Good holy garters and bra straps, Batman, HarperCollins is forcing a morals clause on their writers. This means that your contract can be yanked if you fail to live up to their idea of morality – and pay back your advance. Richard Curtis’ article at E-reads states that Harper can cancel an author’s contract if:
“Author’s conduct evidences a lack of due regard for public conventions and morals, or if Author commits a crime or any other act that will tend to bring Author into serious contempt, and such behavior would materially damage the Work’s reputation or sales.”
Ok, I understand the crime bit, but I’m iffy on “lack of due regard for public conventions and morals” and “such behavior would materially damage the Work’s reputation or sales.” Such behavior? Public conventions? According to whom? And what does that mean? How do they determine what types of behavior is responsible for damaging a Work’s reputation or sales?
What’s unnerving is the subjectivity, and HC is judge and jury. If your sales aren’t doing well, gee, how ’bout we conjure up something that states the author has engaged in unsavory behavior. Not only can we shit-can him, but we can force him to pay back his advance.
What the hell is HC thinking? Have they been inhabited by straight-laced Victorian aliens? What is their goal with this clause?
What really burns my Vickie Secrets is that authors are so hungry to be published, they’ll agree to just about anything as long as it comes from a major publisher.
This. Is. Wrong.
For one thing, a lot of contracts already have provisions that allow them to dump an author. I let an author go years ago because he was so verbally abusive I literally couldn’t work with him. He made it impossible to sell his book, so we were justified in showing him the door. But if he wanted to engage in making whoopie with rocks and lettuce, then who am I to cry “moral outrage!”
In reality, I’m sure HC doesn’t care one iota about what their authors do, HOWEVER, their contract allows them to stick their nose in where it doesn’t belong. And that, dear authors, is an outrage.