The Vampire Diaries creator 'fired' from writing her own characters

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firesprite

Master Member
I don't watch the show or read the books, but I understand how popular both are... so, as a writer myself, seeing this blog post earlier today both shocked and horrified me.

P A R A F A N T A S Y: This Is Utterly Ridiculous…I Can’t Even.

The entirety of the letter referenced by the blogger can be read here: L.J. Smith Got Fired from writing her own novels. - Stefan & Elena - Fanpop


As an author, I can't even fully comprehend the horror of having your creations taken away from you like this. However, it does underscore the desperate need for creators to educate themselves about the business aspects of the industry. No one is going to look after your best interests but you and to think otherwise is the worst type of naivete.
 
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SciFiMuseum

Well-Known Member
That sucks. What have you written firesprite? I am also in Seattle and have written professionally. But not novels, I have written feature length screenplays and when I am finished with my work I always copyright it with the WGA and with The Library of Congress as well as the old mail a copy of it to myself and keep it sealed (old school I know). I can't imagine if they told me I didn't have the right to write about my own intellectual property. Too much. Thanks for the read.
 

firesprite

Master Member
That sucks. What have you written firesprite? I am also in Seattle and have written professionally. But not novels, I have written feature length screenplays and when I am finished with my work I always copyright it with the WGA and with The Library of Congress as well as the old mail a copy of it to myself and keep it sealed (old school I know). I can't imagine if they told me I didn't have the right to write about my own intellectual property. Too much. Thanks for the read.
I'll soon be releasing my third novel in my Sekhmet's Light series. It's a modern fantasy that a friend of mine has described as "Indiana Jones meets Wonder Woman". Here are links to the first two if you'd like to check them out:
Akhet: Sekhmet's Light, Book One
Peret: Sekhmet's Light, Book Two

I've also just helped put out a short story anthology with my husband, and two of our friends:
Quests & Answers: A Talaria Press Anthology
 

Wes R

Legendary Member
This reminds me of comic writers creating stuff and losing control over it because they didn't read the fine print. This is also the reason the big publishing companies are going to lose out to smaller ones over time who honor creator rights.
 

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Timmythekid

Sr Member
This reminds me of comic writers creating stuff and losing control over it because they didn't read the fine print. This is also the reason the big publishing companies are going to lose out to smaller ones over time who honor creator rights.
Because with the shrinking population of naive new writers trying to get published by any means, big publishers will run out of writers to exploit in this manner? Sorry, I may be a cynical *******, but I think that's a bit of a utopian fantasy. Not one I didn't wish was realistic, but not one I can believe happening.
 

Drewid

Well-Known Member
The positive side to this is now she'll face any new project with a known name, a loyal following, and total creative freedom. And with the ease that Amazon makes it to self publish, authors don't have to sell their souls anymore.

It totally sucks that she's not allowed to continue the story she was telling but at least she'll be able to do things on her terms now.
 

Jet Beetle

Sr Member
Gone but not forgotten.
This happens everyday - When you say "yes" to a studio or punisher -- sorry, publisher, 99% or the time they are now in control of your stuff in some way shape or form. The Roddenberry's do not own Star Trek and I believe are told by Paramount what they make money from. The old Siegal and Shuster story. Hell, even Hemingway had no control over the movies they made of his films. The guy who created Forrest Gump was not only fired from writing the screenplay but never made a dime off of the movie - the studio claiming the film had not yet turned a profit.
 

Wolfie138

Well-Known Member
why is this so surprising? if you sell a script, that's what happens : it's SOLD. if you sell the rights to a series of books, it's SOLD. they can then get who they like to write/adapt it for the screen. the fact you invented the characters means nothing. unless you've got the pull to have a clause in the contract to name you as a writer etc, once you accept the money, that's the end of it.
 

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DaddyfromNaboo

Master Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Anybody actually read the letter by Smith that is posted on the blog?

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.
So she was hired (!) to write the books 20 years ago.

My question is, does this mean she got a monthly paycheck for being a writer? And if so, why worry and be upset?

Firesprite takes the risk and tries to make a living on her own by writing. At the moment I still have the impression that Smith was always securely hired by the bookpacker? I mean, not having to worry about the next paycheck is a good thing, right?

And when did she find out that "for hire" was not the best thing to agree to? Before or after the books were a success? I can´t remember hearing about the series earlier than maybe 2010 when that terrible (yes, absolutely terrible, cheap and stupid) tv series was announced? Okay, I am not really the target demographic, but I do keep an eye on the media landscape.

So, if she accepted the (in hindsight bad) deal, well tough luck. Open eyes or open wallet.

Over here in Germany there is something called the "Bestseller paragraph", meaning that if a "work for hire" turns out to be a much, much greater hit than expected the hiree can claim compensation, because his payment was not appropriate. In the end this is theoretical, though, because those claims have to be fought about in court most of the times.
 

DuneMuadDib

Sr Member
This reminds me of comic writers creating stuff and losing control over it because they didn't read the fine print. This is also the reason the big publishing companies are going to lose out to smaller ones over time who honor creator rights.
Right. Because so many of the creator-owned comic book publishers have anywhere near the business of DC and Marvel.

Plus I'll bet publishers that don't own the rights to the property make less money off said properties so what's the incentive for them to make less money letting the creator retain rights?
 

Treadwell

Master Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Yeah, I don't see the big shock. She was hired to do a job, and had a nice two-decade run. They came to HER wanting a series. It's not like she started this series on her own accord and went looking for a publisher that later screwed her.
 

Betamin

Master Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
All she has to do is start a new series and modify the title to "The Bloodsuckers Blog" or "The Night creatures Notebook". Alena, Stefan and Damon become Alice, Steve and Dominic.
 

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Funky

Master Member
RPF PREMIUM MEMBER
Yeah, I don't see the big shock. She was hired to do a job, and had a nice two-decade run. They came to HER wanting a series. It's not like she started this series on her own accord and went looking for a publisher that later screwed her.
Exactly. I don't see the problem other than the author whining about wanting more when they clearly are not entitled to it. :rolleyes
 

firesprite

Master Member
To me, she had an opportunity to 'alter the deal' when they started creation of the show. That was an ideal time to take a risk and potentially take some control by saying "My writing has made these books such a hit that they're now wanting to make a show. I'd like to gain some more control over the product."

She doesn't have a huge amount of sympathy from me... at this point, to me her plight is a cautionary tale to educate yourself.
 

Wakeem

Well-Known Member
This situation isn't surprising at all. It pays to read the contract and have good people in a position of trust. But as some here have noted. Stuff like this happens all the time. Corporate suits want to milk a property for all it's worth. I hope there is a backlash against the new books with the ghostwriter. I was going to read The Secret Circle books after the TV show. At least now I know where to stop reading the books.
 

grimlock2d

Well-Known Member
As a writer and artist myself I feel bad for this woman simply from the standpoint that it sucks having something you put so much of yourself into taken out of your hands. However, she's had a lot of time to try and change her agreement with the company, or at least try to.

The fact that she entered to the agreement without knowing what it meant and stayed there for 20 years is telling. She really needed to investigate what the deal was prior to signing.

That being said, the publisher and company will have to deal with the public backlash. The fact that this is floating around the internet will probably damage their sales, and if it is painful enough they may actually rehire her. I'm sure they don't want a money making series to implode.
 

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