Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Work For Hire Q&A

A couple of days ago, a reader asked if I’d post about work-for-hire. 

First, a definition:

Generally speaking, a work assigned to an author by a publisher—based on contracted guidelines—is called work-for-hire. Sometimes the author will be credited—sometimes not. The author may not hold the rights to the work, and may not receive royalties. Sometimes the details differ based on the contract or the publisher. Here’s a definition from Wikipedia--http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Work_for_hire

Basically, the bottom line with work-for-hire is that you don’t have any rights to the work after it’s completed. You can’t use it as a writing sample. You can’t sell it to anyone else. It can be fiction or nonfiction. Typically, you’re paid an agreed-upon sum to complete an assigned project.
Disclaimer: I’m not an expert on this stuff. Just one author with my own personal experience.


1.      What do you think a writer should consider before agreeing to write a children's book as a work-for-hire?

Think about how much ownership you want for everything you write. Your work-for-hire piece might have your name on it, but you might not have written 100% of the contents. In my experience, WFH is a team approach, with editors and graphic designers having as much input as the author. It’s a fantastic experience, but it’s not all yours the same way another piece would be. The final product may not be the same piece you turned into the editor and you may or may not have a chance to see the final work before it goes to press.

2.      How do you put a work for hire proposal together?

For the most part, you’re not going to put together a proposal for work-for-hire. You’ll probably apply for an assignment much like you apply for a job, with a cover letter, resume, and writing samples. Depending on the publisher, you may write individual samples specifically for them. For me, when I initially applied to Capstone, I sent writing samples that I had already written. Like any other writing query or submission, make sure you look at the submission guidelines and send what the individual publisher requests.

3.      How do you get paid for a work-for-hire project?

Again, this varies by publisher. But, for the most part, you’ll be contracted for a lump sum. Usually, you’ll get half upon delivery of an outline or first draft; and the other half when the editor accepts the final document.

4.      Do you need an agent for Work-for-Hire?

As most of you know, I have an agent (the lovely Vickie Motter of Andrea Hurst Literary). She is not involved in my work-for-hire contracts; she works exclusively with me on my middle grade and young adult fiction. However, I do consult with her on occasion when it comes down to deadlines and new projects and how they might or might not impact my fiction.

5.      What does having work-for-hire work on one's resume say about one's writing career?

Work-for-hire books are professionally published works. You are paid to write them. Therefore, you are a professional, paid writer. That’s huge! I feel very strongly that my work-for-hire experiences have opened doors for me professionally. I can do school visits and feel much more legit that I did before—though that’s my experience and personal opinion talking. Just because I feel like it makes me more legit, doesn’t mean it will be that for you. And I’m certainly not implying that it makes anyone who hasn’t done work-for-hire less legit. If you’re writing, you’re a writer!


My work-for-hire has been an incredible addition to my writing career—three years ago I was struggling with advancing my career, not sure what type of writer I was going to be. As of January 2012, I have eight books published, with three more in various stages of progress. All but one are with Capstone Press, so my experience has been limited to that publisher.

My fiction is still a work-in-progress, but I’m certain that my nonfiction work-for-hire has made me a better writer, and given me some street cred. And sometimes, feeling legit can make the world of difference to a fragile ego.

Thanks to all the readers who asked questions. Any other questions—feel free to ask in the comments.

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Questions about Work-For-Hire

I've been asked to do a post on Work-for-Hire, but I want to make sure I'm addressing specific questions.


What are your questions about work-for-hire? Leave them in the comments and I'll build a post to answer them later this week or next week.

Monday, February 20, 2012

Summer Kids Writing Club

So it's official. I'm running the following kids club out of the Reuben Hoar Library in Littleton, Massachusetts this summer. It's for kids entering 4th grade through 7th grade.

Any writers in the area, I'd love special guests if you're interested!

Love adventure? Mystery? Wizards? Do you love to write your own stories? Whatever you love to write, Dream Big! Join Kris Asselin, local author, to talk about reading, writing, critiquing, writing prompts,  rhetorical devices, and more. This is aimed at kids in grades 4 through 7 with a limit of 12 kids per session. It will run from 6:30-7:30 on Wednesdays in July and August, beginning on July 11. Sign up for the sessions you will attend. 

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Writing Outside Your Comfort Zone

Sometimes all it takes to get the creative juices flowing is to write something new. Not just new, but something you've never tried before. Write fiction? Try a short non-fiction piece. Too different? Okay, write paranormal? Try historical fiction.

I'm typically very comfortable writing contemporary. You know, write what you know? But recently, I tried co-writing a historical fiction piece with my friend Ansha Kotyk. Writing with a friend rocked!! Let me tell you, it was invigorating to have someone to bounce ideas off of, help balance the research, and just get excited about the story.

I've never written historical fiction, but it was awesome! We wrote a little over 7000 words in less than a week. I would never have thought that possible!

