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Writer's Room => Chapter Books, Easy Readers, and Middle Grade (MG) => Topic started by: lerg1 on February 10, 2021, 06:52 AM

Title: children's adaptations
Post by: lerg1 on February 10, 2021, 06:52 AM
Hi, I've been commissioned by a publisher to write a series of 8 children's adaptations of adult classics.  What can I expect to be paid for this? I think they've said their rate is 400 per book which seems insanely low to me. But is it worth it so that I can get published/ will it be a door opener? Thanks!
Title: Re: children's adaptations
Post by: Vijaya on February 10, 2021, 07:22 AM
:welcome lerg1  Work-for-hire varies greatly depending on the publisher and also for the project. I've been paid $100-$500/bk that were similar in scope.  $400 for each adaptation does feel low if they're purchasing all rights but not if it's your advance against royalties. In any case, you'll have a set of 8 books so it's a great start. There's not much wiggle room for negotiations but I would definitely ask. The worst they can say is no.

How much time do you estimate it would take you per book? I try to shoot for $50/hr but often research can eat up quite a bit of time and it ends up $25/hr. But I won't accept anything less and have turned down projects. However, when I was first starting out, I accepted lower-paying gigs.

Good luck! It sounds like a fun project.
Title: Re: children's adaptations
Post by: lerg1 on February 10, 2021, 07:31 AM
Thanks so much Vijaya! Given the length and complexity of the originals I would have thought that it would take at least 80 hours per book (they're looking for 8000 words) so that would be £5 an hour! but I've never done this before so I don't know what the norm is, maybe I need to work a lot faster! I don't think there would be any royalties.

Do you think it would increase my chances of getting my own work published?
Title: Re: children's adaptations
Post by: Vijaya on February 10, 2021, 07:36 AM
Boy, that's really low for the amount of work. I would ask for more, at least double, given that you won't make royalties. And trust me, you'll get faster as you work on these so your rate essentially goes up.
Title: Re: children's adaptations
Post by: lerg1 on February 10, 2021, 07:48 AM
Ok thanks, am I crazy to think it needs that length of time? The word count of the originals is between 100,000-200,000 words and they want the adaptations to be 8000.

I'd be happy to do it if I knew it would be a good way to start getting published, what do you think?

Thank you again!
Title: Re: children's adaptations
Post by: Vijaya on February 10, 2021, 08:45 AM
Do you know the stories? If so, it might not take you very long to write an adaptation. 80/book does sound high and it might be so for the first one, but once you have the structure, you could whip through these. The process isn't linear.*

What kind of deadlines are you facing? Would you have to drop everything else to work on these adaptations? Do you know how fast you can write? So many things to consider. But I do think it's a great way to be published. And you know kids would be reading these books. And that's the BEST part. Also, you'll learn a lot about writing these kinds of books that are very popular with kids and the knowledge you gain, you can apply to your own pet projects. As you can tell, I'm in favor of taking the leap. I've discovered the net always appears.

*As a short story writer, I used to lament the fact that novels are long and if it takes me a year to really polish a short story, then it would take me 50 yrs to write a novel? Not so. For instance it took me 2 yrs to write and revise a novel and working very part-time on it. I joke about Ten Easter Eggs, how it took 10 yrs to get it published, that it amounted to writing half a couplet each year. But we all know that's not how writing works.
Title: Re: children's adaptations
Post by: Debbie Vilardi on February 10, 2021, 06:13 PM
I agree with everything Vijaya has said. You'll have to read the books, but you won't have outside research to do. They key is to make sure you hit the main points. If the books are available free online, you'll be able to search them with your browser to get quotes and the like. That's quicker than flipping through pages.

I once did a set of readers for $250/book. The first ended up at $25/hour or less. The other seven were at $50/hour. Once I had the formula for the first one, the others were super easy. I knew what I needed to research and just plugged everything in. (These were K-2, so short.)

Vijaya, did miss one other thing the experience will give you. You'll get to work with an editor. That's valuable experience. And none of the text will be your babies in the way your personal projects are.

Hourly wage isn't the only way to look at how much you're earning. You can also look at word count. Think about what Highlights pays for all rights to an 800 word story. (I believe it's on their website.) Is this fee per word in that range?

This will not open doors for you, but it may help you be a better writer. Only the manuscript you submit can open a door unless you intend to make freelancing part of your living. In that case, this can be a resume builder if the publisher has a good reputation.
Title: Re: children's adaptations
Post by: lerg1 on February 11, 2021, 09:08 AM
Thanks so much Debbie! That's really helpful :)