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Writing Books/Permission To Write About A College In Your Story


I would like to use a real college and location as a backdrop to my story.  
While my characters and events would all be fictitious, the location and name
of the college would be real.  Can I do this without written permission or
must I obtain permission from the college?  How would I go about getting
permission from the college? Or is this an issue that a literary agent could
work out with their legal department after the book is complete?

Hi, Joanie!

It's quite possible that the college would want to give permission. But is there a reason WHY it's important it be this particular college? It would be just as easy to make it (for example) prestigeous Harmard University and set the college in Maine or New Hampshire instead of Massachusetts. The campus could be identical and the classes, people and such the same. Readers are smart. They'll get it. :)

I think it would wind up being a lot easier to do it this way than to risk angering the trustees, faculty or students at a college. You'll just have to be careful that you don't make the details close enough for the college to be offended, and you should be fine.

Otherwise, yes---you'll probably have to ask permission at some point before publication. The agent MIGHT do it, but isn't under any obligation to, and the publisher may also request you not use the name.

Hope that helps a little. Good luck!


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Cathy Clamp


I'm happy to answer questions about any aspect of writing novels, from the beginning kernel of an idea through completion. I can help with writing a query letter and synopsis to an agent or editor. I can explain publishing terminology and acronyms. I can also assist with questions about verifying the credentials of agents/publishers and how to proceed once you've been accepted for publication. I can teach the rules of formatting a manuscript, creating viable plots, characterization and flow in the following genres: romance, science fiction, fantasy, thrillers, suspense, horror, women's fiction, mainstream and mystery.


I'm a USA Today bestselling author of urban fantasy and paranormal romance for Tor/Forge Books. Along with a co-author, I've published fifteen novels (combination of mass market and trade softcover) since 2003, and have contracts for four more books through 2011.

Romance Writers of America, Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, Western Outdoor Writers, Horror Writers of America.

Tor/Forge Books, Western Reflections Publishing, BenBella Books, Running Press, Wild Child Publishing. Many others.

My educational background is limited to real life experience of publishing novels commercially for the past five years.

Awards and Honors
USA Today bestseller, Waldenbooks Mass Market Paperback Top 20 bestseller, Nielsen BookScan Top 20 bestseller, RT BOOKreviews Career Achievement Award winner, 2009, Book Buyers Best Award for Paranormal, Romantic Times Best Werewolf Novel, Write Touch Readers Award, EVVY Best Historical Chronicle Award, The Lories Best Paranormal. Many others.

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