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Thread: Mojocastle Press

  1. #51
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin Grimoire's Avatar
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    Mojocastle Press Now Paying Advances!

    Hello AW Community,

    I posted this in the Paying Market thread as well, but thought it was also pertinent here. On January 1 2015, Mojocastle Press officially became an advance paying publisher. Our very first advance contract was signed by none other than Ms. Morgan Hawke!

    We will continue to maintain our 45% royalty rate for ebooks and print, but now will also pay advances for new, unpublished manuscripts over 12,000 words. To make sure that quality and the Mojocastle "author experience" remains the same, we have decided to limit production to only five books per month (60 per year).

    Those manuscripts that meet the criteria will be paid according to word count (prior to editing) in accordance with the following schedule:

    12,000-35,000 words - $25
    35,000-50,000 words - $50
    50,000 words and up - $75

    For more information on the submission process, please use the following link: http://www.mojocastle.com/submissions.html/

    A sample of the Mojocastle Press Contract can be found here: http://www.mojocastle.com/mojocastle-contract

    V/R,
    Ryan J. Kelsey
    President & CEO
    Mojocastle Press
    http://www.mojocastle.com

  2. #52
    Writer Beware Goddess Absolute Sage victoriastrauss's Avatar
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    Authors should note that the 45% royalty is paid on net profit (defined as retail price less printing and distribution costs--I'm guessing that distribution costs include retailers' and wholesalers' discounts). Without knowing exactly what those costs are, it's hard to know what exactly you'll be paid.

    It's also an all-rights contract. Has Mojocastle had success in exercising or licensing foreign language and/or film/dramatic rights?

    - Victoria

  3. #53
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    Quote Originally Posted by victoriastrauss View Post
    Authors should note that the 45% royalty is paid on net profit (defined as retail price less printing and distribution costs--I'm guessing that distribution costs include retailers' and wholesalers' discounts). Without knowing exactly what those costs are, it's hard to know what exactly you'll be paid.

    - Victoria
    Victoria,

    We do not determine "Net" as you described. Net is simply the funds we receive from our 3rd Party distributors. The 45% Royalty is applied to that amount. We do not take production costs out of this amount. They all come out of our publisher percentage. The only exception is on mojocastle.com where there is a percentage cost taken off the top to help cover the cost of the website. This is all detailed in our contract.

    So if a book sells for $4.99 on Amazon, we receive a payment of $3.50. The author receives 45% of that amount which is approximately $1.58. I hope this helps to clarify.

    V/R,
    Ryan J. Kelsey
    President & CEO
    Mojocastle Press
    http://www.mojocastle.com

  4. #54
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grimoire View Post
    We do not determine "Net" as you described. Net is simply the funds we receive from our 3rd Party distributors.
    From the contract on the Mojo website:
    Net profits are defined as retail cover price less costs of production and distribution other than shipping and handling charges.
    I've always understood 'production' to include 'editing, layout, cover art, typesetting, printing, and binding'.

    Setting that aside, though, the all-rights grab is what would deter me from this press.

  5. #55
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    Quote Originally Posted by Unimportant View Post
    From the contract on the Mojo website:
    I've always understood 'production' to include 'editing, layout, cover art, typesetting, printing, and binding'.

    Setting that aside, though, the all-rights grab is what would deter me from this press.
    I understand the source of the confusion now and I agree that that clause could be worded a bit tighter. I think I will contact our attorney tomorrow to see if we can make that section clearer. In the meantime however, I want to unequivocally state that we do not take the cost of production out of the gross or net proceeds. All production costs are assumed by Mojocastle Press and are not passed on to the authors in any way shape or form. The exception, as noted previously, is mojocastle.com which does take a percentage off the top to help defray the cost of the ecommerce website.

    In regard to the rights issue, we wrestled with this for quite a long time, but ultimately decided to include all rights in our contracts. The main reason is that due to the rapid pace of technology and the development of new applications for that technology, we regard it as likely that opportunities will arise for the dissemination of book content in new and unforeseen ways. Having unlimited rights allows us to rapidly capitalize on these opportunities as they arise without having to re-negotiate several hundred book contracts first. I appreciate that this is a concern to some, but we have tried to temper this business decision with a very friendly author contract in most respects including a high royalty percentage on both ebooks and print books as well as advances.

