The O.J. contract
One of the gems that emerged last week was the complete text of the contract between HarperCollins and Lorraine Brooke Associates, which was, allegedly, the dummy corporation set up to channel the money to O.J. Simpson. See Galleycat for the background.
The contract is contained within another document. If you follow this link you will find a 53-page amended complaint against Simpson, and the HC contract begins on page 16.
Now it's not often -- which means never before, in my case -- that you get to see a contract between a major publishing company and a celebrity (or the company which is a proxy for the sleb); in this case a ghost writer is involved as well.
The contract is dated 8 May 2006, and lists the amount of the payments due, and the date and other conditions for paying them.
The bit I like best is on page 37. Here Mr Simpson confirms that 'the Work shall be solely written by me with a writer.' Uh-huh.
If you consult page 32, you will find that the contract was signed by Mr Illegible from Lorraine Brooke Assoc., Judith Regan (who got fired), and HC boss lady Jane Friedman, who didn't get fired. In fact, she sitteth upon the right hand of God the Father Almighty, i.e. Rupert Murdoch. Let us hope, for her sake, that he wiggles his fingers occasionally.
Digital thoughts -- not entirely new
Publishers Lunch went to yet another digital conference. The quote that caught my eye: 'We have many case studies of books and authors that found success by sharing generously online, while we've yet to hear of a book that would have prospered if only they hadn't posted so much of it.'
And the essential nonsense of digital-rights management systems is exposed via a question: Why don't people care enough about literature to steal it when it's available online?
I put the problem another way a while back. When the kids on MySpace hear a music track, it sometimes makes them go Wow! And a hit is born. But how do novelists make readers go Wow!? That's the problem. Solve that one, encourage people to copy your work and send it to their friends -- rather than use all your energy and money to prevent people copying a file -- and you're halfway to a decent career. One which might even pay you as much money as driving a bus.
Publishers Lunch reports that the US self-publishing firm AuthorHouse has been sold to a private-equity firm, the owners of which presumably think they can make more money out of it than the present owners.
AuthorHouse is one of the firms listed in Mark Levine's The Fine Print as a publisher to avoid. He says that their contract contains 'nothing favorable to the author.'
However, the press release announcing the sale claims that 1 in 30 of the books published in the US last year was published by AuthorHouse, and the new owners 'were attracted to AuthorHouse because of the high-quality reviews the company receives from their authors, which has been the foundation for their impressive growth.' So somebody must be happy.
One-liners, more or less
The Hotel Chelsea is not the only NY hotel with literary connections. The Algonquin was there first. (Thanks to Paola for the link.) Robert Benchley, one of the Algonquin crowd, once admitted: 'It took me 15 years to discover that I had no talent for writing, but I couldn't give it up because by that time I was too famous.' P.S., the Chelsea offers an unusual form of room service. On Tuesdays.
Finn Harvor, at Conversations in the Book Trade, has been interviewing some publishers, including me.
Clive Keeble and Galleycat both noticed the Independent story about another autobiographer who, shall we say, embroidered upon nature. Deeply shocking. And the publisher was, um, HarperCollins.
Speaking of autobiographies, the Kathy O'Beirne fan club continues to vociferate via comments on this blog. The latest comes from Jodi. That can't be... No, couldn't possibly. She's got an e on the end.
And the Michael Barrymore anti-fan club does likewise.
In a comment on my piece about Lulu, Francis Ellen remarks that the only way to get a page to look right, in print, is to drench it in sweat. How true. Even then it won't come out right. My son Jon noticed that my latest, Lucius the Club, lost its page numbers somewhere between proof number three and proof number four. Don't ask me where they went. One of Word's great mysteries.
Glynn James is a web designer, which comes in handy when you're a self-publisher, and he also writes horror fiction.
Glynn put me on to a number of other horror/thriller writers who have had some success with publishing their own books. For example: Jeremy Robinson, author of The Didymus Contingency. This is one of the very few novels which show up in the Lulu top 100 when I dip into it.
Then there's David Moody, who hasn't even tried to publish his novels 'traditionally'. Instead he is 'making the most of advances in technology to deliver his books (as both paperbacks and ebooks) to the widest possible audience at the lowest possible price.'
And finally J.L. Bourne. The horror genre is not one that interests me, but that there is a core of fans is not to be doubted.
If you don't like horror fiction either, how about some erotic mediaeval German poetry? In modern translation, of course. Can't have you struggling mit Deutsch. Try Frauenlob's Song of Songs.
Much debate at the Publishing Contrarian about the role and survival of independent bookshops. Essential reading if you're running one, or thinking of it, or like to buy from them.
Dr Blogstein reports that the disgraced California pastor, Randall 'Father Felony' Radic, has signed a deal with Ephemera Bound publishers to publish his memoir, The Sound of Meat. The book will be released on June 30, 2007.
Kate Allan has interviewed Roger Morris, a Macmillan New Writing Author, about his experience of marketing his novel. It may help, it seems, to be 'a shameless self-promoter'.
Ian Hocking, author of Deja Vu, has signed with the UK's John Jarrold Literary Agency. Another recent client of Jarrold's is Simon Haynes, author of the Hal Spacejock series.