Write outside your comfort zone. Think outside the box (unless,  you're a cat ). Give it a try!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Kissing in the Rain: Happy Valentine's Day

I didn't participate in the That's YAmore blogfest, so my blurb is 313 words, not 250. But I really wanted to post a kissing scene from my work-in-revision novel THE SWEET SPOT on Valentine's Day. Especially since this particular kissing scene might get cut. Not sure yet, but it's a possibility.

Anyway, Kate's just been left in a parking lot a few miles from home by another boy. Scott's been following her in his car after telling her hours before he just wants to be friends. And then it starts to rain.

A little rain never hurt anyone.

But the next step squelched and she sank up to her ankle in mud. She stretched out both arms to catch her balance. Cringing, she pulled her foot out with effort. Pink Chuck Taylors covered in thick mud.

Everything from the last three days crashed down. Covering her eyes, Kate screamed. Screamed in guilt for blaming Giles. Screamed in despair for losing the golf course. Screamed in heartbreak for losing Scott.

He splashed through the puddle behind her, and the next thing she knew, his arms were around her and he pulled her close. “Sshh,” he crooned. “It's okay.”

His shirt was soaked, but she leaned into him. She wasn’t sure if it was him or the lilacs, but the world suddenly felt safer.

He pushed a strand of wet hair away from her face. Trying to catch her breath, a sob caught in her throat and she shuddered. She covered her mouth with her hand.

Gently, Scott pulled her hand away and cupped her face in both hands. His eyes were bright, his lips parted. He stared at her. It looked like he was weighing the risks.

Her heart in her throat, she met his gaze. His turquoise eyes flickered as though he wasn’t sure of his next move.

This is the last chance. There won’t be another one.

She laced her fingers behind his head and pulled him down just enough for their lips to touch. His were smooth and soft.

The sweet spot.

He pushed back with just a little pressure. Tentative at first, like he was afraid she’d break if he kissed her too hard. And then his arms were around her waist and he crushed her tightly, like he was afraid she’d vanish if he ever let go.  

A lifetime passed. Or a couple of minutes. She never wanted it to end.

picture credit: http://www.layoutsparks.com/1/78934/kiss-in-the-rain-3.html
 Don't you just love this picture? It's totally Kate and Scott.


Update: If you like kissing scenes, you might like TIMELESS: AN ANTHOLOGY OF YOUNG ADULT ROMANCE. Available through Amazon and Barnes & Noble. My writing partner, Ansha Kotyk and I contributed "Stella's Hero" to TIMELESS. And there's a kissing-in-the-rain scene in that story as well. Read an excerpt here: Stella's Kiss.

Monday, February 13, 2012

YA Stands

I'm excited to report that I'll be blogging with the gals over at YA Stands on the 2nd and 4th Wednesdays of each month! I want to thank Nicole, Nikki, Julie, Heather, and Jo for welcoming me into the fold!

I'll be blogging about YA and the publishing industry, so stay tuned! Go over there and follow the gang! And if anyone has any suggestions about topics, please feel free to share.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Are You A Writer? Own it!

I'm developing a workshop for adults new to the children's writing industry. I'm also working on creating a one-hour a week writing club for kids this summer. And brainstorming for a panel presentation happening during the NESCBWI conference in April.

You'd think I was a writer, or something.

Does anyone else have trouble saying the words "I Am A Writer?" Usually it comes out like this.

Someone: "So, you're a writer, right?"

Me: "Yeah, well, um. Yeah, I guess I've written some stuff."

And believe me that's considerably better than it was a couple of years ago, when I would say something like, "yeah, well, someday."

No. I AM A WRITER. And if you write, YOU ARE A WRITER. Not you want to be a writer. Not you hope to be a writer. If you write, YOU ARE A WRITER.

Say it with me, now. I AM A WRITER.

And if you in my workshop on Thursday, we're going to be practicing *gasp* saying it out loud.

picture credit: from http://southernwritersmagazine.blogspot.com/2012/01/i-am-writer-are-you.html

Monday, February 6, 2012

America's Star on the Walk of Fame

Indulge me for just a minute. My favorite band gets far too little respect from the world at large. They've only been making music, nonstop, for over 40 years. I saw them for the first time in 1987, and have seen them 20ish times since then. They sound as good now as they did then.

Oh, I listen to lots of great music. I love a lot of contemporary pop and alternative stuff. But my musical heart will always belong to Gerry Beckley and Dewey Bunnell of America. And today, they were honored with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Congratulations, boys!

And just want to credit the America facebook page, from which I borrowed this great picture. Wish I could have been there.

Sunday, February 5, 2012

On Working Out - Ben Crane

My new favorite golf pro is Ben Crane. Nothing sexier than a cute guy, well-dressed, with a sense of humor. Just saying. The well-dressed part might be a stretch, but what he lacks in style, he makes up for in funny.