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New Hydra communique

After the furor over Hydra’s (a Random House imprint) terms and conditions for writers, Allison Dobson says they’ve been working with some writers’ groups to make this new imprint a viable option.  Ms Dobson’s letter is reprinted in full below, with a jpg of the PDF below.


Scalzi said,

“We” didn’t win; Random House didn’t lose — or vice versa. What happened was a conversation on where writers and publishers are at this moment in history, in public and in real time. Random House listened and made adjustments based on the feedback it got. This is a praiseworthy event; I am glad they did it, and they deserve credit and thanks for doing so.

Victoria Strauss said

Yesterday afternoon, I had a cordial conversation with Allison Dobson, Director of Digital Imprints at Random House, about the the recent controversy over deal terms at Hydra, Alibi, Loveswept, and Flirt.

Based on strong criticism from writers’ groupsauthors, and agents, Random House has decided to make major changes in its digital contract.

Victoria goes on to discuss the key points of the contract changes; pop over to the link for a more detailed exploration of the changes as I’ve severely edited Victoria’s discussion.

For the profit-sharing arrangement…Random House has eliminated all chargebacks for digital editions, so the split between author and publisher is 50/50 of net revenue (actual sales income) from the first copy sold…

For the advance-and-royalty deal, authors will receive a traditional publishing contract, with the publisher covering 100% of costs…

The contract will still be life-of-copyright, but the reversion clause has been improved…

Random House will still take both primary publishing rights and subsidiary rights, but performance rights and transformative digital edition rights are no longer included…

Overall, I think this represents a significant improvement. I was impressed with Allison’s openness to discussion, and with what seemed to me like a sincere commitment to responding to criticism and making the digital imprints’ contracts more author-friendly.

It looks like everyone’s happy; Random House is no QANTAS, it’s been responsive and negotiated.

The letter from Random House is reprinted in full below, and below that is a jpg (because I don’t know how to upload PDFs to my website).

Hydra, Alibi, Loveswept and flirt logos

March 12, 2013

In response to recent constructive discussions with authors, agents and writers’ groups, including the Horror Writers Association, we are making adjustments to our proposed terms for authors with Random House’s new digital imprints, Hydra, Alibi, Loveswept, and Flirt. Prospective authors will have a choice of two models under which to publish: a profit share or an advance plus royalty.

• Under the profit share model, there is no advance offered. Hydra, Alibi, Loveswept, or Flirt and the author will split profits 50-50 from the first copy sold. The term “profit” will be defined as net sales revenue minus deductions as follows: For print editions, deductions will include actual costs directly attributable to production and shipping of the book; for digital editions, Hydra, Alibi, Loveswept, or Flirt will cover the cost of production. For both print and digital editions, Hydra, Alibi, Loveswept, or Flirt will cover all marketing costs connected with general, category- or imprint-wide marketing programs. Hydra, Alibi, Loveswept, or Flirt will also cover costs of marketing activities undertaken specifically on behalf of the book up to $10,000. Title-specific marketing costs above $10,000 will be proposed in advance to the author. If the author agrees, the incremental costs of such title-specific marketing activities over $10,000 will be deducted from sales revenue before profits are split. Cash payments owed to authors will be made quarterly.

• Under the advance plus royalty model, authors are offered a more traditional publishing arrangement, with Random House’s standard eBook royalty of 25 percent of net receipts. These authors will be paid an agreed-upon advance against royalties, and Hydra, Alibi, Loveswept, or Flirt will cover production, shipping, and marketing for all formats at 100 percent of cost.

Under either model:
• Hydra, Alibi, Loveswept, and Flirt acquire rights to every book for the term of copyright, subject to an “out-of-print” clause, which provides for the author to request reversion of his or her rights three years after publication if the title fails to sell 300 copies in the 12 months immediately preceding the request.

• Hydra, Alibi, Loveswept, and Flirt seek to acquire rights throughout the world and in all languages. This expands the author’s opportunities and earnings potential. Random House has publishing offices all over the world and has countless relationships with other foreign publishers. Earnings from subsidiary rights are split between the imprint and the author subject to the business model the author chooses. If we see opportunities with select manuscripts for performance or transformative digital editions (such as video games), we will seek to acquire additional rights, subject to negotiation with
the author.

• Each title will be given an individual marketing plan and be supported by the best-in-class services that Random House normally provides throughout the publishing process: from dedicated editorial, cover design, copy editing, and production expertise, to publicity, digital marketing and social media tools, trade sales, academic and library sales, piracy protection, negotiating and selling of subsidiary rights, as well as access to merchandising programs. Together, we deliver the best books to the widest possible readership, thus giving authors maximum earning potential.

Allison Dobson
V.P., Digital Publishing Director
Hydra, Alibi, Loveswept, and Flirt

12 March 13 Statement from Hydra Alibi Loveswept and Flirt

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Nalini is an award-winning writer and artist as well as managing editor of Dark Matter Zine.


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