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cryaegm
02-10-2011, 02:04 PM
"Adam Whitehead - The Wert Zone — L.J. Smith, the author of the bestselling Vampire Diaries series of novels, has been sacked (http://www.spoilertv.com/2011/02/vampire-diaries-author-ljsmith-fired.html) by her publishers, HarperCollins. Another author will complete the series.

The Vampire Diaries is unusual in that the series premise was (apparently, going by fan comments in the SpoilerTV link above) conceived by the publisher and given to Smith as a work-for-hire project. Whilst Smith conceived of the characters, the world, the rules and so forth, HarperCollins owned the project and its copyright in their entirety. Apparently, during the recent books Smith was moving away from the character interrelationships which HarperCollins considered the core of the series. Smith has thus been replaced."

http://io9.com/#!5756378/the-author-of-the-vampire-diaries-has-been-fired-from-her-own-book-series (http://io9.com/#%215756378/the-author-of-the-vampire-diaries-has-been-fired-from-her-own-book-series)

So, I don't know where this goes and if this is the wrong place it, I'm sorry. I just saw this and wasn't sure if this was a common thing. Then again, though, it was Harper's premise and it was a work-for-hire kind of project.

Thoughts?

Also, if this was posted before, sorry for the double post.

Nightmirror
02-10-2011, 02:37 PM
I would be pretty upset if I was reading a series and the writer was "replaced" before the story concluded. It doesn't seem like a wise move on HarperCollins part. New writer=new person, new style, new everything. Won't fans be upset? I know I would be. Who wants to adjust to the writing style of a new writer in the middle of a series?

shelleyo
02-10-2011, 03:36 PM
http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=204048&highlight=vampire+diaries

Some discussed it in another thread, too.

Shelley

icerose
02-10-2011, 05:38 PM
Chances are good it will continue to be published under the original author's name, but they may not. There are several write-for-hire series that used several authors such as Nancy Drew, Star Wars, ect. If the new writer picks up the voice and stays true to the story and characters I don't think the fans will even notice.

Plot Device
02-10-2011, 05:45 PM
Chances are good it will continue to be published under the original author's name, but they may not. There are several write-for-hire series that used several authors such as Nancy Drew, Star Wars, ect. If the new writer picks up the voice and stays true to the story and characters I don't think the fans will even notice.


Well icerose, as you and I both know (since we both write screenplays), Hollywood has already proven that it's not only possible to replace one writer with another who can duplicate the prior writer's voice, but that it's downrigt commonplace and standard procedure.

Meanwhile, this past year I made the difficult move away from writing screenplays and into the world of writing novels. I made this decision for a number of artistic reasons. And one of my consolations/motivations in sticking with this very hard attempt was that at least as a novelist I would have more control over my work. But this situation in the OP (as well as some other new developments in publishing***) doesn't bode well for the future of novelists.


::ETA::

***Such as the following new development:

http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=203745



.

icerose
02-10-2011, 06:00 PM
Well icerose, as you and I both know (since we both write screenplays), Hollywood has already proven that it's not only possible to replace one writer with another who can duplicate the prior writer's voice, but that it's downrigt commonplace and standard procedure.

Meanwhile, this past year I made the difficult move away from writing screenplays and into the world of writing novels. I made this decision for a number of artistic reasons. And one of my consolations/motivations in sticking with this very hard attempt was that at least as a novelist I would have more control over my work. But this situation in the OP (as well as some other new developments in publishing***) doesn't bode well for the future of novelists.


::ETA::

***Such as the following new development:

http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=203745



.


Thing is it isn't a new development and has nothing to do with novelists of new series. Just make sure you don't sign away rights to your series and your name though. Write for hires have always been this way. The writer hired is at the mercy of the person who hired them and the series stays in control of the person who hired the writer and if the writer doesn't please the person who hired them someone else takes the reigns.

And it was a lot worse. As far as I know hired series writers now get royalties. Back when Hardy Boys was being written, it was a flat sum. Even though the publication was making millions of dollars the hired writers got a flat 125 dollars at first and then slowly bumped up with inflation but they never got royalties and were never paid more than a tolken payment. http://hardyboys.bobfinnan.com/hb3.htm

JerseyGirl1962
02-10-2011, 06:21 PM
Hmm...shades of James Frey (http://nymag.com/arts/books/features/69474/) and his factory.

