A publisher reached out to me about a manuscript I submitted to them. The manuscript is incredibly large and complex, so working with their team for the remaining steps wouldn't be simple. They proposed the idea of just outright buying the manuscript, so that their team could take over completely, with them taking creative control over the project.

I feel this is the best way to work with the publisher, as I don't mind having their experts make changes to it. What I forgot to ask about was, in such a transaction, could my name be removed as author?

  • 4
    This sounds extremely iffy. As a rule, you do not want to sell All Rights -- ever.
    – Mary
    Commented Dec 19, 2023 at 4:05
  • 1
    If you have legal questions, you should always specify your jurisdiction. The law isn't the same in different countries.
    – Ben
    Commented Dec 19, 2023 at 6:13
  • Do you know who wrote all the Nancy Drew books?
    – Stef
    Commented Dec 19, 2023 at 19:08

2 Answers 2


Typically, in a standard publishing contract, even if the publisher has substantial creative control, it's still customary for the authors name to remain on the work. It's important to carefully review the contract to understand how authorship will be handled. If you have concerns about the extent of creative control or would like to retain certain aspects of your piece, reach out to your publisher. If you're still unsure, it never hurts to ask!

  • "Typically". That is simply not true. "Many traditional publishing houses have admitted that 70% of the books they publish were written by a ghostwriter. Even crazier — 99% of books published by artists, celebrities, and politicians were done with the help of a talented ghostwriter." (Source)
    – Ben
    Commented Dec 20, 2023 at 16:42

I feel this is the best way to work with the publisher

No, this is the best way to stop working with the publisher.

If you want to get rid of your manuscript and never touch it again and never see it again and never have any say about what happens to it and never make any more money from it, then yes, you can sell it to the publisher and walk away.

Otherwise, don't.

  • What's wrong with work for hire ghostwriting? There is a very large number of publications that aren't published under the names of (all) their real authors. Why is that a bad way to write and publish? You are making a very sweeping judgment here that is simply not true in its simplified generalisation.
    – Ben
    Commented Dec 20, 2023 at 16:40
  • @Ben I didn't say it was a bad way. I said "If that's what you want, then you can do it. Otherwise, don't."
    – Stef
    Commented Dec 20, 2023 at 16:43
  • The OP said the publisher wants to "take over completely, and take creative control" and I get the feeling that the OP thinks the publisher is just about to take control of ironing out a few details, whereas the publisher is actually saying they will take over completely, which can include completely changing the direction of things (for instance, maybe the OP thinks they wrote a standalone realist book, but the publisher will just keep the scenario skeleton, and change the names of all characters and places to make it the next issue in an ongoing fantasy series they have).
    – Stef
    Commented Dec 20, 2023 at 16:45
  • When you write "[t]hat is the best way to stop working with a publisher" and then keep on an on about how this way makes you lose all influence and future income from your work and then finish by recommending: "Otherwise, don't", that seems very much like you paint this kind of contract in a bad light. What you seem to fail to see is that even if you sign away all your rights, you can have a contract that includes future compensation; that ghostwriting is often highly paid (e.g. if you ghostwrite the biography of a famous person); and that of course you can keep working with that publisher.
    – Ben
    Commented Dec 20, 2023 at 16:48
  • @Ben Yes, you can keep working with that publisher on future manuscripts. But for this manuscript, agreeing to the publisher's offer literally means stop working on this manuscript.
    – Stef
    Commented Dec 20, 2023 at 16:50

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