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Just in case any of my writing-oriented readers aren't already aware from other sources, I thought this might be worth providing some extra signal boost for.

Random House recently announced that they were starting up a whole bunch of e-book only imprints for various genres of fiction: Hydra (Scifi), Alibi (Mystery/crime), Flirt ("New Adult", apparently) and Loveswept (presumably Romance).

Contracts offered by these imprints have now started to surface, and if I had to describe them in one word, it would be "avoid". Other people, with more useful arms, have expressed themselves using greater numbers of words, however:

Writer Beware regards them as "second class contracts", while the words used by the SFWA include "outrageous", "egregious", and "exploitative". John Scalzi summarises them thus: THIS IS A HORRIBLE AWFUL TERRIBLE APPALLING DISGUSTING CONTRACT WHICH IS BAD AND NO WRITER SHOULD SIGN IT EVER. (His caps.)

The highlights include a total lack of advance payment, a terrifying rights grab (all primary and subsidiary rights for the life of copyright, with no meaningful reversion clause) and Hollywood-style accounting that puts a whole bunch of (specified and) unspecified costs you'd normally expect the publisher to cover from their share ahead of the author in getting paid.

As a related issue, people may be interested to know that the Society of Authors offers a contract advice service to members; if you've been offered a contract, the society will be more than happy to accept you as a member by email and check your contract immediately. (As it happens, this was the point in the publishing process at which I joined - I didn't have an agent, decent specialist lawyers are very expensive, and having your contract checked over thoroughly by someone who really knows the business inside-out is essential.)
tigerfort: (Default)
This was bad enough. The idea that a major publisher of peer-reviewed science journals would publish a fake medical 'journal' in exchange for cash from a drug company is repulsive at best[0]. But they didn't stop at one. So far as anyone knows, this is limited to Elsevier's Australian division[1][2], but do you know what? I don't care. Even if the top of the company was merely happily ignorant of what was going on, I want their entire journal publishing empire to collapse as a warning to other people. It's bad enough to deal with creationists, quacks, and other loonies publishing allegedly serious journals full of b***s***, but to have a major scientific publishing house fake one is completely unacceptable (not to mention the fact that this plays needlessly into the hands of the 'modern medicine is a sinister conspiracy run by big pharma' morons). The initial discovery was the "Australasian Journal of Bone and Joint Medicine" (and relates to an ongoing court case against the sponsor of that 'journal'), but the known others now include two cardiology 'journals' as well as one on neurology and two on more general topics. It's not in any way impossible that people have died as a result of this, and if they have, then I hope Australian law includes a corporate manslaughter charge to take the b******s down with[3]. Putting other people's health - and lives - at risk (all the examples discovered so far are medical journals, remember) for profit is so wrong that words just fail me.

[0] Dr Goldacre's article also discusses the assorted other revolting tactics used by Merck in attempting to prevent people finding out that the drug in question was dangerous, whereas Orac's two posts are specifically about the Elsevier 'journal' problem.

[1] They're running an 'internal review' at present, and hopefully lots of deserving people will be fired (or, better yet, executed), but even if it really is a local problem[2], the damage to the company's reputation will be huge, world-wide, and long-lasting - and well-deserved.

[2] Since the website for Excerpta Medica, the 'strategic medical communications' division of Elsevier given as the imprint for the fake 'journals', says that it employs 200 people at offices in the US and Europe, it seems unlikely that this is a small local problem. See comments on Orac's two articles linked to above for more information about this....

[3] An unfulfilable idea, alas, as the best you could do would be to show that statistically speaking the number of deaths was higher than would otherwise have been expected, but that's not proof of what caused those deaths, or that they weren't a random blip. While there would be some justice in it, I'm not convinced that such an argument passes the 'reasonable doubt' test, although that might depend on how unlikely you could show that the bump would be as a random event.


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May 2017

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