Monday, March 25, 2013

Random House and SFWA

A few weeks ago, John Scalzi, author and president of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA), published this article on his blog:
http://whatever.scalzi.com/2013/03/06/note-to-sff-writers-random-houses-hydra-imprint-has-appallingly-bad-contract-terms/
Basically, he rails against Random House's digital imprint, Hydra, for not providing an advance against royalties and for having other poor terms in their contract.

He wasn't the only one. Victoria Strauss at Writer Beware had this to say on the subject:
http://accrispin.blogspot.com.es/2013/02/second-class-contracts-deal-terms-at.html

It didn't end there. Random House responded in an open letter, attempting to explain the terms of their contract:
http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/digital/content-and-e-books/article/56244-rh-responds-to-sfwa-slamming-its-hydra-imprint.html#path/pw/by-topic/digital/content-and-e-books/article/56244-rh-responds-to-sfwa-slamming-its-hydra-imprint.html

To which SFWA replied:
http://www.sfwa.org/2013/03/sfwa-response-to-hydra-letter/

And Victoria Strauss:
http://www.sfwa.org/2013/03/sfwa-de-lists-hydra-random-house-responds/

And, somehow, John Scalzi got ahold of an Alibi contract, which he goes through here:
http://whatever.scalzi.com/2013/03/06/a-contract-from-alibi/

Random House ended up offering a contract closer to traditional publishing, but still offers the original 'profit-sharing' option for authors who prefer to go that route. Here's what they have to say:
http://www.atrandom.com/eoriginals/index.php

John Scalzi responded, calling this an open discussion with no winners or losers:
http://whatever.scalzi.com/2013/03/12/a-brief-note-on-recent-events/

And Victoria Strauss said the changes are a significant improvement:
http://accrispin.blogspot.com/2013/03/random-house-announces-new-terms-at.html

Truly, it has been a dizzying month. :)

Personally, I find the new kind of contract intriguing. I'm not sure I would go for it as is, but this 'experiment' from a traditional publisher is quite interesting. I'm curious to see what comes of it.

6 comments:

Beth said...

I read the profit sharing terms, and they were pretty bad. I have no idea why someone would go that route rather than just self-publishing. Vanity, I guess.

Beverly Stowe McClure said...

Sounds interesting. Will read the articles later today. Thanks.

Tabitha Olson said...

Beth, the advantage to going with one of these Random House imprints is that the authors will have access to Random House's contacts for marketing and reviews and such. With a regular vanity press, you don't get that.

Sarah Negovetich said...

I think it's interesting (and good) that publishers are exploring new terms and business models. That said, I hope these new models don't turn into brand name vanity presses. Only time will tell.

Catherine Stine said...

It's good to know that the big publishers are now listening to the writers. Scalzi knows his stuff.

mooderino said...

I think RH had nothing good to offer by way of explanation, just backtracking and deflecting. If you offer a service for pay, then why do you deserve a cut of the profits?

They've been paid for your expertise. What else are they bringing to the table?