Dec 14 2009
First up is the news that Random House wants to claim ebook rights for all books that are under contract. Random House took this stance in the early 2000s against Rosetta Books and sued Rosetta twice. Rosetta won both cases but the legal battle essentially froze Rosetta’s business. In order to forestall future suits, Rosetta agreed to an out of court settlement that paid Random House a licensing fee for each book sold.
Let’s sum this up. Random House got knocked down again and again by the court system but because it had deeper pockets and could continue to litigate claims that it knew it would not win, it was rewarded with a licensing payment from Rosetta Books. I feel for Rosetta. What else could the do?
The legal foundation that Random House rests upon is shaky at best. Author contracts are largely contracts of adhesion and as such any ambiguity is resolved against the drafter of the contract, meaning if a term “book” is deemed to be ambiguous by the court, then the interpretation that favors the non drafting party (the author) is usually upheld. In the Rosetta cases, the court didn’t focus on whether the contract was one of adhesion but looked to see if there was ambiguity in the term book (there was) and whether it included digital rights (it didn’t). Further, the court in the Rosetta cases determined that new uses referred to new uses in the same medium (ie print), not a different one (digital). Perhaps Random House is convinced that it could convince a different judge to come to a different conclusion. This move is meant to strike fear in the hearts of authors who think to take their backlist titles elsewhere and for the majority of authors, this tactic will likely work.
Author Candace Sams (commenting under pseudonym NiteflyrOne) runs amok over at Amazon, berating a reviewer and suggesting that the reviewer look to Harriet Klausner as an exemplar reviewing professional. Incensed by the one star review and determined to critique the reviewer back, Sams includes instructions on why Klausner is a better reviewer. Klausner knows stuff.
Again…I point to Ms. Klausner as a number one reviewer for Amazon.com. She knows that authors rarely have full editorial control; rarely do they have even ‘scant’ control over their covers or the language used in dialogue or even sequencing of scenes: love scenes, kissing scenes, scenes of violence, etc. These are ultimately controlled by editorial staff…very rarely the author alone.
I’m bolding that part. I knew I should have gone to reviewing school. I thought authors made decisions about dialogue and sequencing but alas, it is the editor. Look what else the editor does:
Those conversations were, on the whole, fraught with sophomoric comments blaming authors for all kinds of editorial decisions over which they have no or very little control (kissing scenes, cover content, love scenes, language, etc., etc., etc).
Anyway, Sams wishes for more “cognitive readers” and more “equitable” ones and speculates that the unhappy reader is a “frustrated romance author – who could not get his/her own work published – or who cannot write a manuscript at all……there seems, therefore, to be a need to render rather caustic attacks and on those who ‘can’ write and who ‘can’ get published.” Also, in commenting to another negative review, Sams notes that some reviewers just can’t handle the material that steps outside the box.
This has been the biggest complaint about romance on the whole – that they all sound alike. Apparently ‘some’ reviewers ‘want’ them to sound alike. When they don’t, they aren’t able to handle the material.
In conclusion, don’t complain about the author’s writing, complain about how the editor obviously took gold and turned it into dross. Thanks to the reader who sent me the link.
Books on Mars posts the salaries of the top paid employees of the various writers’ organizations. Mystery and romance writers associations pay the most with the Science Fiction position paying the lowest. Allison Kelley, Executive Director for RWA, earned $106,572 in 2007/2008.
Barnes and Noble should hurry up with the updates for it’s nook because the nook is being savaged in reviews.
Author Barry Eisler who is making a concerted effort to get his books into romance readers’ hands had a nice surprise for him this morning when Salon named his book, Fault Line, one of the best for 2009. “Eisler has reinvented spy thriller for 21st century.” Any romance reader want to take up the gauntlet and review Fault Line for Dear Author? I’ll buy you the copy and have it shipped to you, paper or ecopy.