Random House Controversy Update

On Monday, I posted about the controversy between the SFWA (Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America) and Random House. The publisher recently launched several digital-only imprints and the SFWA voiced concern about the terms of their contract.

In particular, the SFWA refused to accept Random House’s Hydra imprint as a qualifying market for a writer to gain membership in their organization because this imprint didn’t offer an advance against royalties. However, the SFWA, Writer Beware and other writer groups also voiced opposition to other terms of the contract, including how the copyright reversion was handled and the profit sharing model, which expected authors to pay for production and marketing of their novel.

Today, I’m happy to report that Random House has changed the terms of their contract for these imprints, and they are now more favorable to the writer. Rather than paraphrase content, I suggest reading the two articles listed below. The first was written by Victoria Strauss of Writer Beware. The second is a special message from Random House posted on their digital-only imprints home page.

Random House Announces New Terms at Digital Imprints Hydra, Alibi, Loveswept, and Flirt

A Special Message from Hydra, Alibi, Loveswept and Flirt

This is great news, not just for writers, but also for Random House. An attractive contract is incentive that draws quality writers. Surely they want the best novels they can find to launch these new imprints.

For writers, this is great because it shows that when we band together and voice our concerns, change can happen, positive change that benefits both parties. I feel I can once again recommend this market and suggest checking out their guidelines.

Random House Digital-only Imprints Submission Process and Guidelines

Harper Voyager Update and Random House Controversy

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).

You can find the full post here.

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.

SFWA De-Lists Hydra; Random House Responds

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.