View Full Version : Wizards of the Coast / Mirrorstone / Discoveries

10-27-2004, 07:03 AM
Open call--Wizards of the Coast (http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=books/main/opencall2004)

Check it out--


12-28-2004, 12:34 PM
Hi all,

{obligatory First Post greeting}

I'm been having a wonderful and educational time lurking around these boards! (Ordered a copy of Jenna's book, too, and I'm really excited about it - it looks likely to help me fulfill one of my new year's resolutions, which is to actually start supplementing the household income with my pen before my book finally sells...) So - thanks for all the posty goodness!

{END obligatory First Post greeting}

My question has to do with Wizards Of The Coast's fiction submission legal agreement.

I'm brand new to the world of marketing book-length manuscripts. I've done-and-won NaNoWriMo three times, and am finally taking one of those manuscripts and attempting to edit it into publishable shape. Yay me! Well, a fellow writer in my area alerted me to WOTC's current Open Call for Novel Submissions (http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=books/main/opencall2004).

I thought, Cool! How often do WOTC have a truly Open Call, where you can submit unsolicited manuscripts that have nothing to do with their gaming systems? So I took a look.

My first bad impression came when I saw that they buy "all book rights" which sounds a little greedy. But on the other hand, they're going to be doing a LOT of publicity for this bad boy, and this is only my first novel so it won't be my best, so... OK. And for all I know "all book rights" is normal - this is where you guys come in and tell me whether it is or isn't. I know "all rights" isn't much fun in the world of short fiction and articles, where an author will want to resell and anthologize, but maybe in novels it's different?

But the main reason I'm posting is their legal agreement (http://www.wizards.com/books/downloads/SubmissionAgreementOpen2004.zip). The excerpts that I'm concerned about are

(c) SUBMITTEE acknowledges that the Idea may be identical with, similar to the theme, plot, idea, format, or other element of the material that Wizards has independently developed or that has or may come to Wizards from other sources and SUBMITTEE shall not be entitled to any compensation by reason of the use by Wizards of such similar or identical material.


2. Waiver

Submittee completely releases and forever discharges Wizards, its parent, affiliates, and their respective past, present and future successors, officers, directors, agents, and employees, from all claims, damages (including but not limited to general, special, punitive, liquidated and compensatory damages) and causes of action of every kind, nature and character, known or unknown, in law or equity, fixed or contingent, which Submittee may now have, or Submittee ever had arising from or in any way connected with the submission of the Idea.

Taken together, these really worry me. I mean, I know that it's amaturish to worry overmuch about your unsolicited submission getting stolen by the editor to whom you're submitting it. But when the contract first says, "You acknowledge that we might publish something similar to your stuff and accept it's just a coincidence," and then, "You promise never to sue us ever no matter what," well, it sounds like they're writing themselves permission to steal submissions.

My experience with novel submissions really is nil. I know to avoid scammers who break the golden rule of "money flows toward the author," sure, but other than that I'm a little clueless. I'd really appreciate the advice you folks could offer.

So, thanks in advance! All the best and happy new year,

Roger J Carlson
12-28-2004, 08:49 PM
Here's a website that might help: www.ivanhoffman.com/helpful.html (http://www.ivanhoffman.com/helpful.html)

Don't bother to write him to ask a question unless you're willing to pay $1000 retainer. Still, he's giving away a lot of good (if general) information.

--Roger Carlson

12-28-2004, 09:50 PM
I'm not a lawyer. But the clauses you've quoted from the Submission Agreement (and the Agreement as a whole) are a lot like the standard waiver most film production companies and screenplay agents require writers to sign on submission. It's not meant to make it easier for the company to steal your ideas, but to protect the company from frivolous lawsuits.

I know that some writers cross out various parts of these waivers when submitting--there's been some discussion of that here, but I'm afraid I don't remember the details.

"All book rights" isn't unusual--publishers want as much as they can get. Usually there's a negotiation process by which you bargain to keep some of your rights, but I wonder how flexible WOTC will be.

