Why You Never Want to Write a Novel for Hire

…Or a short story, or a screenplay, or a comic book, or a TV series.

But we do write for hire. Unfortunately, at one time or another just about all writers do.

This article, however, has a great twist. We think it should have been called, “The Vamp Writer’s Revenge.” Bwahhh:

vampdiary

‘Vampire Diaries’ Writer Bites Back
by Alexandra Alter

When Alloy Entertainment fired L.J. Smith from the popular young-adult book series “The Vampire Diaries” and replaced her with a ghostwriter three years ago, a civil war broke out among fans. One camp swore fealty to the characters and embraced the new books, which still feature Ms. Smith’s name prominently on the cover as the series’ creator. The other, more vocal faction sided with Ms. Smith and boycotted the ghostwritten novels.

“I would not read those books if they were the last books on earth,” said Christina Crowley, a 35-year-old substitute teacher in Riverview, Mich., and a staunch L.J. Smith fan. “I didn’t want to read her characters written by someone else.”

Now, in one of the stranger comebacks in literary history, Ms. Smith is independently resurrecting her stories about the adolescent undead. She’s publishing her own version of “The Vampire Diaries” digitally on Amazon, as fan fiction, creating a parallel fictional universe that many hard-core fans regard as more legitimate than the official canon.

“I wanted to finish the story,” Ms. Smith said. “So many people still wrote to me constantly saying, can you just tell me how it ends?”

The fact that Ms. Smith can now legally publish and sell her unofficial Vampire Diaries novels highlights a dramatic shift in the way publishers and entertainment companies view fan fiction. Fan fiction, or works by amateur writers that feature characters and settings from their favorite books, TV shows, movies and comics, has thrived online for decades. But it’s always existed in a sort of legal gray zone. Selling stories based on other people’s copyrighted creations is illegal, unless it’s a clear parody, which is protected as free speech under the First Amendment. It’s also permissible if the characters and setting are altered so much that the story no longer seems derivative

Read it all