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Thread: Hydra / Flirt / Alibi / Loveswept

  1. #1
    Writer Beware Goddess Absolute Sage victoriastrauss's Avatar
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    Hydra / Flirt / Alibi / Loveswept

    I recently got a peek at deal terms for the Hydra imprint (and by extension, Flirt and Alibi as well). Something for authors who are thinking of submitting to these imprints to consider:

    Second Class Contracts? Deal Terms at Random House's Hydra Imprint

    - Victoria

  2. #2
    So many ideas, never enough time. michael_b's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by victoriastrauss View Post
    I recently got a peek at deal terms for the Hydra imprint (and by extension, Flirt and Alibi as well). Something for authors who are thinking of submitting to these imprints to consider:

    Second Class Contracts? Deal Terms at Random House's Hydra Imprint

    - Victoria
    That contract is nothing short of ugly. You'd be better off at some of the 'big players' in the ebook world like Samhain, Loose Id, Dreamspinner (for m/m and they DO pay a nice advance) and the other established ehouses.
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    I grow my own catnip JulieB's Avatar
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    Just got a note in the old email box from SFWA stating that Random House's Hydra imprint is not a qualifying market, mainly for the reasons Victoria outlined in her blog post linked above.

    They note that Random House's other imprints continue to be qualifying markets.

  4. #4
    Science fiction, horror and fantasy Jonathan Dalar's Avatar
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    John Scalzi, author and the president of the SFWA has some rather scathing words for Random House's Hydra Imprint:

    http://whatever.scalzi.com/2013/03/0...comment-446386

    Can't say I disagree with any of his assessment. This is a horrible deal for authors. Predatory, even.

  5. #5
    practical experience, FTW Quantum1019's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jonathan Dalar View Post
    John Scalzi, author and the president of the SFWA has some rather scathing words for Random House's Hydra Imprint:

    http://whatever.scalzi.com/2013/03/0...comment-446386

    Can't say I disagree with any of his assessment. This is a horrible deal for authors. Predatory, even.

    Oh good, somebody already posted this link. I just found it on Facebook and signed on here to link to it if nobody else had.

    I submitted a query to the Hydra imprint a while ago and have not yet heard back, but after reading that, if they do contact me, I'll decline to send more material.

  6. #6
    Writer Beware Goddess Absolute Sage victoriastrauss's Avatar
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    I get tired of saying this...but...life-of-copyright contracts are standard in the publishing industry. They're only a problem if the reversion language isn't specific enough. The mere existence of a life-of-copyright contract shouldn't be a disqualifying factor, for a digital imprint or any other kind.

    As I make clear in my post, I haven't seen a Hydra contract--only a deal memo--so I don't know what the actual reversion language is. However, Hydra does seem to be willing to negotiate, so it's quite possible authors may be able to insert better reversion language into the contract (tying out-of-print to minimum sales numbers, for instance).

    - Victoria

  7. #7
    So many ideas, never enough time. michael_b's Avatar
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    What Victoria said. Be sure to insert language that reverts copyright to you if sales fall below a certain minimum level in a sales quarter. Nothing too high or too low that way you can get out of the 'life of copyright' bit when sales of the title tank at that publisher. If they won't negotiate, well that's a whole different can of worms.
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  8. #8
    Science fiction, horror and fantasy Jonathan Dalar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by victoriastrauss View Post
    However, Hydra does seem to be willing to negotiate, so it's quite possible authors may be able to insert better reversion language into the contract (tying out-of-print to minimum sales numbers, for instance).

    - Victoria
    The problem I see with this is it leaves it up to authors - many first time authors - to try and wrangle that wordage into the contract just so they don't screw themselves over. And if they don't have an agent, or have an agent that isn't really up to snuff and able to ferret out this sort of thing, they're going to get screwed.

    Contracts of any sort shouldn't be of the "if you can figure out how not to let us screw you, we'll talk" variety. Obviously the contract written by the publisher is written to be favorable to them. It shouldn't be so favorable as to be predatory.

