Showing posts with label Passive Guy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Passive Guy. Show all posts

Monday, March 11

Writers Beware of Authariam

Writers Beware Of Autharium

It seems like this is the time of year for scams targeting writers. Passive Guy, aka David Vandagriff, recently wrote a blog post warning writers against Autharium, "a new British site that makes it easy for indie authors to publish and distribute their work".

Passive Guy writes:
By distributing your book through Authariam, you are giving Authariam exclusive world-wide ebook rights to your book for the full term of the author’s copyright, which PG is informed is the author’s life plus 70 years under British copyright law. British law governs this contract.

You can remove your book from Authariam, but Authariam still owns world-wide rights.

The Digital Reader: Authariam Grabs ALL Rights Including Audiobook, Movies, ANY Digital Content

The Digital Reader picked up on the story soon after Passive Guy blogged about it and warned that, the way their contract was written,
Not only does Autharium demand an exclusive, their definition of digital form is so broad that it arguably includes subsidiary rights like audiobook, movies, and really any digital content.
Autharium can legally sell the audiobook rights out from under the author, and the same goes for the movie rights. Hell, that site could sell the movie rights to their entire catalog for 10 pounds and a job offer, and it would be completely legal.
Run away from this company!

Other articles you might like:

- Chuck Wendig's Editing Plan: Edit A Novel In Four Months
- Chuck Wendig's Flash Fiction Challenge: Choose Your Random Sentence
- Stephen King Talks About Doctor Sleep, Winnebagos & A Movie Prequel To The Shining

Photo credit: "Close up of a dragonfly on a Lotus Flower Bud on green background - IMG_7149" by Bahman Farzad under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.

Friday, November 9

An Indie Success Story: Donna Fasano

Donna Fasano And Her Publishing Journey

Donna Fasano wrote for a traditional publisher for nearly 20 years and published 32 romance novels that sold over 3.5 million copies worldwide.

3.5 million!

Do you know how much her royalty was? 2% to 6%! Still, Donna was able to put her kids through college and do nifty things like take vacations. And, besides, when Donna started writing there was no alternative to traditional publishing. Now, of course, there is.

Once Donna realized what self-publishing could do for her she wrote to her publisher and got the rights back to 10 of her books.

Since then Donna has sold ... wait for it ... 120,000 copies of those previously out-of-print books! I hope Donna doesn't mind but I did some quick calculations. If she sold each book for, say, $3.00 and received a royalty of around 70% she would receive well over $200,000!

No wonder publishers don't want to give authors their rights back!

Reversion Of Rights: How To Get Your Rights Back

It can be brutally difficult to get your rights back. Often the publishing contract is unclear regarding what needs to be done and publishers drag their feet at every step of the process hoping you'll give up. (see: Doing What's Right: How To Get The Rights To Your Books Reverted)

Donna Fasano went to a lawyer for help, David P. Vandagriff of The Passive Voice Blog. In her superlative blog post Donna steps you through what she did and sings David's praises. Her article is well worth reading, even if you've never traditionally published: Going Indie: from OOP to self-pub bestseller.

Thanks to Passive Guy for posting a link to Donna's article.

Other articles you might like:

- David Mamet On How To Write A Great Story
- How To Earn A Living As A Self-Published Writer
- Third Person Omniscient, Third Person Limited or First Person. Which Point of View Is Right For You?

Photo credit: "Mystical station" by Jsome1 under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.

Wednesday, July 11

The Breeders: A Self Publishing Success Story

Matthew J. Beier, author of The Breeders, writes: 
In deciding to take the big leap, I knew two things for certain: I was putting future chances of being traditionally published on the line, and I would not be able to undo any career-related damage it might cause.

. . . .

Before 2011, I was a fledgling writer in chains. My success as a novelist depended on whichever benevolent literary agent buried in New York’s bowels might find my work amazing and sellable. By the time I started sending queries for my “gay agenda” satire The Breeders (and actually having success getting manuscript requests), I was well broken in to the traditional publishing system, complete with thick skin and a healthy dose of self-doubt.
Read the rest of Matthew's article here: Of Decisions and Dream Chasing.

Matthew's story reminded me that when success comes it's often through prolonged, exhausting, effort. His is a great story and an inspiration although in an I-hope-it's-not-that-hard-for-me sort of way.

Thanks to Passive Guy for mentioning Matthew on the Passive Voice Blog.