    Also, though we typically do not negotiate contracts, if an author had specific rights they wanted to retain for another purpose we would consider it. This would be an exception rather than the rule however, as any contract changes need to vetted through our attorney first and attorneys are very, very, very expensive.

    Anyway, I have tried to address the concerns as well as I could. I appreciate you taking the time to review what we have to offer prospective authors

    V/R,
    Ryan J. Kelsey
    President & CEO
    Mojocastle Press
    http://www.mojocastle.com

  6. #56
    but appreciated anyway... Unimportant's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grimoire View Post
    Having unlimited rights allows us to rapidly capitalize on these opportunities as they arise ...
    Sure, and if the press has a track record of using such rights and the author profiting from this, then it would make sense.

    Mojo's been around for, what, five years? Six? And it has over sixty titles listed on its webpage. What proportion of its titles has it published in cloth? In hardcover? In audio? In large type? In microfilm? What proportion of its titles have been produced as a motion picture, film, or TV show? What proportion of its titles have been published as serials, or for bookclubs? What proportion of its titles have been translated into other languages? What proportion of its authors' earnings have come from something other than e-book and TP sales?

  7. #57
    Such a nasty woman SuperModerator Old Hack's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grimoire View Post
    I understand the source of the confusion now and I agree that that clause could be worded a bit tighter. I think I will contact our attorney tomorrow to see if we can make that section clearer.
    This is not a minor confusion, and it worries me that you've not spotted it before.

    In the meantime however, I want to unequivocally state that we do not take the cost of production out of the gross or net proceeds. All production costs are assumed by Mojocastle Press and are not passed on to the authors in any way shape or form.
    My bold.

    If you were to take the cost of production out of the gross proceeds, they'd be the net proceeds.

    The exception, as noted previously, is mojocastle.com which does take a percentage off the top to help defray the cost of the ecommerce website.
    In other words, you do sometimes take production costs off the amounts that royalties are payable on.

    In regard to the rights issue, we wrestled with this for quite a long time, but ultimately decided to include all rights in our contracts. The main reason is that due to the rapid pace of technology and the development of new applications for that technology, we regard it as likely that opportunities will arise for the dissemination of book content in new and unforeseen ways. Having unlimited rights allows us to rapidly capitalize on these opportunities as they arise without having to re-negotiate several hundred book contracts first. I appreciate that this is a concern to some, but we have tried to temper this business decision with a very friendly author contract in most respects including a high royalty percentage on both ebooks and print books as well as advances.
    You're taking rights you have very little likelihood of ever exploiting just in case technology advances to a point where you might be able to. But that's not how it works.

    If you take film rights, for example, how would changing technology allow you to exploit them? If you take electronic gaming rights, how would improving technology allow you to produce a good game from them? You're not a film-maker or a games programming company, and these things require more than a change in technology for you to be able to use the rights you've grabbed. The only way these rights would realistically be useful to you is if one of your books attracted the attention of a film maker or a games programmer, who then wanted to license those rights from you. A change in technology is not going to make this happen.

    I'd like to know what Mojocastle does to make the most of the rights it holds. Do you have a rights manager, who actively tries to license those rights to appropriate companies? How many of your books have you sold foreign or translation rights for? If you're not doing this, then you would be far better off not taking those rights in the first place, and letting your authors retain them.

    Also, though we typically do not negotiate contracts, if an author had specific rights they wanted to retain for another purpose we would consider it. This would be an exception rather than the rule however, as any contract changes need to vetted through our attorney first and attorneys are very, very, very expensive.
    A publisher which doesn't have the expertise to negotiate its own contracts is unlikely to have the expertise to take care of other publishing issues either. And if you can't afford a specialist attorney to check over your contracts, then I wonder what else you're skimping on.

  8. #58
    Writer Beware Goddess Absolute Sage victoriastrauss's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grimoire View Post
    I understand the source of the confusion now and I agree that that clause could be worded a bit tighter. I think I will contact our attorney tomorrow to see if we can make that section clearer. In the meantime however, I want to unequivocally state that we do not take the cost of production out of the gross or net proceeds. All production costs are assumed by Mojocastle Press and are not passed on to the authors in any way shape or form.
    I'm glad to hear that, and I hope you do make the change. In the meantime, writers should be aware that where what a publisher tells you contradicts the contract, it's the contract that prevails. (Especially when, as in this case, the contract includes an "entire agreement" clause [Clause 12] that specifically states that the contract supersedes "any prior written or oral agreement.")

