishing, marketing, communications, advertising, newspaper and magazine production, book publishing, etc.

Awards and Honors
First Place, nonfiction, Georgia Writers Annual Contest, 2005; First Place, education, Royal Palm Literary Award, 2004; Best in Division, Georgia Author of the Year Awards, 2005; Finalist, Best Books 2005, USA BookNews Third Place, nonfiction, Georgia Writers, 1999; Nominated for Georgia Author of the Year, 1998; plus many other awards

Past/Present Clients
Capital Books, Sourcebooks, Olin Frederick, The Writer's Machine, Russell Dean & Company, Outskirts Press, and hundreds of writers.

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