No, Writing For IP Is Not Soulless

I take it somebody on Twitter said something about IP books being soulless.

Or perhaps they stated it about the authors of those books?


Its why Im making this point here on The Blog, where I can more (extensively, wordily, eye-rollingly) make my point instead of needing to condense it into an amuse-bouche course of fine points that will in some way go viral and end up being wadded up into a ball of damaged glass and fired at my home.

While completely recognizing the individual may have really well been attempting to promote original work instead of “IP” work, I do think its worth talking a little bit about IP work.

Now, as someone who has actually written at least a little bit of IP, I take exception to that– while likewise recognizing that the person wasnt likely trying to make a problematic point, and was not anticipating the web to fall on their head, but thats Twitter for you. As I am significantly wont to say, Twitter is the place where somebody was incorrect on the web. And that cycle just kinda goes and goes.

I dunno. Whatever.

To clarify, for those not in the know, IP work implies Intellectual Property, which is currently a bit of a misnomer since all work is intellectual property– its simply here, the locus of who owns that work is different. I am the Intellectual Property Owner when I compose my own book. When I write for, state, A Big Brand About Spaceship Wizards, I am for sure not the property owner.



So, is writing for IP soulless?

Well, initially, and undoubtedly, no.

And here is why that is:

Is there an argument that you shouldnt compose for a Big Brand if youre used the chance? Thats up to you, obviously, and my experiences are mine and mine alone, though I am of a mind that writers in these cases are normally the ones with all the pressure and all the work and too little of the reward– however even that is again an argument not to bag on the authors or their books, due to the fact that truthfully, theyre simply doing their best with what they have, and often under actually strange situations going on behind the scenes. You d hear some of these stories and say, “That should not be legal,” and haha, it is, because they signed the agreement.

Youre likely going to have to race to meet unreasonable deadlines while all at once having to have “conferences” (like the kind you have in an office, ew) about the work, and this can be twice as so if youre both trying to please a publisher and please a Brand who arent in contract currently, and it can be triply puzzling when The Brand has a lot of cooks already stuffed in its cooking area so now youre fielding notes from twelve different individuals, none of whom concur with one another. (I famously had to compose the very first draft of my book in my Spaceship Wizard book in 30 days. All while stopping working to see that nothing goes in those pages without indirect approval from The Gods of The Brand.

Well, sorta the reverse of soulless.

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To clarify, for those not in the understand, IP work indicates Intellectual Property, which is currently a bit of a misnomer since all work is intellectual property– its just here, the locus of who owns that work is various. Sure, it might lead to more work, but it likewise may simply lead to more IP work, because sometimes in the creative industries a thing you do too many times can become Your Brand. Is there an argument that Your Original Work is better than IP Work? Its most likely better for you if you own the work in the long-run, but IP work can be a smart, calculated option. Is there more cultural value to Original Work than IP Work?

Lets unpack that.

You may believe so, however the splendor does not last– that golden glow is quick to fade. Some individuals even look down on IP authors, as evidenced by the need to defend the work as “not soulless” in the first damn location. And further, its rather likely they will not end up being fans of you, either.

Is there an argument that Your Original Work is better than IP Work? There is an argument for that, though I wont always necessarily make it or perhaps concur with it. Its most likely much better for you if you own the work in the long-run, however IP work can be a wise, calculated choice. Is there more cultural value to Original Work than IP Work? Possibly in a broad sense, however I definitely do not think so at the individual book level– I cant inform you the number of people have actually come up to me to inform me they read my Big Starforce Battle books and it either got them checking out again or it was the first book their teenager really got into or it moved them in some essential way. (Hell, one couple named their infant after among the characters. And yes, I did certainly sign that baby.) I do not think theres much value in a pissing match between Branded Work and Original Work. We put our backs into it in any case, and want to write something of merit regardless.

Is this me saying I d never ever write IP once again? Ill never ever say never, however its not on my menu of dreams or hopes, due to the fact that I actually like composing my own things, owning my own stuff, and living off it– and it uses a long lap of luxury of chance long after even one book arrive at shelves, a gravy train that comes from somebody else if its work for a big IP. But perhaps if it were from a storyworld I enjoyed, like A: tLA, or Gremlins, or Cabin Boy (aka the Chris Elliotverse).

Once again, all this is to state our books are not at all soulless. We put in the work and the love, and we do it since the most concrete benefit is the joy of getting to play in the storyworlds we love. And Ill say too that regardless of what you may get online, typically going to a convention or comic-con and satisfying the readers and fans face to face is a genuinely wondrous thing– they bring love to the table, matching yours with their own, whichs also why we do it. We do it for the love. Our hearts and our souls are quite present.

Here you might be stating, well, its all disadvantage, but my point is that its truly not all disadvantage– because the one upside is, you get to write in a space you love. You get to put your heart into a storyworld that has actually affected you in some way– youre offering back to it, youre owning a little postage-stamp-sized piece of imaginative genuine estate in a story that fed you. And thats the reward, which is …

Is it for the opportunity? It can be, but that opportunity doubts. Sure, it might result in more work, however it likewise might simply cause more IP work, due to the fact that in some cases in the imaginative industries a thing you do too lots of times can become Your Brand. And that implies writing for Brands can become Your Brand. Will you hit list? Perhaps, however with most IP, most likely not– just a select couple of actually appear to handle their way up there.

Exists an argument to be made that the Corporations that own the Big Brands are soulless? I think, sure. Is there an argument that theyre exploiting authors? Sure, theres that, too. Publishers can be exploitative all by themselves, and after that the Big Brands can be exploitative of the publishers (due to the fact that the publishers do not own the Brands, keep in mind), which implies its a drip down result of pissing on the authors head. Even here its worth noting that for all claims of soullessness, most of the people working on these books outside the author are likewise there for love– theyre fans as much as any of the readers. They care. They provide it their all. They put their hearts and definitely their souls into the work, too.

Because our souls and our hearts are most likely why were doing IP work in the very first place.

Further, since you are (as talked about) distinctly not the owner, you can not continue to generate income from the work– you cant offer foreign rights, or video game rights, or TV/film, or comics, or whatever other secondary rights are offered to the owner of that residential or commercial property. Even if something you wrote trickles into those other rights and license extensions, like a film or a video game. The contracts for such work are often considerably onerous, penalizing for the author and heavily preferring The Brand.

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