The submission guidelines page is titled "Fiction Novel Proposal Guidelines." Sigh.

- Victoria

James D Macdonald
12-29-2004, 12:43 AM
What do you expect? They're a friggin' game company.

I've written for other game companies (not WOTC), and the experience has varied from Lots of Fun to Horrible.

They aren't out to rip you off in unusual ways, if that's what your question is, and they do sell a ton of books.

12-29-2004, 06:42 AM
Thank you all! I really appreciate the input. It sounds like my paranoia is not well-founded after all and can be put to bed, leaving me with the question, "Now do I really want to submit my first novel to a gaming company?"

It would potentially give my husband and I something to brag about on D&D night, anyway! ;-)

FM St George
12-29-2004, 07:14 AM
been there with ya - I submitted for last year's Open Call for the Maiden of Pain book and have one sitting with them for the Eberron book right now.


just keep in mind that it's got to be expandable into a gaming format - I have a good paranormal that I'm schlepping around to agents and the like, but it's not a gaming-type that can be expanded into a D20.

*notices odd looks*

it's a whole different world, really...


12-29-2004, 07:26 AM
just keep in mind that it's got to be expandable into a gaming format
See, that's the weird thing - this particular call for submissions seems to be an exception. The page says something like, "If it would belong on the fantasy/sci-fi/horror shelves, we want it." That makes it sound like they don't particularly expect any obvious gaming potential this time around.

Not that I don't expect them to be looking for gaming potential in submissions, but the guidelines do make it sound like a secondary concern only.

Good to hear from someone who's submitted to WOTC before!

12-29-2004, 07:43 AM
This one is for a new line of books they are launching, I take it as a more traditional line of books.


12-29-2004, 07:55 AM
And for all I know "all book rights" is normal...

I hesitate to speak up, given that some experts ahead of me in line have said "all book rights" is OK, but to me it sounds like too many rights.

Does the contract have another "hold harmless" clause saying that the author is also responsible for every legal cost that might ever come from anywhere?

01-01-2005, 07:09 AM
I didn't see one, reph. Then again, this legal agreement (which authors are expected to sign unaltered) is only upon submission, not acceptance.

In your experience, how much in the way of rights does a publisher normally expect as part of the deal?

01-01-2005, 07:24 AM
Unaltered? Signed on submission? What are they doing that's that hot?

WOTC is a company that for a while was making so much money that they could thrive in spite of not knowing much about what they were doing. I remember a friend coming back from talking to them about a business deal. He was shaking his head over things like their apparent lack of acquaintance with shipping arrangements other than consumer-retail-level UPS, FedEx, and USPO. He was also puzzled by their ToC, which he described to me in some detail. I listened to his description, then said, "Oh! I know what that is. They've got it set up like a concom [a science fiction convention volunteer committee]."

They've gotten better since then, but they're still prone to be wonky. Withal, they're not an especially malign company. That doesn't mean they can't write a contract that'll screw you over, but there'll be less intention in the screwing, and you might be able to talk them out of it.

01-01-2005, 08:41 AM
In your experience, how much in the way of rights does a publisher normally expect as part of the deal?

I'm not experienced as a book author, but the section called Business of Writing at this site says much about contracts:

www.burryman.com (http://www.burryman.com)

01-01-2005, 09:07 AM
Thanks! I shall check it out.

01-04-2005, 01:19 AM
What do you guys think about Wizards of the Coast (and implicitly about their new Open Call : www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=books/main/opencall2004 (http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=books/main/opencall2004).
I'm very enthusiastic about it as I'd like to submit, but it just occurred to me to make a search about them here and I could not find anything.

It might be obvious to everybody that they are OK, but I had a look on Preditors and Editors for Wizards of the Coast and I could not find them there.



01-04-2005, 01:36 AM
There is a related discussion on this board at p197.ezboard.com/fabsolutewritefrm11.showMessage?topicID=656.topic (http://p197.ezboard.com/fabsolutewritefrm11.showMessage?topicID=656.topic) .

