I have an opportunity to write a few novels set in someone else's world in a work for hire situation. My name, my stories, their IP. I also plan to write my own novels in the same genre. While there isn't a non-compete clause in the contract, I still have some qualms about the opportunity. Or am I over thinking things and panicking like a frightened woodland creature?
Either way, I can't seem to shake these questions:
(1) Will the work for hire novels hurt or help my chances to get my own novels published?
(2) Will I still be considered a debut author if the work for hire books come out before I'm ready to shop my own novel?
(3) Does it actually matter what order this happens in?
(4) Should I look at getting an agent for the work for hire novels? (the contract is very straight forward.)
(3) Yes. Your first novel is your debut. If the WFH comes first, that's the debut. If your own novel comes first, that's the debut. Debuts matter ONLY for prizes, generally, and for gaining interest from booksellers. You won't need the bookseller interest for the WFH, I'd guess, because the interest is based on the series, not the author. Generally, if you're writing a Star Trek novelization, readers are asking for the next Star Trek book, not the next Felix Buttonweezer book.
(4) Yes. Now remember, I'm an agent. I think everyone should have one BUT to support that statement let me quote from a client who did get a very straightforward contract recently for a project that I did not sell "Thanks for the notes. I know I would not have caught (any of) these things"
In other words, I saw some things that he didn't and he was able to get most of them changed in the contract.
(Just FYI, I review all contracts my clients enter into even if I don't sell the project for Just This Reason!)
This seems like a good opportunity to build your writing portfolio. Even if you don't secure an agent for the WFH, you should have someone review the contract to keep you out of trouble. Let me know if you need a name.