| Rutledge Hill |

Editorial Standards 

Rutledge Hill is the general market publishing services division of HarperCollins Focus, LLC., and we publish content that falls within our parent company’s values of integrity, accountability, initiative, respect, and service.

We recognize that some language may be considered offensive by mainstream audiences, and we strive to minimize such language in our products at the editorial stage in keeping with our values. In those rare cases when manuscripts contain potentially offensive language or discussions of sensitive topics, we consider both the intended audience and the appropriateness of the language in the context of the content and the author’s intent.

We do not discriminate in author selection based on race, color, religion, gender, gender expression, age, national origin (ancestry), disability, marital status, sexual orientation, or military status. Our team is committed to respectful treatment of all people groups, and therefore will avoid publishing content with language that is offensive or denigrating.

Rutledge Hill does not publish content that advocates for or speaks to a specific religious, non-religious, or otherwise specific spiritual worldview. Although there may be secondary references to an author’s point of view on religious or spiritual topics, we will avoid content that is generally written for purposes of religious or spiritual-philosophical advocacy.

Instilling Confidence in Our Consistent Communication

The Rutledge Hill Editorial Standards exist because we want our authors and their readers to be able to trust us and the books we publish. We want people to have confidence that our products consistently reflect high standards regardless of the subject matter they address. Works that do not conform to these standards will be rejected or cancelled by Rutledge Hill. Additionally, Rutledge Hill may terminate publication of any work without cause.

When making a submission please note that Rutledge Hill will not publish manuscripts containing the following content:

  • Acts of violence against any institution or person(s)
  • Hate speech to proactively encourage violence against, or hatred of, any social, cultural, ethnic, gender or religious groups
  • Details of witchcraft, magical or horror references
  • Gratuitously violent or sexual content, including nonconsensual sex or sex with minors
  • Personal proprietary right violations or infringements, including copyrights, trademark rights, trade secret rights, contract rights, privacy rights or publicity rights of any persons
  • Recipes, formulas, instructions or recommendations that may be injurious to any reader, user or third person

Regarding Copyright

The default you should assume for other people's works is that they are copyrighted and may not be copied unless you know otherwise.

Nothing modern and creative is in the public domain anymore unless the owner explicitly puts it in the public domain. Explicitly means that there must be a written record or a note signed by the author/owner saying, "I grant this to the public domain."

Postings to the Internet are not granted to the public domain, and don't grant you any permission to do further copying of the image, nor use of the image for reprint. Any and all images found online must have written permission from the owner of the image, unless the website contains a clear notice that images may be reproduced for commercial use.

Regarding Libel

For each genre of writing, it is very important that you understand and respect the rights and identities of people who may be identifiable within your manuscript. Communication of statements that can hurt, harm, or have a negative connotation towards the reputation of an individual can be considered defamation of character and acted upon in a court of law. The defamation of character that appears in print form, such as a book, is referred to as libel. See more in our article about libel.

The communication of statements that may cause emotional distress to an identifiable individual within your work is known as invasion of privacy, and that person may have the right to sue you. Invasion of privacy can be (1) revealing embarrassing and private facts, (2) portrayal of an individual in a false light, (3) intrusion into an individual’s private affairs, or (4) misappropriation of an individual’s name for publicity purposes.

Regarding Violence and Gore

Rutledge Hill does not promote gratuitous violence and gore, and we seek to avoid the degradation that may come from reading excessive descriptions. We understand that sometimes violence and gore must be mentioned but please refrain from being overly descriptive about it.

Regarding Use of Scripture

If you are quoting Scripture within your book, it will be your responsibility to properly cite this material.

If you have quoted Scripture from multiple translations of the Bible, the Scripture needs to be referenced within the text including the book’s name, chapter number, verse number and Bible translation. You will also need to provide us with a list of all the translations you have quoted from so those proper copyright statements can be added to the copyright page during design.

If you have quoted Scripture from only one translation of the Bible, then you still must reference the book name, chapter number, verse number within your text, but you won’t need to reference the translation each time. You will need to let us know which translation you have used so we can include the proper copyright statement on the copyright page during design.

In addition, many translations have limits as to the amount of Scripture that can be quoted without obtaining written permission. The amounts vary, depending on which translation is being quoted. BibleGateway offers information regarding those limits for several translations.