Not sure if those posts actually answer your question, but maybe they'll help. :)

01-04-2005, 03:36 AM

Thanks for your post, I don't know how I did not find that thread before.:b

Wizards of the Coast have loads of books ( amongsts their authors I've noticed R. A. Salvatore), and I wonder why they are not more popular on the renowned sites that list recommended publishers.

Anyone else thinking of submitting? I for one think it's a very encouraging call for first time novelists.



01-04-2005, 07:45 AM
That's because P&E has them listed as a game publisher which is their main product, I believe.

01-04-2005, 12:58 PM
That's because P&E has them listed as a game publisher which is their main product, I believe.

Correct. They are a subsidiary of Hasbro. Among other things, they publish the trading card games Duel Monsters, Magic the Gathering, Neopets, and Star Wars.

01-04-2005, 07:00 PM
Just to give a little more info--from the WoTC site on the open call. It seems that this is going to be a new imprint for them.

Wizards of the Coast is seeking proposals for its brand-new line of fiction! Our exciting new imprint will publish science fiction, fantasy, horror, alternate history, magic realism, or anything in-between. If it can be shelved in the Science Fiction/Fantasy/Horror section of your local bookstore, we want it! We're interested both in the first book in a trilogy or longer series as well as stand-alone stories.

We are looking for the best, most original idea as well as compelling writing. We'll consider any style and subject matter. Please be aware, though, that what will count most for us is your ability to tell an exciting, original story in prose that makes us want to keep turning the pages.

To launch this book and the new imprint under which it will be published, we are planning a substantial marketing campaign. This book will be one of the most important that we publish in 2006.

Your submission may be sent through an agent or you may submit without an agent.


01-30-2005, 03:31 AM
Hi all,

Several publishers out there have submission guidelines that specify purchase of "all rights." For example, the WOTC Open Call we recently discussed here, or children's magazines like Cricket and Highlights.

What exactly does that mean, legally?

Does it mean that the publisher is buying the very copyright, making your submission for all purposes a work for hire if accepted?

Is exclusivity implied, such that after selling a story to Cricket you cannot reprint elsewhere? (Of course, I have seen stand-alone picture book publications of stories I remember reading in Cricket, but I don't know which publication came first or whether guidelines changed or how much negotiationss went into process.)

I'm considering entering WOTC's contest, but aside from that I haven't submitted to these kinds of markets because I have assumed that the answer to both of the above questions would be "yes". How accurate are my assumptions? Is my avoidance of these markets a healthy thing or a career-stunting paranoia?

Thanks again!

aka eraser
01-30-2005, 05:31 AM
I'd call it "healthy." Unless, like Readers Digest or a handful of other pubs, the pay is 4-figures-plus, I'd never sell all rights to a piece.

Sometimes you can negotiate rights though. If you think a piece is perfect for a rights-grabbing mag, you can indicate in your query or submission that you're interested in selling first North American serial (for instance) with 60, or 90, or 120 day exclusivity. The worst they can say is "no."

James D Macdonald
01-31-2005, 06:43 AM
When they ask for "all rights" that means all rights. That includes reprint rights ... so yeah, you won't be able to resell your story.

If someone wanted to buy "all rights" for eternity, well ... they'd have to pay a lot.

Ask yourself, what rights do they actually use? Do they need the dramatic performance rights? 'Cause if you sell them "all rights" they get that one too.

You'll keep the copyright. Check on the reversion clause. Under what circumstances do the rights revert to you? Negotiate.

Ask your agent about specific terms in the contract.

01-31-2005, 08:38 PM
Hi Nicole,

I understand you completely as I'm also very confused about submitting or not to Wizards Open Call.

I'd appreciate if someone could give a clear advice of what it is best: to submit to their Open Call or not. This will be my first submission and while I would not like to cut all my rights from the start, at the same time I would not like to miss on an unique opportunity for new writers ...

