Pub Rants

A Difference of Opinion I’m Sure

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STATUS: Just a twinge of a cough remains. Kristin—9 flu—1

What’s playing on the iPod right now? HOME by Daughtry

Rumor has it that several of the big 6 publishers are coming out with new boilerplate contracts in the next couple of weeks. I know for sure that Hachette is working on a new one as is HarperCollins.

With these new “boilerplates,” I already know there is going to be a significant difference in opinion about what a Publisher thinks is a boilerplate item and what an Agent will consider as a boilerplate item versus a right that needs to be negotiated up front.

I have a feeling (call it intuition—snort) that the definition of what constitutes an “enhanced ebook” or a “multimedia product” (that’s a new catch phrase I’ve been hearing as of late) will be at the center of these new boilerplate contract debates between publishers and agents.

I, myself, have yet to see a new “boilerplate” contract but am waiting with bated breath… Oh being an agent is just daily fun.

14 Responses

  1. Eridani said:

    Huh, “multimedia product” could mean anything from a brochure with illustrations to a video card to an iPad. Googling that phrase gives you a vast array of random stuff. Very tricksy.

    I’m glad I am a humble engineer who doesn’t have to deal with this business trickery. I have no patience for such shenanigans.

  2. M Clement Hall said:

    Why a writer needs an agent. The terminology has become like reading a lawyer’s document — unintelligible except to the insider, and probably not then

  3. Cole Kleinschmit said:

    By incorporating phrasing like “Multimedia Product” into the boilerplate, is this implying that such terms are non-negotiable for the publisher? In other words, they are just expecting authors to sign away all rights to any existing or forthcoming format, and unwilling authors just have to walk on the deal?

    Is there anything about multimedia product clauses that limits transfer of medium (say, turning the book into a flash animation/game, just for sake of outlandish argument)? With language that broad, what even constitutes a transfer of medium beyond the scope of the contract?

  4. Simon Hay Soul Healer said:

    Hi Kristin. I’m curious what royalty % publishers will pay authors. Considering that you can self publish an ebook and get up to 70%. J Konrath has lots to say about ebooks on his blog. I still see the benefits in having an agent, and I see how hard you all work, but newbie authors can make good money controlling their ebook rights.

    If we put aside the quality of some self published books and concentrate on revenue, I think more writers will go down this path. Konrath has made me think about the traditional path of agent and publisher. Low priced good quality ebooks at 70% royalty. Makes me think.

    Do you have an opinion you can share about this. What do you think is a fair royalty % for ebooks if the publisher has the rights.

    Thanks, Simon.

  5. Chris Eldin said:

    I’m very interested to see how “multi media product” is defined.
    I have this company in my head called “Multi Story.” The image is a multi-storied building. The first floor is the traditional book. The second floor includes the book plus an interview with the author (formatted for e-readers). The stories keep going until you reach the top floor— will that be a movie, or a Wii game based on the book?
    I would love to see books presented with so many different options to experience them.
    I would also love to tap into my husband’s database of investors and start such a company. Maybe some of your romance writers could give me tips on seduction…

  6. Dave H said:

    One of the downsides of being a non-New York agent is you can’t arrange a meeting and pass your flu bug on to the publisher’s staff. (Grin)

    It’s easy for me to say it because I’m not the one doing the work, but you and the other agents who debate with publishers over these boilerplate changes are going to help define 21st century publishing. So do good work, and, you know, no pressure.

  7. Kassandra said:

    Thanks for letting us know. It’s worked out well for authors to hold on to some electronic rights, especially in the short fiction markets. But as the industry changes, it will be harder for authors to interpret what these rights are, and even worse if the industry as a whole doesn’t know.

  8. MrsVJW said:

    Different definitions for those things?? Ya’ll in the publishing industry must still be behind the times in ho you can make your content work for you… when I started as a tech writer in 1998 the move was just happening in manuals to move to PDFs rather than printed materials, and we’ve been dealing with it since. It’s not a lot of effort to take one source and plug it into multiple formats to generate two totally different end products… you can take something authored in Word, plug it into two different InDesign templates and hit the generate button… two different outputs (note: I live in a world where Adobe Acrobat is king). Seriously… there are a lot of out of work technical writers who could generate different formats in their sleep (or at least on a Monday morning before the coffee kicks in). Look outside the box!