Monday, August 24, 2009

Smoke: Lyrical press

I have received a few concerned emails, along the same lines highlighted in a recent blog post about Lyrical Press. Specifically that on at least one occasion the following clause in the contract has been activated, essentially depriving the author of control of their own manuscript unless they pay a substantial kill fee:

"...the Publisher may have the revision done and charge the cost of such revision against royalties due, or that may become due, the Author, and may display in the revised work, and in advertising, the name of the person, or persons, who revised the work."

See also:
Lyrical Press (Absolute Write)
Reader Beware: Lyrical Press Inc.

15 comments:

Anon Y. Mouse said...

Wait...so there's a clause in their contract that says Lyrical can arbitrarily decide to hand your book over to someone else to tear up and sew back together and then give THAT person credit as the author and not you and you have to PAY for this pleasure?

And somebody SIGNED that shit?

Idiots. Who the fuck would sign something like that? I want to tear my hair out at the sheer stupidity of people who don't read/understand contracts before signing them. Not to mention the sheer stupidity of Lyrical for thinking something like that is either A. Okay or B. legal. Douchnozzles.

Lolita Lopez said...

Whoa.

Raelene said...

Whoa, indeed! So this publisher can, without the author's approval or cooperation, revise the author's story and release it with a "co-author" name attached?

Did authors not understand this clause when signing the contract, or were they so desperate to be "published" that they ignored what it meant?

Yes, it does occasionally happen that editor and author cannot come to agreement on revisions. The publisher is under no obligation to publish a book that does not meet their requirements/standards. But nor should they ever independently rewrite an author's work! If a stalemate is reached, the typical ending is that, after a period of time, the publisher cancels the book and the author will eventually get the rights back.

Raelene

Anonymous said...

Truly unbelievable!

They aren't the only publisher with a 'kill fee' to compensate the 'editor' if the author wants to cancel, Mojocastle also has one as does eXtasy.

What gets me is the whole 'if an author dies' or doesn't deliver what Lyrical feels is a good edit they can strip the author's name from the book and rewrite it as they see fit. Those are major red flag warnings.

Goes to show you should carefully read the contract, and if you don't understand the convoluted mishmash, find someone who can explain it to you.

Renee Rocco said...

As Lyrical Press has removed the early termination fee from our contract after the reccomendation of Victoria Strauss, that much of this post no longer pertains. As for the remainder of Lyrical's contract, it has been reviewed by Mrs. Strauss months ago, and in fact, has earned an approval from her personally. Mrs. Strauss is one of the founders of Writer Bewares.

If anyone else would like to discuss our contract, please feel free to contact us at publisher@lyricalpress.com.

Emily Veinglory: said...

If that contract and those clauses are being used to gain full control of an author's manuscript against her will, it does pertain. I am not posting about the current contract, but about the current treatment of an previously contracted author.

P. Kennedy said...

It leaves one to wonder how many authors are contracted to them with those terms before the "contract revision" and if those authors realize those tactics could also be used against them.

Considering those are EPIC (as in the organization, but I suppose epic as in fail also applies) red flags, I'm surprised any legitimate publisher would utilize them.

It also lends credence to rumblings that have been cropping up in various back channels over the past few months about Lyrical. Unfortunate.

I personally will not sign a contract with a kill fee or terms such as those listed. I would hope if Lyrical is truly on the up and up that they would try to resolve this with the author (authors?) in question and simply release them from their contract. Why would a legitimate house want to hold onto an unhappy author when it can sink their reputation?

Should be interesting to watch what happens.

Emily Veinglory: said...

Quite.

And this might be a time to mention that this blog strives to be fair, but not impartial. As an author-advocate blog my tendency is to identify with the author--who seems to be over a barrel on this one.

Releasing her work would quickly take this off the boil.

Anonymous said...

I can't speak about this particular contract clause, as it is no longer in the Lyrical contract (which Lyrical did indeed revise after discussion with Ms. Strauss). However, I believe I speak for the vast majority of Lyrical's authors when I say the general feeling at Lyrical is one of contentment. By far, most of us have been very happy with our treatment at LPI--not as someone suggested because we were so desperate to be "published" but because LPI is a very author friendly press.

As for the unhappy circumstance of the author in question, although I'm sorry for her difficulty, I'd like to point out that people should read their contracts EXTREMELY carefully and never sign any binding legal document if they don't fully understand it or aren't in agreement with it. Anyone who considers LPI's contract unclear or unfair should discuss their concerns with the publisher and--if a satisfactory agreement can't be reached--not sign it.

Anon Y. Mouse said...

Who's the author, or are we keeping that mum? At least what's the book so those who don't want to support this kind of awful publisher behavior can not purchase said book?

Also, here come the cheerleaders. *rolls eyes*

Victoria Strauss said...

First of all, I'm not part of any official body, so I don't have the power to "approve" anything. Second, here's what I actually said about Lyrical's contract changes (from a thread on Lyrical at Absolute Write).

I said something very similar to Frank Rocco in private correspondence. I was genuinely impressed with Lyrical's willingness to make changes (if you go through the thread, you can find some of my original objections) and although they didn't implement all my suggestions, I do feel they made the contract much more author-friendly than it was (though I did note my continuing objection to the kill fee). But that hardly constitutes an "approval," or a blanket endorsement of all the contract clauses.

As to the Revisions clause that's producing all the outrage--it's intended to cover subsequent revisions of a published work--not ongoing revisions to an unpublished work (that's covered by the Editing clause). It's standard in nonfiction contracts (where works may need updating from time to time, and can stay in print for decades) but does not belong in a fiction contract (in fact, I told Mr. Rocco that I always advise authors to strike such clauses). If Lyrical is invoking it to justify charging an author for editing an unpublished work, then they are completely misinterpreting it.

Renee Rocco said...

Thank you, Mrs. Strauss, for your clarification. I do believe we proved, during our dealings with you to improve Lyrical's contract, that we are in earnest in our desire to maintain an author friendly house. And, although we do ensure fair and respectful treatment of all Lyrical authors, as a business, we must take certain measures to protect our company through our contract. Just as authors must protect themselves as a business, so too does the publisher. This is why Lyrical's contract is negotiable and why, upon offer of a contract, we stress the importance of seeking legal advice prior to sighing. We can not force the issue, just let it be known how important it is to never sign anything you do not fully understand or agree with. An informed author makes for a happy author and prevents situation like this from happening.

This situation erupted over one unhappy author. This author made it known she would go public with her disatisfaction with Lyrical Press. We were clear in letting her know we respected her right to do so. It is also our right to protect our reputation, which is why I am publicly addressing this situation against my belief in keeping in-house matters private regardless of what might be said against Lyrical publicly.

Should anyone feel they would like to further discuss this situation they are more than welcome to do so. publisher@lyricalpress.com.

Anonymous said...

I find it somewhat disheartening that you, Mr. Rocco, still have not answered the issue.

Did you kick an author off her book? And, are you intending on charging her for edits performed without her input? I do believe the latter constitutes copyright infringement and the former makes you sound a bit 'Vanity'.

Renee Rocco said...

Allow me to add the clause in question is one Lyrical will consider removing. As we are currently on vacation, it is something we will look into when return to the office next week.

Lyrical is not out to bring harm to authors, regardless of what is being implied. We are running a business, and in doing so, are open to ways to improve Lyrical Press. That desire also extends to Lyrical's contract.

Renee Rocco said...

Anon 5:00, I apologize for not addressing your question in the above post.

That issue will be addressed directly with the author when we return to the office next week. Our goal, as it has always been, is to maintain a harmonious working relationship with all of Lyrical's authors. That of course, includes the author in question as well.