  9. #9
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
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    This just in: The Alibi imprint is equally bad.

    Don't sign a contract with these folks.

  10. #10
    Super Browser triceretops's Avatar
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    Oh, my Godikins. I knew it was bad--minor league type e-publishing, but this takes the cake, the frosting, the shop and city surrounding the block it sits in.

    This is a back-end vanity publishing contract. But, ho, it's actually worse than BluPhier's.

    If something pops on my end, I don't even think my agent will have the impetus, patience or time to go after them with a knife in one had and a money bag in the other. Frankly, If I hand such a contract over to my agent I don't think she would ever forgive me or speak to me again.

    It is fair to assume that all of the these big digital imprints we see popping up share most of these unfavorable contracts terms? There seems to be a run on this type of publishing. Even these large press open calls have given me the willies lately.

    tri

  11. #11
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by triceretops View Post
    It is fair to assume that all of the these big digital imprints we see popping up share most of these unfavorable contracts terms?
    No, that isn't fair to assume at all.

    This is uniquely bad else you wouldn't see such a reaction.

  12. #12
    Ruining your porn since 1984 BunnyMaz's Avatar
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    Holy crap. No advance, and the writer is billed for the costs of editing and actually preparing the book for print?

    Remind me again why signing with random house is better than, say, self-publishing?
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  13. #13
    Such a nasty woman SuperModerator Old Hack's Avatar
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    Signing with Random House is one thing; signing with these new imprints it's started is entirely another. And neither have anything to do with self publishing.

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    DenturePunk writer bearilou's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Phaeal View Post
    The first draft is a huge pile of clay that you've laboriously heaped on your table, patting it into a rough shape as you go along. From the second draft onward, you'll cut away chunks, add bits, pat and punch and pinch, until you finally have a gorgeous figure of, oh, Marcus Aurelius. Or a duck. But a damn fine duck.
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  15. #15
    On a small world west of wonder LindaJeanne's Avatar
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    When the n00b, no-publishing-experience, here-today-gone-tomorrow publishers put out contracts with clauses like this, it's possible to give them the benefit of the doubt that they don't realize how predatory their contract terms are.

    Imprints of Random House? Not so much.
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  16. #16
    annoyed and annoying roach's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LindaJeanne View Post
    When the n00b, no-publishing-experience, here-today-gone-tomorrow publishers put out contracts with clauses like this, it's possible to give them the benefit of the doubt that they don't realize how predatory their contract terms are.

    Imprints of Random House? Not so much.
    And how long do you think it is before other publishers--both well-meaning but inept and those who are only trying to make money from authors--point to this contract as justification for doing the same?
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    USA Today Bestselling Author Jamiekswriter's Avatar
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    Playing devil's advocate, though -- it *is* Random House. They've got the clout to sell huge numbers.

    To throw some numbers out . . . If they sell 20,000 units in the first quarter, (I'm basing this on one of their writers who sold 20,000 copies in the first two days); the writer still makes about $20,000 (Based on a $2.99 book) after all the "set up costs (assuming reasonable professional pricing)", the 10% marketing fee (based on $10,000 worth of marketing) and 15% agents fee. And then every other royalty statement after that will be free and clear of the set up and marketing fees.

    I'm not saying it's a good contract as it stands, but maybe with negotiation and some details on the marketing involved -- like how did they get 20,000 people to buy it in two days -- it might not be a deal breaker.
    Last edited by Jamiekswriter; 03-07-2013 at 08:37 PM. Reason: clarifying

  18. #18
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
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    It's a deal-breaker.

    See Scalzi's comments.

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    I grow my own catnip JulieB's Avatar
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    As Scalzi points out, and many of us have pointed out many times before: when the writer pays, what incentive does the publisher have to get the books into the hands of readers? Also, if that happens to be a breakout book, what incentive does the publisher have to NOT charge everything under the sun to production costs?

