One of the important negotiation points for life-of-copyright publishing contracts is including provisions in the termination clause that oblige the publisher to take the work out of print when sales or royalties drop below a minimum level.
Archive for the ‘Writer Beware’ Category
Posted by Victoria Strauss for Writer Beware
Oprah. The mere mention of her name sets writers’ (and let’s face it, publishers’) hearts aflutter. Oprah, maker of best sellers. Oprah, whose most offhand endorsement can generate massive sales.
Many of you may already be familiar with the names in the title of this post. If you’re not, have a look at this Alert on the Writer Beware website, and at my September 2009 post about the Florida Attorney General’s civil lawsuit against Fletcher, his companies, and some of his business associates for deceptive business practices.
New language in the termination provision of the Harper’s boilerplate gives them the right to cancel a contract if “Author’s conduct evidences a lack of due regard for public conventions and morals, or if Author commits a crime or any other act that will tend to bring Author into serious contempt, and such behavior would materially damage the Work’s reputation or sales.”
I don’t often write posts like this, because it’s really like shooting fish in a barrel. And there are so many red flags here that savvy writers may wonder why I bother. But there are a lot of new writers searching for agents, many of whom are probably new to Writer Beware, and may not yet be clear on what to watch out for.
I’m behind the eight ball with this post, because home renovation insanity has kept me more or less offline for the past few days. Many other bloggers have beaten me to the punch with commentary on this contest, so there’s already quite a bit of information out there.
Received in email this morning via Google Alerts: this press release from an outfit called 3L Publishing, announcing publication of a book called Vanity Circus: A Smart Girl’s Guide to Avoid Publishing Crap.
I’m not saying you shouldn’t self-publish if you want to (though I would urge you to do so on the basis of knowledge rather than hype), or that self-publishers can’t become successful (clearly, they can–something that has always been true, for every possible value of success). I’m just saying that it’s risky to assume that others’ success stories will apply to you.
Because even watchdogs have to rest sometimes, the Writer Beware blog will be taking a break over the holiday season. Unless there’s a really juicy publishing story, this blog will be on hiatus until the new year.
Since I so often get questions about the legitimacy of literary contests (see, for instance, my posts of December 16 and December 7), I thought it would be helpful to post some suggestions for evaluating any contests you may be thinking of entering.