Random House recently announced new digital imprints for science fiction (Hydra), mystery (Alibi) and new adult (Flirt) and now that the standard terms have become public knowledge Random House is catching flak. Victoria Strauss, in a blog post at Writer Beware, has outlined the standard terms of the contract:
– It’s a life-of-copyright contract that includes both primary and subsidiary rights.
– There’s no advance. Net proceeds (defined as net income plus
subrights income less the deductions detailed below) are split 50/50 between author and publisher.
– Deductions for ebook edition: “one-time out of pocket title set up costs” (editing, cover art, design, etc.), plus a “sales, marketing, and publicity fee” of 10% of net sales revenue.
– Deductions for print edition, if there is one: “actual direct out-of-pocket paper, printing and binding costs,” plus 6% of gross sales revenue to cover freight and warehousing costs.
Digital Book World has quoted the SFWA’s response to those terms as:
contract terms that are onerous and unconscionable.
The SFWA went on to deem the imprint as one that would not qualify authors for membership in the organization. (The SWFA bases membership terms around publication through venues they deem of professional quality, and so Hydra is effectively considered unprofessional by the organization.)
The terms for the Alibi and Flirt’s imprints don’t appear to be public at this time but authors should be cautious there as well given the lines were announced together. Also, note that Random House’s pre-existing romance digital imprint Loveswept does appear to offer advances so it remains at least possible that each line is making its own decisions and may need to be evaluated separately.