    I have to say that I'm concerned about a publisher that either doesn't fully understand its own contract language, or wants people to believe that the contract doesn't mean what it actually means.

    - Victoria

  9. #59
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    I do not sign away rights to anyone who does not have a specific intent to use them and plan for doing so.

    Which means I'm not going to sign movie rights to a book publisher, audio rights to a publisher that does not have a track record of making audio versions available on ALL books (not just their best sellers - I've fallen into a similar trap before).

    Rights somebody is sitting on and not using do nobody any good.
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  10. #60
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin Grimoire's Avatar
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    Greetings to All,

    There is a lot to digest here. I will try to address all the issues and concerns that have been raised.

    In regard to the contract, this is an updated version that was just released for dissemination on January 1st. I do see that there is an issue with the wording in one of the clauses and have instructed our attorney to review and propose more concise language. What can I say? It was a mistake, the wording in the clause does not match our intent or our practice and it will be fixed. I was the one that coordinated with the attorney so I am the one to blame for not having caught this issue. This is one of the reasons why we post the contract on our website. We want prospective authors to have a chance to review the information up front so they can make an informed decisions and ask pertinent questions. Catching this error has actually been a big help.

    In regard to the rights issue, I understand that for some of you this is a deal breaker and I understand why this is the case. As I mentioned previously, we struggled with this issue when drafting our new contract. We ended up deciding to incorporate unlimited rights into the contract in order to be able to quickly react to take advantage of opportunities in the market. Knowing that this would be a concern to authors, we limited our contracts to only five years and included a reasonable buy-out option that would allow authors to move on if another opportunity presented itself. Our feeling at the time was this was a balanced way to protect both the author's and the publisher's interests.

    A couple of excellent questions were asked regarding whether or not we actively pursue these types of opportunities and how successful we are at doing so. I cannot get into too many specifics as that is confidential company information, but truthfully we have not had significant success marketing other than digital and print rights at this point. However, one mitigating factor is that we only recently included the unlimited rights clause in our contracts so the opportunities to market those other rights are just now coming available as the books are put into print. I am the individual responsible for the marketing and promotion of these rights and I can say that I am currently exploring several possibilities. Still, this discussion has provided some food for thought and I am giving serious consideration to re-opening this issue internally. Out of curiosity, what would the community as a whole consider as appropriate?

    This type of feedback, though a little disheartening at times, is really quite valuable. As a company, Mojocastle Press strives to be a destination of choice for authors. I am more than willing to take any additional constructive feedback into consideration.

    V/R,
    Ryan J. Kelsey
    President & CEO
    Mojocastle Press
    http://www.mojocastle.com

  11. #61
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grimoire View Post
    Out of curiosity, what would the community as a whole consider as appropriate?
    I'm really impressed that you've been seeking feedback and acting on it. Kudos to you.

    I can't speak for the community, only myself.

    I generally figure that the advance equates to what the press expects the author's first two years' royalties to equate to. So if a press offers an advance of $5000, I figure that's likely to be most/all of my royalty income. Which is cool. If a press offers an advance of $50, I figure likewise, and that's maybe not so cool. Depends on the press's sales figures.

    For a small press with only e-books and POD/TP print books out, and average per-title sales of up to 2000 copies/title, I'd be willing to sell limited (TP and ebook) rights for 3 - 5 years. For a press with with average per-title sales of 2000 - 5000 copies/title, I'd be willing to add in audio, serial, and translation rights, for 5 - 7 years, with a rights reversion clause attached to sales (say, <250 copies per calendar year). Movie rights I'd keep unless it was Random House or similar.

    A buy-out option sends me running for the hills.

  12. #62
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    Quote Originally Posted by Unimportant View Post
    I'm really impressed that you've been seeking feedback and acting on it. Kudos to you.
    Thank you!

    Quote Originally Posted by Unimportant View Post
    For a small press with only e-books and POD/TP print books out, and average per-title sales of up to 2000 copies/title, I'd be willing to sell limited (TP and ebook) rights for 3 - 5 years. For a press with with average per-title sales of 2000 - 5000 copies/title, I'd be willing to add in audio, serial, and translation rights, for 5 - 7 years, with a rights reversion clause attached to sales (say, <250 copies per calendar year). Movie rights I'd keep unless it was Random House or similar.
    This is really good information. I appreciate your willingness to share it with me. Does anyone else want to weigh in?