Other articles:
- Twylah: Turn Your Tweets Into A Blog
- Fifty Shades of Grey - Oh My!
- Pixar: 22 Ways To Tell A Great Story

Monday, May 14

Great Writing Blogs

I owe my thanks to a number writers who give up their valuable time to maintain writing blogs that both instruct and inspire. Today, to help celebrate the release of The Emotion Thesaurus, The Bookshelf Muse has declared this Random Act of Kindness Day, where writers (and anyone else!) are encouraged to thank those who have helped them.

This is a great idea, and a wonderful way to launch a book! In that spirit, here are blogs I have found invaluable:

1. Elizabeth Spann Craig (blog: Mystery Writing is Murder)
One of my favorite writers, Elizabeth Spann Craig, not only has a blog chalk full of great advice for writers, she also has an amazing Twitter feed (@elizabethscraig). I love the links she tweets, they both inspire and instruct. I highly recommend her writing.

2. Joe Konrath (blog: A Newbie's Guide to Publishing)
If anyone is the father of the indie publishing movement, it's Joe Konrath. Whether or not you agree with his perspective, his blog posts are timely, instructive and witty. Joe doesn't post as regularly as he used to, but when he does I do a little happy dance.

3. Kristine Kathryn Rusch (blog: Kristine Kathryn Rusch)
I thought I knew a bit about the business of publishing before I starting reading Kristine's blog. It turns out I didn't. Kris Rusch knows the business of writing from the perspective of a writer, an editor and a publisher. For anyone who would like to be a professional writer Kris' blog is a must read.

4. Dean Wesley Smith (blog: Dean Wesley Smith)
This is another great blog on the business of writing. Dean has written a number of series on both writing and publishing that are well worth the read.

5. Passive Guy (blog: The Passive Voice)
Passive Guy is a lawyer who specializes in contract law, especially as it relates to the publishing industry. He has a knack for finding great articles about writing and publishing and, occasionally, talks about what to look out for in contracts -- he calls them gotcha clauses. A must read for anyone seeking to be traditionally published.

These are five blogs among dozens that inform and inspire me every day, I hope they'll inspire you as well. Cheers!

Photo credit: What Orli Did

Friday, September 30

Book Contracts No Author Should Sign

As PG has read book contracts for his clients (Thank You!) and contracts contributed to his Contract Collection (Thank You!), one message keeps coming through loud and strong.


Contempt for authors.

Contempt from publishers for authors.

Contempt from agents for authors.
Passive Guy (PG), from The Passive Voice blog, is the alter ego of David P. Vandagriff, an attorney who works with contracts and his superpower is making contracts understandable, even interesting!
Many publishers have their version of a clause designed to capture new book rights that will be invented one hundred years from now.

Publishers were blind-sided by ebooks and have had to simply claim their contracts included ebooks even when the contract never mentioned anything but hardcovers and paperbacks.

Publishers know that if an author takes them to court, a judge will ask a question something like, “Where does it talk about ebooks in this contract?” Publisher’s counsel will respond by talking about emanations and penumbras floating around paragraph 15 and subparagraph 21(d). The judge’s well-honed BS meter will quickly be pegged in the red zone.

A contract is supposed to reflect the intentions of the parties at the time it is signed. Copyright law includes a presumption that any right not expressly granted by an author is deemed reserved to the author. If an author requests a standard reservation of rights clause, even a publisher may feel embarrassed by refusing to include it.

So, in the tradition of fighting the last war, we see a Rights Clause whereby the author grants the publisher the sole and exclusive right to create or produce or cause to magically appear any book or book-like object or book idea and beam the result into the sky in any form which is now or may in the future be stumbled-upon or imagined or hallucinated by the mind of man and/or machine in any conceivable or inconceivable way and anywhere throughout the world and the universe, whether presently mapped or unmapped.

In the reality-based business world, if PG received a contract including a clause like this, he would call opposing counsel and ask, “Sally, what are you smoking?”

In the traditional publishing world, the author is supposed to sign at the bottom of the page.


Finally (for this post), there are all the smarmy little attempts to put one over on an author. PG can appreciate well-crafted deviousness just for the art of it, but these are stupid deviousness.

How to choose between so many candidates for discussion?

