Something new in YA writers' contracts: the morality clause

by Diane Duane

This popped up earlier in the month, but I was busy and didn’t notice. (Possibly a good thing: that’s three weeks less spent fuming.)

A major publisher is starting to insert this clause in its boilerplate contracts for young adult writers:

If you act or behave in a way which damages your 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, and we may (at our option) take any of the following actions: Delay publication / Renegotiate advance / Terminate the agreement.

(growl) I know what my agent will have to say about that clause if it ever pops up in my neighborhood. (Not that I plan to misbehave. Far from it. But this is something the publisher has zero right to be trying to manage at the contract level, and the ways this clause could be misused / misinterpreted to get a publisher off various kinds of hook — at an innocent author’s expense — are many.) Anyway, Siân Pattenden in The Guardian is properly scathing about it.




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