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Posts tagged ‘contracts’

Writers, morality and the #MeToo fallout — Revisit

I’m down with a bug this morning. So I went looking for a blast from the past and came across this post which is a year old. In light of what’s been going on with RWA, it seemed timely to remind the writers out there that our profession is full of minefields. We have those who would police us because of our sex or sexual orientation, or race or ethnic background, or because of our politics. What we’re seeing in the RWA right now is one example. Another is shown in the following post. We should be on the lookout for both. — ASG

Writers, morality and the #MeToo fallout

I’ve been pondering whether to write this post for the better part of a week. I’d been hearing rumbling from traditionally published authors about a contract clause that is as evil–their words and I agree–as the rights grabbing clauses that have become common in publishing contracts. But then, several days ago, an op-ed piece appeared in the NYT and I knew what I needed to write. The clause? A morality clause. Yes, you read that right. More and more traditional publishers are now including a morality clause in their contracts. Read more

IP: Cover Art Licenses

As you all know, Indie authors wear a lot of hats. I have a few extra, because I’m an author and an artist. So this post is going to be me switching hats, and talking about cover art, from both sides of the page. Read more

Another Reason to Think Twice Before Signing

As I was looking for something to blog about this morning, I came across this post over at The Passive Voice. It seemed especially important in the wake of the events of this past weekend. The topic? Morality clauses in publishing contracts. More specifically, those clauses that allow publishers to cancel contracts based on past, present or future conduct that might damage their sales.These clauses have become common boilerplate in publishing contracts and they should bother anyone considering going with a traditional publisher. Read more

What to do? What to do?

The other day, I was talking with a writer who was over the moon but trying to think like a businessman. Well, businesswoman. She’d finished a book six months or so ago and had been shopping it around. After deciding against going with an agent, she did her homework and found publishers in her genre who would accept “over the transom” submissions. After silence from some and rejections from others, she finally had a contract offer. It wasn’t a big name publisher or even a medium name publisher. But the publisher wasn’t exactly fly-by-night either. But, reading the contract, she had concerns and wanted to talk them out before spending the money to have an IP attorney look at the paperwork.

I’ll admit, my immediate reaction was to tell her to run long and far from the contract. But I was good and I said I’d be glad to meet for coffee and we’d discuss it. But she needed to bring the contract with her so I could see what they were offering and what they wanted from her. Read more

Guest Post: Taking Out a Contract

This is a guest post from the friendly and talented Joe Monson. I had asked a couple of people I know who had managed anthologies, and Joe got back to me with the following post. Hopefully it will be helpful if any of you are considering herding cat… er, putting together an anthology! 

Taking Out a Contract

I’m fairly new to the writing and editing scene. At the time of writing this, I have only one published short story and one published anthology (as co-editor) to my name (though a couple are out for consideration by editors and publishers). So, I can’t say that I have years or decades of experience to my name. Read more

Chilling? Downright Frigid.

Very first thing: if you haven’t read Amanda’s post from this morning, go read it. While this morality clause nonsense is dangerous to writers, and it’s certainly a CYA move on the part of the publishers including it in their contracts, I can’t help but wonder if it’s *also* being used as a means of further gatekeeping. “You’d better stay in the conservative closet, if you want to keep writing in your favorite world.” Read more

Law and the Writer

Last week a young writer who is also a lawyer was on blog tour, and I have asked her if she wouldn’t mind stopping by the comments today to answer some questions. The usual disclaimers apply: although she is a lawyer, she is not your lawyer, and nothing you read in the post or comments should be taken as legal advice. If you think you need a lawyer, get one, internet lawyering may well be worse than useless. That being said, it’s great to get some insight into the sometimes murky world of Intellectual Property law.

I’m pleased to introduce Amie Gibbons, whose energy in real life translates into her books. She writes lighthearted stories with sweet Southern sass, belles who pack heat, and a dollop of romance on top of things that go bump in the night. Her latest is Psychic Undercover (With the Undead) and it’s a fun romp of a book.

Okay, if you’re a writer, you’ve heard the term copyright. It’s very important in the arts. So what is a copyright?

It is literally what it sounds like, the right to copy. It means you own that type of mental work and you are the only one who can make reproductions of it.

On some things, it’s easy to say what’s copyrightable and what isn’t. A book is copyrightable, but what about a title? Or a made up word? Or a general plot? There it gets a little more tricky. It gets grey. Lawyers love grey, it gets us lots of money.

This post is just going to touch on the basics of copyright.

1. For something like a book, the first question is usually along the lines of, “Do I have to register it to have protection?” Basic answer is no. You created it, it’s yours and legally no one can take it from you. You have copyright as soon as the art is put on a medium, as in, words are put on the page.

So no, you don’t have to register it with the copyright office, and you really do not have to do the “poor man’s copyright” (that’s where people would mail themselves their manuscripts in the mail and keeping the dated paperwork to prove they had the work on that date).

The tricky part if you get caught in a legal battle is proving it was yours first. This is where a registered copyright helps because it helps prove it was yours on the date registered (it also does other stuff for you like you can sue in federal court and get greater damages in court).Read the rest here… 

The post on copyright, fair use, and other common IP questions appeared at my blog, and then on James Young’s blog, Amie delved into the dank world of Contract Law.

Well, first up, most publishers have a form contract they expect you to sign and if you don’t want to, they’ll tell you it’s standard across the industry and you can take it or leave it. If you leave it, don’t worry, there are a hundred authors behind you who will have no problem with it.

That is one of the big things to look at in contract negotiations. Does one side have more bargaining power than the other? Usually the answer is yes. Unfortunately for writers who are set on going trad pub, the answer is extremely yes. The publisher has all the power because they don’t really need you. Unless you have already made it huge like that Fifty Shades woman and they want to get on board the train, you’re replaceable.

Does that mean you can’t try to negotiate? Of course not. Hire an IP lawyer who specializes in author contracts to look at the contract, to explain it to you if need be, and to go to the table to negotiate on your behalf.

First rule of negotiations, you never send the person with the power to say yes to the table.

Why? Because if you as the author are at the table, they can pressure you right there to agree to something. If your representative is there, there is nothing they can say to get the rep to say anything but, I’ll take it to my client, because the rep legally cannot say yes, no matter how good the deal sounds. Even if you tell them they can say yes if the deal has XYZ terms, they’ll still most likely say they’ll take it back to you because they know how to negotiate and that no legit deal requires you to say yes in the room.

Again, will this help if the publisher says this is the form contract that is standard across the industry so you will take it or leave it? Probably not. But you never know. There might be a few things that are just egregious to the author that publishers have in there because they know they can get away with it, but really don’t mind dropping if you ask. Read the rest here…

Amie has some very practical things to say, with a good dollop of commonsense. I know this is a lot of reading when you follow the links, but it’s all worth digesting. Then come on back here and ask questions in the comments, both Amie and I will be around to answer them! I am not a lawyer, at all, but I can usually come up with a link to an answer.