Monday, 20 May 2013

Understanding Issues...

Last week went so quickly and I was trying to get so much done that I missed any blog posts.

Plus a trip to the dentist on Friday for root canal work just makes me glad I don't live in the 18th/19th century with the dentistry of the time...

Finally got some more of the novella completed; these last chapters are certainly picking up the pace as the past starts to unfold and there's trouble afoot.

Originally the novella was being written for the pocket novel market, but then changes were made to what was wanted- 20th century onwards.

DC Thomson (who produce the My Weekly Pocket Novels and those by People's Friend) have been a topic for discussion re rights and contracts over the weekend.

Apparently they are sending out new contracts to writers and the new terms have caused a few upsets.

Now I'm a great believer in not giving up your rights, or limiting your rights, unless you are paid an adequate amount to compensate, so I was interested in what the issues involved were.

So let me refer you to Womagwriter's blog post from Friday. Womag has seen an actual contract...

Okay, I've not been in a position to be offered a contract by DCT so I'm not a writer who finds themselves faced with agreeing to such terms or losing a portion of their regular income.

But it does rather seem they want a nice portfolio of stories they can use again and again in assorted media without paying more for it.

And as for that restrictive Clause 8: " In the case of a collection of your contributions where you are the sole or majority author in book form, you commit to offering the Company the right to first refusal to publish any such collection in any format... such an arrangement would be subject to new contractual terms..."

(Now, I am not a lawyer, so this is only my personal opinion of how that clause reads.)

So they can say, yes we want to publish your collection. But if you don't like the contractual terms they're offering, and you can't negotiate on those terms to your satisfaction, then it's goodbye to you publishing your collection yourself, unless they turn down your offer...

Some years ago I read an interview with an author who had been contracted for a second book. The publisher didn't like the second book presented to them, but being bound by the contract she could not offer that book to anyone else...it does sound like it could be a potentially similar scenario...

Writing is a business, and we mustn't lose sight of that fact.
The publisher wants to get the best deal they can, and so does the writer. Sadly the writer is usually the one who loses and ends up doing all the hard work to promote their story/novel for less financial return.

(Is it any wonder that self-publishing to Kindle/Smashwords is thriving?)

We all know that magazines are struggling.

The elusive younger end of the market do everything online (and admittedly not just the young nowadays)- or so it seems. With Smart Phones and iPads, magazines are actively pushing digital subscriptions, as print figures for many magazines drop...

While these are not magazines with short story markets, Bauer have closed 'More' magazine; and 'Full House' is closing too. I've also heard that glossy 'Easy Living' is on the way out...

Could changes in contracts be an advance sign that magazines are trying to build potential collateral that could make the difference between them closing, or being bought out by another publisher?

In the world outside publishing, if a business fails it has more chance of being bought out or taken over if it has an order book/a market; publishing is no different.

But I do worry that if DCT's contract doesn't get revised, then other publishers will start to go that way too, and that won't be good for any writer...

As a last word on rights, you might like to peruse "Authors and book rights – some more truths" - from the futurebook.net website- a digital blog from The Bookseller- it was taking too long to load as a link, so I've just included the name here.

As writers we need to protect our rights, so if you aren't clear on the subject start reading up- there are numerous rights you hold and unless you understand them, you could be signing away a potential source of income.

If you have any thought on this issue, or rights generally, then do please leave a comment.













2 comments:

  1. It's an interesting development, Carol - I've been following the discussion but not taking part as I haven't seen the new contract. Fortunately, my latest short story was published in The Weekly News before this broke!

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  2. Having seen the latest clarifications courtesy of Womag's blog post today, it just confirms my fears.

    Thanks for adding your comment, Rosemary.

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