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duse
11-11-2006, 08:39 PM
A dear friend of mine is in the midst of writing his first diet/fitness book, has the support of a TOP guy at a large, powerful agency and has asked for my help. You see, he has the concept, can certainly write the science and without a doubt -- due to his client work over the past twelve years -- has seen what he's writing about work time and again. But he lacks that oh-so-important narrative, "we're having a conversation" voice in his writing. Fortunately, he believes I have it and, after reworking his Introduction, I suspect I may as well.

Here's the rub: I believe it's best to submit the five pages I've reworked to his agent just to double-check that the style I'm offering is the style this agent believes the book needs. My writing partner, though, believes we should charge full-steam ahead, dig into the body of the book and send the agent a full proposal.

When he says that, I fear burying myself for months in restructuring his sentences and making sense of his tangents only to learn that what I've offered isn't the direction his agent wanted in the first place. If my style isn't what the book needs, wouldn't that be precious time wasted? In addition, I have a screenplay heading into preproduction and they're panting for the next one I'm working on. I can do both, but I want to first make sure that my writing and what I'm offering is something his agent will respond favorably to.

Am I making sense? Does anyone have any suggestions? Similar experiences to share? Anything? Anything? ... Anything? I hope this is in the right Forum. I looked through the list, but didn't see any other appropriate forum for this question. Feel free to move it if necessary.

K1P1
11-12-2006, 08:54 PM
I see that no one has responded, so I'll add my 2 cents although I have no direct experinece.

You say that he "has the support" of an agent. Does this mean that the book isn't under contract yet and that the agent will be trying to sell it after it's completed? Or has it already been sold to a publisher?

If it isn't yet under contract, then I'd say definitely consult the agent. After all, he's the one who'll have to sell it. If he doesn't like it, it will be difficult for him to sell. But, if it's not yet under contract, then why is your friend already writing the book? My understandingis that normally non-fiction is sold using a proposal and a sample, not the complete book.

If it is under contract, then the editor is the person to submit the sample to.

In either case, I defnintely would submit the sample to someone, and get a response in writing/e-mail that says it's what they're looking for. This will avoid recriminations in the future if they decide they don't like it.

And (a bit of unsolicited advice), I hope you have a contract with your friend about your role in the writing of the book (co-author, ghost writer, freelance editor? Hourly fee, percent of royalty?).

Best of luck Duse - looks like an interesting project.

duse
11-12-2006, 09:33 PM
Maggie,

Thank you for your input. I was starting to feel like the invisible, awkward kid stuck in the corner at the cool kids' party! :-)

Let me answer some of your questions.

The agent has seen the work my friend has done and has been very supportive. As with most books this type, my friend has been working on the Table of Contents and the proposal. He's also been writing the actual book, just to get a jump on it, I guess.

In the agent's last email to my friend, though, he flat-out said that someone else needed to come into this to help with editing and presentation. Until then, it wouldn't be sellable. That's where I come in.

There isn't a contract yet, but my friend's foot is without a doubt in the proverbial door. If this agent could endure what my friend has sent him and STILL have an interest, there must be a good book in there somewhere.

As for the legal aspect to your question, should the agent respond favorably to my sample and decide that the way I write helps the book, I would then have my attorney draft a simple one-page agreement covering the co-writing credit, percent of royalty/advance, etc.

Speaking of which, what is the standard percent for something like this? It just occured to me that I don't know!

Carrie in PA
11-13-2006, 12:02 AM
I don't have experience here, either, but I just wanted to say that my 2 is that I agree with you. Just from a logical standpoint, it makes more sense to do a little bit and see if it's the direction that the book should go. And see if you can work with this person. It sounds like you have very different approaches, so that could be a potential problem.

Ditto K1P1 - make sure you protect yourself - BEFORE you get too invested in this project.

And good luck!

K1P1
11-13-2006, 01:13 AM
Speaking of which, what is the standard percent for something like this? It just occured to me that I don't know!

I can't give you an answer on this - I've no experience. But they've been discussing ghost writing contracts and fees lately. Go to the Freelance forum and search for "ghost" and that will bring up a number of entries.

Also, take a look at this thread: http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?p=233411#post233411. You might want to check the 2006 Writers Market to see if the rates have changed much.

If you'd posted this question over there, it probably would have gotten more response. You could ask a moderater to move it.

duse
11-13-2006, 10:55 PM
Fantastic idea, Maggie. Thank you. And I appreciate you chiming in as well, Carrie. In my book, all info is good info.

Could a Moderator move this to a more appropriate Forum? (Is that how you ask? Or is there a more formal way of doing it? Geez, I'm so lost on this Board! LOL)

Sassenach
11-14-2006, 12:06 AM
The agent has seen the work my friend has done and has been very supportive.

In the agent's last email to my friend, though, he flat-out said that someone else needed to come into this to help with editing and presentation. Until then, it wouldn't be sellable. That's where I come in.

There isn't a contract yet, but my friend's foot is without a doubt in the proverbial door. If this agent could endure what my friend has sent him and STILL have an interest, there must be a good book in there somewhere.



Ms Skeptical here. Has the agent expressed explicit interest or is he merely being helpful?

duse
11-14-2006, 12:55 AM
Hey, Ms Skeptical, what took you so long? :-)

The agent has expressed EXPLICIT interest in this project. In addition, if it were just kindly support, the emails wouldn't be as expressive and he wouldn't be referring to making my friend's concept into "something he can sell". This writer and I have had this conversation and it's more than an agent being sweet. The agent is much, MUCH too busy for that!

I appreciate your skepticism, though. Thank you.

Maryn
11-16-2006, 12:05 AM
Could a Moderator move this to a more appropriate Forum? (Is that how you ask? Or is there a more formal way of doing it? Geez, I'm so lost on this Board! LOL)If a moderator happens to see this message in this thread, that'll work. It's usually more effective to send a private message to the moderator of a particular board (either the one you're on or the one you want your thread moved to, or both) asking for the thread's relocation.

Maryn, who'd rather be slightly helpful than rewrite, apparently

duse
11-16-2006, 12:09 AM
Maryn,

There's nothing better than a slightly helpful curmudgeon.

Duse, who'd rather send a sincerely supportive and appreciate response than do the rewrites on the screenplay his producer is waiting for, obviously.

(sigh)