A Cautionary Tale

LJ Smith, author of the Vampire Diaries, wrote the books as a “work for hire.” They are wholly owned by the company which commissioned them from her.

Upon the delivery of her last manuscript, the company that commissioned her work fired her from writing the series. They are going with another writer.

Here is what she has to say:

It probably sounds completely impossible to say that I am fired from writing my own books. But the truth is that they’re not mine, even though I write every word. When I was called by an agent and asked to write the vampire trilogy, that agent wasn’t from a publisher, but from what is now Alloy Entertainment, Ltd. And they are a book packager. A book packager sells books, already made with covers and all, to publishers, like HarperCollins—my publisher for The Vampire Diaries and The Secret Circle. And both these series were written “for hire” which means that the book packager owns the books the author produces. Although I didn’t even understand what “for hire” meant back in 1990, when I agreed to write books for them, I found out eventually, to my horror and dismay. It means that even though I have written the entire series, I don’t own anything about The Vampire Diaries. And from now on, the books will be written by an anonymous ghostwriter.


One thought on “A Cautionary Tale

  1. D. Moonfire

    Actually “For Hire” is a really big thing, and something that shouldn’t be taken lightly. I know that my commissions are “For Hire”, but I won’t do it for anything I think could be successful, simply because you lose all rights once you hand it over. It can be scary. It can also be frustrating if you succeed… but I haven’t gotten that far to prove it. 🙂


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