Non-compete or NDA?
Emston Media LTD recently contacted me to solicit my services for ghostwriting. I read through their letter and their specifications for hiring, and was happy to reply. One of those specifications as that their ghostwriters sign a nondisclosure agreement (NDA) prohibiting them from claiming any of the projects. The letter specified that the ghostwriter's name would not appear anywhere within the published document, nor would the ghostwriter be acknowledged in any way by the author or the publisher beyond having received payment for the work.
I'm good with that. I don't need to see my name on the published work, although it's nice to be recognized for my contribution. When someone asks me what I'm working on and/or if I've got similar experience, I may refer to the project in very general terms: for example, I'm working on a young adult trilogy based on the Mahabharata. (I actually am. And there's no way anyone could figure out what the story is or who hired me to write it from that general description.)
In my reply to Emston Media, I stated that upon completion of the project, I retain the right to claim it in my resume and portfolio and, after it's published, to link to the work in my resume and portfolio.
I received a request to provide evidence of my having written content in the genre for which they would hire me. I directed them to an example, House Secrets by Perry Freeman. My name appears nowhere in that book. I receive no royalties on book sales. I do not own the copyright. And that's OK. He hired me to write it and I did. It was a terrific project for a wonderful client. I would gladly write for him again.
I pointed out the hypocrisy of the NDA to the Emston Media representative: They wanted me to point to work I'd ghostwritten for someone else to show my experience, but would not allow me to point to work I'd produced for them to show a potential future client my experience. Emston didn't like that and withdrew the offer.
Well, that didn't last long.
When explaining my rationale for retaining the right to claim work-for-hire in ghostwriting project, I state that readers will not ask who wrote the book. They will assume the author wrote the book. That's the way it's supposed to be. Not mentioning the ghostwriter gives a suspicious reader no clue as to whether a ghostwriter did write the book and, if so, which writer. Basically, no one is going to see House Secrets, suspect Perry didn't write the story, and then pester him to reveal who really did write it. No one is going to download Riding Lessons by Dawn Coyote (yes, I was hired to write that, too) and look for the "real" author.
Expecting a ghostwriter to provide evidence of related experience on past projects without allowing that same writer to use more recent work for you is selfish. It's akin to requiring a ghostwriter to sign a non-compete agreement, because it stifles the writer's ability to find more work in that area.
If you want a ghostwriter to bring your story to life, then let's talk. I won't ask for your royalties or to share the copyright. I will require that you allow me to claim the finished project in my resume and portfolio for future clients, just as you want to see evidence of my past work for other clients. What's good for the goose is good for the gander. Fair's fair.
Every word counts.
#henhousepublishing #freelancewriting #ghostwriting
An expression of gratitude
Today we're having a mid-season holiday dinner with our older son's former neighbors.
When Matt died, his neighbors across the corridor offered to take in his dog, Moose, until we could get down to Birmingham to pick him up and bring him home. These kind souls not only took in Moose, but they boarded their own dog at a kennel to accommodate a near-stranger's pet. They took him to their veterinarian to get some tranquilizers to ease the poor pup's distress. After we brought Moose home, they sent gifts for the dog and for us.
It really brought home our dependence upon the kindness of strangers.
In October, I finally had the honor and pleasure of meeting Cheyenne and Tyler for the first time. I didn't quite know what to expect. They're unlike our boy with tattoos and free spirits. But these two young adults brim with kindness and compassion and I am eternally grateful to them.
So, we've essentially adopted them.
Cheyenne and Tyler moved to Columbus, Ohio in July and have no family here. We're stepping up as their "Ohio mom and dad." I want to be their go-to resource for support. If they need anything, I want them to contact us. We not only owe them for their kindness, but we like them as people, too.
Matt couldn't have asked for better neighbors.
So, today we're celebrating the holidays as their busy schedules allow. I'm cooking dinner: roast duck, mushroom risotto, baked squash, and green beans. The china and stemware have been washed. We'll use Aunt Josie's glasses for water and Grandma Wacek's silver plate silverware. These two young people are now our family and we will use our family's fine dinnerware in honor of them.
Tell me more
In the movie Grease, Sandy reminisces about her evening with greaser Danny Zuko. Her clique of friends respond with, "Tell me more!" I have much the same reaction when reading book reviews.
I occasionally check the reviews of my own books. It's not just a way to torment myself or seek validation, it's also a way to pick out what readers like or dislike about my stories. Their comments inform me. Sometimes, I ignore their gripes, especially if that reader's one review is an outlier offset by a preponderance of opposite reviews. That happened with Daughter of the Twin Moons. One reader loathed the heroine.
I admit to being taken aback by that, but she's entitled to her opinion. I also appreciate her taking the time to explain the negative rating. I learn from such explanations and factor what I learn into future stories.
Of course, I love when readers praise my work. What author doesn't? What author doesn't crave more such praise and validation? Russian Lullaby recently receive three very nice reviews. The readers leaving those reviews didn't go in to detail, but their short comments were complimentary.
When deciding whether to purchase (or download) a book, I look for detail in reader reviews. Some (usually negative) reviews are vastly entertaining, probably better than the books themselves. I pay detailed reviews credence: these are readers who can and do explain why they did or did not like a particular story. I evaluate those reviews.
I often discount reviews that complain of explicit content or profanity. In the genres I read, such content or vulgarity is to be expected. However, when a reader notes that the F-word is grossly overused or that there's little to no plot connecting sex scenes, I do take those into consideration. It's a matter of degree. However, if a reader gives a book a 1-star review because a character takes the Lord's name in vain once or twice, then I ignore the review, because saying "OMG" or some other, spelled-out variation is realistic and I prize realism in the escapist literature I read.
Contrary, I know.
Some readers automatically assign a negative review to any book that ends on a cliffhanger. I can understand that, especially when there's no mention of that cliffhanger in the book's description. The reader feels duped by receiving a partial story and being forced to fork over additional money to finish the story. Some authors do use cliffhangers as a money grab: They charge $0 or $0.99 for the first installment, then $4.99 or more for each additional installment until the reader has paid considerably more for the entire story in installments than he or she would have if purchasing a single printed book.
I find that infuriating and deceitful.
Reviews lambasting a book for rampant grammatical errors and/or poor writing count highly in my decision whether to get that book. My "to be read" pile is overwhelming enough that I don't need to waste my time on substandard content. Reviews that complain of protagonists who are too stupid (or stubborn) to life also get my attention. Human frailty is allowed, even welcomed, in character development, but abject idiocy is not. If the protagonist has a fatal flaw, I like to know that the character can be redeemed. A good story arc encompasses character growth. In my novella The Barbary Lion, the protagonist (an anti-hero) gets his comeuppance and, in the end, negotiates with his one true love. What makes that ending acceptable after the way he has treated her is his one enduring trait of keeping his word no matter what.
People in real life as well as characters in books make bad decisions and/or behave poorly, but do they learn from the consequences of their poor choices or bad behavior?
If you leave a review, however, please explain it. Others who may purchase that book want to know why you did or did not like it. Reviews without explanations are worthless. I discredit them entirely when considering a purchase. Reviews need not be exhaustive--I seldom write long, detailed reviews--but they should be honest. Simply indicating you liked (or didn't like) something gives a stranger no reason to allow your review to influence his or her decision. If you want to be useful or helpful to potential readers and/or authors ...
Tell them why.
#bookreviews #hollybargobooks #opinion