Nancy

willietheshakes
02-10-2011, 08:47 PM
Hmm...shades of James Frey (http://nymag.com/arts/books/features/69474/) and his factory.

Nancy

Not hardly.

Cyia
02-10-2011, 08:53 PM
Not hardly.

QFT.

Celia Cyanide
02-10-2011, 09:14 PM
Wait....why are they doing this?

brainstorm77
02-11-2011, 03:03 AM
From what I have gathered from reading different articles, they didn't see eye to eye on where the series should go.

AlexPiper
02-11-2011, 04:20 AM
From what I hear, it's not HarperCollins that's fired her, per se, but Alloy Entertainment. As I understand it, Alloy Entertainment hired L.J. Smith to create a vampire romance series. She did -- four books -- and HarperCollins published the books for Alloy. Since Smith wrote the books to the original spec she was given, Alloy owned the rights to the world/characters. At any rate, the series was concluded, and was successful. ESmith got money, Alloy got money, HarperCollins got money... everyone was happy.

Some years later she returned to write three additional books. While writing those books, she decided she wanted Character A and Character C to get together, rather than Character A and Character B (as in the original series). She got her way in those books. Then another trilogy was announced, and she continued to write relationship between Character A and C, rather than A and B in the first of /those/ new books. At this point, Alloy said "no dice, go back to the original relationships, which we think sell better." She pushed back again, and this time they fired her and said they'd have the remainder of the books in the world ghostwritten.

Mind you, that's just what I've gotten of the situation from articles and such over this, as someone who is familiar with neither the books or TV series.

cryaegm
02-11-2011, 04:35 AM
http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=204048&highlight=vampire+diaries

Some discussed it in another thread, too.

Shelley
I was looking for that, but my searching skills seem to be not as great as I thought it was. :e2smack: Now I have a link that I wanted. :D Thanks.

Zoombie
02-11-2011, 04:38 AM
From what I hear, it's not HarperCollins that's fired her, per se, but Alloy Entertainment. As I understand it, Alloy Entertainment hired L.J. Smith to create a vampire romance series. She did -- four books -- and HarperCollins published the books for Alloy. Since Smith wrote the books to the original spec she was given, Alloy owned the rights to the world/characters. At any rate, the series was concluded, and was successful. ESmith got money, Alloy got money, HarperCollins got money... everyone was happy.

Some years later she returned to write three additional books. While writing those books, she decided she wanted Character A and Character C to get together, rather than Character A and Character B (as in the original series). She got her way in those books. Then another trilogy was announced, and she continued to write relationship between Character A and C, rather than A and B in the first of /those/ new books. At this point, Alloy said "no dice, go back to the original relationships, which we think sell better." She pushed back again, and this time they fired her and said they'd have the remainder of the books in the world ghostwritten.

Mind you, that's just what I've gotten of the situation from articles and such over this, as someone who is familiar with neither the books or TV series.


Too bad she didn't try and have Character A, B and C get together...

Celia Cyanide
02-11-2011, 06:22 AM
Too bad she didn't try and have Character A, B and C get together...

Word.

I would totally wanna read that...

C. R. Reaves
02-15-2012, 11:44 AM
Linking to the blog I'd stumbled across today: http://parafantasy.blogspot.com/2012/02/this-is-utterly-ridiculousi-cant-even.html

I know the point is that if you don't understand what's in your contract, don't sign it. But I still think it's horrible the way this is happening.

I also am a bit sad at the way people are reacting - bagging on the ghostwriter who's taking over. I understand that it's a hard pill to swallow for most creators to think of someone taking over from them - especially if (by implication) they're not a hardcore fan of the series themselves. But it's hardly the ghostwriter's fault they were given the opportunity to write.

I didn't see anywhere else posting about it here at AW, though it may have been buried in a longer thread. (I searched, though.)

