I got this email from Helium this morning:
This morning MA-based writing website Helium.com announced a partnership with CT-based RAND Publishing, publisher of The Skinny On™ series of illustrated non-fiction books. Under the partnership, RAND Publishing will leverage Helium’s social publishing platform to identify the most appropriate authors for up to twenty-five new titles, such as The Skinny On Finance for Young Adults and The Skinny on Social Networking. Selected writers will be chosen by Helium and paid between $3,500 and $5,000 per title. I have pasted the press release below for your reference. Please let me know if you have any questions.
Sure Helium is pleased – so, I’m sure, is RAND. But prospective authors beware. Although the press release doesn’t state it, the contract will undoubtedly be a work-for-hire agreement of some sort. The Skinny On site has asked authors to enter a contest.
And that’s the problem with the work-for-hire. There are no royalties. You do the work, you get paid once and that’s it. Your name may not even appear on the book, although that’s probably negotiable.
Of course, I ghostwrite books under agreements that often don’t give me royalties and usually don’t show my name, but I’m paid considerably more than $3,500-5,000.
When you look at RAND Publishing you find Jim Randel who apparently has made some money writing a book on real estate and one on credit for his own firm, plus another book on real estate for McGraw Hill. I’ll bet he’s earning royalties on all three.
What I fear is we will be seeing more and more of these kinds of offerings. Self-publishing has brought the price of manufacturing books down so much it’s fairly easy to set up a publishing company. With marketing savy and marketing dollars, the company can be a success and never ever pay more than a pittance to writers. At least a pittance when compared to the royalties a well-selling book can bring.
Give it a go if you like. If you “win” you’ll get paid I’m sure. And you’ll be able to claim credit most likely, even if your name isn’t on the cover. But know that work-for-hire is quite a different contract than a contract that gives you an advance and royalties.
Yes, I linked to the press release rather than republishing it.
Image from http://www.sxc.hu