Friday, December 15, 2006

Decisions, decisions

I have an opportunity to blog professionally for the launch website of a large, well-known corporation. They want me to sign a nondisclosure agreement, so I'm not comfortable naming names, but suffice to say it does sound interesting. My only hesitation: they want to buy all rights.

Never sell all rights is one of the cardinal rules of writing professionally. It ranks right up there with Money always flows to the writer, a.k.a. Never pay to get published. That's because the corporation can profit indefinitely from reprints, and the writer will never see a penny beyond what she was initially paid.

My guess is that because it's a large corporation, the compensation will be decent. Probably not enough to cover those potential future profits, but what I don't know can't hurt me, right? The National Writers Union would hiss and spit and probably ban me for life if I did choose to take this job - it's a matter of principle, after all - but one of the reasons I didn't renew my membership is that I didn't see them addressing the question of what to do when you are a parent working from home who needs an additional source of income in the coming year. Principles at that point become varying shades of gray.

What I'll probably end up doing is signing the nondisclosure agreement and then seeing what they have to say about compensation. Then would come a discussion with the husband, who, ironically, is reading a book about ethical literacy and how to make those funky "right vs. right" decisions in life. We'll see what comes of it all!


Blogger Sandra Ruttan said...

In part, it depends on what you'd be blogging about too. If it's business stuff related to their corporation, then would it be of use to you in the future? I'm guessing not.

You're wise to take your decision one step at a time. In a way, it's not unlike being paid to write reports for a company, in which case business documents would belong to them. You know what companies do here when you quit or they fire you if you had access to 'sensitive' materials? They pack your desk for you and lock you out with pay so that you can't take any of that stuff with you when you go.

If it's "business" writing, I find myself wondering what the difference is.

16/12/06 10:25 PM  
Blogger Lee Hauser said...

Gotta agree with Sandra here. What do the people who blog for Gawker Media (Lifehacker, Consumerist, Gawker, etc) receive for their work? A salary, I'm sure, and no future use of the work they produce. It seems to me that much blog writing, like much magazine writing, is by nature ephemeral. How much of your magazine writing do you expect to be re-selling five years from now? Things change to fast in the non-fiction world.

18/12/06 10:16 PM  
Blogger Lee Hauser said...

I meant TOO fast, of course... sheesh.

18/12/06 10:17 PM  
Blogger PJ said...

Oh, I don't know, Lee. Don't sell yourself short - your original line "things change to fast" isn't that off, you know?


I think Sandra's advice is pretty solid.


18/12/06 10:25 PM  
Blogger Christa M. Miller said...

Yes, it's true about the content. Thing is, I can be reasonably confident that the content will be of a more personal nature (which I was taking as given when I wrote this post, and should have mentioned).

Of course, even personal content can be a one-shot deal. Stuff that I post regularly on a parents' bulletin board (advice-type stuff, though not preachy), or a personal spin on world events.

I sent the NDA last week, so hopefully I'll hear more soon. Thanks, Sandra, Lee, and PJ, for your input - food for thought, for sure!

20/12/06 1:23 PM  
Blogger Silandara said...

I've done paid blogging that belongs to the company I blogged for. Sure, it'd be nice to turn it all into a juicy book deal someday...but I doubt that's going to happen.

A lot of the writing I do belongs to whoever I'm writing it for. Most of it's business writing -- stuff about other companies that I wouldn't/couldn't use, anyway.

Even selling all rights to something that's personal -- maybe I look at writing in a totally different way, but I don't see anything unethical about it.

2/1/07 8:07 PM  
Blogger Christa M. Miller said...

Silandara, it's not the selling all rights to the words - it's the possibility that I won't be compensated. Another pro blogger I spoke to told me that the site she works for owns all rights, but she'll get paid if they use her material for anything else. See what I mean?

I don't have a contract in hand yet, just the NDA. But I'll be asking!

10/1/07 2:50 PM  

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