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Writers and ownership of ideas

(3 Posts)
Bundlejoycosysweet Wed 10-Oct-12 14:18:01

Wondering if anyone can help? I submitted a vague idea to a publisher I have written for in the past and they are offering me some cash to develop the idea into a proper proposal, this is all good.

However, suddenly wondering if I accept the money to develop the idea does this then mean they have some ownership over the idea? Or that if I go on to write the book I have to publish it with them?

I do like the company so in theory would be happy to publish with them but also don't want to limit my options as they aren't a huge publisher so the money might not be great.

Anyone have any experience or advice?

Thanks in advance!

pinkdelight Fri 12-Oct-12 12:22:13

Is there no paperwork around this that will state the terms of the arrangement? I'm in scriptwriting rather than publishing, but if any payment is involved, it's made clear in a contract of some kind what the payment is for e.g. three-month option on an idea, or seed funding for development and the company has first refusal on the idea at which time rights revert to the writer, or whatever.

They don't usually pay anything without some clause giving them some kind of rights, but unless it's a lot of money, it would only be for a v limited time period. Is it worth you involving an agent to get a formal contract sorted? If not, then I don't see why they'd have any problem clarifying the terms with you in writing. It's best that everyone knows the score.

pinkdelight Fri 12-Oct-12 12:26:58

"Or that if I go on to write the book I have to publish it with them?"

Specifically in relation to this, you're currently only paid to develop a proposal, so when you deliver the proposal, it's a whole other negotiation as to whether you both want to take it further.

If they wanted you do write the book for them, they would have to commission you and then, if they liked it, they would be the publishers. But if I recall rightly, the author still has ownership of the book/idea and if, say, you wanted to bin the whole thing you could do, but you might have to return the commission fee.

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