So what is best: to submit or not? (we even have to sign a legat doc on the initial idea submission too). Does submitting to them means aiming too low and we should think about Tor or Baen instead?



James D Macdonald
01-31-2005, 10:49 PM
What WOTC is looking for is all book rights and an option on gaming rights. That doesn't sound too bad. Their rather bizarre agreement redefines "Submission" as "Idea," but they don't actually seem to be attempting to lay a claim to your idea (ideas can't be copyrighted in any case).

Their description of what to put in a submission package is a pretty good one for any submission to any publisher (follow that publisher's guidelines, though -- if a publisher's guidelines differ from general advice, follow their instructions, not mine).

If you should happen to be accepted by the WOTC open call, that would be a great time to look for an agent to actually negotiate the contract.


As far as Cricket and Highlights -- their contracts are a scandal. I personally wouldn't submit to them. If you're content to have the first check you get be the only check you ever get for that story (no matter how many times it's reprinted), that's a decision only you can make. On the other hand, it's a professional sale.

02-01-2005, 12:16 AM
Thanks, uncle Jim.
You are the best! ;)

02-01-2005, 02:51 AM
This is great info and more than I'd hoped for. Thank you all!

02-09-2005, 09:34 PM

Many an author has started with a publishing contract that was awarded because of a contest. I see no harm in trying out the WotC contest if you want.

As for the contract, well, that needs to be looked at carefully down the road, preferably by an agent with experience. I have done many a contract with WotC and have to say it's a bit tricky for sure.


02-10-2005, 01:30 AM

Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions.

I keep on ploughing hard and I hope I'll be ready to submit in time (I also count on Airmail services from UK to US to take no more than 10 days).

If I win, you'll be the first to contact (I keep my fingers crossed already!) ;)

Best Wishes,


03-09-2005, 03:46 PM
I am totally dismayed, as my submission to WOTC got lost in the post. I posted it by AirSure from UK on 23 Feb (thinking that AirSure is better than Airmail as it is more expensive). It makes me wonder what, if anything, I need to do next. The competition is gone, I know.

What postage services should I use from UK to send letters to US? What is more reliable? DHL?

I feel pretty low as this was my first submission :(.

James D. Macdonald
03-09-2005, 04:10 PM
Don't sweat it. A work that's publishable by one is publishable by many.

Bad stuff happens to good manuscripts. Send it out again to another market, and meanwhile work on your next story.

03-09-2005, 07:07 PM
Confession: I've written four essays for a reference book, and each time signed a work-for-hire contract.

The articles are quite dry, as you can imagine, and don't seem reprintable in mainstream magazines. However, it's easy to imagine changing the slant and style (and using some of the juicy stuff turned up in my research but left out of the academic write-up) for a commercial publication.

I can do that, right? It's not the topic I sold all rights to, it's the essay...right?

James D. Macdonald
03-09-2005, 07:12 PM
I can do that, right? It's not the topic I sold all rights to, it's the essay...right?

IANAL but the information can't be copyrighted, only the specific words. I don't see any reason you shouldn't write new articles based on your research and shop them around. (You didn't sign a non-competition clause, did you?)

03-09-2005, 07:32 PM
Thanks, Uncle Jim!

Whew - no "non-competes" in the contract.

There is a line that says the company will consider my requests to reprint the essay in other scholarly publications after it appears in their publication. I'm guessing I'd get to keep the reprint proceeds, but probably won't know until I actually make such a request.

03-09-2005, 07:36 PM
One more thing. Can anyone help me determine the pros and cons of writing these "work-for-hire" essays? I can't quite figure out how to figure out if writing them is the right decision for me!

James D. Macdonald
03-09-2005, 07:47 PM
The pros of WFH contracts:

You're published, with a real publishing credit.
You work with a real editor.
You're paid real money.

The cons:

If the work takes off, someone else makes the profit, not you.
You can't sell the work or the subrights to other markets.

