Archive for October, 2010

Wednesday, October 13th, 2010
First Things First

Sorry for being so late. I guess the conference shattered me more than I thought. A big CONGRATS goes out to LISA WINE. She won the copy of BLOOD LITE 2!!! Lisa drop me an email and I’ll get the book in the mail to you. Thanks to everyone who entered. 🙂

Now, onto the Novelist Inc. conference. This is a really difficult conference to write about because there was so VERY much information being shared. I decided the easiest way to break it down was by talks. The first panel I attended was called, ‘Contracts and Copyrights: Then, Now, And In The Future’. David Forrer, Alan Kaufman, Carly Phillips, Deb Werksman, Donna Hayes, Chris Kenneally, Al Zuckerman and Brenda Hiatt was on the panel. The discussion covered expansive clauses in contracts, legal pitfalls, subsidiary rights, and opportunities we have as authors and as publishers. Donna Hayes is a publisher and CEO for Harlequin and Deb Werksman is Editorial Manager for Sourcebooks. David Forrer is an agent with InkWell and Al Zuckerman created Writer’s House. Chris Kenneally is part of Copyright Clearance Center and Alan Kaufman is a literary attorney. The other two panelist are famous authors. Right off the bat, a question came up and Al Zuckerman jumped on the Sourcebook contract for being one of the worst he’s encountered. The gloves were off. Most of the bantering was about contract language and ebook royalty rights. The publishers defended the low ebook royalty rights while the agents and attorney said that they can’t continue to remain low. I’ve actually combined this talk with one given by Alan Kaufman and Peter Novins since it specifically targets negotiating contracts. My bad? 😉

What I took away from the talk was the following: Publishers are running scared due to the fast changes in technology. Their answer to being scared is to drastically change their boilerplate contracts into a massive rights grab. HarperCollins’ boilerplate is changing. MacMillan wants rights to derivative works (ie they can produce work from your book without your consent). YIKES! Alan Kaufman said that three of the major publishers he’s worked with recently have put items back into their contracts that agents fought ten to fifteen years ago to abolish. Al Zuckerman said that Writer’s House has added a clause to all their boilerplates which state that ebook royalty rates can be re-examined in three years of signing. If the author isn’t happy with the rate, he/she and the publisher can try to reach an agreement. If an agreement on the change to the royalty rate can’t be reached, the author can walk and take the rights with them. Another complimentary clause that can be added to the ebook royalty rate is something called, Escalators. Basically Escalators allow the ebook royalty rate to go up based on sales (ie 25% of net receipts for the first 5000, 35% of net receipts for 5K to 10,000, and 40% for 10K and up). Subsidiary rights and ebook royalty rates are an authors best shot at making a decent living in the publishing industry. Alan Kaufman said it was equally important to make sure that when you are looking at what it means for your book to be out-of-print that you get the clause expressed in UNITS, not dollars (ie 250 to 500 units for two consecutive royalty periods–the higher the better). Try to make it to where a work must stay in commercial availability. That way if your book drops below those numbers you can get your rights back. Grant of Rights clauses are now grabbing all ebook rights. Alan Kaufman said many publishers are calling the Grant of Rights clause non-negotiable, but he says everything is negotiable. He said in their panic, publishers are asking for right of first refusal on ebook rights or enhanced ebook rights. He said if you have to grant ebook rights, then only grant UNINHANCED ebook rights. Get rid of the first refusal aspects. The other land-mine is in the NON-COMPETE clause. Every word in that clause is loaded. You need to have the wording changed so you can utilize the rights you reserve in other parts of the contract (ie characters, anything that competes with the original work). Moral clauses should go. Period!

What does this all mean? Basically, now more than ever, an author really has to pay attention to every word in their contract. It was always important, but it’s even more so now. This is especially true in the subsidiary, ebook royalty rates, grant of rights, non-compete, out-of-print and option clauses. From what I heard, unless I land Writer’s House or an equally powerful agency to represent me, I will be hiring a literary attorney to go over whatever contract I get in the future. Even one that my future agent has negotiated. It’s THAT important. Also, I believe the Writer’s House clause about re-examining ebook royalty rates should be included in EVERY contract a writer signs. Ultimately they said that you as a writer need to know exactly what you NEED out of a negotiation and what you can’t accept. Know at what point you need to walk away. Think LONG TERM and three moves ahead at all times.

Sunday, October 10th, 2010
And She Collapses

Just got back from the Novelist Inc. Conference. All I can say is wow, just WOW! I have so much information swimming in my brain I don’t know where to begin to sort it all. I took copious notes, but I am worried about things getting lost in translation. That said, I will do my best to put together a series of blog entries that are informative and hopefully entertaining. Just give me a day or two to catch my breath. I’m beat.

For those of you who’ve been waffling about joining this organization, all I can say is you are TRULY missing out on one of the best writer conferences–if not THE best out there. And for those people who belong to Novelist Inc., who could afford to go but didn’t, I think it’s time to re-evaluate your priorities.

Monday, October 4th, 2010
Cutest Thing Ever


Sunday, October 3rd, 2010
Oprah and Jesus

I’m going to admit right off the bat that it’s been a long time since I’ve watched the Oprah show. Perhaps she’s changed since the last time I saw her. I’m sure over the years she’s had some great guests and fabulous interviews, but I’ve missed them. I didn’t however miss the interview she did with J.K. Rowling in Edinburgh. 1) Because I plan to own a flat there within the next few years. 2) Because it’s J.K. frickin’ Rowling. All in all, I thought the interview was very good. Every time I see J.K. interviewed I go away and spend hours thinking about what she said. She inevitably has great advice hidden within the answers to some of the questions. She also tends to answer in a way that sends me delving into my own approach to writing. She did both in the Oprah interview and more.

What I found odd was Oprah’s response to interviewing J.K. Rowling. Like every other interviewer on the planet, Oprah asked J.K. if she believed in magic/wizards. To which J.K. said, “No.” Then Oprah asked her if she believed in God. Maybe I’m weird, but I find that question to be extremely personal. J.K. was gracious enough to answer her. Then Oprah asked J.K. about what she looks for in a relationship. This is where things got really odd. J.K. told a story about how she and a girlfriend discussed what she was looking for in a man. The friend told her she was expecting too much. Oprah chimed in with ‘You were looking for Jesus’ or ‘Might as well have been looking for Jesus’ or something to that effect. Then it was as if the name Jesus got lodged in her brain because she kept saying it at various places in the interview. J.K. seemed to take it all with a grain of salt, but it was really strange. Even dh remarked at how odd it was to keep blurting out ‘Jesus’ at random moments in the interview.

Did anyone else watch the interview? What did you think?