YA Authors Must Behave, says Random House

Random House is asking its authors to sign a “morality” clause that will allow the publisher to take back the advance and cancel the book if they feel their authors are doing anything that damages their “reputation as a person suitable to work with or be associated with children, and consequently the market for or value of the work is seriously diminished.”

[via Boing Boing and the Guardian]

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4 comments on “YA Authors Must Behave, says Random House

  1. Something had to perpetuate this. I can’t think of any current news about an author acting like a Brittney or MJ but something must have happened. RH wouldn’t throw out a clause like that if they weren’t worried about general backlash to an author’s possible antics. Especially the someone close to the YA market. With as much media rolling around the exploitation and abuse of children I hate to admit I can see their reasoning.

  2. Hi Pike! The Guardian blog indicates some of where this clause came from and where it’s going. However, I’m rather of the mind that authors don’t make the best role models, nor should they have to. It would be nice, since their work is literature, after all, but it’s not going to work. Authors are artists, and artists are more typically the ‘wild’ child, or the ‘black’ sheep. They’re just hard-wired that way. I think the role model artist is more of a rare exception.

    But the bigger issue for me is that the publisher is buying a product, not a person. You don’t see this sort of clause popping up in any other industry where a product is purchased and manufactured. Requiring a person to behave a certain way or else goes beyond the limits of a business deal, in my opinion.

  3. Hey Lindsay. I thought about this more after I commented and went so far as to post my thoughts at my blog. It’s true that publishers buy “intellectual properties” and not the flesh behind the fantasy. I know that most businesses outline codes of conduct for their employees but you’re right about artists. They’re contractors, if you will; providing a service from the outside. Not to mention that artists are an invisible force behind the work. Not many people could pick out their favorite author in a crowded room.

    To me, this sounds like a great way to back out of a contract if certain items (like sales *wink*) aren’t up to standards becoming of the company. I’ll probably get wanked for saying it but after the Million Little Pieces incident, RH must be covering its basis more thouroughly.

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