03-09-2005, 07:53 PM
I do quite a bit of work-for-hire. Some I wouldn't do again (being published in Dragon magazine, for example), others I still do. Every game review I've ever done has been "all rights." In theory, of course, those reviews could be reprinted a million times without me seeing another dime. In reality, that'll likely never happen. Game reviews just aren't terribly useful beyond a certain time period, and no gamers want to see the same reviews in multiple places. Game reviews pay decently as long as you don't figure out how much time you spend playing the game. :)

Another area that others might understandably disagree with is in the roleplaying industry. I do a lot of work-for-hire that pays very little. I do have an understanding of this industry and like most people, do it as much out of love as for money. Most of the publishers can't even do it full time. They have day jobs and run their publishing business on the side. It's a business flooded by amateurs and semi-professionals, and I recommend people only get into it for enjoyment and to practice their skills.

Novels are one area I will never give up all rights without a significant amount of money, and even then, only shared world fiction. I made the decision not to enter WotC's open call because I refuse to hand over rights to my current series.

Lauri B
03-09-2005, 07:55 PM
Hi Rose,
I did a work-for-hire project for a publisher several years ago that paid very well, took relatively little time to write, and NO time to revise. It was the right choice at the time for me, since although I received no royalties on the project and retained only the copyright, it led to quite a few other offers (and the dollar-per-hour breakdown when all was said and done was great!). It was also on a subject I'm not especially interested in pursuing, so it was not a big deal for me not to be able to re-use the material. I think it depends on the topic, the project, the money, and where you are in your career.

03-14-2005, 08:48 AM
And... now that the deadline has passed, and those who were gonna submit have or haven't by now, now I find me the information I really wanted. (http://www.wizards.com/default.asp?x=books/main/opencallchatlog2004) *grrr*

In this imprint, as opposed to our other imprints and lines, the books will not be written as work-for-hire. In a work-for-hire, the company, in this case Wizards, owns all the rights to the characters and settings. In this new imprint, the authors will retain the copyright to the works....

Each contract will be negotiated on an individual basis. As I said earlier, the key provision of this contract is that the author will retain copyright of the work.Lookee there. On the off-chance they like my proposal, I have one less reason to feel ambivalent about it.

There's also info in this chat that wasn't in, or flat out contradicts the submissions guidelines. For instance:

The chapter outline should be extremely brief. A sentence or two for each chapter should suffice.
A chapter-by-chapter outline that indicates what happens in each chapter of the novel. Don't go into exhaustive detail. That's what your story is for! Just tell us in 3-5 sentences what happens in each chapter.*Sigh* As writers, we do try to please. I was very careful to keep each chapter's description between 3 and 5 sentences. Life goes on.

Anyway, thought y'all might be intrigued by this!

01-27-2007, 08:09 AM
Hi Gang,

I sent a partial to Wizards in early December (Somewhere around the 6th). I know they get flooded with manuscripts, but does anyone have an idea of response time? Their website isn't too user friendly for non D&D types. How do I know if the manuscript is lost? Do they have a contact e-mail for submissions?

All my best,

Sheryl Nantus
01-27-2007, 07:51 PM
I'd give it months. Seriously.

01-27-2007, 11:59 PM
What Sheryl Nantus wrote.

I've dealt with them. Months is normal.

Work on your next three books so your head doesn't explode.

01-29-2007, 07:13 AM
Thanks, I am pecking away at my latest version of the great American novel. Perhaps I'll even cool my heels at a small Hawaiian oceanfront tavern and wait for The Duke to show.

01-29-2007, 07:56 AM
I sent a submission to them for the first open call a couple of years ago....and if I remember correctly, it was about 9 months before I heard anything back from them.

Good luck.

01-29-2007, 10:34 PM
I waited only a few weeks for my December '06 rejection. Maybe yours is a better signal

08-15-2007, 06:28 PM
okay, that's good to know. thanks everyone.

one more - how about mirrorstone books?


