Saturday, January 16, 2010

Work for Hire, or How to Get Work in Children's Books Quicker

A fellow member of ASWAAGS (critique group for writers in the children's market) was recently awarded his first work for hire contract for a non-fiction book aimed at kids. We were all thrilled and hounded the poor guy as we all waited on pins and needles after he submitted his audition piece, until the editor finally gave him a green light saying he was their choice. You go, Hollywood!! "Hollywood", by the way, is his critique group call sign. WHAT?!! You don't have a call sign? Go to your critique group and demand one! Bonus points if you get a name including the words "Mega", "Mondo", or "Gigantor" combined with any part of the body. No, not that one, or those either- we are, after all, writing for the children's market.

So, back to my point. Everyone says that you have a better chance to get something going in the children's market if you do non-fiction, or something for a packager. And now we have seen first hand that "they" are right.

Work for hire can be good or bad, depending on how you look at it. Good in that you get published, it happens relatively quickly, you get paid relatively quickly (and well), and there is less competition than traditional fiction routes. Bad in that everything happens quicker. You have to produce material quickly for tight deadlines (Hi, It's Saturday and I'm informing you that you got the contract, and we need the twelve chapters outlined by Tuesday morning!), and the packager or publisher usually holds the copyright. Good in that it pays decently and may lead to more paid work in the future. Bad in that you may not even get your name on the book, and it takes time away from your own projects. Good in that if you position it right, you may get more material in print to support your writing platform. Did I mention that it usually pays pretty well? Oh yeah, and the PAY is good. No more writing for free.

The best thing about a writer pal getting a contract is that you can see the process up close. I was so inspired that I went and immediately updated my writing resume and started searching for markets. It may be a great match for you, depending on your goals. Just imagine- you could change your critique group call sign to "Giganto-arm" from lifting all those hefty paychecks...

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