KalenO
02-15-2012, 12:59 PM
Thing is though, this (while horrible) was never about a standard publishing contract - if there is such a thing. Smith never sold the Vampire Diaries to Harper Collins.....as she herself mentions in the letter in that blogpost, she worked for a book packager. They knew what they wanted, and Smith was hired to write the books based on those initial wants...and then the book packagers sold the finished product to Harper Collins. Smith never owned the rights, not even before she typed the first word of her first draft.

So yes, its definitely still a cautionary tale, and its definitely callous of the book packager (it was Alloy's decision, not HarperTeen's) to just cut her loose after years of writing these books and making them what they were, but I think a lot of people are getting the wrong impression about this situation. This was never about an author who wrote her own concept/story and sold it to a publisher.

PulpDogg
02-15-2012, 01:22 PM
I read about this yesterday ... And what I don't understand is WHY HarperCollins fired her. Its not mentioned anywhere. It seems they just dropped her because they could ... which is strange.

Polenth
02-15-2012, 01:24 PM
Work for hire isn't the same as the average publishing contract. They approach you to write something to their specifications and they keep the rights. This isn't the sort of publishing contract most new writers will get, because most new writers are trying to get a deal for their original fiction (not written to anyone's specifications).

Judging from the blog comments, some of the commenters don't realise that. It's not that HarperCollins tries to get all authors to sign work for hire contracts. It's a specific sort of contract for a particular kind of work.

Which isn't to say it's nice for the author concerned. But it's not something that should send out waves of panic among other writers. If you don't want to do work for hire, no one's going to make you.

KalenO
02-15-2012, 02:06 PM
I read about this yesterday ... And what I don't understand is WHY HarperCollins fired her. Its not mentioned anywhere. It seems they just dropped her because they could ... which is strange.

HarperCollins didn't fire her. The book packager she worked for, Alloy, fired her, presumably because she wanted more money (understandably, her initial advances were pocket change considering she's an international bestseller). Alloy however probably figured it'd be cheaper in the long run to just fire her and get ghostwriters to continue the books, counting on the majority of readers continuing to pick them up based on name/brand recognition.

Terie
02-15-2012, 02:18 PM
HarperCollins didn't fire her. The book packager she worked for, Alloy, fired her, presumably because she wanted more money (understandably, her initial advances were pocket change considering she's an international bestseller).

I wouldn't even assume this to be the reason, much less presume it to be.

This actually happened just over a year ago (early February 2011), and you can read much more about it by googling 'lj smith fired from vampire diaries' (http://www.google.co.uk/#sclient=psy-ab&hl=en&source=hp&q=lj+smith+fired+from+vampire+diaries&aq=0&aqi=g2&aql=&oq=&pbx=1&bav=on.2,or.r_gc.r_pw.,cf.osb&fp=aed547ad0aef82b&biw=1063&bih=896). Funny enough, those links include the actual reason, which was 'creative differences', not 'more money'.

ETA: Here (http://absolutewrite.net/forums/showthread.php?t=204465) is one thread at AW on the subject.

KaiaSonderby
02-15-2012, 07:08 PM
I remember hearing something about this at the time. Something about how they didn't like the direction she was taking the series, or something. Don't know if that's true, it's just what I heard.

BethS
02-15-2012, 07:09 PM
She probably doesn't see it this way at the moment, but this could end up being a very good thing for her career. She mentioned that she recently got a good agent. She can write her own series now, get far more money for it, and her fans from the previous series will no doubt be eager to read it.

Torgo
02-15-2012, 08:04 PM
She probably doesn't see it this way at the moment, but this could end up being a very good thing for her career. She mentioned that she recently got a good agent. She can write her own series now, get far more money for it, and her fans from the previous series will no doubt be eager to read it.

I've got the fiction dept. here to make enquiries...

Jamesaritchie
02-15-2012, 08:16 PM
Linking to the blog I'd stumbled across today: http://parafantasy.blogspot.com/2012/02/this-is-utterly-ridiculousi-cant-even.html

I know the point is that if you don't understand what's in your contract, don't sign it. But I still think it's horrible the way this is happening.

I also am a bit sad at the way people are reacting - bagging on the ghostwriter who's taking over. I understand that it's a hard pill to swallow for most creators to think of someone taking over from them - especially if (by implication) they're not a hardcore fan of the series themselves. But it's hardly the ghostwriter's fault they were given the opportunity to write.