08-15-2007, 06:51 PM
Wizards of the Coast can definitely get books into bookstores. I don't know how well they do with their imprints. (Plus, posts about new publishers should go in new posts -- that way people can find the information when they are looking for it.)

08-15-2007, 06:54 PM
on request, a new post.

Anyone know anything about Mirrorstone?


08-15-2007, 07:11 PM
Mirrorstone is an imprint of Wizards of the Coast, which is a division of Hasbro. I know nothing of this particular imprint, but I know that WotC has traditionally not always had the most author-friendly contracts for their Dungeons & Dragons products. But you will definitely find their books in bookstores.

Badducky will be published by WotC. You might contact him for info.

Side note: WotC gave me my very first rejection letter, and the very first personal rejection.

08-15-2007, 09:38 PM
Not sure if this experience will match a novel sale, but I recently sold a story to a Mirrorstone anthology. The editors were friendly and professional and a joy to work with. The contract was...interesting. I ended up with something acceptable but it took several rounds.

08-16-2007, 06:39 AM
The contract was...interesting. I ended up with something acceptable but it took several rounds.

Without getting hair-splitting specific, can you give some examples of the more interesting points?

08-16-2007, 03:45 PM
Without getting hair-splitting specific, can you give some examples of the more interesting points?

The most interesting point was that the first version looked more like a novel contract than a contract for a short story in an anthology. That was important when it came to the sections dealing with rights.

It took some time, but they did try to address all my concerns, and we ended up with something I could sign. (I also had my agent check things over for me.)

08-18-2007, 07:50 AM
I heard they're looking for adult stand alones now.

08-18-2007, 08:17 AM
Where did you hear that? Wizards has another label for adult fantasy. You might be thinking about that.

08-19-2007, 04:59 AM
I heard it from my local SCBWI. Here's what I got:

Wizards of the Coast Discoveries, a brand new imprint debuting in
January 2008, is looking for well-written speculative fiction. We
will open for submissions September 1 and close for submissions
January 15. Further guidelines can be found at

Agented submissions are welcome year round.

In January 2008, Discoveries will launch this exciting new imprint
with Firefly Rain, a southern gothic ghost story by Richard Dansky.
Further launch titles include Last Dragon by J.M. McDermott and
Devil's Cape by Rob Rogers, both first-time novelists who were
selected from previous open calls.

08-19-2007, 06:39 AM
That is not Mirrorstone. That is WotC's other label.

08-24-2007, 08:35 AM
Two things to remember about Wizards of the Coast's imprints:

#1 Distributed by Random House. Available for sale anywhere in the universe anyone speaks English. I literally walked into a small store of odds and ends in Wiesbaden, Germany near the Lutheran Marketplace Cathedral where the only English books were from Wizards of the Coast's imprints, and most of the German books were translations of Wizards of the Coast books. My book's currently up for pre-order in places I've only dreamed of going. Like Japan.

#2 Very open to new authors. Authors like me!

If that is not a recipe for wicked awesome, I don't know what is.

My experience has been quite good to date, and has been only with the Discoveries imprint. (I don't know Mirrorstone.)

Feel free to PM me questions, but I cannot guarantee an answer. Whenever my editor sends me an e-mail, there's this confidentiality thing on the bottom, and I take that kind of stuff as seriously as I would an author's pseudonym or desire for anonymity.

07-21-2008, 09:41 PM
Word on the street (http://absolutewrite.com/forums/showthread.php?t=109943) is Discoveries is being closed by parent Hasbro.

01-28-2012, 07:49 AM
Links for Mirrorstone, et al. now lead to http://www.wizards.com/dnd/Novels.aspx

12-27-2013, 09:23 PM
Updating link to WOTC fiction section: http://www.wizards.com/DnD/Story.aspx

ETA: Updating again: http://dnd.wizards.com/products/fiction/novels Currently closed to book subs; when open, the info's in their help section.