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Writer Girl
08-04-2011, 08:23 AM
Hello fellow writers,

I greatly admire all of the good advice floating around this forum, and I'm hoping to get some from you guys. So here goes:

I am a published author with one book out, and one on the way. I want to write an e-book of quick lifestyle tips, using my pen name, my character's voice, and a few references to my first novel - without using its title. Am I under legal obligation to discuss this with my agent, or editor?

The reason I'm asking you guys instead of my agent is because we're not seeing eye to eye at the moment. Getting another agent is absolutely not an option. I'm indebted to my agent for fighting for the publication of my first book, and I'm with a very highly respected agency. However, I don't want to give my agent the chance to shoot down my spin-off idea. Since I plan to charge 1.99 for this ebook, I want to know if I'm under any contractual obligation to share my plans with agent, publisher, or both?

All advice is greatly appreciated. Thanks! :)

agentpaper
08-04-2011, 09:02 AM
What does your contract say? If only that one book was contracted and there's no option or right of refusal clause, then it's probably okay. BUT, honestly I would talk to at least your agent. He/she is supposed to be the one you go to with these kind of things and if you can't talk to them, that's a pretty heavy sign that something is wrong.

Writer Girl
08-04-2011, 07:36 PM
Thanks Agent paper,

Yup, something is wrong, but here's a couple of analogies:
1.why get divorced when we can cohabit peacefully?
2. It's tougher to get a job without having a job

Just to clarify, this ebook will be less than 20 pages, so does that still count as a book?

Soccer Mom
08-04-2011, 08:27 PM
Hello fellow writers,

I greatly admire all of the good advice floating around this forum, and I'm hoping to get some from you guys. So here goes:

IAm I under legal obligation to discuss this with my agent, or editor?

Since I plan to charge 1.99 for this ebook, I want to know if I'm under any contractual obligation to share my plans with agent, publisher, or both?

All advice is greatly appreciated. Thanks! :)

It's impossible to answer this without seeing the contracts with your agent and publisher.

CaroGirl
08-04-2011, 08:32 PM
Check your contract but yes, I'd assume you are under obligation to tell your publisher that you plan to use the work that they have the rights to in order to spin off another book. Even if it's an e-book.

dgiharris
08-04-2011, 10:38 PM
Feels like you are leaving something out.

I just can't see how a 20 page short story can be a problem whether your agent agrees with you are not.

I mean, are you a children's book author that wants to write a 20 page erotica piece? If this or something like it is the case then just use a different pen name...

Basically, my spidey sense tells me you are leaving out some key details because this really shouldn't be a problem.

A 20 page short is something you can turn out in a week or two so how and why is this an issue? Similarly, your agent ultimately works for you so something isn't right in your relationship. I mean, seriously, if you are having this level of problems over a 20 page short I can't imagine what happens later when you are having a problem with a major work that is 400+ pages long.

good luck

Mel...

timewaster
08-04-2011, 10:52 PM
Hello fellow writers,

I greatly admire all of the good advice floating around this forum, and I'm hoping to get some from you guys. So here goes:

I am a published author with one book out, and one on the way. I want to write an e-book of quick lifestyle tips, using my pen name, my character's voice, and a few references to my first novel - without using its title. Am I under legal obligation to discuss this with my agent, or editor?

The reason I'm asking you guys instead of my agent is because we're not seeing eye to eye at the moment. Getting another agent is absolutely not an option. I'm indebted to my agent for fighting for the publication of my first book, and I'm with a very highly respected agency. However, I don't want to give my agent the chance to shoot down my spin-off idea. Since I plan to charge 1.99 for this ebook, I want to know if I'm under any contractual obligation to share my plans with agent, publisher, or both?

All advice is greatly appreciated. Thanks! :)


In my view it is not about the contract but about relationships. You probably don't need to ask for permission, but I think it would be courteous to talk over your plans with them - particularly your agent who could advise on the situation with your publisher.
I think it would be difficult for your agent to represent you well if he/she is not aware of other writing you are doing that may affect the perception and reputation of the brand he/she is trying to sell.

Theo81
08-04-2011, 11:26 PM
Let's assume your contract would allow you to do this because I want to ask you a question.

What do you think is going to happen when your agent finds out (which they will)? If it wasn't going to be anything terrible, you wouldn't be here asking this.

If you aren't seeing eye-to-eye with your agent now, I wouldn't be surprised if you found a new one in a few years/books time. Going behind your agent's back in this way will backfire when/if you come to find a new agent in the future.
This is a business relationship. Show them the respect of remembering that. To expand on your analogy, it's like cohabiting peacefully but having an affair with the unemployed guy downstairs.

