I saw this over at Glass Cases and had, had to take a look at this.
It is a new publication company started by controversial author, James Frey (Million Little Pieces anyone?) which basically has probably the most brutal and scary contract I have EVER seen in my entire life. Now, it's not even the advance. Most publication houses (other than the big 5) do not churn out a $50k advance. That's just reality. Small presses don't have the kind of money to invest and very few new authors probably even get that kind of advance with the exception of some of the more well known debut authors.
Pay close, close attention to the contract. You can view it HERE
For a cliff notes version of it, Conrad Rippy summed it up pretty well
"It’s an agreement that says, “You’re going to write for me. I’m going to own it. I may or may not give you credit. If there is more than one book in the series, you are on the hook to write those too, for the exact same terms, but I don’t have to use you. In exchange for this, I’m going to pay you 40 percent of some amount you can’t verify — there’s no audit provision — and after the deduction of a whole bunch of expenses.”
So what's the big problem here? Well, for one, your contract says "Writer for Hire" and hell, it doesn't even look like you have to have a complete MS. It clearly shows that at any time, the contract can be terminated and they can STILL sell your book without you getting paid. Meaning, I could contract you Mr. Author to write a damn good book. I then can terminate your contract because I decided to do so while using the bathroom. Then I can take said book, sell into a publisher, and take all the $$$.
Another very, very scary thing:
"The writer would be financially responsible for any legal action brought against the book but would not own its copyright.(WTF) Full Fathom Five could use the writer’s name or a pseudonym without his or her permission, even if the writer was no longer involved with the series, and the company could substitute the writer’s full name for a pseudonym at any point in the future. The writer was forbidden from signing contracts that would “conflict” with the project; what that might be wasn’t specified. The writer would not have approval over his or her publicity, pictures, or biographical materials." (Sweet- where do I sign up?)
This, to me, isn't even about needing an agent to look over a contract or if this is really going to be the future of publication (so not wanting to start the whole vanity press/self-pub/ebook/small press /big press never-ending argument). Times are a changing, but you still can spot a scam a mile away. It doesn't matter who publishes your book or what agent you sign with, as long as that whoever is supposed to be in your corner is REALLY in your corner. A contract like this surely does not look that way.
What do you think?