  20. #20
    Is this thing on? Axordil's Avatar
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    This reminds me of the model used by too many record labels.

    That's not a desirable thing.
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  21. #21
    It's a doggy dog world benbradley's Avatar
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    Googling news for Hydra imprint got me this brand new Publisher's Weekly article - it appears to be a sales pitch, asking SFWA to reconsider:

    Random House Responds to SFWA Slamming Its Hydra Imprint
    http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/b...a-imprint.html
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  22. #22
    On a small world west of wonder LindaJeanne's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by benbradley View Post
    Googling news for Hydra imprint got me this brand new Publisher's Weekly article - it appears to be a sales pitch, asking SFWA to reconsider:

    Random House Responds to SFWA Slamming Its Hydra Imprint
    http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/b...a-imprint.html
    Their "response" doesn't address any of the specific concerns: nothing about the rights grab, the vaguely defined "net", or the vaguely defined out-of-print clause.

    They just gave the same "partnership" speech that every vanity press on the globe uses.

    The proof is in the pudding, which means the contract. If they want their response to the blog articles to be taken seriously, they need to actually respond to the points made, not just give generic watered-down PR babble.
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  23. #23
    a demon for tea EMaree's Avatar
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    Hydra offers a different-- but potentially lucrative--publishing model for authors: a profit share. In the more traditional advance- plus-royalty model, the publisher takes all the financial risk up front, and recoups the advance before the author earns any cash royalties. With a profit-share model, there is no advance. Instead, the author and publisher share equally in the profits from each and every sale. In effect, we partner with the author for each book.
    (From the aforementioned http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/b...a-imprint.html )

    Could they sound any more like a vanity press?
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  24. #24
    Formerly Phantom of Krankor. Torgo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jamiekswriter View Post
    Playing devil's advocate, though -- it *is* Random House. They've got the clout to sell huge numbers.

    To throw some numbers out . . . If they sell 20,000 units in the first quarter, (I'm basing this on one of their writers who sold 20,000 copies in the first two days); the writer still makes about $20,000 (Based on a $2.99 book) after all the "set up costs (assuming reasonable professional pricing)", the 10% marketing fee (based on $10,000 worth of marketing) and 15% agents fee. And then every other royalty statement after that will be free and clear of the set up and marketing fees.

    I'm not saying it's a good contract as it stands, but maybe with negotiation and some details on the marketing involved -- like how did they get 20,000 people to buy it in two days -- it might not be a deal breaker.
    If they can sell 20,000 copies, they ought to just be offering a standard publishing contract, no?

    I think RH have got into a pickle because they were desperate to keep that headline 50/50 split figure, out of competition with other imprints. So then they had to hide the costs somewhere; really this is not too different from the situation where the author might be getting 7.5% net royalties, with other 42.5% being used to pay the bills; except as Scalzi points out engineering it this way rather removes the incentive for RH to keep costs down.

    I'm kind of goggling at some of those clauses.

  25. #25
    USA Today Bestselling Author Jamiekswriter's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JulieB View Post
    As Scalzi points out, and many of us have pointed out many times before: when the writer pays, what incentive does the publisher have to get the books into the hands of readers? Also, if that happens to be a breakout book, what incentive does the publisher have to NOT charge everything under the sun to production costs?
    But no one gets paid unless the book sells. The cover, editor, etc. gets paid out of the royalties.

    That and Rh is on the hook for 90% of the marketing, I would think they would want to get that investment back and more.

    I liked Scalzi's post. He makes a lot of sense. And if this was anyone else but a big six publisher, it would be a no brainer to walk away from this contract.

    I just can't shake the volume. If they are getting that kind of sales volume -- it's hard for me to discount them.

    Again -- I'm not saying sign on the dotted line carte blanche, but if they're willing to negotiate and they have proven marketing in place to get that numbers . . . I don't know. It's not a cut and dried no for me. Especially if you can put in a clause XX costs not to exceed XX.
    Last edited by Jamiekswriter; 03-07-2013 at 10:43 PM.

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