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Professional counselling sought!

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  • Professional counselling sought!

    Dear Marje, sorry, Mike,

    While my own career as an author is fairly prosaic and small-scale (I mainly write factual educational books on specialist subjects), I find myself in need of some advice!

    I recently accepted my first ever kill fee. A well-known mainstream publisher commissioned a series of books from me but had to cancel it long before completion when their co-publisher dropped out. Under the terms of their contract I ended up with a large percentage of the money for having delivered only a very small percentage of the work. The situation ended perfectly amicably as the reasons behind this were no-one's particular fault.

    So why don't I feel smug? Why do I have this feeling of unease at having been paid for not working? The publisher in question has no shortage of bestsellers and my little payoff will mean nothing to them. So why am I going around voluntarily confessing this to everyone I know? I suppose I've just got used to the old-fashioned idea of delivering something for my money.

    This must have happened to you at some point. 'Letters from Hollywood' was in a sense one long kill-fee story (a new genre!). I recall that you found the sensation rather odd, too. Any other (perhaps smaller-scale) instances I might be able to relate to?

    Yours,

    Wracked With Guilt, England.

  • #2
    I always find it a bit weird to be paid huge amounts of money when I haven't done a huge amount of work. I remain stuck in this protestant work ethic thing, like a lot of us. I think you have to look at it from the Whistler perspective -- that you aren't being paid for the time it takes to do the work but for the experience you bring to it. Hard to equate. I got a great deal of money for the Origin game which never came off. I shared it where I could (with Storm Constantine, for instance, who did such a good job collaborating on the novel) but in the end I was paid
    disproportionately. My agent didn't see it that way. All you can do in cases like that is go with your own nature. Try to pass the good fortune on in some way, even if it's just taking your friends out for a good time!

    Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in Europe:
    The Whispering Swarm: Book One of the Sanctuary of the White Friars - The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction
    Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles - Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - Modem Times 2.0 - The Sunday Books - The Sundered Worlds


    Pre-order or Buy my latest titles in the USA:
    The Laughter of Carthage - Byzantium Endures - London Peculiar and Other Nonfiction - The Sunday Books - Doctor Who: The Coming of the Terraphiles
    Kizuna: Fiction for Japan - The Sundered Worlds - The Winds of Limbo - Modem Times 2.0 - Elric: Swords and Roses

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    • #3
      Hi, I know I'm not working on the same scale as you chaps, but I was once asked to contribute a cartoon strip to a trade paper. I was paid for the strips, but the editor then decided that the tone was wrong, and asked me to create a new set of characters. I did that, and got paid all over again. Technically I was being paid for work I had done in good faith, but I still felt a little guilty that I'd received payment for work that was effectively "useless" to him. Not very guilty, but then it was only an afternoon's work and I wasn't being paid very much. To be honest I feel guilty being paid for anything I do, but I don't want to bore you good people with my issues.

      D...
      "That which does not kill us, makes us stranger." - Trevor Goodchild

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      • #4
        On the other side of things...

        I got paid for some consulting work a few years ago. When they were updating the materials, they sent me a letter asking me for an update, without an offer for payment.

        I do feel funny when I get paid for something that doesn't see the light of day, but I certainly like to be paid for work that I do, even if it is just a gesture.

        By the way, Dee, I thought most of us here were working through our issues and boring everyone else with them.

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        • #5
          Eh? I thought the idea of this forum in particular was to get MM to reveal his issues, so that the rest of us can then collaborate on a gigantic unauthorised biography! 8) :lol: Actually, MM is the only writer I can think of who would regard his own autobiography as unauthorised...

          Returning to the initial subject, I suppose it's a kind of karmic thing. On reflection, there are also poor but worthy publishers I work for to whom I'll often deliver more/better stuff than they were hoping for, purely because they deserve it. So the Cosmic Balance remains in equilibrium. Or so I must tell myself.

          Note to all: Kind as it is of Dee to bracket me with MM (we did contribute to the same magazine once, but not to the same issue!) I can assure you that MM is a star in the literary cosmos, whereas I'm a kind of misshapen little asteroid that crashes about at random.

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          • #6
            Hats off to the publisher for honoring the contract
            and not turning it into a battle of the bankrolls.
            I've heard one to many horror stories of
            power mad suits and selfish ceos.

            No need to feel guilty,
            your consciousness of equality is worthy
            of a future citizen of Tanelorn.


            ever spell check Tanelorn?
            =timeworn

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            • #7
              Originally posted by DeeCrowSeer
              To be honest I feel guilty being paid for anything I do
              Me too! It never fails to amaze me when someone actually pays for my artwork.
              "Wounds are all I'm made of. Did I hear you say that this is victory?"
              --Michael Moorcock, Veteran of the Psychic Wars

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              • #8
                Believe me, if you maintain your career long enough there will be slugs who attempt and or succeed at stealing your work, then things have a way of balancing out. Doctors and lawyers get paid large sums for their time because they spent so much time in school and for the experience they possess. How are those of us who slaved at day jobs and worked all night to master our craft any different? Do not feel bad because it is your integrity talking and be glad you have it. Smile, be grateful, take the money and as Michael advised, do something good with the money. Pass it on by giving freely of time and advice to help another writer out.
                "But I'm tryin', Ringo, I'm trying real hard to be the shepard."

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by bluekachina
                  Doctors and lawyers get paid large sums for their time because they spent so much time in school and for the experience they possess. How are those of us who slaved at day jobs and worked all night to master our craft any different?
                  Well, in my case it's different because all I do is doodle. Perhaps once I produce a masterpiece I'll feel differently, but for now I'd take being plagiarized as a great compliment. It would be nice to know I had ideas worth stealing.

                  Originally posted by bluekachina
                  Pass it on by giving freely of time and advice to help another writer out.
                  One of the things I always admired about the guys behind Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (a great comic in itself) was that they put a lot of their money into setting up a fund for aspiring comic artists and writers. I've never tried to get any money out of them myself (it's only for American residents), so I can't say how well the fund works, but it seemed like a pretty decent thing to do.

                  D...
                  "That which does not kill us, makes us stranger." - Trevor Goodchild

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                  • #10
                    Yeah they seem to be good people. Kevin Eastman created the Words and Pictures Museum and they had a staggering collection of beautiful art for the public to enjoy.
                    "But I'm tryin', Ringo, I'm trying real hard to be the shepard."

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