Pub Rants

Goodbye Miss Snark! I’ll Miss You

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STATUS: A little sad. See below. Just a heads up to let you know that Chutney is doing well. Her stomach is giving her occasional problems but you don’t really need details about that.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? SAVE A PRAYER by Duran Duran

I heard the very sad news this morning when a friend emailed me the link. Yes, it’s true. Miss Snark is retiring.

Why am I sad? Because she would often say (and rather bluntly) what I could not as a non-anonymous, very nice literary agent.

She could be our mouthpiece for the truth that needed to be said without any sugar-coating. And I know I’m not the only agent who felt that way.

But don’t worry, I don’t have any plans to end my blogging but I can sometimes sympathize with Miss Snark and Jennifer Jackson. Some days it’s a real stretch to come up with a topic worth blogging about. As long as you don’t mind a few blog lights here and there, we’ll probably be fine.

Now on to the topic that still has me steamed. I’m particularly enjoying the S&S’s most recent press release where they manage to dance around everything but the real issue—that without sales thresholds for POD copies, there’s no way for rights to revert (which is not in an author’s favor) despite all those good proclamations about how this is really a benefit to authors. Read the press release for yourself right here.


Oops. Did I just do that aloud?

So some key phrases: “we are willing to have an open and forthright dialogue on this or any other topic.

I guess I’ll soon find out.

Another key phrase: “to keep the author’s book available for sale over the term of the license.”

Well two things here folks:

1. We have OOP clauses so we don’t have to specify an exact term of the license in the publishing contract because once it’s out of print, rights revert (when sales thresholds are included that is).

2. As discussed with my contracts manager, we would be open to specifying an exact term for the license but at the moment, we didn’t have to because we had very specific Out of Print clauses that made the term of the license clear. And the vote is not in yet on whether S&S will be “open and forthright” about a dialogue concerning license term limits specified when negotiating the initial Grant of Rights.

I guess I’ll soon find out about that as well.

16 Responses

  1. bran fan said:

    Thanks for your post about Miss Snark. I miss her too. I learned a lot because she told us writers the truth.

    Kristin, I’m learning from you, too. I found you via the link at Snark Central.

    Thank you for continuing to blog.

  2. Anonymous said:

    Kristen, here’s a topic that I’ve been wondering about…

    As an agent, are you looking to sell world rights or sell them broken down, piece by piece? What are the advantages of each?

  3. Travis Erwin said:

    Miss Snark will be missed but thankfully there are a few other truly generous agents out there to help guide us hungry writers. Thanks for both enteratining and educating us.

  4. The Anti-Wife said:

    Thanks for continuing to blog. We’ll all miss Miss Snark and Killer Yapp and we appreciate all the information you and other blogging agents can provide to keep us from embarrassing her memory by being total nitwits.

  5. Patrick McNamara said:

    It’s nice that Miss Snark is letting people know that she’s retiring from blogging. There’s many who just let the blog slide and keep readers wondering. I know Nadia Cornier also dropped her blog recently. It seems to be a trend for agents to drop their blogs, even though it’s a good way to keep writers informed as to what they want.

    My guess is that the S&S rights issue has to do with wanting to make older works available as E-books without having to be concerned with renegotiations. They could work it so that they never have to pay more than the upfront.

    I also suspect it could have something to do with wanting to retain the rights to the first few books of a series while the latter books are still being produced. If they negtiated for a five year contract on the first book of a series and the seventh came out in the sixth year, then to sell the first again they would have to renegotiate and pay again.

    It’s this sort of trick that can indicate trouble at a company. The only way to eliminate it is for agents to collectively put pressure on them.

  6. Subservient No More said:

    I too shall miss Miss Snark, who simultaneously taught and terrified me, but now I have you. Luckily, your style is just as informative and helpful as Miss Snark’s, while significantly less frightening. Plus, I like Chutney more than Killer Yapp, but don’t tell.

  7. Anonymous said:

    Kristen, thanks for continuing to post on the S&S issue. I think it stinks. Looks to me like they’re doing everything to backpeddle from a position that blew up in their faces. Unfortunately, what they’re doing isn’t substantive – it’s all horse hockey (I cleaned that up for the internet). I like to see them come out and say they’ve changed their minds and reversed their decision. As a writer, I would not want to do business with them under these terms. I’m hoping that between all you agents, and our great Author’s Guild, we may eventually get some traction here.

  8. Kanani said:

    As for Miss Snark: It’s like a book. Once the writer is finished, the book is done.

    I’m amazed at how much time editors & agents put forth to these blogs. It’s generous, ad we benefit from all your knowledge!

  9. Deb said:

    I’d think, as an agent, Kristin would want to insert language similar to what they use in small-press-land: the initial release may be an e-book, print book, or both simultaneously. Print on demand technology assures that the print book will be available as customers request it, for the life of the contract. It’s never “out of print.”

    However, these contracts are stated to be for two (or whatever) years from release date, renewable by mutual agreement any time after the initial contract is up.

    Why doesn’t S&S just do this? If there’s a market years out for these titles, they could go five years or whatever.


  10. chuck said:

    Weren’t contracts originally for a specific period of time, until that got changed to the out of print definition? Seems that it might be a good thing to go back to. Ten years and that’s it. You want more, you can pay again, or sell it elsewhere.

  11. Katrina Stonoff said:

    “We are willing to have an open and forthright dialogue on this or any other topic.”

    One has to wonder how Authors Guild executive director Paul Aiken got the idea the clause was non-negotiable (as per the May 18 Publishers Lunch).

    Did he make it up? Seems unlikely. And there’s no point in having “open and forthright” discussion on a non-negotiable item.

    About Miss Snark: I’m too depressed to think about it. Thank goodness you’re still here, Kristin!

  12. Demo said:

    I do find that there is an excessive amount of attitude in the industry, both within and without, so I do not regret or bemoan the retirement of that old attitude.

    The industry is changing. People are more widely educated. I have readers who are Chinese. I’m still trying to find a publisher for China but the language barrier has hindered my efforts.

    The warm, friendly and sincere tone of professionalism is adequate for me. “We wish you well, but this isn’t a work that we can use” is a perfectly fair response. It’s better if they give specific reasons, but generally I’m happy to even get an answer.

    Although I’ve never heard “you can’t write”, I’ve often heard much meaner or less accurate critique that ranged far beneath professional behavior. I’m amazed at the hubris, attitude, and crankiness of the people I’ve contacted.

    You’d think I was presenting Swiftian novels on how to execute children or something, and not the positive-leaning Scifi epics that I prefer to create.