I recently wrote about a fellow who wanted my Script Doctor services via my Script Professor.com website, and the reaction to that poor guy was so fascinating across all my public and private interwebs, that I decided to offer a follow-up to that adventure. When I do script doctoring, or ghost writing, as The Script Professor, anything goes, and by that I mean, I can fix anything written that is broken — and that includes scripts for television, radio, film and books and scholarly papers and anything else that might be in need of pruning or total rehabilitation.
Three days ago, after publishing our latest Boles Book — American Sign Language Level 5: A Field Guide for Advanced Communication Techniques for People with Other Disabilities — I unwittingly ran afoul of Facebook’s advertising rules. I had “too much text” in my book cover image and so Facebook censored my $40.00USD boosted post promotion of my book midstream, effectively blocking my book cover image on their social network because my design aesthetic didn’t meet their advertising rules.
Robert Frost won four Pulitzer Prizes for his poetry. He was an earthy icon and, in some eyes, an American shame, for the man could love only himself and not his children or his wife. I’m not sure if that’s a crime against himself, or his promises, but there is no denying the man was an original and he knew how to write and he knew what he was.
Marred by the mistake of genius, Robert Frost cared only for his poetry, and his legacy, and that’s why the new fascination with protecting Frost’s legacy on the page is so intriguing.
The bane of any hopeful professional author — one who writes for money to feed a family and a future fortunate — is the old “Work for Hire” kludge-as-cudgel and it is wielded against unwitting amateur authors, and even published, working, authors, by publishing houses as a “proper payment system” that is both fair to each side and an early warning windfall for the writer. Unfortunately, none of that is true.
Publishers love to force writers into Work for Hire contracts because the benefit is all on their side of the dyad, and while initial risks are shared, the goal of good fortune tomorrow is not.
I warned of this impending trend way back on September 7, 2007 in my article: “Work For Hire is a Bad Idea” —
If you get royalties you are in partnership with your publisher. If you are “Work For Hire” you’re used up when you’re done writing.
Publishers live to exploit that hungry author desire for fast money now — and in the process of the “Work For Hire” hiring — the author not only loses a potential profit bonanza, but also sells out their self-respect, self-worth, and fellow authors.
A great joy of teaching is when your students surprise you with something unexpected. One good way to find out what students are thinking is to ask them to respond to a writing prompt. My favorite writing prompt for Playwriting students is to ask them to write a dramatic scene that begins with this line: “I’m going to kill you!” 30% of students will immediately write, as a second line, “Just kidding!” — but for those students who believe in the threat first line, the rest of the story tears off.
Getting your writing published in book form has long been the penultimate goal of authors across the world. I’ve made my fair share of money in the publishing marketplace and one thing I can confirm is how much the industry has changed over the last 20 years.
Fifteen years or so ago, you could easily get a $15,000.00USD book royalty advance from a major computer book publisher. You knew going into the job that, at the end of 90 days, you’d be fifteen large richer. It was a great way to earn a quick living. Once you had a book or two, the major computer magazine publishers would come calling, and you could write a 10,000 word essay and make $5,000.00USD for that weekend effort. It was a rich and rewarding life, but then the chain came off the sprocket with the rise of the interwebs, the internets, the web. Many book publishers were consolidated with other houses, or entirely demolished in bankruptcy, and all the great computer magazines are as dead now as the tree pulp they were printed on.
A young boy sits in the corner of a schoolroom, a coat on his lap. He looks under it intently. He looks periodically toward the door and sighs contently when he sees it remains shut. His quiet is soon interrupted when a teacher loudly opens the door and, seeing him sit there, comes over and taps him on the shoulder. “Young man,” he says, “What are you doing in here?” “Nothing, sir,” he says, his voice trailing off. “Is that right?”