Regarding Profanity and Sexual Descriptions

Profanity can frequently be replaced with language which better communicates the author’s intent. Use of God’s name in vain is offensive to some people and so must be avoided.

Manuscripts must avoid descriptions of sexual acts, specifically the following: kissing below the neck; sexual touching; visible signs of arousal or sexual attraction; nudity; and double entendre.

Regarding Standard Legal Disclaimer Placement

As with most books, Rutledge Hill books carry a legal disclaimer on the copyright page. The following disclaimer will appear in your book on the copyright page:

Because of the dynamic nature of the Internet, any Web addresses or links contained in this book may have changed since the publication and may no longer be valid. The views expressed in this work are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the publisher, and publisher hereby disclaims any responsibility for them.

Additional Content Guidelines

NOTE: These content guidelines set forth our aspirations for your work. Not all of these guidelines are strict requirements for publication. Please note that while Rutledge Hill may review your work and may suggest or require that you comply with one or more of these guidelines, any review that Rutledge Hill conducts is being done solely and exclusively for its internal purposes. You may not rely on any review by Rutledge Hill of your work, any results we may share with you or your acceptance of any changes suggested or required by Rutledge Hill for any purpose whatsoever, including, without limitation, as confirmation that your work (a) complies with these Content Guidelines; (b) does not violate any applicable laws or regulations; or (c) does not infringe upon the rights of any third parties. If you have questions regarding your work's compliance with applicable laws and regulations, such as copyright laws, rights of privacy and publicity, and libel/defamation, you should consult an attorney of your own choosing for such legal advice

Fair Use Guidelines

Fair Use is a principle of U.S. copyright law that permits limited quotation from another work without that author's permission.

Fair Use analysis can be complicated, but an essential element is that the quoted material be used in a “transformative” way, i.e., that it be reworked by the quoting author into something new and original. Comment on or criticism of a work is an example of a transformative use of a work, but even comment or criticism of a particular work does not necessarily justify copying an entire work. A use is not “transformative” where it is being used simply for itself, or because you like it, or where your work could end up serving as a substitute or replacement for the original source.

There is a popular misconception that any quotation of fewer than 500 words (or 350, or 400, etc., depending on the source from which it is taken) qualifies as Fair Use. This will obviously not be the case where the quote is taken from a poem, a song or another short work (such as a children’s book) that may not be much more than 500 words in total. In other words, quantity of the material quoted is just one factor. Also important is the quality of the quoted material, i.e., whether it is the heart of the original work. Thus, while it generally will be Fair Use to quote just a few hundred words from a 400-page book, in one famous case involving a presidential memoir, a quotation of a few hundred words was held to be an infringement because it related to one of the book’s most spectacular – and most marketable – revelations.

Song lyrics and poetry are more problematic, not only because of their shorter length (which makes any quotation a more substantial taking), but also because under the quality test, even a brief quotation could go to the heart of the material. For example, one could argue that “not with a bang but a whimper” is not just one line of the 100-line poem “Hollow Men” by T.S. Eliot, but the essence of the poem. (With regard to song lyrics, be forewarned, too, that music publishers tend to take an aggressive posture, and demand licensing fees even for uses that clearly qualify as Fair Use.)

Another factor is the nature of the work using the quotation. Non-fiction works have more Fair Use latitude than fiction simply because it is easier to show a “transformative” aspect in a non-fiction work. Nonetheless, an appropriate use of material in fiction can qualify as Fair Use.

Epigraphs used as chapter headings and sidebars generally will not qualify as transformative, except where there is a strong thematic connection between the quotation and the chapter subject matter. As a practical consideration, a line or two from a long book is unlikely to draw complaint. But an epigraph consisting of a line or two of poetry or song lyrics must be avoided (unless you get permission for the use or the poem was first published before 1925).

There is very little Fair Use allowed for unpublished works, such as letters, journals and diaries.

Quotations from unpublished sources should be avoided if at all possible and, if absolutely necessary, such quotations must be sparing in both length and total quantity, and must have a clear commentary/criticism purpose or a strong “transformative” character.

