Stealing Quotes from the Bible

55. Stealing Quotes from the Bible

Many of my coaching clients are writing books with a spiritual element.

Many of them have a Christian world view and quote the Bible in their books.

But most of them don’t realize they need to do more than just name chapter and verse.

In this episode, I share important guidelines for quoting any Bible translation in your book.

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Episode Transcript

Hey there, and welcome to Nothing but the Words. I’m your author coach Candice L Davis.

I hope your week is going well, your 2021 is off to a good start, and you’re consistently moving closer to your book goals.

In this episode, I want to address an issue I’ve seen in lots of self-published books.

Many of my coaching clients and editing clients write books with a spiritual bent.

Many of those books are written from a Christian perspective,

And, as you might imagine, they often quote the Bible.

If you’re claiming to use principles from the Bible, then it only makes since that you would quote the text.

But there are a couple of things many authors forget—or simply don’t know.

The first is that when you quote the Bible, you should always indicate which translation the quote came from.

Don’t assume people will know.

Don’t assume it doesn’t make a difference—it does.

The same Bible verse can vary quite a big from one translation to the other.

A simple way to credit the right translation is to use the same translation for all the verses you quote.

Then, you can put a note at the beginning of the book, usually on the copyright page that indicates all Bible quotes are from XYZ version.

Simple enough, right?

If you want to use multiple translations, then each verse you quote should have the name or abbreviation of the version you used.

For example, Matthew 19:26 isn’t sufficient in that case. You’ll need to indicate, Matthew 19:26, NIV or ESV or NLT or whatever translation you’ve used.

It’s important to make sure that you indicate the translation for a couple of reasons:

1. Readers can easily confirm the accuracy of the verse and read it in the larger context when you give them the translation.

2. The publisher of that translation should be properly credited.

That brings us to the second thing many authors fail to do when they quote the Bible.

They fail to give proper credit.

It shocks a lot of people to know that every Bible translation isn’t in the public domain.

That means you can’t just use Bible content any way you want to use it.

The copyright for the King James Bible is actually owned by the British Crown. The Queen of England owns it.

Fortunately, in the United States, at least, the King James translation is recognized as public domain material.

But other translations are owned by their publishers.

For example, the NIV Bible and Amplified Bible are both owned by the same publisher.

And they have rules about how you can use their content.

Yes, they have rules for how you can quote their translation of the Bible.

Keep in mind that publishers paid for those translations to be done, so they have a financial investment.

Fortunately, they also know authors are going to quote the Bible.

So they have fairly generous permissions.

However, they do require that you give credit where it’s due.

They ask that you include their copyright permissions statement in your book, usually on the copyright page.

Yes, you need to do this for every translation you quote.

There’s nothing difficult about it.

Just go to the publisher’s website and look for permissions.

If you’re not sure who the publisher is, you can do a search for XYZ translation AND permissions.

That will usually take you right to their permissions page, where you make sure you’ve followed their guidelines, copy their permissions statement, and paste it in your manuscript.

Even if you use the King James Version, which as I mentioned is considered to be in the public domain in the US, it’s still best practice to credit that version on your copyright page.

When I share all this with my coaching clients, they tend to get a little annoyed by the fact that the copyright for the Bible is owned by various companies.

But as I mentioned, these publishers have invested in creating translations.

Whether we like it or not—and personally, I respect it—they own the copyright.

So if you’re quoting the Bible in your book, once or fifty times, make sure you give credit to the proper publisher.

That’s all for this week, my friends. If you enjoyed this episode, follow me on Instagram @candiceldavis for more writing tips and inspiration.

Thanks for listening to Nothing but the Words. I’m Your Author Coach Candice L Davis. And I’ll see you next time.

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