For Writers: Attorneys, Random Simon, & Half of All Books

Over on Substack, I post my thoughts on writing, publishing, & storytelling. Here are some recent highlights:

Why would you need a lawyer to review that contract?

Are you in business to make money?

It’s impossible to understate the importance of a good lawyer. (Shop around till you find one you like.) It might be interesting for you to note that as a lawyer myself, I’ve frequently hired attorneys to help me out.

Perhaps that’s surprising.

Perhaps not.

Maybe I knew enough to know when I needed one because I am one.

Kristine Kathryn Rusch made this point in a recent post when talking about the contractual differences between several artists:

He has a lawyer. Who probably read and understood the document and explained it to the client, who then planned for the future.

The others took what they thought they were offered. Not thinking ahead at all. Some comic book characters have been around for going on 100 years. They’re now being used in media that hadn’t been invented when the character burst on the scene.

Did the others think they were “saving” money?

If somebody’s putting a contract in front of you to sign, why aren’t you paying a lawyer competent in the requisite practice area to review?

Is money the reason?

How much will it cost to litigate over a bad agreement? What’s the opportunity cost of not understanding your rights?

Of losing your rights?

Disclaimer: I’m a lawyer. Nothing in this article should be construed as legal advice. Make sure to seek legal counsel for any questions you may have.

Penguin Random Simon blocked.

Probably a good thing…

A few interesting links about Penguin:

Judge blocks Penguin Random House-Simon & Schuster merger – Portland Press Herald

Why Steven King Turned

Penguin Random House snaps up Portuguese family publishers

Control of almost half of all books…

An interesting observation from the NY Times:

“One entity’s control of almost half of the nation’s anticipated top-selling books threatens competition in multiple ways,” the Justice Department wrote in a post-trial brief. “Authors’ advances would fall — advances that they use to pay their bills and that reflect compensation for their work.”


The Justice Department’s focus on author earnings, rather than harm to consumers, marked a shift in how the government applies antitrust law. Antitrust policy has largely been guided for decades by an effort to prevent large corporations from imposing higher costs on consumers, rather than focusing on the impact a monopoly might have on workers, suppliers or competitors. By zeroing in on the potential harm to authors, the Justice Department signaled that it’s taking a broader view of the possible impact of consolidation.

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