I didn't see anywhere else posting about it here at AW, though it may have been buried in a longer thread. (I searched, though.)

I don't see the problem here. These books never were L. J. Smith's. When you work for someone else, write their books instead of your own, you can be fired.

I've done ghostwriting on a one out basis, but I've never been fond of book packagers, and I won't write for them. I think they're a bad deal for writers, and a big part of what's wrong with big publishers. But if I did work for one, I wouldn't have reason to complain when I lost the job, or reason to be concerned about who got hired to replace me.

Write your own books. You may get dropped, but if you do it's because your books aren't selling well enough, and that's your own doing. And you still own the books, even if you do get dropped.

I didn't become a writer in order to work for someone else, I can do that without being a writer, and this case is one example of why I don't like book packagers, or writing books other than my own.

kaitie
02-15-2012, 09:49 PM
I think what makes it sad in this case is that, if I remember correctly from what I read last year, Ms. Smith didn't actually realize when she was initially approached that she was signing with a book packager and not the publisher. It was more a case of a naive author who didn't quite understand how it worked when she got started.

I might be wrong on that, but I did read her own words about it at the time, and I seem to remember that being the case. It goes to show that you should always do research and completely understand what you're agreeing to when you sign a contract, but it doesn't make it any less tragic, IMO.

virtue_summer
02-15-2012, 09:53 PM
I remember hearing something about this at the time. Something about how they didn't like the direction she was taking the series, or something. Don't know if that's true, it's just what I heard. I wouldn't be surprised if that is the reason. I think I read The Vampire Diaries: The Return, Nightfall (http://www.amazon.com/Vampire-Diaries-Return-Nightfall/dp/0061720801/ref=pd_sim_b_5). I assume she still wrote that one, and I hated it even though I've reread most of her other stuff many times. The characters didn't seem like the characters fans had come to know. The vampire mythology got dropped almost entirely so even calling it The Vampire Diaries made no sense anymore because suddenly it was about some Japanese mythological creatures. And that's just the tip of the iceberg. Anyway, not to rant too much, but just saying I can understand creative differences being a major problem here if the book packagers or whatever actually wanted to stay true to the original books.

cbenoi1
02-15-2012, 10:15 PM
> a ghostwriter will be continuing the Vampire Diaries series under her name

Just wondering what the law say about this.

-cb

Terie
02-15-2012, 10:22 PM
> a ghostwriter will be continuing the Vampire Diaries series under her name

Just wondering what the law say about this.

All that matters is what's in the contract. It's not at all uncommon for series put out by book packagers to carry the original author's name.

Carolyn Keene didn't write every Nancy Drew book.

R.L. Stine didn't write every Goosebumps book.

Not uncommon at all.

Torgo
02-15-2012, 10:22 PM
> a ghostwriter will be continuing the Vampire Diaries series under her name

Just wondering what the law say about this.

-cb

I think she will get a 'created by' credit, not a 'written by'.

kaitie
02-15-2012, 10:33 PM
I wouldn't be surprised if that is the reason. I think I read The Vampire Diaries: The Return, Nightfall (http://www.amazon.com/Vampire-Diaries-Return-Nightfall/dp/0061720801/ref=pd_sim_b_5). I assume she still wrote that one, and I hated it even though I've reread most of her other stuff many times. The characters didn't seem like the characters fans had come to know. The vampire mythology got dropped almost entirely so even calling it The Vampire Diaries made no sense anymore because suddenly it was about some Japanese mythological creatures. And that's just the tip of the iceberg. Anyway, not to rant too much, but just saying I can understand creative differences being a major problem here if the book packagers or whatever actually wanted to stay true to the original books.

Again, ti's been awhile, but I seem to remember that it had something to do with a love triangle arc and that one of the characters was someone she wanted to focus on and bring to the forefront, but that the packagers weren't interested in and wanted her to dial down.

I don't have time right now, but I'll try to look later and find the link that I read all of this in initially so I can make sure it's accurate. I don't remember specific details, but I know she talked about it.

