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A friend is no longer...

Discussion in 'Off Topic [BG]' started by Sundogue, Mar 23, 2005.

  1. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    This is kind of a long rant...sorry, but I need to get this off my chest.

    I met this guy about 15 years or so ago. The guy had all kinds of ideas for things like board games, etc.

    I'm an artist and a writer. I painted a lot of commercial art for him to help him get his board game ideas off the ground. They were really cool games and we both thought they'd go over big time.

    Over the years, we've always worked together on projects like this. We had our share of creative differences that were almost knock down - drag out fights. But in the end, the projects got done and we were always happy about it. We became pretty good friends over the years.

    Last year he had a new idea. He wanted me to write a book for him. It was the story of his life. It was really interesting. It involved drug deals, the DEA, rich families trying to ruin his family, and even the mafia (I'm not making this up). This story is a movie of the week if there ever was one.

    I spent the better part of a year writing this book. It was really good (IMO). My wife and I both read a lot of books and have quite a collection. We had many others read what I wrote and alot of the professional opinions were that it had the makings of a best seller.

    Of course we had our creative differences. This guy, admittedly, can't read or write very well. He has about the equivalent of a third grade education and even admits he's never even read a single book in his life.

    After I wrote it, and he paid me for it (what payment we agreed on), he continued to harass me about making changes. Changes that were absurd, at odds with the storyline, incorrect grammatically and frankly made the book start to really look like a third grader wrote it.

    I was originally given his hand written chicken scratching that laid out the foundation of the book. But there was no story there...just a lot of anectdotes. I spent almost a year developing a story out of that mess. I developed the plot line, the characters...basically everything that made his notes into a story.

    As an example, he would have one paragraph about the death of his brother, or when his brother got busted by the feds in a million dollar heroin ring. But then he'd have a whole page about things that were completely trivial (like washing his car, etc.). I had to be very creative and make alot of things up to make it interesting.

    After it was "done", he attempted to get more work out of me for free (more work from my wife as well, who is a graphic artist). Together my wife and I wrote the book, edited it, rewrote parts of it and we did the cover art, did all the pre-press stuff to get it ready for publishing. We did it all and his only contribution was criticizing things.

    Finally I'd had enough. I installed Word on his computer (which I set up and taught him how to use), and I copied the book file onto his computer so he could just make the idiotic changes himself. I just couldn't take what he wanted done to my story anymore.

    Here's where it all falls apart. Not only did my wife and I do a lot of work for free (well beyond what we were paid to do), I also designed his website so he could sell this book as it is self published. I was making his website as a favor to a friend, when I had some spare time (which was seldom as I work a full time job and play in a band and I have three kids with another on the way...and I'm remodeling my house). I was doing it for free.

    He was just as critical of the website and expected me to keep making changes to it, on my time...for free. He kept making ridiculous demands on what he wanted (he didn't even know what he wanted) and demands on my limited time...for free. He got angry with me that I wasn't doing more for him and broke off our relationship.

    In addition to the money he paid me for the cover art and writing this book, I was to recieve 10% of the sales as per our agreement. I wrote the book as a ghost writer and never intended to use my name on it. I never had a problem with that. But he surely wasn't going to use his name either, because he was afraid of his old drug dealers and the mob coming after him if he used his name.

    He is now telling everyone that because he made changes to my work that he wrote the book, not me. The changes he made are outrageously atrocious and everyone agrees that he took a great story and ruined it, so in a way I am glad that my name is not associated with that trash.

    But there is a part of me that took a lot of pride in this book and now it all feels so cheap to me. I'm angry and hurt and I want nothing to do with him now.

    I feel like a year of my life was for nothing and what pride I had in that story is now replaced with embarassment. I had so many people who wanted a copy to read the story I wrote and now I don't want anyone to read this drivel and think I did that piece of trash.

    We are not on speaking terms at all any more, and that's fine as he turned my, and my wife and kids lives upside down for a year and I'm glad to be rid of him.

    But there is a part of me that feels cheated and empty.

    Thanks for letting me rant. You can now go back to talking about amps and basses and the latest celebrity gossip. :)
  2. DigMe


    Aug 10, 2002
    Waco, TX
    Wow...that sucks man. Sorry to hear it. At least he paid you the initial amount agreed on! I guess it goes to show you that sometimes you can't trust the uneducated to make educated decisions.

    brad cook
  3. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    I didn't have a problem with his suggestions, only in the sense that it was "his" project and he could do whatever he wanted with it.

    But being a professional writer, artist and web developer I felt I had some professional opinions that he just blatantly disregarded.

    What it all comes down to, is that I think he knew he couldn't do any of it himself (because he lacked the intelligence, the professionalism, the talent and the skill to do any of it), but when he saw what I did, he wanted total control of it...like it was all his doing.

    It's sad really. It was such a great book, if I do say so myself.

    Being in the field(s) I'm in, I have dealt with so many irritating customers and anal publishers and editors that I've come to expect a certain amount of fighting over creative differences. Ultimately the customer is paying for it. I never have a problem with it if my name isn't on it.

