Today, I’d like to join up again with Nancy Sanders to have her continue our conversation about work-for-hire vs. royalty writing. Nancy writes primarily for children, but work-for-hire and royalty contracts are available in both children’s and adult markets.
Often, writers don’t consider work-for-hire contracts when they think of writing a book, yet they can offer many benefits over royalty contracts. Today, Nancy will discuss what some of those benefits are.
By the way, I must apologize that on my first post of Nancy’s interview, I had some interesting tech problems and was not able to add Nancy’s picture to my post. This time, it seems to have worked!
It’s nice to be back on your blog again, Renee! Thanks so much for having me join your readers and share my perspective on work-for-hire versus royalty contracts. I’ve signed lots of both, so I’ve had experience on both sides of the page. Today I wanted to share about some of the benefits work-for-hire contracts can offer a writer.
There can be key benefits to work-for-hire. One is that most work-for-hire assignments have fixed guidelines and a pre-arranged format writers are required to follow. Some writers prefer this. Editors who work with writers on these assignments also realize there is a learning curve for those who are new to their publishing house. They’re often willing to help and train newbies—an added bonus! It can feel like signing up to take a writing course, but being paid to take it.
Other benefits are that you learn to write what an editor wants and work on a tight schedule. Plus, it helps acquire published credits. These are essential ingredients of building a successful, solid writing career.
The one main concern you want to be careful of when signing a work-for-hire contract, however, is to never agree to write about something that is near and dear to your heart. Don’t sell all rights to the picture book about your nephew’s first birthday party or a middle grade novel series with your twin daughters as the main characters. Save those books for royalty-based contracts where the copyright is registered in your own name.
To get started with work-for-hire contracts, most publishers will expect to receive a query letter stating that you’re interested in being considered as an author for a potential assignment. List any published credits you already have. They’ll also need to see samples of your work, but if you haven’t yet written in their specific genre, mention in your query that you’re interested in preparing sample text for their review for a potential upcoming new project. That way, you can fine tune your writing sample directly to their in-house style and format. And if they like your sample, you just might be offered the contract to write that project.
[I’d like to add here that I believe wfh assignments are an excellent way to break in to a publishing house. In my opinion, it’s much easier if you are given an assignment and told how it is to be written than to try to break in as a new author by sending out proposals in hopes something will catch someone’s attention.
I realize that some writers hate the structure of wfh and would rather be free to create the way they want to, but even with royalty publishing, you still have to adhere to the editor’s guidelines and format.]
Thanks, Nancy for shining the light on work-for-hire vs. royalty contracts!
-Bestselling and award-winning author Nancy I. Sanders has signed numerous work-for-hire books as well as royalty-based contracts. She is the author of the ground-breaking new book, Yes! You Can Learn How to Write Children’s Books, Get Them Published, and Build a Successful Writing Career, Award-winning Finalist of the National Best Books 2009 Awards. http://www.YesYouCanLearn.wordpress.com