    Quote Originally Posted by Unimportant View Post
    A buy-out option sends me running for the hills.
    I would really appreciate it if you could explain your rationale on this a bit more. Why would this send you "running for the hills".

    Thank you for taking the time.

    V/R,
    Ryan J. Kelsey
    President & CEO
    Mojocastle Press
    http://www.mojocastle.com

  13. #63
    but appreciated anyway... Unimportant's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grimoire View Post
    I would really appreciate it if you could explain your rationale on this a bit more. Why would this send you "running for the hills".
    Hmm, good question.

    I guess because I can't imagine it would be necessary if I trust the publisher I'm signing with. Historically, the only presses I've seen who "allow" the author to buy out their contract have been scammers or clueless fall-at-the-first-fence newbies or meant-well-initially-but-tanked-financially-and-screwed-their-authors failures.

    Under what circumstances would/have your authors use the buy-out clause?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Grimoire View Post
    Thank you!



    This is really good information. I appreciate your willingness to share it with me. Does anyone else want to weigh in?

    As somebody who runs a small division of a larger publishing house who has had limited success with selling translation and audio rights over the years (except for one particularly large deal on the audio side), I often do not ask for subsidiary rights. This is especially true when the author is repped by an agent who, I figure, will have more success getting a deal for the author. Could I drive a hard bargain in some cases? Sure. But the endgame, if I'm honest, is likely to come off looking greedy AND ineffectual when I can't do anything with intellectual property I'm willing to "fight" over.

  15. #65
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grimoire View Post
    In regard to the rights issue, I understand that for some of you this is a deal breaker and I understand why this is the case. As I mentioned previously, we struggled with this issue when drafting our new contract. We ended up deciding to incorporate unlimited rights into the contract in order to be able to quickly react to take advantage of opportunities in the market. Knowing that this would be a concern to authors, we limited our contracts to only five years and included a reasonable buy-out option that would allow authors to move on if another opportunity presented itself. Our feeling at the time was this was a balanced way to protect both the author's and the publisher's interests.
    How does taking rights you have no experience of working with, and which don't apply to your business, protect your authors' interests?

    A couple of excellent questions were asked regarding whether or not we actively pursue these types of opportunities and how successful we are at doing so. I cannot get into too many specifics as that is confidential company information, but truthfully we have not had significant success marketing other than digital and print rights at this point. However, one mitigating factor is that we only recently included the unlimited rights clause in our contracts so the opportunities to market those other rights are just now coming available as the books are put into print. I am the individual responsible for the marketing and promotion of these rights and I can say that I am currently exploring several possibilities.
    If you're responsible for "the marketing and promotion of these rights", who is responsible for actually licensing them?

    If you're doing that part of the job too, then do you have knowledge of or contacts with overseas publishers who might be interested in foreign or translation rights? Have you ever made any deals with periodicals, or licensed any subsidiary rights? Do you have the specialist knowledge required to negotiate the sale of film rights?

    Selling foreign and subsidiary rights is a complex job which requires a huge range of skills and experience. It's not something someone with no prior knowledge of or training in can just pick up and take over.

    Still, this discussion has provided some food for thought and I am giving serious consideration to re-opening this issue internally. Out of curiosity, what would the community as a whole consider as appropriate?
    I really appreciate your attitude. I recognise that we're giving you a hard time and you're reacting with grace, which few people manage. So thank you for that.

    I think it would be appropriate if you only acquired rights you are going to use, right now; and if you issued an amendment to all contracts reverting rights you can't exploit.

  16. #66
    Thanks for sticking around, Grimoire. I know it probably feels like we're assuming the worst about the contract. But to me, that's how a contract should be approached.

    When my family was looking for a new home, I ran across one with a "neighborhood agreement" that said (among other things) that if I didn't upkeep my yard, my neighbors could come in and do it for me. I told the real estate agent that I've got two young kids and no way will I sign something that says my neighbors can just wander into my yard and start throwing stuff around because my wood pile got half an inch too high. She told me no one would ever, ever do that and I insisted, "I don't care. I'm not signing anything that says they can."

