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Showing posts from February, 2009

Authorial Misdemeanors

By Richard Curtis

From time to time an author will do something that causes me to scratch my head. I've compiled a list of these foibles and offer it here with a light heart. If you have perpetrated any of these transgressions I'll let you off this time without a fine, but don't let me see you in this courtroom again.

I must say right off the bat that among the things authors do that irk me, delivering manuscripts late is not one of them. Lateness is the medium in which agents live. We breathe late manuscripts and eat late checks and drink late contracts. And lateness in a creative person is certainly more understandable and forgivable than it is in a business organization. I have never known an author to be deliberately late with a book, but I have known many a publisher to be deliberately late with a check.

What kills me, however, is authors who don't tell me they're going to be late. Publishers schedule books many months in advance, and in most cases are able to pu…

Moral Rights: Love Me, Love My Book

By Richard Curtis

Today was one of the worst days of your writing career.

It began when the postman brought you an advance copy of your historical saga, an original paperback, and you started thumbing through it. To your dismay you discovered that over ten thousand words of text had been cut from your manuscript, and a number of sexy scenes modified if not downright bowdlerized. Your contract did give your publisher the right to make editorial changes, but you never dreamed they would go so far. You called your editor and were told the cuts were necessitated by pricing considerations, and the desexing had been performed to make the book more acceptable in certain markets.

No sooner had you recovered from that shock than you received a second in the form of galleys of a novel messengered to you by a packager you work for. The packager had engaged you as a writer-for-hire to write one of a series of novels it had created. Although the series is copyrighted in the packager's name, you&#…

Let's Run it Past Legal

By Richard Curtis

Having maligned the legal profession last week, I hope to return to grace with some high praise for one branch of the species.

It may be hyperbolic to refer to the legal counsels of publishing companies as "grey eminences," a term one usually assigns to the shadowy power brokers who manipulate the controls of vast corporate or political networks. But it would be no exaggeration to state that tremendous influence resides in the hands of the attorneys who counsel publishing executives on the legal aspects of their companies' operations. Few significant corporate decisions are made without clearance by a publisher's lawyers, and no book is published that has not somehow been affected by procedures originating in the firm's legal department. To the degree that the men and women of those departments are seldom colorful, their eminence may indeed be depicted as grey. But it must never be underestimated, because the power they wield over the fate of your…