Shared publicly  - 
WTF is this, I don't even....

Author L.J Smith (of Vampire Diaries fame) is fired by HarperCollins from writing her own book, and now a ghost-writer will be writing under her name, with no author control whatsoever.

Words fail. This is all shades of ridiculous, and I'm angry just writing this.
Michael Tilton (Archangel777)'s profile photoSaranna DeWylde's profile photoChristopher James Aikman's profile photoLisa Gus's profile photo
Screwed - completely legally - out of her own stories. I'd be pissed beyond words too. Sounds like the perfect scenario for a plunge into the indie world. She could make a decent splash on her own with a built-in following.

And of course, the possibility of a resounding thud by the publisher's move would be an intriguing thing to watch, too.
I'm +1-ing this not because I agree, but because this deserves more notice. Predatory publishing contracts FTW.
It sucks, it really does, but the books were never legally hers. If she was employed as a for hire writer there's a good chance that the ideas weren't even hers, legally speaking. They credit her with the created by and legally that's all they have to do, unless there's something in the contract.

The sad thing is that this is predatory contract stuff is pretty common with the Big 6. This is one of the things I, personally, and +42wd Publishing LLC hope to change in the publishing world.

Make sure you understand your contract. Make sure you understand it in detail. If you have to, plunk down the $300 to have an attorney review it for you. It's extremely important that you know what you are agreeing to. Make sure the terms are fair and beneficial to all parties.

Please, never let your excitement about getting signed over rule your good decision making abilities. I really don't want to hear / read a story like this about any of the creatives I know.

In fact, feel free to send me a copy of any agreement you have or ask me questions about a particular section and I'll give you my opinion on it. I'm not a licensed attorney but I know how to read a contract and will point out the what it says, doesn't say, potential ramifications and when the contract is being deliberately confusing and or vague.
This is pretty disgusting. And I understand that it is legal and that the author should have been more wary when signing the contract...but it is a disgusting practice nonetheless. Wow.
Not that I have anything against fanfic but.... yeah not where it is at the writer's expense
You are very welcome Peter. Glad u and Doc are spreading the word:)
Oh well said, Melisa! Thank you for articulating this
Poor businees head, I feel sorry for her She will have to get clear of them ND NEVER GIVE ARTISTIC LICENSE to anybody else!
Ugggh ... does that mean the whole show will change too? Its horrible they did that to her..
I don't watch or like the show, but just to hear that a publisher would do this to an author's work sickens me.
yes once you are undercontract and copyrighted your ass blong's to them
I get that it was a bad contract and she shouldn't have signed it, but I don't get how, even in a written contract, they can get the rights to her name?
I don't really keep up with this kind of thing, but this seems like a bunch of bs to me. I certainly do not see how they can continue to publish a series and say that it is "from" LJ Smith. Now, according to her words, at the bottom of the article, they are going to say "created by LJ Smith" which is different from stating that the book was written by LJ Smith, but I still think it is BS. I don't see how they can use your name without your consent.
That is so horrible I didn't know that a publisher could do that. Its stealing intellectual property that publishers get away with by singing young authors that don't know to be extra vigilant when reading contracts.
Legal yes - author signed a legal contract. Ethical? Highly debatable, and I'd recon most people would argue it's not. It's in the same category as predatory lending as far as I'm concerned.

The only way something like this were to be successful is if an author signed on beforehand to write a franchise owned by the publisher. Then it's fair game. But to do it in the first place, taking a franchise from the original creator because of the contract is a pretty dick move.
I have no sympathy. She was dumb enough to sign a contract that allows them to have all rights to the books.
Don't argue the legality of this. It's perfectly legal, and all the involved parties are responsible for their own decisions. However, I disagree with the ethics of this.

This is why you need to have a lawyer for any contract of significant importance. Yes, lawyers are savage pitbulls that stop at nothing to win... but your lawyer is your pitbull, and a good lawyer will defend you and your interests with the ferocity of a mother bear protecting her baby cubs.

