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Quotha

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Apr. 25th, 2012 | 17:38

Some wise words on weighing risk vs. reward in publishing:

My attitude is to look at what happens if you make the wrong choice.

If you self-publish and you do something wrong, you can fix it. If the entire self-publishing industry implodes, you still have the rights to your work, so you can still go sell it to a traditional publisher.

If you go traditional and something goes wrong, you are completely screwed. You’ve signed away your rights, you don’t have control over how your work is marketed, etc., etc. If your publisher goes under, it’s going to take a long time and a lot of legal work for you to be able to re-sell that work, assuming you ever can. Is it worth to you to take that kind of risk in return for some editing and cover art?

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Comments {3}

houseboatonstyx

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from: houseboatonstyx
date: Apr. 26th, 2012 0:06 (UTC)
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That fits with some of the stories I've seen from traditionally published authors. In one case, she had signed away her rights, then the editor quit and no other editor at the company liked the book enough to push it through the process. (Or it was a casualty of office politics.) Or, the publisher sold out and the new publisher didn't like it.

Even when all goes well and the book sells okay -- in a few years no one can find any copies, even the author (such as Pamela Dean, iirc).

For an author who writes so fast that he can afford some books to be throwaways, fine.

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Tom Simon

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from: superversive
date: Apr. 26th, 2012 0:23 (UTC)
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For an author who writes so fast that he can afford some books to be throwaways, fine.

The trouble with that is that the Big Six publishers have taken to inserting non-compete clauses into authors’ contracts (often hidden in abstruse language in unexpected places, so the legal department can jump out and yell ‘GOTCHA!’). So your Big Six imprint won’t publish more than one of your books per year, and forbids you to publish with anybody else until it’s done with you.

The IP lawyer David P. Vandagriff likes to try and insert ‘For Avoidance of Doubt’ clauses into his clients’ contracts, specifically to override things like non-compete clauses. Publishers’ legal departments usually object to one or more items in the F.A.O.D. clause, but at least that tells him where to look for the gotchas. Non-competes, he says, are a frequent problem.

Anyway, if your contract only allows you to publish one book per year, you can’t possibly afford for any of your books to be throwaways. One more reason, alas, to ditch the Big Six and look elsewhere for an honest deal.

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houseboatonstyx

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from: houseboatonstyx
date: Apr. 26th, 2012 7:10 (UTC)
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Good point. And I've heard that some agents' contracts have similar provisions, tying up rights to your future books.

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