Over the past months, we have spoken of the many reasons an author needs an agent, and this week, once again one of them became crystal clear.
On Thursday, June 10th, The Authors Guild sent out an alert to its membership that former Bloomberg Press authors should not sign a letter they had received from John Wiley & Sons which is actually a contract amendment that The Authors Guild maintains will make their contracts with their publisher less favorable to them in numerous ways, which Wiley disputed.
Clearly, if an author didn’t read the letter carefully and understand what it was and what effect it would ultimately have if signed, he or she would most likely have been giving up something unintentionally.
This has happened time and again recently with publishers sending authors letters trying to add electronic royalty rates or alter those that are currently in their contracts. In an age of enormous change in our business, I know this kind of thing will only continue to happen.
Which is why it is all the more important for the author to have his or her agent carefully review all of this correspondence and analyze its effect before the documents/letters are signed and sent back to publishers. Even many lawyers often don’t pick up the nuances of publishing contracts and amendments—another reason having a literary agent is necessary.
I would love to hear your thoughts on these contractual shenanigans and whether you think you have been duped in the past.