Thursday, January 03, 2008

Learning Something New Every Day

Reading this post in Cranky Editors, the words "submission agreement" (in context, something an agent signs and encloses with a submission to some manner of publisher) caught me up short.

I've never heard of them.

Anyone familiar with them, and want to explain the concept? (This isn't some bog-standard trade publishing thing that I've managed to ignore for the past two decades, is it?)

Update, tomorrow: The poster over at Cranky Editors, according to information I found three clicks away, is an assistant editor at Dark Horse Comics. So I guess this is a "comics thing."


Patrick Nielsen Hayden said...

I've never heard of them, either, and I'm as baffled as you are by what on earth that person could be referring to.

Anonymous said...

Such contracts are not uncommon in the comics industry and I've also seen them in other publishing arenas such as the role-playing game industry.

As for what it means, it would depend upon the specific language of the submissions agreement. It can be as simple as a release form by the author giving permission to that publisher to review the work and making the documented statement that the content being submitted is wholly original and owned by the author(s) submitting the material. (DC makes you sign such forms at conventions just to be considered for portfolio reviews, or at least that was the case at San Diego Con the last time I attended.)

It could also have contextual language where the author waives specified or all legal rights in pursuant against the publisher in the event the publisher rejects the work and then releases something close to the material later on (i.e. the publisher makes you waive your legal rights so that they can plagarize or steal your material).

Dark Horse's submissions agreement the last I saw had a clause that came perilously close to the latter. Whether they've cleaned up the language since, I have no idea, but I suspect you can find their submissions terms on their web site.

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