“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.”
No, it's not a line I have dug up from a publishing contract, circa 1900, but instead, from the sparkling new contract presented to the ever-so-luck HarperCollins' authors for 2011. Richard Curtis of E-Reads feasted his eyes on it and blogged about this over the weekend, and commented:
"The consequences? Harper can terminate your book deal. Not only that, you’ll have to repay your advance. Harper may also avail itself of “other legal remedies” against you."
I'll throw in my tuppence worth here.
What fucking clown of a lawyer in HarperCollins drew up this piece of meaningless moral bollox? Clearly, one who has more time to watch the six steel balls on his polished table - click back and forth, one against the other - as he dreams up more ways to swaddle warmly the 'endangered' interests of his publisher from those nasty immoral authors. "If it weren't for them, we'd be rich - RICH - I tell you!!"
'Commit a crime' - oh, like parking my car illegally; doing more than the speed limit; or pray tell, maybe that misdemeanor I had on a long hot summer in 1973 is going to scupper my chances of a second book? Have we all missed something here. Did the Vatican take over HarperCollins when we weren't looking over the Christmas?
As Curtis in his piece goes on to say:
"Besides, it could backfire. For who is to say that scandalous behavior cannot actually increase book sales? We’ve seen it happen again and again. Therefore, if you one day run afoul of Harper’s legal eagles because you left your hanky in the wrong panky, you might consider invoking The Bentley Defense."
Scandals? Isn't that what sells books and perks the very pointed ears of a publisher?
Here is Richard Curtis' piece in full.
...and also Lynn Price of Behler Books and her piece.