If a quotation does not qualify as Fair Use, it is necessary to obtain permission from the rights proprietor. The rights proprietor is the person or entity controlling the right to license the particular use requested. The rights proprietor and the copyright owner may be – but are not necessarily – the same. For example, the typical book-publishing agreement provides that the copyright will be registered in the author’s name, but that the publisher will control the licensing of certain uses, including the quotation of excerpts and abridgments and anthologies. So, in the case of quotations from published books, the publisher of the book is a good place to start to find out how to seek permission; most publishers have permissions departments set up for this very purpose.

In identifying the proprietor, please keep the following in mind:

  1. Ownership of the physical copy of a work such as a letter or a photo or a painting is not the same as ownership of the copyright for that work. You cannot assume that a university library that serves as a repository for someone’s papers, for example, has the power to authorize reproduction or quotation. In fact, the library will not have that power unless the rights proprietor has explicitly given the library that power by way of a separate agreement. (Sometimes an archive will require the researcher to sign an agreement before allowing access to the documents in its possession. Such an agreement might impose restrictions on use beyond those in the Copyright Act, which can even restrict the use of public-domain material. You should keep copies of all such agreements that you sign.) (Incidentally, availability of a letter is available in a library’s archives does not mean that the letter has been published before; if you don’t find the letter in a book or a magazine or some other publication, you should assume that it is an unpublished letter.)
  2. Similarly, the recipient of a letter owns only the physical copy of that letter; the copyright of the letter itself remains with the person who wrote the letter. In other words, the mere fact that someone received a letter from a famous person, does not give that person the right to publish that letter. In the same vein, the owner of a painting or photograph ordinarily will not have the right to authorize reproduction of the image. Even family photos can be a problem. For the reasons stated above, the fact that the photo is in a family album does not mean that the family can authorize reproduction of the image. For example, the copyright of a professional photo – e.g., a graduation or wedding picture – usually remains with the photographer. Likewise, if taken by a relative or friend, the relative or friend would have to give permission.
  3. Under the Copyright Act, periodicals (and similar works comprised of the contributions of different authors) do not have the right to license use of individual articles. Unless the author’s contribution agreement with the periodical expressly gives it that authority, the author controls the right to license such uses. The more prominent periodicals do have such contribution agreements with their writers, however, and thus contacting the periodical first still is a good way to start to find the person who can grant permission.
  4. By operation of several international agreements ratified by the U.S. in the last 15 years, some foreign works long in the public domain (e.g., by writers from the former Soviet Union) have been restored to copyright. Identifying the copyright proprietor can be difficult, in particular when the proprietor is a now-defunct government agency. The fact that you may have tried to find the proprietor and failed, however, is not a defense to a copyright infringement claim.
  5. The widespread dissemination of material on the Internet sometimes gives the impression that it is free for the taking. In fact, many of these sites reproduce copyrighted text and images without permission. One therefore should not assume that anything copied from the Internet is public domain. It still is necessary to determine whether the material is copyrighted, and if so, to identify the rights proprietor and obtain permission. The format and appearance of websites may also be copyright protected, and therefore requires permission to use.
  6. Images of newspapers are copyright protected, in addition to the actual text of the articles. Even if the text is not legible, the overall format and appearance of the newspaper is often protected and requires permission to use in your work.
  7. Maps, clip art, cartoons, advertisements, and comic book characters are also copyright protected and require permission to use in your work.
  8. The use of material from the Bible and the permissions required often depend upon the version of the Bible you are using, the amount and nature of the material quoted, as well as the amount of original material in your work. You must research the rules of the publishing company to determine what is Fair Use and what requires permission to use.

A special warning regarding permissions to use photographs: ordinarily, the license will cover only the right to reproduce the image itself. It might be necessary also to obtain separate model releases from individuals appearing in the photograph, especially if you plan to use the image on the cover of your book. In certain circumstances, if a building is depicted, permission even might be required from the owner of the copyright in the architectural plans.

Works in the Public Domain

Works that have entered the public domain are not protected by intellectual property laws, including copyright and fair use rules. Any works created and published before January 1, 1925 are in the public domain and can be used without the proprietor's permission. However, Rutledge Hill will not publish a work that contains less than 75% original content, meaning we will not publish public domain works unless you have added significantly to that work.

