Friday, June 29, 2007

Wind Out of My Sails -- Temporarily

Last week I'd thought that I'd not been bothered THAT much about the fact that one of the publishing houses I worked with, and was expecting a July release with, was closing its doors. Of course, I was concerned about that one title I had with them but initially ( and quite wrongly ) felt it would be no big deal. I had that clause in my contract, right? The one that says should the publisher go bankrupt, all rights revert to me?

Well, that is true, but there is another side to that coin.

According to several reliable sources, that bankruptcy clause in my contract -- in any publishers contract -- becomes null and void when a company goes into bankruptcy court. It can be thrown out. Then you learn that your contract is an asset for the company. Which means that assets can be sold to pay off debts. When the realization of that hit me, I then knew that the wind had been taken out of my sails. I might lose all control over my book -- a book I'd worked long and hard on, had spent a lot of time and money promoting, and got a great review on from Romantic Times. The fact is, I may not get my rights back anytime soon, or at all. It could be sold to another publisher, and then I'm at their mercy. They could publish it, they might not. I have no choice or say in the matter.

But for now, I just play the waiting game.

There are things I can do, steps I can take, and I've done all I can to do this point. From here, I'll move forward. Keep writing and keep submitting. I DO have many other options and irons in the fire. I have several titles to be released in the next year. So I'll not let this take the wind out of my sails for long.

But I wonder, really wonder, why that bankruptcy clause is even in a publishing contract if it will be tossed out in court? Why make the effort? And should we, as authors, take steps to look into this further? It is a fairly standard clause in all publishing contracts. What can be done to make sure this kind of situation doesn't happen to others in the future?

What do you think? What are our options here as authors?


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