Jamesaritchie
02-15-2012, 11:18 PM
I think she will get a 'created by' credit, not a 'written by'.

She'll be lucky if she gets even this much.

Jamesaritchie
02-15-2012, 11:20 PM
> a ghostwriter will be continuing the Vampire Diaries series under her name

Just wondering what the law say about this.

-cb

The law will say it's fine. When you sign up to write someone else's books under your own name, your name is often part of the contract. I suspect she was young and naive. This deal means most writers will write those books under a pseudonym for this very reason. They keep the pseudonym, you keep your real name.

thebloodfiend
02-15-2012, 11:29 PM
She wanted the MC to end up with BadBoy#1, not BadBoy#2. That's what I heard.

I feel sorry for her, but truth be told, I was never a fan of the VD series or her Nightworld series. They were both poorly written and cliche.

Torgo
02-15-2012, 11:43 PM
She'll be lucky if she gets even this much.

On legal grounds? Agreed, but I believe I've actually heard she's getting that credit. It may be a ham-fisted attempt by HC to undo some of the bad publicity they're getting over this.

What I don't get is why the books didn't come out under a house name in the first place. So much unpleasantness could have been avoided...

cbenoi1
02-15-2012, 11:50 PM
> They keep the pseudonym, you keep your real name.

If this is a pseudonym, then I agree - it doesn't matter who writes no more.

-cb

James D. Macdonald
02-16-2012, 12:01 AM
Way back when, Doyle and I were offered the contract to write this series.

We turned it down, because the contract sucked.

Other people may not have had the luxury of turning down a job.

Torgo
02-16-2012, 12:06 AM
Way back when, Doyle and I were offered the contract to write this series.

We turned it down, because the contract sucked.

Other people may not have had the luxury of turning down a job.

Back in December, a novel of mine went out with my name on it but (c) my employers... I didn't really have the luxury of turning down the job, no, but I knew what I was getting in to!

MaryMumsy
02-16-2012, 12:13 AM
All that matters is what's in the contract. It's not at all uncommon for series put out by book packagers to carry the original author's name.

Carolyn Keene didn't write every Nancy Drew book.

R.L. Stine didn't write every Goosebumps book.

Not uncommon at all.

There was no Carolyn Keene. It was a pseudonym for an assortment of ghost writers from the beginning.

MM

Terie
02-16-2012, 12:23 AM
There was no Carolyn Keene. It was a pseudonym for an assortment of ghost writers from the beginning.

MM

Doesn't matter. The comment I made still stands. What matters is what's in the contract. If you sign a work-for-hire contract agreeing for your real name to be used no matter who writes the material, that's that. It's perfectly legal.

Scribhneoir
02-16-2012, 12:29 AM
Carolyn Keene didn't write every Nancy Drew book.


Carolyn Keene didn't write any Nancy Drew book. "Carolyn Keene" is a house name.

And as Torgo mentioned, why didn't they use a house name for this series?

Darkshore
02-16-2012, 01:00 AM
Now, I have never read any of her novels nor have I watched said T.V. series, but this is a tragedy. I came across this on Will Weaton's googleplus feed. http://parafantasy.blogspot.com/2012/02/this-is-utterly-ridiculousi-cant-even.html She is loosing everything and a ghostwriter will continue the series under HER NAME.

Terie
02-16-2012, 01:06 AM
1) This is old news. It happened in early Feb last year.

2) Someone else already started a new thread on this subject (http://www.absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=237560) today.

Drachen Jager
02-16-2012, 01:17 AM
Everyone seems all up in arms about this. Look at it this way. Smith was hired for a gig. They gave her the outline of what they wanted and she wrote it.

In a lot of ways it's like giving an actor a gig. Sure they make the role their own. They may even develop it to the point where the role is iconic with them playing it. Does that stop the studio from finding a different James Bond for the next film? No. Does everyone get worked up over that? No. This is really no different. She was hired for a gig, did a great job of it, now they're moving on to a new author.

Did she reap huge publicity and probably financial benefits from the arrangement? Yes.

She can go out and write anything now and publishers will snap it up. Only this time it will be all HERS. She's laughing all the way to Easy Street on this one. I have no idea why people are upset that she got some kind of raw deal.

