Sunday, October 02, 2011

A great story about the writing profession; Morals Clause

Ed here: I've been reading Mike Resnick for thirty years. He's one of my favorite sf writers. Widely praised, winner of many, many awards. We've recently been exchanging e mails. Mike's experience reminds me of the experience of my friend Kevin Randle. While at the U of Iowa he was told by a writing instructor that he was bad writer. Then Kevin mentioned all the stories he'd been selling. :) Here's Mike (we'd been talking about our own early starts in the sixties and I'd mentioned the few men's magazines I'd been in):


"I sold to some of the hairy-chested men's mags back in the 1960s. In fact, it's why I quite college. I was taking a writing course, didn't have time to do a new story, so I submitted a carbon of one I'd just sold to Stag or Saga, something like that, for $500, which would be like $3,500 today...and got a C-minus on it. At the same time my professor submitted to Rascal magazines (a round-chested men's mag that I was editing at nights under a pseudonym), and his story was so bad I gave him a form rejection. I thought about that for 10 seconds, quit college that day, and never went back."

------From Bestselling Writer and Damned Nice Guy Kevin J. Anderson MORALS CLAUSE

"My agent told me yesterday that HarperCollins has started inserting a "morals
clause" into their contracts�they can dump you and your book if they decide you
exhibit inappropriate behavior for an author (???)�if you're caught having an
affair, if you are arrested for civil disobedience protesting something you
disagree with, if you get a DUI...if you post an inflammatory blog? If you vote
democratic? Would that have given them grounds to dump Philip Pullman because
he became an outspoken Atheist?

Glad I don't have any current deals with Harper. This industry is committing
suicide in a dozen ways at once.

Kevin J Anderson

-----------The BRILLIANT Ursula LeGuin responds to the Morals Clause


Words of Wisdom from the Writers at Book View Cafe
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A Riff on the Harper Contract

Posted on January 18th, 2011 by Ursula K. Le Guin
New language in the termination provision of the Harper’s boilerplate gives them the right to cancel a contract if “Author’s conduct evidences a lack of due regard for public conventions and morals, or if Author commits a crime or any other act that will tend to bring Author into serious contempt, and such behavior would materially damage the Work’s reputation or sales.” The consequences? Harper can terminate your book deal. Not only that, you’ll have to repay your advance. Harper may also avail itself of “other legal remedies” against you.

From a blog by Richard Curtis.

* * *

Dear Mr Rupert Murdoch,

Forgive me, for I have sinned.

Because I did not read my contract with your wonderful publishing house HarperCollins carefully, I did not realise my moral obligations.

There is nothing for it now but to confess everything. Before I wrote my book Emily Brontë and the Vampires of Lustbaden, which you published this fall and which has been on the Times Best Seller List for five straight months, I committed bad behavior and said bad words in public that brought me into serious contempt in my home town of Blitzen, Oregon. In fact the people there found me so seriously contemptible that I am now living in Maine under the name of Trespassers W. This has nothing to do with the fact that some parts of my book come from books by Newt Gingrich and other people, in fact quite a lot of them, but everybody borrows from great novelists, because information wants to be free. It was nothing really materially damaging, only just the money and i.d. I stole from the old man with the walker and some things I said about some schoolgirls with big tits back in stupid Blitzen. I have really suffered for my art. I hope maybe you will forgive me and not terminate me and make me pay back the money because I can’t because I already had to give most of it to some stupid lawyer who said I had defaulted on a loan and was behind in my child support which is just a lie. That stupid brat never was mine. I am sure you will understand better than anybody else could that the only actual crime I have committed was writing my book. And I believe you will see that it was expiated by your giving me the contract for it and publishing it and making a lot of money out of it. So it is all right, I hope. I really hope so because I have nearly finished the sequel Alfred Lord Tennyson and the Zombies of Sex-Coburg and my agent says it is going to be a blockbuster as soon as it comes back from the person who is rewriting it. You would not want to miss it I am sure! And here in Maine I am paying strict regard to public conventions and morals just like you do. I would not go to a Democrat Convention if they paid me and crime is the farthest thing from my mind. I would feel so terrible if I damaged the reputation or sales of my Work, or your reputation. You are my Role Model.

Please believe me your loyal and obedient author,

Trespassers W

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