Friday, December 18, 2009

Writers Beware When Signing Contracts in this "New Age"

A recent statement from UK's Society of Authors warns writers to take care in this fast-changing time. The recent announcement from Macmillan about selling enhanced ebooks brings yet another issue to the table. The UK Society of Authors recommends that authors be very explicit about what rights they are giving to a publisher regarding the type of ebooks the publisher has rights to. They advise that a complete and separate contract be drawn up for "enhanced ebooks". They also advise writers to push for big royalty increases on such products.

According to them: When a book has become well-established, it may be reasonable for the author's share to rise to as much as 75%. On other forms of electronic access – e.g. rental and pay-per-view - authors should receive at least 50%, preferably nearer 85%, of the publisher's receipts.

They also suggest writers allow a limited time frame for the rights to publishers regarding electronic media. They suggest 20-30 years. It is obvious technology is changing the way books can and will be sold. We can't know what the future holds and signing a vague contract that alludes to "electronic rights" without a strict definition of that term could cost us a lot of money. As I write this, I fear I hear my own money dripping away thanks to the contracts I've signed with such vague definitions.

They also suggest that somewhere in the contract writers should get the right to review royalties for ebooks, possibly every two years, and have them adjusted to "match those then prevailing in the trade".

This is fantastic guidance for all of us. Let's be armed and ready for the new publishing world that awaits us.

3 comments:

GutsyWriter said...

Yes, I keep hearing about changes in the publishing world, however, there is one thing that I shall do when I get to the point of signing a contract, and that's to hire a literary attorney. I think it's well worth the extra money in the long run. Great post Lauri. Keep us informed on what else we need to know please.

Elizabeth Bradley said...

Great advice, thanks.

Anonymous said...

RAISING MALAWI IS A SHAM. MADONNA IS A FAKE HUMANITARIAN. SHE IS NOT EVEN THE PRIMARY DONOR FOR HER OWN RAISING MALAWI FOUNDATION. THERE HAVE ALREADY BEEN TWO DISCLAIMERS WHICH LIMIT MADONNA'S TOTAL CONTRIBUTIONS TO A VERY LOW SIX FIGURES. LESS THAN 1/10 OF ONE PERCENT OF HER OWN MULTI-HUNDRED-MILLION DOLLAR FORTUNE. SHE IS JUST ANOTHER FALSE HERO PROMOTING HER OWN IMAGE AND HER OWN BUSINESS AGENDA THROUGH HER RAISING MALAWI FOUNDATION.

POTENTIAL DONORS: NON-PROFITS ARE NOT REQUIRED BY LAW TO BE EFFICIENT OR EFFECTIVE. ULTERIOR MOTIVES ARE VERY COMMON WITH CELEBRITY FOUNDATIONS. I SUGGEST THAT YOU CALL THE OFFICE OF RAISING MALAWI (888-72-DONOR) AND REQUEST THE ITEMIZED PROGRESS/EFFICIENCY REPORTS FOR THE YEARS '06' THROUGH '09'. THEY WILL EITHER MAKE A FALSE PROMISE AND NEVER FOLLOW THROUGH OR FLAT-OUT REFUSE. ITS A COVER-UP. THE RAISING MALAWI FOUNDATION HAS BEEN INEFFICIENT FROM DAY ONE. THEY HAVE BEEN MISREPRESENTING THEIR EFFORTS AND SQUANDERING DONOR FUNDS ON UNNECESSARY CRAP LIKE PRIVATE JET RIDES, SUPER HIGH END LUXURY ACCOMODATIONS, AND PR CAMPAIGNS FOR MADONNA. Don't believe it? Then make the call. I suggest that you secure those itemized progress/efficiency 'dollar in dollar out' stats from '06' to '09' before you donate one more penny. and don't let the phrase "shop now" fool you. Its a trick. Artist proceeds are donated from one piece of jewelry and one piece only (shown on the homepage). The rest of that merchandise is for profit. Even the over-priced 'I am because we are.' DVD. It was not produced for 'awareness' or the benefit of Malawi. Otherwise it would be sold to the masses at cost (A tiny little fraction of the retail price.). It also wouldn't be so laiden with images of Madonna. Don't fall for the PR/marketing tricks. Don't fall for the 'Madonna match' either. Its another trick. There have already been two disclaimers which limit Madonna's total contributions to just six figures. Less than 1/10 of one percent of her own multi-hundred-million dollar fortune. Meanwhile, she has been pleading with her fans worldwide for more donations without even telling them how much has been donated so far after three full years of fundraising.

We live in a shady world of trickery, corruption, and Earth shattering greed and hypocrisy. Even 'Good Will' has become Big Business. A cheap excuse to promote your own commercial 'humanitarian' image and travel the world (mostly poor but beautiful) on donor/tax payer dime. Actually charging your exclusive private jet rides and luxury hotel/resort stays to your own 'foundation'. Big celebrity/big business 'foundations' (PR firms) are notorious for this kind of waste.

Raising Malawi has been in operation for over three years now. They started taking donations from day one in '06' but waited over two years to fill out a simple 'non-profit' register form. To date, they still have not accounted for their total contributions worldwide or produced a single itemized progress/efficiency report for their donors to consider. The 'impact' page on the RaisingMalawi.org website only states the collective works of over 20 seperate 'partner foundations'. Each of which have their own sources of funding. No indication is made how much of that 'progress' was actually funded by 'Raising Malawi'. They also never accounted for the 3.7 million they claim to have raised along with Gucci from a single event held in early '08' (The opening of the Gucci flagship store.). This is not how legitimate charities operate. I challenge the Raising Malawi (Raising Madonna) team to get their act together and earn a decent rating from any independent charity watchdog like CharityWatch.org.