Passive Guy will return to last July for this one, an audit clause:
Author may, with sixty (60) days’ written notice but not more than once a year, assign and designate a certified and independent public accountant to examine Publisher’s records as they relate to the Work. Such examination shall be at Author’s expense unless errors are found in excess of ten percent (10%) of royalties in Author’s favor, then Publisher shall pay amounts owing for the Work and the reasonable cost of the audit.

As a condition precedent to the exercise by Author of his/her right to examine the books and records of Publisher, Author’s duly authorized certified and independent public accountant shall execute an agreement to the effect that any information obtained as a result of such examination shall be held strictly confidential and shall not be revealed to any third party other than Author or her representative without written permission by Publisher. Author also hereby agrees to hold all information and statements provided to Author or her accountant in strictest confidence.

Do you see the smarmy deviousness?

In order to perform an audit to determine if the publisher is stealing from the author, the accountant hired by the author will have to sign an agreement, an agreement the publisher will create.

How hard is it for the publisher to create an agreement no accountant will ever sign? Not very.

No signature, no audit. You’ll just have to be satisfied with the numbers we decide to put on your royalty report, dearie.
To read the rest of PGs marvelous rant about contracts, click here: How to Read a Book Contract – Contempt

Monday, August 15

IP Lawyer Restarts His Law Practise

For those of you who have followed The Passive Voice blog over the years, you know that Passive Guy has flirted with the idea of restarting his law practice. Well, he's done it!

This is a good thing for the writing community. I've followed PG's blog for the past year or so and have learnt a lot about the nasty surprises that contracts can contain. If I were ever going to hire an IP lawyer, PG would be that person.

You can read his post here: PG is Hanging Out His Shingle

Wednesday, August 10

Author Altert: Investigation Into Underpayment of Ebook Royalties

In the past I've written about the growing suspicion among writers that their publishers -- even big 6 publishers -- are under-reporting their ebook royalties, in some cases by a significant margin.

Are Big Six Publishers Stealing Royalties? (April 22, 2011)
Publishers are under-reporting electronic book sales (June 1, 2011)
Writers Despair (June 30, 2011)

Here is an update on the situation. Hagens Berman, a law firm, is
... investigating claims that several large e-book publishers are under-reporting the number of e-books sold, paying authors less than their share of royalties.

E-book authors typically receive royalty statements, which report the number of e-books sold in a specified time period. The authors are paid based on these sales numbers.

According to reports, the so-called “big six” e-book publishers may be using an outdated accounting systems to track the sales of e-books. As a result, some authors have reported various accounting errors on their statements, including the under-reporting of sales of the e-books.

Read the rest of the article here.

This is what Passive Guy, a former attorney, has to say about this:
With those caveats, it appears Hagens Berman is developing a practice that’s focused on big publishing. In the majority of cases, the losses of any single author from something like ebook royalty under-reporting would not justify the cost of mounting a lawsuit to collect royalties. What PG suspects is happening is Hagens Berman is collecting information and possible plaintiffs for a class-action suit on behalf of all authors who have been harmed by ebook royalty shortfalls.

If PG is correct, this is good for authors and bad for big publishers.

What are the implications for authors besides being paid proper ebook royalties? If the agency pricing suit and a class action suit on eroyalties move forward, big publishers will be spending serious money on legal fees and, quite possibly, settlements. We’ve already heard numerous reports that advances are down and we know publishing contracts are becoming more and more onerous. Serious lawsuits accelerate, but don’t change that trend.

If, as PG believes, big publishing is in a financial death/downsizing spiral because of indie publishing, ebooks, Amazon pricing pressure, death of physical bookstores, etc., that spiral will grow tighter if it has large losses in class action suits. You’ll see some consolidation, so unwary authors may end up publishing with a different house than the one who gave them their contract. Bankruptcy is also a possibility, so unwary authors may end up having their books unpublished or poorly published and their copyrights in a legal limbo.

Link to PG's post: Investigation into Underpayment of Ebook Royalties

Here are very informative blog posts PG wrote about this issue:
- All these royalty numbers are just so confusing for us literary types (April 16, 2011)
- Imaginary Sales Numbers on Royalty Statements – An Update (May 1, 2011)
- Publishers are Under-Reporting Ebook Sales (June 1, 2011)
- Random House Royalty Switcheroo (June 29, 2011)

Saturday, June 25

Stockholm Syndrome for Agents

Passive Guy has written another article about contracts, this one focusing on the question: Why would a good agent, one who knows how to read a contract, let their client sign a contract that contained one or more 'gotya' clauses in it?