To be honest, if you want to write this book, why not do so and distribute it for free on a blog or something (should the agent/publisher not want to run with it)? If you're marketing from scratch...it's going to take a lot of your time to build up a name and get people buying this.

Stacia Kane
08-05-2011, 06:25 AM
Yeah, I agree with the others. I can't speak to your contractual obligations, but the polite and professional thing to do is to inform your agent and editor of your plans. I've written a couple of shorts for anthologies using characters from my Downside books, and in both cases I let me agent & editor(s) know, if for no other reason than that they could then mention those in promotional stuff if they wanted to.

I planned to do a Downside novella to self-publish, and when I told my editor about it she said "Why not let us publish it?" So now it will be a Random House "e-special," and might be included in the paperback & ebook editions of my fifth Downside novel. There's every chance in the world your editor might like to do something similar with your project.

As for your agent...no, it's not up to him or her to tell you that you can't write it (unless there is some kind of contractual issue there). You're the one driving the car; the agent is there to help you navigate. And you absolutely shouldn't be in a position where you feel you need to hide something from your agent. That's not "peacefully cohabiting," that's "seriously dysfunctional," and the agent/author relationship is based so heavily and seriously on trust that I honestly can't see why you'd want to continue in a relationship where you don't trust your agent and don't think s/he is going to advise you properly.

I disagree that you'd have a hard time finding another agent (which I guess is what you were implying with your comment about finding a job while employed?). You have a book on the shelves and one under contract; that makes you a professional writer, and that means agents are going to be interested in you.

No matter how well-respected the agent or agency is, if the relationship isn't working for you, you should get out. No matter what a good job your agent did in the past, if the relationship isn't working for you, you should get out. Writers switch agents all the time; offhand I can think of six or seven friends of mine who switched, and all of them are much happier now (I can tell you how they did it, if you like).

I totally mean no disrespect to you here, so please don't take it that way, but sneaking around behind your agent's back--and your editor's back, too?--is a bad idea. One that could get you talked about in a way you don't want, especially not in a business where reputation is so important.

I urge you to talk to your agent about this, and if the response you get is whatever you're worried it will be (rude? Mean? Dismissive? What's the problem?), sever the relationship and find someone you can trust. I know it feels good to be with a highly respected agent/agency, but there are more of them out there, and what matters most is that you feel you and your career are being taken care of and running the way you want them to.

Feel free to PM me if you want (of course you don't have to or anything, just if you want to share specifics or find out how my friends switched agents or whatever).

Jamesaritchie
08-05-2011, 07:59 PM
There's never a reason not to tell your agent and publisher what you're writing. Doing so can do no harm, and can save trouble.

Writer Girl
08-09-2011, 08:44 AM
Just as expected, excellent advice from all. I especially loved this point:

To expand on your analogy, it's like cohabiting peacefully but having an affair with the unemployed guy downstairs

And yes, I'm leaving out a whole lot. Can't go into full details. In short, I was looking at this venture as doing my own additional PR and making a few bucks to boot, not sneaking around behind backs. But all of you bring forth great points to consider. If it seems fishy to you guys, it will to my pub and agent.

Thanks so much all. Really lub you guys. :)

Stacia Kane
08-13-2011, 07:57 PM
Oh, I agree re doing additional PR and making extra cash. It's why I still plan to self-pub some shorts, and my agent and editors are totally behind that idea and think it's a good one.

I just think not telling them looks sneaky, and feels mistrustful, and can deprive your publisher of some additional promo opportunities.

Cyia
08-13-2011, 08:36 PM
FWIW $1.99 is awfully high for a 20 page short.

CheshireCat
08-13-2011, 11:53 PM
Just as expected, excellent advice from all. I especially loved this point:


And yes, I'm leaving out a whole lot. Can't go into full details. In short, I was looking at this venture as doing my own additional PR and making a few bucks to boot, not sneaking around behind backs. But all of you bring forth great points to consider. If it seems fishy to you guys, it will to my pub and agent.

Thanks so much all. Really lub you guys. :)

Sell the idea to your agent and editor as promotional rather than a "book" you want to earn money from. Publishers are casting about rather wildly at the moment trying to figure out how to use the Internet to promote and build their writers, so they're likely to view your idea with nothing but love. ;)

happywritermom
08-14-2011, 06:17 AM
Ditto what Cheshire Cat wrote.