To assist in your self-assessment of whether the use of the ideas or words of others in your work is permissible, you may consult the U.S. Copyright Service’s Fair Use Index. If you have further questions regarding your use of another's words or ideas, you should consult an attorney of your own choosing for legal advice.

Libelous/Defamatory Content

In general, the content of your work may be libelous if it contains a false statement of fact about another person that is defamatory. A defamatory statement is one that injures a person's reputation, exposes a person to hatred, contempt or ridicule or injures his or her business or profession. For example:

  • A false statement that accuses a person of a crime;
  • A false statement that a person has an infectious or contagious disease, or a mental disease or defect;
  • A false statement that a person is impotent or unchaste; or
  • A false statement that alleges that a person is not qualified to perform his or her job due to lack of skill, education, character, trustworthiness, etc.

While there may be certain exceptions or defenses that apply to your work, IT IS ALWAYS YOUR SOLE RESPONSIBILITY TO ENSURE THAT YOUR WORK DOES NOT, TO YOUR KNOWLEDGE, CONTAIN, ANY LIBELOUS MATERIAL. If you have questions about whether your work may contain material that is potentially libelous, you should consult an attorney of your own choosing for legal advice.

Other General Content Guidelines

We reserve the right to require written and notarized permission from any living persons (or their guardians) and any legal entities mentioned in a work.

We reserve the right to reject a work that contains any of the following:

  • Hate speech or any speech that incites violence or attacks, threatens, intimidates, or disparages individuals or groups based on attributes such as race, sex, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, disability, or other traits
  • Explicit and salacious or graphic descriptions of sexual situations
  • Explicit descriptions of sexual situations involving individuals under the age of 18
  • References to or descriptions of bestiality
  • Any other content that Rutledge Hill determines, in its sole discretion, that the publication or distribution of which may injure its reputation or subject it to public disapproval.

We reserve the right to reject a proposed book cover that contains images reflecting any of the following:

  • Nudity of any sort
  • Logos or registered trademarks
  • Celebrities or famous individuals
  • Posters from movies, plays, concerts or other events
  • Drugs or drug paraphernalia
  • Actual currency

Representations or images of male or female genitalia must be avoided.

Genre-Specific Content and Permission Guidelines

Autobiography/Memoir: Without written and notarized permission from the person, entity or legal guardians of the person mentioned, we reserve the right to reject a work that contains any of the following:

  • False statements of fact that could harm the reputation of any identifiable living persons, companies or other entities
  • False statement either of a fact or implication that an identifiable, living person (aside from the author him or herself):
    • Committed a crime or was convicted of committing a crime
    • Engaged in unethical conduct
    • Engaged in immoral sexual conduct
    • Associated with unsavory people
    • Demonstrated professional incompetence
    • Demonstrated financial irresponsibility or unreliability
    • Acted disgracefully
    • Suffered from a mental disease or disorder
  • Embarrassing private facts about any identifiable, living persons
  • Statements about an identifiable, living person that would lead that person to have hurt feelings because certain thoughts and feelings are attributed to that person or the person is put in a false light
  • References to an identifiable, living child that state as fact or by implication that the child was:
    • Sexually abused
    • Otherwise physically abused
    • The victim of a crime
    • Adopted

Biography: Where the subject of a biography is a living person, we reserve the right to require written and notarized permission from the subject of the biography and/or from any living persons (or their guardians) and any legal entities mentioned therein.

Self-help / Textbook / Politics and History: You must provide proper citations where applicable.

Translated Books: You must provide written and notarized permission from the owner of the copyright of the book in its original language in order to publish a translation of a book originally published in another language.

Endorsements: If you wish to include an endorsement or other statement about your book written by a person other than yourself, you must provide written permission to use the statement from that individual.

Request Your Free Publishing Consultation Below

Fill our form to learn more about publishing with Rutledge Hill

By clicking “Request My Free Consultation”, you are providing your electronic signature, voluntarily authorizing Rutledge Hill and its affiliates to contact you using a manual or automated telephone dialing system and send you advertisement or telemarketing messages by email or text/SMS/MMS message to the address and phone number you have provided above. You are not required to agree to this in order to buy products or services from Rutledge Hill. You certify that you are over the age of eighteen (18). You’ll get up to ten (10) messages per month. Standard message and data rates may apply. Click here to view our privacy policy.