Don't sign the contract with your lawyer reviewing it first, no matter how 'clear cut' it looks.
yup be very very careful when signing contracts, I have walked away for very lucrative offers for just the above reason, even reality shows get you by the short hairs, they pretty much own you for a period of time.. and your work, no limited to music and written works
That is horrible!! Talk about read the fine print before you put the pen to the paper!
in some instances you can cross out offending passages but usually you will loose the gig to someone who will sign without changing the terms. Additionally, the studios and publishers are going to make sure that they own what ever they "buy".. including the talent. Disney, Warner, all of them play the same game. Hell in disney you can be not more than a bighead performer and go ahead and try to publish something. bottom line is get enough money before you make your deal with the devil and assume that is what you will get and nothing more. Only way around such a deal is to sign as an LLC or corporation and remain independant, but as they say: "good luck with that"
I just has a look at the background to this and it raises many more questions. Ok, we know now that L.J should have been more careful about signing the original contract but how could this situ have gone on for so long? Surely there would have been time that L.J wanted to exercise her 'rights' to take the story where she wanted - had HC ALWAYS been happy with those directions?
They must have been.
And now, suddenly, they want to take the story in other directions and won't give the original author a chance to write it 'Their way'? Unbelievable. Why go to the trouble of getting another writer to take over if the original is happy (maybe not soooo happy) to do the job?
There HAS to be more to this.
What is Harper Collins perspective on this? I wonder what could be seen if looked at from their point of view? I'm sure they believe in their reasons...but I bet the public will find them hard to swallow.
it is called continuing royalties, they are higher if the creator is writing than if someone else is and the creator is just tagged with from a story by" Paramount tired the same thing with Roddenberry several times untimatley winng after Majel barret's death
I don't think anyone is debating the fact that she should have been smarter with the contract but when you're a young artist it's hard to remember these things.
As +Michael Edwards said it's the ethics that bother people more than the legalities. The law has never been known to be just or logical despite what we would like to think.

this is not okay. this is where i stop reading the series. no wonder Phantom wasn't as good as the other ones...
I'm not even a fan of the series. Admittedly I've only seen the TV show but still no artists should be treated like this. It sucks that the law works like this.
Hopefully between this and the Jack Kirby thing going on recently public attention might be drawn to the issue of artists abuse.

It's simply wrong that you can create a product and not retain any rights to it just because you made a mistake.
I'll never buy another Vampire Diaries book.
I'll never buy a Vampire Diaries book. Ok, so I tend to try not to judge things by their title/and or cover.. but Vampire Diaries? That says enough for me. I can already tell it's going to have angst ridden teens and mysterious vampires.. yeah, no, thanks.
Am I the only one that sees humor in a "Ghost Writer of a Vampire Book"?...I might just put that on a resume'
OK Hugh, I have to admit. THAT was gooood : )
I want to be the Ghost Writer of a novel that is about a Ghost Writer of a novel that is about a Ghost..
+Timothy Marks, the twist, of course, being that the ghost writer is a ghost itself. By M. Night Shamalayan.
+Doc Harvard I think there was an actual real life spammer in this thread before his comments, but they were reported by someone else (something about exploding animals). I went ahead and blocked them, deleting the spam comment for good. Everyone can calm down now :)
Ah, well I think he blocked me because I can't find his profile now. Was just odd. Glad it's resolved, my poor brain was trying to figure out how I had possibly offended him.
Not that I've read the books, cause I haven't nor would I. However if I were the author in this situation, I would count my blessings and start writing a new series, and take (YES, TAKE!!) every one of my loyal readers with me, to which ever publisher would want me, and who wouldn't want me.

I'd shake the dust off my sandals and use the emotion to write a damn good book and let my previous employer hold the crap bag of "ghost writer". Oh, and I'd make DAMN sure that the world new it wasn't "me" writing, by changing my name to something like "HC Sosumi".

Why waste energy on whining, use all that energy for something better, and have fun doing it.
Wow. I would have thought she'd have had an agent. I hope she contacts a literary attorney.
I'm sure any loyal readers that know about this will go with her. To be fair she was young when she started and at that time it's easy to let your excitement cloud your judgement.
That was my thinking too, Christopher. After all, traditional publishing and all that. Hard to remain level-headed, especially in the day when that WAS the only option.
Add a comment...