    I approach a publishing contract the same way. If the contract says a publisher can do something, I need to be okay with the idea that they will.

    For me, I've seen a few too many less-than-reputable companies use the buy out option as a way to make money off authors. If the buy-out amount is, let's say $200, that's basically a $200 motivation (minus the advance) to do absolutely nothing with the book until the author gets frustrated enough to pay up. Of course, I hope that a publisher plans to make more than $200 off book sales, but I don't know typical sales numbers in this case.

    Another thing that bothers me is the section on "Option on Future Works in a Series":

    The Publisher shall have the first opportunity to read and consider for publication either the complete typescript or a synopsis and specimen chapter for any subsequent work by the Author that is intended to be a sequel or prequel to, or otherwise share plot elements with, the work. Such subsequent work shall be the subject of a fresh Agreement between the Author and the Publisher, on terms that shall be fair and reasonable. If the Publisher and Author are unable to agree to terms for its publication, the Author shall be at liberty to enter into an Agreement with another publisher provided that the Author shall not subsequently accept from anyone else terms less favorable than those offered by the Publisher.
    If "sharing plot elements" simply means it's conceivable that two of my novels could take place in the same universe, that covers a lot of ground. Also, if I do go elsewhere with my next book, I feel that should be the end of the relationship. I don't want an old contract dictating what I can and cannot accept in a new one.

    If another press offers me lower royalties, but I know they have the capacity to sell ten times as many books as Mojocastle, I would want to go with that other press for my new book, despite its supposedly "less favorable" terms.

    I hope this makes sense.
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  17. #67
    Writer Beware Goddess Absolute Sage victoriastrauss's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grimoire View Post
    This type of feedback, though a little disheartening at times, is really quite valuable. As a company, Mojocastle Press strives to be a destination of choice for authors. I am more than willing to take any additional constructive feedback into consideration.
    Just chiming in to add to what others have said--I appreciate your open-minded stance, and your willingness to discuss these issues.

    - Victoria

  18. #68
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    As Grim is being such a good sport , I shall add:

    I find clause 4.7 problematic. Editing to meet house style -- e.g., American vs Commonwealth spelling, or the Oxford comma -- I am okay with. Any other edits or revisions can be suggested by the editor, but should be made (or stetted) by the author. I've been told of one small press with a clause similar to 4.7 in their contract, and they've used it to have their editor/book doctor insert sex scenes in some 'tame' romances -- which did not materially change the plot/book concept, and which may well have boosted sales, but which were not approved by the authors and which the authors really weren't happy about.

    Likewise 4.7.1: substantial changes should be made by the author, not with the participation of the author.

    4.8: a minimum time frame should be specified for the author to proofread the final typeset version. Seven days, maybe?

    6.2: No. The first sentence is okay. The rest, not.

    6.6: As I understand it, this is meaningless. If the company goes under, contracted books will be considered assets.

    7.1: As others have said, first option on a sequel/prequel, yes. More than that, no.

    8.1: Should the publisher not register the copyright for the author (and pay for it)?

    16.1: This is why I interpret every clause of the contract in the most negative way. Mojo may well be the next best thing to Mother Teresa, but if they assign the agreement to someone who turns out to be my psycho ex-partner....

  19. #69
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    Quote Originally Posted by Unimportant View Post
    Under what circumstances would/have your authors use the buy-out clause?
    This clause predates my tenure with Mojocastle, but my understanding is that this clause was incorporated into the earliest Mojocastle Contracts, and carried throughout the various revisions, as a means to protect the authors.

    The Owner, who is also the Editor-in-Chief and an Author, wanted authors to have an "escape clause" in case a better opportunity arose with a big publishing house for example. Also, occasionally a relationship between a publisher and an author does not work out as well as either had hoped. In those cases instead of forcing an author to wait out the term of the contract, the author could exercise this clause and essentially reimburse the publisher for production costs plus a modest fee to cover anticipated lost royalties and get their rights back immediately. The owner has always regarded this as an important benefit to authors. Personally, I would have no problem eliminating this clause particularly if it is being viewed as a negative instead of a positive.

    I have only seen this clause exercised once. An author decided she wanted to self-publish her work and market a script based on her novel in the hope of receiving a movie deal.

    Hope this helps to clarify.

