1. GrimStories
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    GrimStories Member

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    Kill Fee...

    Discussion in 'Publishing' started by GrimStories, Sep 4, 2010.

    I'm writing this to other authors for royalties.

    A while ago I accepted a kill fee, which we know means they pay me not to publish my book, to kill a book. Normally the timing is wrong for the book, the book isn't quite right for their direction, etc. you've have an established relationship with the publisher, etc., and while they don't want to publish the book, they certainly don't want it to go to a competitor...so you agree and get a check.

    ...and the book languishes. All that effort wasted to some extent. I accepted that, because events unfolded fast enough that predictions became history as it can with nonfiction and it's too late to follow advice given. I accepted the notion that the book should be killed and thought that was what was important.

    Well, the bad thing about kill fees is it sort of burns you out and erodes enthusiasm. It's not about that individual book, it extends far beyond one book.

    So for months now, rather than the nagging sensation of needing to get books done, I've no contract and I don't feel the urge to get another. Perhaps I've plenty of ideas but it's a confidence shaker. That nagging sensation of needing to keep working on a contracted book was purpose.

    Don't accept kill fees.

    Fight for your book, perhaps reject the kill fee and see if you can move it.
     
  2. Manav
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    Manav Contributing Member

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    Wow, never heard of kill fee before.

    I see it this way, they are willing to pay you so that you won't go to other publishers, which definitely means your book is good and they know other publishers will grab your book with both hands.

    I have to agree, you'd made a mistake.
     
  3. Speedy
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    Speedy Contributing Member Contributor

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    This is intriguing. I'm eager to hear more on this/opinions.
     
  4. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    I've heard the term "kill fee", but I never knew what it was. It sounds ugly. Totalitarian.

    I'd like to hear what mammamaia has to say about it.
     
  5. stubeard
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    stubeard Active Member

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    How much would you have to change it to make it a different book? Is that an option?
     
  6. Steerpike
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    Steerpike Felis amatus Supporter Contributor

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    That's not how a kill fee is supposed to work.

    If a publisher has already agreed to take a work, but then for whatever reason they can't do so, they may pay a kill fee to compensate the author. Usually a percentage of the originally agreed fee. It keeps authors willing to submit a work and have it tied up, even if a publisher sometimes has to change its mind.

    After they pay the kill fee, all rights should revert to you and you can sell the work anywhere else you want. The "kill fee" should not tie the work up with the publisher. You may want to double-check your Agreement with the publisher. If they can pay a kill fee AND keep you from selling the work elsewhere, you signed a really bad contract.
     
  7. GrimStories
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    GrimStories Member

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    Not what I understand, a kill fee kills the book. If you want to take it to another publisher, you waive the kill fee so there's no agreement not to have it published.

    Now an option is great! With an option, someone is paying simply to have first crack at your work if they wish to produce a movie. That's a wonderful thing.
     
  8. Speedy
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    Speedy Contributing Member Contributor

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    From - http://blog.writersdigest.com/qq/What+Is+A+Kill+Fee.aspx
     
  9. GrimStories
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    GrimStories Member

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    Thanks, but I should have negotiated it differently. Also, with periodicals that's normal to get the rights back.
     
  10. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    exactly!

    i was going to say that kill fees usually refer to periodical submissions...

    the only time one would apply to a book is if it's a work-for-hire project in which case a fee is agreed upon [paid in 3 parts... 1/3 on acceptance of contract; 1/3 on submission of ms; 1/3 on publication] and the work/copyright would belong to the publisher... there, you would be entitled to the first two payments and should have received them already, so no additional payment would be warranted... they would be, in effect, the 'kill fee'...

    in normal book contracts there is no 'fee' paid to you... so how can there be a 'kill fee'?... you may be paid an advance, which you would be allowed to keep, if the publisher does not want to go ahead and publish the work, but the book would then be yours again, to do with what you will...

    other than an advance, the only payment to an author is the royalties... and i can't see any publisher paying an author a percentage of royalties never earned on a book that they never publish...

    so, if no advance is kept to pay you for the time and trouble of negotiating a contract, you simply get the book back and can try other publishers...

    now, if you had an agent, that would be no problem, as the agent would take care of all that for you and if they could talk the publisher out of a payment for time and trouble, good for them... and you!...

    without an agent, you have no recourse but to abide by the terms of whatever contract you signed... and if you signed away your right to retrieve your ms and take it elsewhere, then you've learned a valuable lesson the hard way... next time, deal through an agent!
     
  11. GrimStories
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    GrimStories Member

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    There definitely is a provision for a kill fee in my book contracts. I accepted it, but in truth never felt it'd be a clause worth considering. Things change.:redface:

    As for agents...well, I scored several contacts without an agent. Good to get my money directly, but perhaps in the future.

    I figured it'd be better to have several contracts for royalty behind me, and then think about getting an agent and seeing what he can do for me.
     
  12. Trilby
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    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

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    Hi Grimstories.

    The saddest thing about this story is that it's killed your enthusiasm:mad:
    I cannot begin to imagine how you must be feeling. My heart goes out to you; some-one's killed your 'baby'.
    I know it won't be easy but you're going to have to, take it on the chin, put it down to experience and move on.
    Looking on the bright side; you've obviously written something worth while,worth paying for to keep it off the shelves.
    You have done it once you can do it again. As the saying goes 'Don't let the b....... get you down. You show 'em, you can do it.

    If there is a lesson to be learned from this story it must be that a good agent is well worth their 10 per cent.

    I do not have an agent, unlike you, I have not written anything substantial enough to warrant getting in contact with one.

    Best of luck with your writing in the future.
     
  13. GrimStories
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    GrimStories Member

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    Thank you Trilby, but with the quality and encouragement you give, don't underestimate your ability to write something substantial!!!:)
     
  14. mammamaia
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    mammamaia nit-picker-in-chief Contributor

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    would you please enlighten me on this by posting the actual wording of that clause?
     
  15. Trilby
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    Trilby Contributing Member Contributor

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    Thanks! I'm working on it. ;)
     

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