Random House has turned to the dark side?

I have you now . . .

Well . . . sort of–at least a little bit.  I just read an article up on i09 about RH’s new eBook-only imprints, and it sounds pretty crappy.  Also, yes, I know that Harry Potter is not published by RH (or one of its imprints).  The picture just seemed too perfect to pass up.

(For those that don’t know, imprints are other names under which publishing houses publish–more or less.  They usually vary by audience or publishing model.)

Quick edit: Random House seems to be reacting well to the public outcry and the SWFA on the subject, and is adjusting their policies a bit (kudos to them).  Read below for more information.

So what’s so bad about Random House’s new eBook only imprints (Hydra, Flirt, and Alibi)?  Read on, my friends . . .

OK, here’s the short version: the contracts that authors sign when the publishing house picks them up basically suck.  There aren’t any guarantees that the author will ever get paid, and they essentially don’t have ownership of their own work (which is more common than you’d think).

On top of that, each of these imprints charge the author for all sorts of things, like editing.  So, in short, you write a book, you get a contract, then you have to pay to get it published (even though you don’t own any of the publishing rights), and then you might not get paid anything for all your work.

See where I come off calling this “crappy?”

The SFWA and John Scalzi (the president) are taking this somewhat personally (which is awesome).  I’ll keep an eye on the situation too, and for those of you that are interested, you can check back here.

Now, to be fair, RH has backed off on a lot of this, and now are planning to offer the choice of publishing models to a prospective author.  Meaning, you can go with a more traditional contract, or you can go for the profit-sharing model.  John Scalzi has written about this a whole lot on his own blog, so for more information, check it out here.

For those shopping around for a publishing house (like myself), this is disturbing news.  Hopefully Tor (an imprint of Macmillan) doesn’t go down the same road (I like Tor).

Let me (and others) know what you think

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