    V/R,
    Ryan J. Kelsey
    President & CEO
    Mojocastle Press
    http://www.mojocastle.com

  20. #70
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    Quote Originally Posted by Round Two View Post
    As somebody who runs a small division of a larger publishing house who has had limited success with selling translation and audio rights over the years (except for one particularly large deal on the audio side), I often do not ask for subsidiary rights. This is especially true when the author is repped by an agent who, I figure, will have more success getting a deal for the author. Could I drive a hard bargain in some cases? Sure. But the endgame, if I'm honest, is likely to come off looking greedy AND ineffectual when I can't do anything with intellectual property I'm willing to "fight" over.
    Thank you for taking the time to post your perspective. It makes a lot of sense and I can absolutely see your point. As I said previously, I am getting lots of food for thought from this discussion.

    V/R,
    Ryan J. Kelsey
    President & CEO
    Mojocastle Press
    http://www.mojocastle.com

  21. #71
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    Quote Originally Posted by Old Hack View Post
    How does taking rights you have no experience of working with, and which don't apply to your business, protect your authors' interests?
    I see your point and from that perspective it may not make a lot of sense. I have been convinced that we need to have a discussion internally to better address our position on rights. I do not know exactly were that discussion will end up, but I do believe that having it is a worthwhile effort. I appreciate the feedback.



    Quote Originally Posted by Old Hack View Post
    If you're responsible for "the marketing and promotion of these rights", who is responsible for actually licensing them?

    If you're doing that part of the job too, then do you have knowledge of or contacts with overseas publishers who might be interested in foreign or translation rights? Have you ever made any deals with periodicals, or licensed any subsidiary rights? Do you have the specialist knowledge required to negotiate the sale of film rights?

    Selling foreign and subsidiary rights is a complex job which requires a huge range of skills and experience. It's not something someone with no prior knowledge of or training in can just pick up and take over.
    I don't disagree with anything you said here and I am the first to admit that I do not have specialized expertise in every area you called out. However, I do have years of experience working as a negotiator for the U.S. Navy and have worked many extraordinarily complex and difficult deals with totals that have exceeded well over a billion dollars. Does this mean I am an expert at negotiating movie rights, of course not, but a lot of the basic skills apply to any type of negotiation.

    Quote Originally Posted by Old Hack View Post
    I really appreciate your attitude. I recognise that we're giving you a hard time and you're reacting with grace, which few people manage. So thank you for that.
    Thank you very much. I appreciate the compliment.

    Quote Originally Posted by Old Hack View Post
    I think it would be appropriate if you only acquired rights you are going to use, right now; and if you issued an amendment to all contracts reverting rights you can't exploit.
    What would be your take on maintaining rights for things that are being worked on, but may not be in place yet?

    V/R,
    Ryan J. Kelsey
    President & CEO
    Mojocastle Press
    http://www.mojocastle.com

  22. #72
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    Quote Originally Posted by Katrina S. Forest View Post
    Thanks for sticking around, Grimoire. I know it probably feels like we're assuming the worst about the contract. But to me, that's how a contract should be approached.
    You're Welcome I am starting to wonder why I bothered having the contract drafted and vetted by an attorney. I should have just come here and saved the fee!



    Quote Originally Posted by Katrina S. Forest View Post
    For me, I've seen a few too many less-than-reputable companies use the buy out option as a way to make money off authors. If the buy-out amount is, let's say $200, that's basically a $200 motivation (minus the advance) to do absolutely nothing with the book until the author gets frustrated enough to pay up. Of course, I hope that a publisher plans to make more than $200 off book sales, but I don't know typical sales numbers in this case.
    Really? That would have never occurred to me to use that clause as a revenue driver. It seems like cutting off your nose to spite your face. Once you did that a few times how would you convince new authors to sign with you?

    As I mentioned in another response, we viewed the clause as protection for the author, not as a means to victimize them. It just goes to show how contractual language can be interpreted so differently.


    Quote Originally Posted by Katrina S. Forest View Post
    Another thing that bothers me is the section on "Option on Future Works in a Series":

    If "sharing plot elements" simply means it's conceivable that two of my novels could take place in the same universe, that covers a lot of ground. Also, if I do go elsewhere with my next book, I feel that should be the end of the relationship. I don't want an old contract dictating what I can and cannot accept in a new one.

