Most writers check their traditional book contracts for the advance, the payout, and the due dates. They don’t look at anything else. Writer after writer, and editor after editor, have told me this.
I always look toward the editing clauses first. Because if they’re ugly, the rest of the contract usually is as well.
This applies to all kinds of writing for traditional markets, especially for nonfiction and short fiction. I’ve seen terrible editing clauses in those contracts, and what’s ironic is that those clauses often seem to be the most innocuous.
What you want is complete control of the content of your work.
Indie writers: Read this post now in case you decide to get a traditional publisher to publish your paper copies. Especially if you had (or will have) an agent negotiate the deal. Because much of what I’m going to discuss here applies to paper books, not ebooks. This is one of those areas where you, the indie who has gone hybrid, is most likely to get screwed.
In fact, this area is where writers have been getting screwed since some publisher thought to change their contracts in the last 1990s—and then all the other publishers followed suit. (How is this not collusion? Oh…Department of Justice…)
Discount clauses always send a ting of discomfort through me, and not just because the things are damaging to writers’ careers and writers’ incomes. But because they are one of those let’s-screw-the-writer clauses that got added into contracts in the past twenty years or so.
I want to support what the Authors Guild is doing here. I really do. I believe this “conversation” needs to commence. Writers—particularly writers of the Take Care of Me school—need to understand that their publishers and their agents are not their friends. Those two entities are in business for themselves and will devise contract terms to benefit them. But…
Recently, I got e-mail from another career writer, talking about a rights grab from a traditional publisher. I saw the document in question; it’s egregious. I do not have permission to talk about this particular document nor would I, since it’s proprietary, but it’s the kind of document I’ve seen at least six times in the last two years. These documents are addendums to publishing […]
The Business Rusch: Competition Kristine Kathryn Rusch Just a few years ago, traditional publishers had a monopoly. They controlled the distribution of books. This meant that the publishers dictated terms to booksellers and they dictated terms to writers. What resulted was what happens whenever anyone controls a marketplace: lots of nasty business practices, lots of unfairness, and lots of take-it-or-leave-it ultimatums. Those of us […]
The Business Rusch: Advocates, Addendums, and Sneaks, oh my! Kristine Kathryn Rusch Sometimes I’m really slow on the uptake. I mean face-palm, well-duh slow. Sometimes it takes a knock to the head to make me put all the pieces together into one big gigantic lump. The knock on the head came earlier in the week, as I read various documents sent to me for my […]
< The Business Rusch: Understanding Publishing (Changing Times Continued) Kristine Kathryn Rusch As I mentioned last week, I’m going to finally examine the elephant in the room—the changes in my industry, publishing. I realize that many of you reading this blog aren’t in publishing, but you do run businesses. I hope that the blogs I write in the next few weeks will remain relevant to […]