Darkshore
02-16-2012, 01:24 AM
My apologies. Didn't realize this was old news. I can understand it, but it just seems like a huge betrayal and makes me very wary of any writing gigs like this. I mean it's not like it's just something she did for awhile. She's been doing this for years.

Old Hack
02-16-2012, 01:30 AM
If she's been doing this for years then she'll have had plenty of opportunities to renegotiate the contract she originally signed.

Or to walk away and begin a new series, with the publisher, bearing in mind her first series was so popular.

Darkshore
02-16-2012, 02:25 AM
Now I see the other thread and feel a bit foolish. I really thought I looked through and didn't see one. Feel free to close, lock, or delete this. The discussion over there seems to cover my concerns and questions :D.

virtue_summer
02-16-2012, 02:27 AM
Or to walk away and begin a new series, with the publisher, bearing in mind her first series was so popular.
It's not the only series she's written anyway. She wrote two companion books way back (Night of Solstice, Heart of Valor), wrote three trilogies (Dark Visions, The Forbidden Game, The Secret Circle) and wrote the Night World series in addition to Vampire Diaries. Actually, fans have been clamoring for the last book of the Night World series for years. I used to run an L.J. Smith fan site and that's the one everyone yearned for. I wish she'd get on that.

CaoPaux
02-16-2012, 02:30 AM
Three (3) threads now merged. Apologies for any recursive links.

C. R. Reaves
02-16-2012, 11:07 AM
I have no idea why the search feature didn't bring up the original thread - apologies on that. :x I tried "vampire diaries" and two different variations on "LJ Smith". Ahwell - thanks for the merge. xD;

---

As I said in my original post, I completely understand that the contract she signed gave them the rights to do this. That's why I emphasized that in my post that writers should check their contracts and ask questions. It's not an issue of if they legally have the right to do what they did.

And from what (admittedly little) reading I did into the subject, LJ Smith herself didn't seem to realize until it happened that she was working on a series that could be taken away from her whenever the company wished to. If I'm mistaken on this, I apologize. So my sympathies are with her, even in spite of the fact that she signed away these rights she thought were hers. It's on her that she made the mistake of the contract and didn't renegotiate for a better deal at some point during her career. But that doesn't mean that it's not a harsh blow to someone if they thought that they had the rights to their works only to find out they didn't.

I suppose I shouldn't really be rambling about the issue at all. I don't believe I've ever read that series from her, she's not one of the writers that contributed to the type of writer I became (I know I've read one of her series that made a deep impression on me, but I can't remember if I read anything else of her's), and I perfectly agree with everyone that says there was the perfect legal right of the company to do this.

It's a cautionary tale I think should be spread around. I'm sure a lot of people would have read "work for hire" and simply assumed that was standard wording of a book contract. If they didn't have an agent and didn't take it to a lawyer or study the contract terms themselves, they could have ended up in the same place - investing years into a series and characters and thinking they had every right to take the story in whatever direction they wanted... only to find out they had no rights.

So, yes. I think writers should be scared. It'll keep them from winding up in the same situation. It might make a few people look more closely at their contracts and realize they have clauses in them they need to get rid of the next time they possibly can renegotiate.

lastlittlebird
02-16-2012, 01:28 PM
It's not the only series she's written anyway. She wrote two companion books way back (Night of Solstice, Heart of Valor), wrote three trilogies (Dark Visions, The Forbidden Game, The Secret Circle) and wrote the Night World series in addition to Vampire Diaries. Actually, fans have been clamoring for the last book of the Night World series for years. I used to run an L.J. Smith fan site and that's the one everyone yearned for. I wish she'd get on that.

YES. It's been well over ten years now... I need closure!
(sorry about the derail)

Yorkist
02-16-2012, 03:19 PM
Yeah, there are people who read that series as tweens and are now adults and are still waiting for the end. My sister is one of them.

Sirion
02-16-2012, 03:42 PM
Hmm...shades of James Frey (http://nymag.com/arts/books/features/69474/) and his factory.

Nancy


You know that when you mention that name on these forums you're supposed to throw some salt over your shoulder.