Saturday, March 16, 2013

Well, We Might Have Chopped Off *A* Head . . .

Earlier this week, I posted a blog about the public letter wars between Random House and the Science Fiction Writers of America (SFWA) over RH's new "digital imprint" and their horrible contract terms for eBook authors. I had an opportunity to ask best-selling Wool author Hugh Howey his thoughts on the conflict on Reddit, where he was hosting an AMA--Ask Me Anything--and he replied "Scalzi is a badass. Those contracts were bullshit. Good to see the power of some internet outrage making a change."

The change he is referring to is the public capitulation of RH to the pressure brought forth by SFWA and other authors. (John Scalzi is an author and president of the SFWA.)

As reported on Thursday, "In the face of such upset, Random House announced on Tuesday that it would change its contracts, offering prospective authors a choice between a 50/50 profit share with no upfront money and a more traditional advance-plus-royalty model where authors receive some money prior to release, as well as 25 percent of whatever profits the title generates upon publication.

Whichever option is chosen, the Random House imprints will cover production and promotional costs  – although promotional costs above $10,000 will be shared between publisher and author in the profit-share model — and will receive publication rights throughout the world in all languages for the duration of copyright unless the digital release falls beneath a particular sales level — 300 copies in 12 months — in which case the author can request rights reversion."

Scalzi went on to say, "The goal here is not to be able to lift the bloodied head of Random House and boast we have taken a hit,” he said. “The goal here is to make sure that writers are being compensated fairly for work they have done and will do."

So this is good thing, right?  Yes it is.  Fist pump.


As I said in my post, Random House's foray is just one sample of the many predators looking to lunch on new authors anxious to break into digital print.  SFWA later in the week reposted YA author Victoria Strauss's similar salvo on Writer Beware against PublishAmerica.

No one has relaxed his or her guard.  And no one should.  It's going to get worse before it gets better, and authors need to continue to stand their ground and fight these battles for themselves and fellow authors.

These victories are a good beginning.

Or, to paraphrase the late Robert Jordan, it's not the beginning, but it's a beginning.

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