Latest Posts

The AALA (Formerly the AAR) Revises Its Canon Of Ethics

The Association of American Literary Agents (AALA) recently announced some major revisions to its Canon of Ethics, a series of guidelines for ethical practice to which member agents must adhere.

(Note: the AALA was formerly known as the Association of Authors' Representatives [AAR]. The name change was made in 2020. The legacy website, with the older version of the Canon, is still online.)

The two most significant changes are to Clause 5, with members now prohibited from participating in packaging fees on clients' TV and film deals, and from accepting producer fees without clients' written permission; and to Clause 8, which now permits members to provide paid editing services (formerly, members were prohibited from providing such services).

A Contract Clause to Beware: Claiming Copyright on “Publisher’s Content”

Hi, everyone. My name is Michael Capobianco, and although I’ve been an adjunct member of Writer Beware for some time now, this is my first official blog post.

I’m also the Chair of SFWA’s Contracts Committee, which means I see a lot of bad contracts, both for book-length and short fiction. I’ve gotten used to much of the unfortunate and often contradictory clauses in these contracts, but last week I ran into something that caught my attention: a virtually identical terrible clause in two separate small publishers’ book contracts, a clause that I had never seen before.

Both contracts were for original fiction, but aside from the fact that neither paid an advance, they looked fairly different from one another until they came to this clause. To save you any further suspense, here it is:

Author Complaints At GenZ Publishing

GenZ Publishing is "on a mission to bring new authors to the world." Founded in 2015 by Morissa Schwartz when she was just out of college, GenZ publishes a wide range of genre fiction, as well as some nonfiction. It also has a YA imprint, Zenith Publishing.

Ms. Schwartz, who describes herself as a bestselling author, is also an entrepreneur: in addition to GenZ/Zenith, she's the founder of Dr. Rissy's Writing & Marketing, which offers various PR services along with copywriting, editing, and consulting; and, according to her Reedsy bio, of a ghostwriting company called AmWriting. She was recently elected to the IBPA Board.

GenZ first came to my attention in 2016, thanks to an unusual clause in its contract (see the second paragraph).

Self-Publishers Take Note: Audible/ACX’s New Tax Reporting Policy

This important update was just posted on the SFWA website.

SFWA recently received guidance from the Authors Guild, one of our sister organizations, on a significant United States tax-reporting change that many independent authors have shared concerns about since January 1. That’s when Audible/ACX changed their tax-reporting practices for royalties from audiobook productions, by including royalties for both authors and their audiobook narrators on the same form delivered to authors. This move created a lot of confusion about how to file taxes for independent authors; its effects are explained more fully below.

Although it is now late in this year’s tax season, we do hope that affected authors will find this guidance useful in preparing or amending their United States taxes for 2021 and looking forward to next year’s. Thank you to the Authors Guild for compiling this guide, and do feel free to share it with other authors you know who may be affected by the reporting change.

Junk Book Marketing: Book Fair “Representation”

Book fair photo

As I define it, it's one-size-fits-all marketing that's inexpensive to provide, can be (and usually is) sold at a huge markup, and is often of dubious value for book promotion.

Press releases are a good example. They're the sort of thing that "everybody knows" should be part of a PR campaign. Like any worthwhile marketing or promotion, however, they need to be tailored to be effective: recipients must be carefully targeted and followed up on.

If blasted out to a list of unvetted addresses (such as that list of thousands of librarians that some email spammer may have pitched to you at some point) or posted to online press release distributors (where they will drown in an ocean of thousands of others), they are all but useless: in other words, junk. And sellers of press release services often charge astronomical prices: for instance, AuthorHouse's "web-optimized" press release will set you back $1,299. That's a pretty nice profit for cutting and pasting an author's bio and back matter into a press release template and clicking "publish" on PR Web.