Thursday, January 20, 2011

Ursula le Guin Confesses Her Sins

A post on the e-reads blog a few days ago informed HarperCollins authors that they are most probably in violation of their contracts:
New language in the termination provision of the Harper’s boilerplate gives them the right to cancel a contract if “Author’s conduct evidences a lack of due regard for public conventions and morals, or if Author commits a crime or any other act that will tend to bring Author into serious contempt, and such behavior would materially damage the Work’s reputation or sales.” The consequences? Harper can terminate your book deal. Not only that, you’ll have to repay your advance. Harper may also avail itself of “other legal remedies” against you.
Writing on the Book View Cafe Blog, an author’s collaborative, the wonderful Ursula K. le Guin sniped back in a public letter to News Corp. and HarperCollins owner Rupert Murdoch:
Dear Mr Rupert Murdoch,

Forgive me, for I have sinned.

Because I did not read my contract with your wonderful publishing house HarperCollins carefully, I did not realise my moral obligations.

There is nothing for it now but to confess everything. Before I wrote my book Emily Brontë and the Vampires of Lustbaden, which you published this fall and which has been on the Times Best Seller List for five straight months, I committed bad behavior and said bad words in public that brought me into serious contempt in my home town of Blitzen, Oregon.
Le Guin’s letter is well worth reading in its entirety and it’s here.


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