Work for Hire…or Indentured Servitude? By Angela Hoy

Work for Hire…or Indentured Servitude? By Angela Hoy

Picture this. You see an ad from a large publishing house. They’re seeking an author for a new book and the ad looks like it was written just for you! You have a good feelin’ about this one! You respond to the ad and are thrilled to hear from the project’s editor just a few days later. However, before they can discuss the project further, they want you to sign a non-disclosure agreement. Well, you think, okay…

The disclosure arrives by fax and you send a copy to your attorney. You’re a savvy author and you don’t commit to long-term contracts without having your attorney take a look first. He says it’s fine. You sign it and quickly send it to the editor.

The editor responds by sending a note, asking you if you want the job. The letter goes on to state that the project is “work for hire” but paying royalties only. (You think royalties in lieu of a flat fee for work-for-hire is odd, but perhaps not entirely unheard of? You’ll have to check that out with your writer friends and your attorney.)

On reading further, you realize that, while they’re asking if you want the job, they’ve left the following items out of the letter:

  • Advance information (so you must assume there is no advance)
  • The book’s projected length
  • Turn-around time / due date
  • Projected sales / market information
  • Projected time in print / print run information
  • Royalty specifics – based on net profit or list price?
  • When royalties would be paid (quarterly? annually?)
  • And the biggest one of all – the royalty percentage itself

So, basically, they want your answer about the job…without giving you any payment information whatsoever up front.You realize that little bell ringing in the back of your head when they sent the non-disclosure agreement should have been ringing a little louder. If you were an amateur writer, you’d probably assume, just because this is a big publishing house, that they’ll take care of you. After all, why would they risk their reputation by pulling one over on you? Well, they haven’t, you see, because, due to the non-disclosure agreement you just signed, you’ll never be able to talk about the job or your experiences with this firm, even if they never pay you or if your final pay amounts to pennies per hour.If you question the editor at this point, you know your chances of being chosen for the project are zero. They’re obviously looking for someone who won’t ask those questions or who doesn’t know any better.Some publishers, even the big ones, are seeking more and more ways to take more rights away from authors while paying them less. Let’s face it. They’re more concerned with their bottom line and pleasing their shareholders than they are about writers feeding their families. I see it all the time. And, those non-disclosure agreements silence authors who might ordinarily have been able to alert us all to these publishers’ slimy tactics.

The situation above really happened to one of our readers. In fact, she’s the one that came up with the title for this article. We can’t tell you who she or the publisher is because she signed that non-disclosure agreement. But, what I can tell you is that she’s a professional and knew that she was about to be scammed. She not only declined the offer, but also told that editor exactly what she thought of the deal.

If we all stood up to the heavyweights this way, the industry just might be a better place for all of us.

Got questions about Print On Demand and Self-publishing? Ask Angela Hoy.

About The Author


Angela Hoy is the publisher of, the author of 19 books, and the co-owner of (one of the original POD publishers that still gets books to market in less than a month), (print and ebook design for authors who truly want to self-publish), and Abuzz Press (the publishing co-op that charges no setup fees).

Angela has lived and traveled across the U.S. with her kids in an RV, settled in a river-side home in Bradenton, FL, and lived on a 52 ft Irwin sailboat. Angela now resides on a mountaintop in Northwest Georgia, where she plans to spend the rest of her days bird watching, gardening, hiking, and taking in all of the amazing sunrises. - the free marketing ezine for writers, which features new paying markets and freelance job listings every Wednesday. - According to attorney Mark Levine, author of The Fine Print, BookLocker is: "As close to perfection as you're going to find in the world of ebook and POD publishing. The ebook royalties are the highest I've ever seen, and the print royalties are better than average. BookLocker understands what new authors experience, and have put together a package that is the best in the business. You can't go wrong here. Plus, they're selective and won't publish any manuscript just because it's accompanied by a check. Also, the web site is well trafficked. If you can find a POD or epublisher with as much integrity and dedication to selling authors' books, but with lower POD publishing fees, please let me know."

Abuzz Press offers FAST and FREE book publication, but only accepts a small percentage of submissions, and only works with U.S. authors. - "We Prep, You Publish!" Print and ebook design for authors who truly want to self-publish. Offers formatting and design services only, and then provides simple instructions for authors on where to sign up to have the print and ebook editions printed/listed/sold. Cut out the middle man. Keep 100% of what bookstores pay for your book!

Angela's POD Secrets Revealed Series can be found HERE.

Have a POD Book with another publisher? See if BookLocker can give you a better deal. (BookLocker offers "disgruntled author discounts" to those who want to move from other POD services.)

See BookLocker's publishing packages HERE.


BOOKLOCKER ON FACEBOOK - Provides links to free excerpts!



Angela is the creator of the Original 24-Hour Short Story Contest!

Read More Of Angela's Articles HERE