Pub Rants

A Very Nice Literary Agent Indulges in Polite Rants About Queries, Writers, and the Publishing Industry

SFWA gives RH’s Hydra Imprint The Thumbs Down


I hit work at 7 a.m. I look up at 6 p.m. and wonder where the day went.

Listening To:

NIGHTSHIFT by The Commodores

If you’ve ever wondered about the efficacy of writer organizations such as RWA or SFWA when it comes to protecting authors, then the last twenty-four hour period has proven just how valuable they can be.

Last week on Facebook, I linked to an insightful blog article Victoria Strauss had posted on the SFWA-endorsed site Writer Beware about the new Random House Hydra imprint. Yesterday, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) issued this statement:

Dear SFWA Member:

SFWA has determined that works published by Random House’s electronic imprint Hydra can not be use as credentials for SFWA membership, and that Hydra is not an approved market. Hydra fails to pay authors an advance against royalties, as SFWA requires, and has contract terms that are onerous and unconscionable.

Hydra contracts also require authors to pay – through deductions from royalties due the authors – for the normal costs of doing business that should be borne by the publisher.

Hydra contracts are also for the life-of-copyright and include both primary and subsidiary rights. Such provisions are unacceptable.

At this time, Random House’s other imprints continue to be qualified markets.

Today, within twenty-four hours, Random House responded and asked for a sit-down with board members of SFWA.

I’d say that’s your membership dollars hard at work for a good cause. If you write in this genre and you qualify to be a member but for some reason aren’t one, maybe now is a good time to join. I only foresee more battles like this in the future.





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8 Responses

  1. Her Grace said:

    Whew, close call for me. I was considering submitting to Hydra. (Submitted once to Loveswept, got an alas-o-gram.) I think I’ll give this one a miss.

    Bad publication terms are worse than no publication at all.

    I don’t know why some publishers offer such terrible contracts in this day and age, when it’s far too easy to be exposed and get a bad reputation.

  2. Tiana Smith said:

    I wonder how Random House ever thought they could get away with terms like that without *someone* crying foul. Now it seems like they’re backpedaling. I hope that good comes of this!

  3. Natalie Aguirre said:

    That’s awesome that Victoria and SFWA are out there looking out for us. Maybe they’ll even help change Random House’s policies on this. We can only hope so.

  4. Deb Kinnard said:

    Interesting, that SFWA pounced on this like a squirrel on a nut hoard. I didn’t see RWA stepping up and/or being the first to tell these people they’d devised a miserable contract.

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