For those writers who, like myself, have been waiting to hear back from Harper Voyager regarding publication in their new digital imprint, there is an update on their website dated March 4, 2013. It states in part:
We have now responded to 2905 submissions that were not right for our list. 851 have been marked for further reading/consideration, and 787 are still to be read (1638 in toto).
Of course, the best thing we can do while we wait is to keep writing, working on other projects and submitting other work. Which brings me to the Random House controversy.
Several months ago, I noted that Random House had also opened a new digital imprint and I included a link to the submission guidelines. You can find the original article here. I found out this weekend, thanks to an Examiner post by a writer friend, Nicole LeBoeuf-Little, that the contract terms of the digital imprint have stirred the ire of the SFWA (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.) When the SFWA speaks, writers of all genres should listen. After all, they are the source of the cautionary writers’ website, Writer Beware.
Main points of the controversy include no advance royalties, profit from a book first going to pay for producing that book, and Random House owning all rights to a book, in all forms, for the life of the copyright. The story has gone viral, making it to the virtual pages of The Guardian, Forbes and Publishers Weekly. In the article linked below, Victoria Strauss of Writer Beware restates the SFWA’s position and provides a response sent by Random House.
However you feel about the controversy, this should be an action call to all creatives. If you are offered a contract, read it carefully. If you can, consult a lawyer. Remember that you can offer counter terms, i.e., if you don’t agree with something in the contract, you can state how you want it to be changed. If you and the other party can’t agree to the terms, walk away.
Writing a novel is an art, selling that novel is a business. Creative people need to hone their business skills in order to be successful.