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Friday, August 22, 2008

Are you moral enough to write books for young adults?

Apparently, Random House UK includes a morality clause in contracts with children's book authors. Guardian blogger Sian Pettenden drew attention to the insertion, which caused an alert to be distributed by a UK-based support group for writers and illustrators.

The clause reads:

"If you act or behave in a way which damages your reputation as a person suitable to work with or be associated with children, and consequently the market for or value of the work is seriously diminished ... we may (at our option) take any of the following actions: Delay publication / Renegotiate advance / Terminate the agreement."

There is no evidence that any other branch of Random House is demanding that their children's authors should have a pure and unsullied reputation. As an unnamed New York agent observed, "there's a lot of strange language that goes into UK contracts that has little bearing on the American market."

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