    If another press offers me lower royalties, but I know they have the capacity to sell ten times as many books as Mojocastle, I would want to go with that other press for my new book, despite its supposedly "less favorable" terms.

    I hope this makes sense.
    I see your point and agree that the clause is fairly broad. We definitely did not want to include a "first right of refusal" clause for everything an author produced, but the inclusion of a "limited" clause seemed like a good business decision at the time. The initial intent of the clause was for it to concentrate specifically on books in a series. We have had situations where we have books one and two of a trilogy with the third book with another publisher. We just found it very difficult to market the series effectively when we had to send readers to another publisher for the last book. During the drafting of the contract, the clause gradually broadened out to its current form. Our view is that there are certain benefits to having a entire series in the same place; 1)readers will be able to find the books all in one place and 2) there will be a consistent marketing strategy in place. Thoughts?

    V/R,
    Ryan J. Kelsey
    President & CEO
    Mojocastle Press
    http://www.mojocastle.com

  23. #73
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin Grimoire's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by victoriastrauss View Post
    Just chiming in to add to what others have said--I appreciate your open-minded stance, and your willingness to discuss these issues.

    - Victoria
    Thank you. I admit that some of it was hard to hear, but at the end of the day we want to have a contract that authors want to sign. We felt that it was a fair and balanced contract when we put it together, but the feedback we are getting here is helping us identify areas that need work or that require another look to make sure the right message is coming through. I should be thanking you...so I will. THANK YOU!

    V/R,
    Ryan J. Kelsey
    President & CEO
    Mojocastle Press
    http://www.mojocastle.com

  24. #74
    but appreciated anyway... Unimportant's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Grimoire View Post
    Really? That would have never occurred to me to use that clause as a revenue driver. It seems like cutting off your nose to spite your face. Once you did that a few times how would you convince new authors to sign with you?
    If you sign every author who subs to you in the first year -- say, a thousand of them -- and then publish them BADLY with lots of typos and shitty covers and cover prices of $39.95, and then ten percent of them fall for the "$500 PLUS COSTS = $1500" buyout fee, you've just cleared a hundred and fifty grand, for barely lifting a finger. (Hello, Publish America!)

    And after a year, you close up shop, start up a new press with a new name and pseudonym, and do it again. Lather, rinse, repeat.

    Obviously you will never succeed in life as a scammer Sheesh, I bet you don't sell used cars, either. Or bridges.

    I have no problem with an options clause that includes books in the same series. But limit it to the series (as opposed to 'plot elements' -- see Jim Hines's Goblin War series vs his Libriomancer series, which share a spider but nothing else). And limit it to works that are in the length you publish (e.g., not flash fiction!).
    Last edited by Unimportant; 01-08-2015 at 11:11 AM. Reason: did the maths wrong :(

  25. #75
    New Fish; Learning About Thick Skin Grimoire's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Unimportant View Post
    As Grim is being such a good sport , I shall add:

    I find clause 4.7 problematic. Editing to meet house style -- e.g., American vs Commonwealth spelling, or the Oxford comma -- I am okay with. Any other edits or revisions can be suggested by the editor, but should be made (or stetted) by the author. I've been told of one small press with a clause similar to 4.7 in their contract, and they've used it to have their editor/book doctor insert sex scenes in some 'tame' romances -- which did not materially change the plot/book concept, and which may well have boosted sales, but which were not approved by the authors and which the authors really weren't happy about.

    Likewise 4.7.1: substantial changes should be made by the author, not with the participation of the author.

    4.8: a minimum time frame should be specified for the author to proofread the final typeset version. Seven days, maybe?

    6.2: No. The first sentence is okay. The rest, not.

    6.6: As I understand it, this is meaningless. If the company goes under, contracted books will be considered assets.

    7.1: As others have said, first option on a sequel/prequel, yes. More than that, no.

    8.1: Should the publisher not register the copyright for the author (and pay for it)?

    16.1: This is why I interpret every clause of the contract in the most negative way. Mojo may well be the next best thing to Mother Teresa, but if they assign the agreement to someone who turns out to be my psycho ex-partner....
    I have made notes regarding your concerns on these specific clauses and will consider them. Thank you for taking the time to provide your feedback.

    V/R,
    Ryan J. Kelsey
    President & CEO
    Mojocastle Press
    http://www.mojocastle.com

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