Friday, August 01, 2008

Children's Authors Gone Wild!

Author Siân Pattenden went after a recent clause added to Random House contracts in the UK:
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, and we may (at our option) take any of the following actions: Delay publication / Renegotiate advance / Terminate the agreement.
"Writers are not, and should never be, seen as role models," Ms. Pattenden states in her Guardian blog post.

Yet another example of how different we are in the States. I doubt if any of our publishers would consider a clause like this one, and yet I think there might be an unwritten expectation in the industry that we are supposed to be role models.

Most American children's book authors aren't known for DUI arrests, suicide attempts, or accusations of abusive behavior towards our mothers. Are creators of children's stories a happier, more stable (some might read: boring) bunch than other artists? Are we better at keeping our mistakes quiet? Or is there an unwritten code moderating our behavior this side of the Atlantic (authors who are party animals need not submit manuscripts; celebrities exempted)?


Jennie said...

But British children's TV presenters are known for their wild, wild ways! So the people who talk to your kids through the TV, who are street-recognizable can do whatever they want, but the ones who write books can't? Huh.

That clause also sounds like it was written in response to a specific situation that I would *love* to know the details on...

TadMack said...

I read this post this morning and went, "Eh?" Honestly: children's authors are SO BUSY IN REVISION that there's not a whole lot of time for shenanigans. I mean, the worst we get up to is doing Project Runway at the ALA! I agree: this must have been written in response to something -- something that hasn't happened over in the U.S., and probably won't. Seriously, most YA and children's books are rigorously edited and the gatekeeping is pretty rigorous. We're a pre-screened bunch!

Heidi Quist said...

Aside from the time it takes to write and rewrite and all that yada, it only makes sense that writers be more sober. They have to stay intelligent to keep writing, and that comes with sobriety. But really curious about that clause anyway. hm.

jamie said...

Really - and in England with pages of press devoted to the myriad of bad behavior of footballers (how do I know this? I read it every day! haha) who are certainly many kids role models ahead of authors. Fact, whether we like it or not.

Anonymous said...

I think this is really random. I mean, who cares? Aside from getting arrested for being a drug dealer or something I really don't think that there is much that would either attract press attention or be of particular importance that it would warrant that kind of reaction. In reality most kids authors are not really known by their face (unlike your cosmetics company and model relationship where they care because they build up a particular association between the model's face and their brand). It just looks to me like a knee jerk response to a specific situation (as previously noted) and at worst will be used to treat an author poorly when they otherwise wouldn't be able to. Maybe I just have a suspicious mind but it bothers me.

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