Wednesday, May 18, 2005

Psssst. Hey, Lady.

Another reason to love Lee Goldberg's twisted sense of humor. Jeremiah probably was very nice to the lady. I saw him fend off a few after a panel we were on together a few years back.

Because I'm a writer-for-hire, a lot of misguided folks think that means they can buy me to write a book which they may then sell as their work. Pretty decent offers, considering, but sorry, I only hire out to publishers.

I don't think writers get as many idea-propositions as folks in the TV and movie industry, but I had a very persistent gentleman who bombarded me with e-mails one summer after reading one of my SF novels. You see, he had the exact same idea for his first SF novel and I'd pre-empted him, so that proved -- somehow -- we were meant to collaborate. He was also one of the most well-read SF experts in the world, so he could "fix" what was wrong with my SF writing and get me a Nebula or a Hugo.

I politely turned him down -- but no, that wasn't going to work for SF-Guy, who then sent me his two-sentence-long idea to tempt me. He offered to give the idea to me for 75/25 of the rights (he got the 75) and could I have it done in a month or two, seeing as I wrote so fast? He was also available to relocate and offered to move in with me so he could directly supervise my work on a day-to-day basis.

I sent a second, polite no-thanks, and after twenty more e-mails from him, a polite request for him to cease-and-desist or I'd notify his ISP, which finally convinced him that No meant No. His last e-mail informed me that I had better never publish any book even remotely resembling his idea, or he would sue me.

I don't think we'll be going to court.


  1. What I don't get are the people that do this kind of stuff to us wannabes. Like we can help them, yet I get pitches for 'read my work', 'write my story' and 'I've written an awesome screenplay you just have to read'.

    Apparently, freaks will hit on anyone.

    Gah, I hope they don't drink. I would hate to think what they'd be like with beer goggles.


  2. Anonymous4:54 PM

    Good grief. We won't even try to explain the concept that ideas aren't copyrightable to the poor schmuck, will we? Like trying to teach a pig to sing...

  3. I still get email at least twice or three times a year from strangers who either a) want me to hook them up with Big Name Author or b) want me to be their special writer friend (because I know Big Name Author).

    I chalk it up to human nature. I've learned to write a polite response to these people, and keep the velvet ropes handy.

    Harder with close friends who ought to know better, though. Know that personally. Have also learned not to be nice about it anymore. But not after having been burned once or twice.

  4. Anonymous1:17 AM

    Okay, okay...

    50/50, and I'll settle for sleeping in the basement.

    ~Raine W.

  5. Anonymous1:43 AM

    So he has a brilliant idea and gets all the money while you do the hard work?? I can't understand why you didn't jump when you had the oppertunity!

  6. Anonymous7:59 AM

    I'm not a Big Name or even a Published Author...and people like that make me very embarrassed to admit it. It confuses me why people don't understand how publishing works - mostly because I don't think it's THAT complicated. Oh, well.

    Personally, I would have cheerfully invited him to go down to the Copyright Office and ask them to copyright every one of his precious ideas. ^-*

  7. Yikes. That reminds me of an interview I saw with Stephen King on television where he said that a guy walked into his house with a fake bomb and said that Stephen King stole all of his novels. Not just ideas, but entire novels. That every book King had written up until then was his book. King's wife got out of the house but it must've been really frightening. I think the guy had a few wires and some paper clips or something, and he thought it was a bomb.

  8. Anonymous2:04 PM

    I went to a writing conference several years ago. While we were all chatting during lunch on the first day, another attendee assured me she'd taken steps to keep the agent (whom she'd paid to read and critique her work) from stealing her idea. Instead of sending in three sample chapters, as had been suggested by the conference, she'd sent in 40 random pages from her manuscript - no two in sequential order.

    I always wished I could have been a fly on the wall during THAT critique session.



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