Beware of Flirting with Loveswept Hydras with no Alibi

Here at SpecFicNZ, it is our mission to provide our members with access to the best information on the market and submission opportunities that we can, and sometimes that mission must swing the other way – to offering warnings, so that you can make the best possible choices with all the relevant information on hand.

Last year, Big Six publisher Random House launched a group of eBook only imprints: Loveswept, Alibi, Hydra and Flirt, covering the genres of Romance, Crime, SFF, and YA respectively.

The rough details, which can be found here, seem innocuous enough, balancing the no-advance offering against a higher split of profit shares with the author, which on the surface of it seems like a good deal, if you’re lucky enough to have your work accepted.

However, in the past few days, the SFWA has come out swinging over the actual details of the contracts being offered by Hydra and Alibi, and there is a presumption that Loveswept and Flirt will look much the same.

In short, Random House are asking for total rights to not only the work in question (and by total they mean all mediums, all languages, worldwide, for the entire copyright period of the work, ie, until 70 years AFTER the death of the author), but also to the next work by that author; and a “cost-sharing” package which amounts to the publisher charging the author for services normally carried as part of the business of being a publisher. The nett result of all of this is that it may allow a situation to arise whereby authors never see a single cent for their published work, while the publisher has all of its costs met. So as well as paying no advance, the publisher has now shifted all the risk to the author.

For more information, take a look at the following:

John Scalzi’s first and second looks at the Hydra and Alibi contracts;

Random House’s reply to the criticisms raised against the contracts (Take the time to read the comments – they’re informed and enlightening);

And the SFWA’s official response to RH’s statement.

So for once, this is a cautionary post. Go out there and inform yourself, and if you do happen to be looking at an offer from one of these imprints, make sure you have a literary agent who is worth their salt, or even an IP lawyer, take a look over it and tell you if it’s worth the paper it’s printed on.

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