    But this was a very personal thing. It was my first novel. It was a 300 page book. And now, it's nothing. :crying:
  4. JimK


    Dec 12, 1999
    ...this was a Seinfeld episode.
    Kramer is 'the real Peterman'.

    Sorry for the attempt at levity.
    Now back to our regularly scheduled programming.
  5. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    Levity is what I need. Thanks. :)
  6. Basshole

    Basshole Banned

    Jan 28, 2005
    Honestly? Unless this character, by virtue of his unsavory nature, would be a real threat to you, I would sell the original draft (that you and your friends all believed would be a bestseller), to a reputable publisher...and enjoy the proceeds of a bestselling book.

    I would not see your work go to waste.
  7. Aaron Saunders

    Aaron Saunders

    Apr 27, 2002
    You know, if he changed it enough, you could release the original copy to publishers. If he tries to go at you legally, you could show them proof that you wrote the story first -- did you draw up a contract at all? Even so, there's gotta be SOME written record of the events, right? If so, combining that with his obvious lack of intelligence, you could toss him on his arse in a legal battle.
  8. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    I have no desire to publish the book at all.

    Yes, I could do that...but his version will be legally published and on the market before I could even get it out there.

    It's not that I haven't thought about it. I did consider sending it to all the big book publishers and let him try to fight them, not me.

    It's all too depressing at this point. But I got paid (a pretty good sum too). I just want to forget about it actually.

    I think his book sales will die a slow death, simply because it's not any good anymore. He thinks it's even more awesome now (his thinking based on this being the only book he's ever read). :rolleyes:
  9. Folmeister

    Folmeister Knowledge is Good - Emile Faber Supporting Member

    May 7, 2003
    Tomball, Texas
    Offer to sell the original manuscript to a publishing house. Like you said, let him deal with the new owners.
  10. MJ5150

    MJ5150 Terrific Twister

    Apr 12, 2001
    Olympia, WA

    He'll get his paybacks. One of his old mafia/drug dealer associates will probably stumble on the book, read it, then go kill him.

  11. tplyons


    Apr 6, 2003
    Madison, NJ
    Sucks, but in the business of it, you got what you worked for. As far as the personal and artistic part, it just sucks that you basically got cheated.

    I'd love to read the original version if you have it?
  12. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    I'd like to share a word with you that apparently is not in your lexicon: "No."
  13. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    Yeah, I may distribute MY version of it for free. We'll see.
  14. Sundogue


    Apr 26, 2001
    Wausau, WI
    I said NO so many times that we were constantly fighting. That's why I finally just gave him his own copy to edit the way he wanted. Once he paid me for it, I stopped editing it as he was harassing me and my family, calling me at all hours of the night at home and calling me at work. I'd be in the middle of a network server recovery for a business I support, and he'd call me on my cell and expect me to drop what I was doing. It got to the point where I'd have to screen my calls, but even then he'd just come over whenever he had a "new" (yet another bad) idea.

    We would have long discussions over why his ideas were bad. It was like teaching a kid to understand English 101, and the importance of plot lines, good story flow, character development, etc. Things he clearly did not understand, nor did he want to understand.

    But it's his book. I was hired to write it. I got paid for it. I think I did a good job. I only edited parts of it to appease him so I could get paid. Once I was paid I stopped "working" for him.

    But since he is publishing it, he can do what he wants with it. It's his...he owns the rights to it. I was just a hired gun, so to speak.

    I still have my original untainted version. I'm feeling better about it. It feels good to vent. I know what I wrote, even if it doesn't appear in print.
  15. Munjibunga

    Munjibunga Total Hyper-Elite Member Gold Supporting Member

    May 6, 2000
    San Diego (when not at Groom Lake)
    Independent Contractor to Bass San Diego
    If you wrote it, you may unknowingly own the copyright, unless there is a written document to the contrary.
  16. powerslave

    powerslave Guest

    Feb 24, 2005
    United States
    i had a friend for 18 years that constantly found ways to take advantage of me via money, material things, or other stuff. Sad to say i let him continue his life with out my friendship any longer. it was a contant weight on my shoulders when he would call to say "whats up", (yeah, more like what do you want!)

    people take advantage of others all the time, it's just to bad that it happened to you in this senario. try not to let it happen again, is all i can say, and it looks like he fixed that!! ;)
  17. Trevorus


    Oct 18, 2002
    Urbana, IL
    I would like to read your original. And I am glad you came out without a huge battle. These situations could go downhill ina hurry, but you got out as cleanly as could be expected.
  18. Pearls before swine.

    Mike ;)
  19. xonebass


    Feb 17, 2005
    Orange, CA
    Well there is one major advantage that you have over your friend. YOU can always write another book - probably more successfully than he can. Look at as a lesson learned. If you want total creative authority you need to be the sole writer/editor/publisher etc.

    This reminds me of when bands break up and they worry about who's going to have copyright over certain songs. My way of thinking about it is that if you are a good enough songsmith or writer you can always write another song assuming you have the talent. Eventually the talentless leaches (there is one in nearly every band) will get their just desserts.

    I know that probably doesn't make it any better but c'est la vie.