This is but a snippet to show how important this is to authors - I know John prefers to have readers visit his blog directly, so please do.
Originally posted by jscalziwhatever at Note to SF/F Writers: Random House’s Hydra Imprint Has Appallingly Bad Contract Terms
Random House recently started Hydra, an electronic-only imprint for science fiction stories and short novels. But, as noted by Writer Beware here, the terms in a Hydra deal sheet shown to them are pretty damn awful:
* No advance.
* The author is charged “set-up costs” for editing, artwork, sale, marketing, publicity — i.e., all the costs a publisher is has been expected to bear. The “good news” is that the author is not charged up front for these; they’re taken out of the backend. If the book is ever published in paper, costs are deducted for those, too.
* The contract asks for primary and subsidiary rights for the term of copyright.
Writer Beware notes, appropriately, that this information comes from only one deal sheet it’s seen from Hydra. But, you know what: One attempt at this sort of appalling, rapacious behavior on the part of Random House is bad enough.
Dear writers: This is a horrendously bad deal and if you are ever offered something like it, you should run away as fast as your legs or other conveyances will carry you.
Scalzi's analysis of these terms continues on his blog, Whatever.scalzi.com?p=21136 - please read and comment there.