March 7th, 2013
Random House–Reason Number Five For Why Authors Need Attorneys

I’m not going to quote what has been laid out in the contracts, but I am going to link to them. You can read about them HERE, HERE, and HERE. These particular contracts from these Random House lines (ie HYDRA, ALIBI, etc.) are equivalent to what the record companies did to many of the old rock and blues artists from the forties and fifties. They took the rights to all their songs and left the artists (and their families/kids) penniless.

Now it’s easy to think, ‘Oh they were just stupid artists/musicians’. To a certain degree that’s true, but most people back in the day couldn’t afford attorney fees. Heck, these days most people can’t afford the cost of an attorney. Six years ago, you could’ve read a publishing contract and caught ‘most’ of the bad clauses without needing a law degree. I say most because there were always a few bad clauses that were worded oddly and snuck through. These days you need to be a VERY GOOD intellectual property attorney to see all the ‘hidden’ clauses in a publishing contract. And I say ‘very good’ because an average intellectual property attorney or an attorney who practices another type of law WILL miss some of these clauses. They are that convoluted and that dangerous to any writer’s future

That does not mean that ALL Random House lines are following suit. They are not. There are still good lines to write for within Random House and several of the other publishers. I’m not picking on Random House. This is simply a warning.

The saddest part about these contracts is that they play on people’s dreams. This is particularly true for NEW AUTHORS, who don’t have firsthand experience in the industry. It was the same way in the forties and fifties with the music industry. When you’re trying to be heard and someone offers you a chance to be, it’s hard to turn and walk away, but sometimes that is the very best thing you can do for yourself and for your family. Unlike in the forties and fifties, there are many other ways you can be ‘heard’ these days. Keep that in mind, so you don’t become another sad statistic.

4 comments to “Random House–Reason Number Five For Why Authors Need Attorneys”

  1. When I saw the Carina contract that I declined, I asked myself what would happen if all the big publishers followed suit. They’re following suit. And apparently pushing to contract in digital lines rather than traditional probably because these “standard” terms are so vastly more in their favor. Good thing I decided back then to rethink my career path and come up with a backup plan.

  2. Charli, Especially now that Carina’s contract is about to change again and make it FAR worse than what you were offered. Look at Passive Guy’s website to see the changes taking place there. It’s REALLY scary.

    I agree that it makes perfect business sense for publishers to push for all these ‘new’ contracts through their ‘new’ lines because it’s a total win-win for them. There is absolutely no downside for them.

  3. I won’t say never, but the chances of my even querying another agent or publisher is extremely unlikely. The marketing is left with the author anyway. Unless they offer a nice big check, I don’t see any reason to do anything but continue writing and publishing and marketing on my own. 🙂

  4. Bernard, Yes, it gets harder to accept contracts whether they’re from agents or publishers. I’m with you on the big check. These days without it, it’s not worth it. You lose too much money.