Saturday, January 5, 2013

No Thanks

For the third time in my writing career, I've cut ties with a publisher.  New editor, new policies, and a new contract.  This contract granted all rights to the publisher and 'generously' returned to me a limited license to my own work.

No thanks.

"Writer transfers to XXRedactedXX right, title, and interest, to publish the Work, in all languages, throughout the world, in any form or medium now known or hereafter developed. The rights transferred and assigned include but are not limited to the rights to edit, publish, reproduce, distribute, license, prepare derivative works, sell and convey the work without further payment to Writer. Writer shall make no claim to have any right, title, or interest of any kind in the Work, ...  Writer shall have no right to sell, distribute, display, exhibit, or otherwise make available the Work to anyone other than XXRedactedXX, by any means, other than those set forth in Section 5, below.

I'm curious to see what happens to the magazine, since I don't see any professional writer signing this and the previous editor had groomed a crop of pretty good writers.  Time will tell.

So, what's wrong with it? Well, for one thing it allows them, should they wish, to remove the author's name and say simply, 'staff'...and protesting or even saying that I wrote it would violate the 'make no claim' clause.  Though the license granted (the 'section 5') would allow me to collect the stories I wrote and create a book... they could do so as well.  And put my name on it or someone else's.  And I wouldn't be able to upload it to, say, kindle or smashwords because both require, in their contracts, that I have the copyright.

It's not the worst contract I've seen.  The worst (and they are the other two markets I don't write for) were even more restrictive.  Had I signed the contract, not only would I have sold rights to the story, but the rights to teach my own classes. The contract was written so that the knowledge that qualified me to write the articles in the first place now belonged to the magazine.  Sigh.  Needless to say, like with this contract I refused to sign.  And unlike the publishers I've worked with who were professional (pros negotiate-- thanks David and Kathy) they refused to negotiate.  Sign or else.

I'll take the 'or else.'

And that has opened an interesting can of worms in that two of these magazines had already gone to print without a contract.  Interesting.

So, if any magazine publisher with integrity and a good contract wants some articles, let me know...

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