Pub Rants

A New Clause in Town

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Last week I was negotiating a contract with an editor over there at the Random House group.

Color me pink when she mentioned that RH was adding a new clause to the contract that was going to be standard from here on out. RH would now like U.S.-only Spanish Language rights to go with those yummy North American only or World English or World rights.

Glad she mentioned it upfront. What a nasty surprise to have when the contract arrived and as an agent, I don’t like nasty contract surprises. It gets my contracts manager all in a tizzy about why I didn’t clarify this when doing the deal points.

Immediately I started emailing around, seeing if my agent friends had seen this new development. Lucky me, I was the first to experience it—at least from my posse.

What does it mean? Not much really. Just that RH would like one more subsidiary right that they potentially don’t want to pay extra for.

Most agents will probably now discuss it upfront in the deal points—another avenue to get more money out of the publisher in advance or to say “nope, we reserve” when no more money is forthcoming.

It does have some interesting implications for foreign rights though. A quick chat with my very lovely foreign rights manager indicated that it might be something she’ll now have to discuss upfront with the Spanish publishers because when they buy Spanish rights, the house usually wants World (and that would mean a Spanish version in the U.S. as well).

Right now I have her looking into whether it would impact the selling of said Spanish foreign language rights. I’m sure those houses will be thrilled to hear that U.S. Publishers are now actively pursuing our rather substantial Spanish-speaking population.

Times are a-changing.

And I just found out that one of my posse members is actively blogging. Looks like Jennifer has been doing it for a while and I’m just the slowpoke in discovering it. Sheesh. One slap with a wet noodle.

She’s talking more about publicity and has some good points to make. I agree with her whole-heartedly on the importance of a professional website. Go visit her.

12 Responses

  1. SAND STORM said:

    There is going to be a huge boom in Spanish books. RH wants to make sure that when the 21% of Americans that are Latino buy Spanish books the US ones are wrapped up in the rights contract.
    (so they won’t consider it another sale to pay you on)

  2. Eileen said:

    Okay admit it- there is some really cool bar where you, Miss Snark, and the other agents hang out drinking martinis, tossing your hair back and flirting with the waiters that all look like George Clooney.

  3. kim reid said:

    Whenever someone asks – Do I really need an agent? Why not save the 15% and deal with the publisher myself? – I’ll point them to this post.

  4. Diana Peterfreund said:

    Or to the dozens of houses that won’t look at your stuff without one.

    Or the houses/departments/editors you didn’t even know existed/were looking for a book like yours.

    Agents help before and after the sale.

  5. The Beautiful Schoolmarm said:

    The one book most Hispanic males (or young males, at least) really enjoy is The Outsiders. When I taught in Texas, we couldn’t keep them in our rooms–the copies always disappeared. I think there could be a market for YA Latino/a fiction. The usual themes would have a different twist and be darker, in some cases.

    Has anyone read Places Left Unfinished at the Time of Creation by John Phillip Santos?

  6. Jpatrick said:

    Here’s what I’d do. For the Spansh rights, I’d allow an option with the deal with a time limit on it. Maybe they’d go for that, and maybe they wouldn’t. But in situations like this, if you don’t ask, you won’t receive.

  7. Anonymous said:

    As I understand it, there actually is a time limit as the previous poster suggested. For instance, if RH *does not* produce a US Spanish-language version in a certain time (2 years, 3?) after publication of the English edition, those rights would revert to the author. This development is almost certainly due to the relatively recent creation of Vintage Spanish.

  8. Anonymous said:

    Hmm, wouldn’t this new subright be listed on the subright list, and an agent then negotiate that as one of the dozen or so subrights? As you said, means the agent has to know about it and work a little harder.
    I think it might be a good thing, IF they exercise the right in a timely fashion. Grow the market, get more readers in there, sell more books, let the writer earn out faster.