03-04-2012 09:00 PM
Cut and pasted from Lulu's Blog for those who never see it. (Sorry about the links within the text, they are nothing to do with me).
"If you think writing a series of acclaimed supernatural thrillers, which get made into a successful television show and sell thousands of books, would be considered a job well done, think again.
Publisher HarperCollins removed LJ Smith, author of The Vampire Diaries, from the project after friction during the editing process. Smith said she was pushed out after arguing against cutting characters, scenes, and other creative decisions that she felt were important to her vision of the story.
Smith, who began writing the novels on a “for hire” contract back in 1990, was shocked to find out that she had no rights to any of the characters or stories she created. In an e-mail, Smith reflected, “Even though I have written the entire series, I don’t own anything about The Vampire Diaries.”
This is an all-too-common story among writers of genre-fiction. Authors desperate enough to sign anything end up losing any creative or financial control of the characters, and the ensuing sensations, they create. Where a publishing house offers a vast marketing and distribution network, it also tends to dilute and altogether alter a writer’s creative vision. To some writers, like LJ Smith, this becomes too much to bear. They fight to keep their work intact, only to find “a letter addressed to the ghostwriter by name, telling her to completely rewrite my book.”
We’re neither arguing against the need for a good editor, nor against some self discipline and revision on the part of the author, however, we think this example demonstrates an important benefit of self-publishing: complete creative control and financial ownership of your work. Even after writing several successful novels, LJ Smith was removed from her series with little to no warning whatsoever, and absolutely no recourse."
03-05-2012 09:35 AM - edited 03-05-2012 09:36 AM
Interesting post, Kevin.
The two things I miss most, now that I self publish, are (obviously) the advance of royalties before I start writing and (less obviously) the immense help that comes from an expert editor guiding the process.
However, I do not write fiction (or, at least, I don't admit to it being fiction) and the scenario may be different there. But with non-fiction, I never encountered any attempt to reduce my ownership of my books. And it was rather nice to have all the editing, proofreading, production and marketing handled and paid for by the publisher.
03-05-2012 09:55 AM
03-05-2012 10:10 AM
I don't think I could ever 'write to order' - it's just not me.
It's a complicated position, when contracted to write for an employer and you, as their employee, have terms & conditions to abide by. It's easy to get a grasp of those terms and conditions if, say, you are a nurse. But in the creative arts, there is much more scope for interpretation, I guess.
But...I guess like a lot of us here, because we aren't in a fortunate position of being employed to write, very few of us would be precious about our characters. Or would we ? Maybe as time goes on and we write about those characters more and more, we *do* become precious about them and feel we own them, to some degree.
I'm really pleased with the above paragraphs, seeing as I've just come off a run of four night shifts and am downing a bacardi and coke...
03-05-2012 08:08 PM
03-08-2012 11:40 PM
03-09-2012 05:22 AM
Smith, who began writing the novels on a “for hire” contract back in 1990, was shocked to find out that she had no rights to any of the characters or stories she created
Seems like she didn't read the contract she signed.
I wrote manuals for my then employer. I understood that although it was my creative work they owned it 100%. My salary was my payment, Smith got paid for her work.