It about killed me, but I turned down an assignment this morning. And I didn’t turn it down because I have too many other things to be working on (though I am pretty busy with my new Boxcar book, my revision of Truth About Truman and just “stuff” this time of year). It was actually a GREAT assignment — second grade reading level, fiction, open-ended topic…in fact, I already had an idea for the project, and I could have written it in…(I’m not even going to say in public how fast I could have written this!). But still I turned it down.

The pay is quite a bit less than I’m used to getting from other educational publishers for this kind of work. And there were a couple of other things in the contract that I didn’t like. Just about any contract with an educational publisher is a work-for-hire contract. Usually I can live with that because 1) the work I do for these companies is often so specialized I couldn’t sell it anywhere else anyway, and 2) when I figure out the pay on an hourly basis, it’s REALLY good money. But in this case, this is a story I think I COULD sell somewhere else. I think I could sell it to a magazine like Highlights, in which case I’d probably get about half of what I’m being offered from this educational company up front. But the thing is, when you sell to Highlights, even though they take all rights, too, they tend to resell your story again and again and then you get “free money.” And even if I didn’t sell this story to a magazine, I might be able to sell it to another educational publisher at some point…and if I do, I’ll likely get quite a bit more for it than this company is offering.

So when I really think about the money…and then I see other things in the contract like 1) if they don’t publish the story for whatever reason, I only get 1/3-2/3 of the fee and I can’t get the rights back and reuse the story somewhere else, and 2) I’m responsible for all attorney’s fees etc. to even defend a claim if someone, somewhere ever decides my story infringes upon their copyright, and 3) there are NO author copies…in the end I had to “just say no.” I have a really hard time saying no to writing opportunities…

Just say no…

2 thoughts on “Just say no…

  • May 3, 2007 at 3:08 pm

    It’s hard to say no – to writing gigs. . .

    I know you made the right choice. You’re right about Highlights — my friend earns over $1,000/year on a piece she had pub’d in Highlights 10 yrs ago. Better than book royalties can be.

    • May 3, 2007 at 3:53 pm

      Re: It’s hard to say no – to writing gigs. . .

      Thanks! I appreciate the validation. I have had a couple of “What? Are you CRAZY turning down such a quick and easy assignment?” moments, but for the most part, they’ve passed. I AM going to write the story up and send it to Highlights.

      Wow! Your friend is doing REALLY well with reprints of her story. I know I’ve made at least a couple thousand dollars on just about every story I’ve sold to Highlights, but I’m not sure I’m averaging $1,000/year per story! I don’t know…I’ll have to go back and really take a look! (I may have to start writing/submitting short stories again…)


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