Pub Rants

A Two-Tiered System?

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STATUS: It’s going to be quiet all week. Lots of editors aren’t in the office. I’m working on two submissions that are going out in the next 2 weeks. I am so excited about both that I can’t keep from bouncing in my seat while I write up the submit lists and the cover letters. Can’t wait to share with editors.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? MISUNDERSTANDING by Genesis

Earlier this week I received an email from AAR (Association of Authors’ Representatives) that our contracts board is going to meet with S&S in the near future in order to discuss how recent developments in print on demand technology is affecting publisher out of print [OOP] clauses, etc.

I’m very glad that both sides are undergoing a dialogue.

For my impacted contracts, we are moving forward. I basically argued that these contracts were negotiated before the change and thus the previous boilerplate OOP language should be honored. And it was.

But I honestly can’t tell you what it will be like for future contracts and I’m worried about a two-tiered system. If a project is hot and the agent has leverage or there is an auction going down, I see there is flexibility with the OOP language. But if an author is mid-list and it’s option material time… it might be a whole difference experience. Too hard to say yet but it has me very concerned.

5 Responses

  1. Heidi the Hick said:

    I’m just glad that agents exist so that writers can write, and not have to know their way perfectly through a contract. I consider myself to be pretty good with the words, but put a contract in front of me and I forget how to read.

  2. j h woodyatt said:

    “Too hard to say yet but it has me very concerned.”

    It should. I’m an unpublished writer, and I’m nearly ready to start querying. These new OOP clauses will be a deal-breaker for me. I can’t be the only one thinking that.

    Yes, I’m saying I’ll completely forgo any publishing deal for which one of these clauses is a non-negotiable point for the publisher. Even if that means there can never be any deals for me. I’d like to see my work in print, but not that much. Seriously, I can self-publish electronically without losing my dignity.

    Of course, I’ll be up front about that with any agent who gives serious consideration to representing me. I hope that isn’t going to shoot me down, but c’est la guerre.

  3. OpenChannel said:

    I’m also glad agents are around to negotiate and make this a discussion.

    But I was mostly tickled that you are “so excited about both [projects] that I can’t keep from bouncing in my seat.”

    I love that agents get as excited as the authors do. A sign that you love your job.

  4. JDuncan said:

    Kristen, I’ve been following this issue since it came out in the various agent blogs and such, and I’m curious just how much it will effect a midlist author, if this clause is tied to a dollar amount of yearly sales. This seems to be the indication I’ve seen as to how it will play out, i.e. if there aren’t a 1,000 dollars or whatever in sales for the year, then the author can reclaim the rights to the work. Am I wrong in assuming that most midlist authors don’t hit this threshold after the first year or two that a work has been released? Of course there are exceptions to this generalization, but I’m wondering how you see this whole thing in that light.