Thursday, June 10, 2010

A Good Week or Sometimes a Bad Contract Can Be a Good Thing

If the e-book world was a poker game, I’d unexpectedly be all in.

I changed agents a couple years back and recently asked my new agent to look into who holds the e-rights to my five Jack Austin novels. If you have read my recent posts, this probably comes as no surprise, as I’ve been trying to learn as much as I can about e-publishing with an eye on how it will impact the industry and subsequently me.

My Jack Austin series spans five books, the last four published by the University Press of New England, which has been a great home—small, supportive, and they even footed the bill for me to attend several conferences. These four titles were written under two separate two-book contracts negotiated by my former agent. The wording under the “subsidiary rights” section of the contracts stated, I believed, had me receiving 50% of anything earned on electronic sales. Last fall, I e-mailed UPNE asking about making the books available in various e-book formats. The Press balked, saying in order to put the series in electronic format, I had to renegotiate to a more publisher-friendly royalty rate. This is a business, after all, so I understood where they were coming from. But when you’re dealing with a university press, you’re not dealing with much money. So I declined.

Then, last week, being the softy that I am, I cracked. Seeing the rise and validity of e-publishing, and reading of success stories like that of J.A. Konrath and others, I sent my current agent, Bob Mecoy, to UPNE to renegotiate.

But a funny thing happened along the way.

Mecoy, genius that he is, saw something in the contract I had missed. He contacted me Friday to say the contracts were worded in a way that left me holding all electronic rights. I hope to have all five Jack Austin books available in Kindle and iBook formats by summer’s end.

Sometimes a bad contract can indeed be a good thing.

On a side note, I decided to try my hand at short-story writing back in February. I wrote one story, sent it off to Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine, and forgot about it. Until yesterday, when I got word yesterday they would buy it.

It’s been a good week.


Rick Blechta said...

Sincere congrats on both fronts, John.

Debby (Deborah Turrell) Atkinson said...

Yes, congrats! Exciting news.

John Corrigan said...

Thanks, both of you. And, Debbie, I thought of you today. I'm in Louisville to grade a thousand AP exams.

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