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Thread: Tico Publishing

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  1. #11
    Your Genial Uncle Absolute Sage James D. Macdonald's Avatar
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    New Hampshire
    The Author grants the Publisher the option to publish his or her next three book length works on the same terms and conditions as are set forth herein....

    I'd be willing to bet that the option clause this one was modeled on specified one book, not three. Three is ... highly unusual. Faced with this contract, right away I'd line out "three" and write in "one."

    The Publisher shall have ninety (90) days in which to advise the Author if it is going to exercise said option and upon what terms....

    But it was just specified "upon what terms." The first sentence said "on the same terms and conditions." Presumably, that means no advance, all rights for the life of the copyright, and another three-book option.

    All option clauses should be written as narrowly as possible. "The next book-length mystery novel featuring private detective V. I. Warshawski," not "the next Work." That protects the publisher sufficiently if an ongoing series takes off, while allowing an author to make a living at this racket.

    The publisher, with an option clause as written here, could presumably pass on the first offered manuscript and still expect first crack at the next two that author writes. This would likely conflict with the option clause of the next publisher if the author manages to sell that book elsewhere.

    There's another point that I don't like, and that's this: as written the publisher could pass on a book, fail to exercise its option, then come back after the author sells the book elsewhere to snatch the book back.

    If the publisher makes an offer and the author refuses, I could see it as reasonable that the first publisher should be given a chance to match the competing offer. But not if they passed to start with.

    This option clause, combined with the Commercial Rights (1.B(6)) clause (derivative works) in the Grant of Rights, could be interpreted as forbidding the author to publish a sequel to his work even if Tico turned that sequel down. If that wasn't intended, it should be amended.

    Combined with Paragraph 6, which doesn't require the publisher to publish a book at all, this option clause could be used to hold four of the author's books off the market indefinitely. I'm not saying it would be, but it's certainly allowed by the contract.

    A fairer publication clause would give the publisher 18-24 months to publish after delivery and acceptance. After that, the author could keep the advance and find a new publisher. Since the option clause states that the clock doesn't start running for six months after the previous book came out, that doesn't put any kind of hardship on the publisher in the case of a multi-book series.

    If the publisher wants to buy several books at once ... they wouldn't use this contract anyway. There exist multi-book contracts.

    The option clause protects a publisher in case an author becomes wildly popular, so he can't take a successful series elsewhere after the publisher nurtured his career in his starting, slow-selling days.

    This, though, is again a case of taking too much and returning too little.
    Last edited by James D. Macdonald; 09-28-2006 at 08:46 AM.

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