PG writes:
Ultimately, for an agent, publishers are more necessary than any author.

When a publisher says an obnoxious clause like the Non-Compete Clause we discussed a few days ago must be in a contract and explains why the publisher needs the clause, how does the agent explain this clause to her client? Probably using much the same rationale as the publisher does. “I know you don’t like it, but the publisher needs this because . . . .”

After explaining the obnoxious clause 100 times to 25 authors, will the agent have a tendency to accept the clause as “the way things are done these days” or “the new standard?” Will describing the clause as something “every publisher is requiring in new contracts” be a better way to get a publishing deal and advance for the author and the agent than trashing the clause?

Since agents and attorneys who work for agents are not regulators, we don’t have Regulatory Capture here. How does Agent Capture sound? Joe Konrath talks about authors succumbing to The Stockholm Syndrome in their dealings with publishers. There may be something like that going on with agents as well.

Here is a link to PG's blog post, it's a good read.

Monday, June 20

Non-Competition Clauses in Contracts

Passive Guy goes over the non-compete clause in a contract an author sent into him. Here is part of his analysis:

PG thinks a reasonable interpretation of authorize publication would prevent the author from signing a publishing contract and receiving an advance for an entirely unrelated book until six months after publication of the first.

So, even if you’re writing up a storm, either make that advance last or go back to being a barista until you’re free to sell another book.

Passive Guy makes contracts interesting, I would encourage anyone interested to read his blog post.

Thursday, June 16

Book Contracts

I have been enjoying reading about contracts lately. I know, I know, that claim may seem less than plausible, but I think that book contracts may be infinitely more fun to read about than to read.  At least, if you're not a lawyer.

Kristine Kathryn Rusch and Passive Guy (from The Passive Voice) -- a retired lawyer -- have been blogging about book contracts and, generally, helping to raise the awareness of new writers on the subject.

In that spirit, here are some links to posts about contracts that made my jaw drop.  I had no idea what rights certain agents were trying to retain for themselves.  On that note, if you are a writer who has signed a book contract lately, Passive Guy is collecting them, trying to get an idea for what's going on in the industry these days.  I'm eagerly awaiting that series of blog posts (or, hopefully, ebook!).

From the blog of Kristine Kathryn Rusch:
- The Business Rusch: Writing Like It's 1999
- The Business Rusch: Advocates, Addendums, and Sneaks, oh my!

Kristine Rusch has many more excellent articles on the business of writing, but her website is well laid out so if you go there they should be easy to find.

From the Passive Voice Blog
- How to Read a Book Contract - Agency Clause
- How to Read a Book Contract - Agency Coupled with an Interest If you are a writer with an agent and, like me before I read this blog post, you have no idea what agency coupled with a interest means, this is a must-read post.

Here is what Kristine Rusch had to say about these two posts:
If you have an agent, please read these two posts even if you think you understand the agency clause. It is my experience that most writers do not understand what they’re signing in their book contracts, and some agents have been misleading writers as to what these clauses mean.
Also of great interest to me were:
- How to Read a Book Contract - Somebody's Gonna Die
- You Just Signed with a Big Agent? Oh, I'm So Sorry.

See also:
- Self-Publishing Basics: The Copyright Page

Friday, June 10

Self-Publishing Tips

Here's a great article by Marie Force on how to format a manuscript for Amazon: Self-Publishing Tips for the Uninitiated.

Also, I would like to recommend Zoe Winter's book, Smart Self-Publishing: Becoming an Indie Author. I have read this book and use it now as a reference.

Although not about the nuts and bolts of formatting, etc., Joe Konrath's blog, A Newbie's Guide to Publishing, is a must read for anyone thinking of independently publishing their work. Not only will it introduce you to other indie authors but Joe gives excellent advice on how to market your book(s).

Although not directly related to self-publishing, Dean Wesley Smith's blog, especially his Killing the Sacred Cows of Publishing series, contains invaluable information about the business of writing. After reading his blog posts, I'll never think about writing the same way again.

Dean's wife, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, has her own blog where she discusses, among other things, the business of publishing (contracts, etc.)

Another blog I have found a wealthy of information on is The Passive Voice, especially when it comes to anything to do with contracts.

There are many more blogs I want to include here but I need to run or I will be late for my day job! Cheers!