Pub Rants

I Can’t Go For That—No Can Do

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STATUS: Here is some fabulous news I finally get to share. It’s official. Walden Media (Chronicles of Narnia) has bought I’D TELL YOU I LOVE YOU BUT THEN I’D HAVE TO KILL YOU from Disney. This is great news because Disney had decided to sit on the project (never what we want) and now things are finally moving forward. Now the big news will be when it goes into production. Then I’ll believe that the film might actually be made.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? WATCH YOUR STEP by Anita Baker

Just a little note to add to yesterday’s blog. Did the Authors Guild over-react regarding the news just in from S&S?

Folks, I have to say that I’m not sensing that. I didn’t just get that AG alert and then blog about it. I’m pretty interconnected with a lot of agents and we are all talking to each other.

My S&S contracts haven’t hit my desk yet but they have hit the desks of agents I know and those folks are currently battling for sales threshold language that used to be a standard negotiated item. (Side note on how it works: Publishers have boilerplate contracts that agents renegotiate and that renegotiated contract becomes the agency’s standard boilerplate with that publisher. That way we don’t have to reinvent the wheel every time we do a new deal with that publisher. Our previously negotiated language is automatically included.)

Today’s Publisher’s lunch reports that it is Authors Guild executive director Paul Aiken’s understanding that S&S is no longer going to add sales thresholds to the Out of Print Clause and it is non-negotiable.

And from what I’m hearing from those currently dealing with S&S contracts, that’s not off the mark.

It’s fine if S&S wants to change their boilerplate OOP language. I don’t have a problem with that. They can have whatever language they want to include. It’s the “non-negotiable” part that’s potentially the issue.

(Side note here: both Random House and the Penguin Group have already digitized their lists and neither has any problem including sales threshold language in their OOP clauses.)

Lunch also reports that “agents are prepared to pushback vigorously if presented with such a change.”

Blaster or light saber anyone?

19 Responses

  1. Carla said:

    What would be the result if all agents refused to deal with S&S if the publisher won’t negotiate or change their wording?

    Also, it seems if this sticks, it’ll only be a matter of time before the other big publishers follow suit. And then, we writers will essentially lose our products for the rest of our lives (plus 70 years) the minute we sign a contract.

  2. Anonymous said:

    Dude, you totally have to go with a light saber. Don’t you remember in The Empire Strikes Back, how Han Solo shoots Darth Vader with a blaster, and Vader deflects them with his frickin’ hand! You never saw him do that with a light saber, nosiree!

  3. Anonymous said:

    Thanks for the timely posts. Many other agents are up in arms about this too. Jim Milliot has a good article online at Publishers Weekly, 5/18/2007. Your readers might want to check it out at
    WilliamEpic (anon posting)

  4. moonrat said:

    not to play the devil’s advocate here, and not that i have ever heard ANYTHING good about working for S&S…but we small pressers live & die by our ability to keep the out-of-print threshold high enough that we can actually afford to reprint the book.

    I have ZERO sympathy for S&S but as the bottom line get lower and lower it gets harder and harder to scrape the barnacles off the keel.

  5. OpenChannel said:

    I’m thinking what will happen if this trend continues is that places like Lulu and Brown Books will become more popular because author’s will simply get fed up. Or more places like Lulu will pop up (already happening).

    Congrats on the Walden purchase! Personally, I’d much rather deal with them than Disney.

  6. Sherryl said:

    I guess this has been coming ever since digital versions of books started appearing. But that doesn’t mean we don’t fight to the death over it. For sure, if one publisher gets their way, the others will follow suit.
    Authors are trying to make a living, for goodness sake. Why do publishers have to behave like bullies?
    We’re continually told we have to create our own publicity unless we are Dan Brown or John Grisham, so half our advances go on setting up stuff like websites and signings and local events (and some people I know have hired their own publicists). Publishers need to get on board the “co-operation express” with us, not tie us to the tracks.

  7. Anonymous said:

    Sigh – it’s always the Catholic school girls. At least her sweater is ON and not thrown over her shoulder – I’m damn tired of that look. She does look bitchin’, gotta admit. The S&S situation? Gotta learn more.

  8. Derrick said:


    I hope that the movie starts rolling ASAP! I am so happy for you that talks have been made about turning one of your author’s novels into a film.

    I have read on other sites that your agency is up and coming and for that I congratulate you. I will be querying you in the near future because I would love to grow with your agency and be your client for my entire writing career.

    Warm Regards,


  9. julia said:

    How exciting to sell the film rights to a book, and then discover it’s merely languishing in purgatory? Congratulations on the project getting new legs.

  10. catherine said:

    I’m partial to the light saber personally. Fight, I say! I’m only able to speak for myself, but I’m willing to do whatever I can to prevent non negotiation from becoming the industry standard.

  11. Liz said:

    Here’s hoping Walden does great things with the book and turns it into a wonderful movie.

    I steered many YA readers to this story when it first came out. They all loved it, my two young teens included. I will have to make sure my replacement orders the sequel for our library.

  12. Stuart said:

    Why only choose one weapon?

    Use both, one in each hand. 🙂

    The S&S situation warrents the extra firepower…

    And thanks for going to bat for us. Even though I’m not a client, every agent like you who stands up for this is helping us all.

  13. Sarah said:

    A light saber is a fine thing, but I’m envisioning a squadron of agent-piloted X-Wings flying in formation toward the S&S Death Star.

    Alternatively, you could engage in an arms race–the AAR could build a Death Star of its own. I want to hear Joshua Bilmes say, “This space station is fully operational. Now the Simon & Schuster boilerplate’s destruction is complete.”

    Fight the good fight!

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