Thursday, December 9, 2010

Writers Beware

I know I promised I would post about the variety of shortcuts in Word to help make your writing and editing a much quicker and easier process but this crossed my path and I thought it deserved to be discussed. I've mentioned before just how important it is to really read over your contracts. Everyday it seems a new e-publisher springs up and while a few of them will probably turn out to be good reputable publishers, some will not. There is one, Tinglemedia, that I have serious qualms about.

Red flag number one:
Tingle Media agrees to pay a portion of the fees collected in respect of Accepted Content (“Payment”) that is purchased by members according to the rate schedule set forth on Exhibit A to this Agreement, as it may be modified from time to time (the “Rate Schedule”). The Rate Schedule is subject to change in the sole discretion of Tingle Media, Inc. in the ordinary course of its business without notice by posting such changes on the Website. If at any time the Rate Schedule is not acceptable to the Author, you may refrain from providing additional Content or terminate this Agreement in accordance with its terms.

So while presently, Tinglemedia is offering 40% of the proceeds from each story purchased, they can, as per their contract, change this number at any time. Their termination clause is also very obscure:

Upon termination, Tingle Media, Inc. will be entitled to retain all amounts owing to the Author for a period of thirty (30) days to determine any applicable rights of set-off, and shall be entitled to deduct from such amounts, a reasonable administrative fee for establishing, managing and terminating your account.

If that alone didn't have me running the other way, red flag number two certainly would.

Authors understand that Tingle Media will be providing a platform for Authors’ content to be viewed and purchased by not only consumers, but also by publishers. Author will benefit from Tingle Media’s marketing efforts, site traffic initiatives and presence at industry events, etc. If Author subsequently signs a publishing contract with any publisher after their Content has been published on the Tingle Media website, Author shall pay Tingle Media 15% of any Payments Author receives from such content for the first 2 years of any such contract. Such Payment shall be to compensate Tingle Media for all marketing, networking and publicity efforts enacted on behalf of Author at no charge while Author has Content published and available on the Tingle Media website.

As per the beginning of Tinglemedia's contract, this is a non-exclusive contract, so I guess if the Content they are describing about is the actual work you are contracting, this might make sense (though personally I'd never sign it). But the language is so vague, you could in effect be signing away 15% of any future works because Tinglemedia presumes that they will be marketing not only the content but YOU.

Now I've seen some interesting additions to contracts where the publishers (even some of the biggest) just make mad dashes to grab whatever rights they can, even rights to things as an e-publisher they never have any intention of using. So I cannot stress enough how important it is to read those contracts very carefully. I know nothing about Tinglemedia other than what I've read on their website so they could turn out to be a perfectly legitimate publisher. Time will only tell.


Rosalie Stanton said...


It's really important for unpublished authors out there to be aware that if you have a good manuscript, you don't have to scream "YES!" to the first publisher that offers you a contract. Research is imperative to the process. Fantastic post, Madelyn. Truly.

scarlett james said...

Hello Madeline,
Regarding the Tingle Media contract. We are removing the clause regarding the platform. The intent was benign and thinking about large publishers, but we have received feedback like yours and will be removing it with the next site update.

The same is true for the section regarding the administrative fees.

With regard to the rate schedule. The intent is that we hope to increase the rate schedule over time. However, it is true that according the letter of the contract it would allow lowering of the rate. We will consider some different wording here.

Thanks for the feedback.

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