Authors Guild Disapproves of Contract

Posted on May 18, 2001

The Authors Guild has warned its members and other writers to approach, Time Warner's new electronic publishing division, with caution. The Guild's list of complaints with the iPublish contract include its belief that the digital rights granted are too broad; ebook royalties of 25% are too low; no advance is paid for the ebook; the print advance is too low; and Time Warner controls the author's next work.

The Authors Guild has been very active in epublishing and electronic rights. The Guild provides an electronic rights information section on its website. The Authors Guild also has an arrangement with, a competitor of, to help bring its members out-of-print books back in print through its service.

AOL Time Warner launched the website at the end of April, 2001. The new service allows authors to submit their work electronically to an online writing community, where the work is read and reviewed. Authors agree to the contract and agreement when they submit their work. Complete contract information and submission guidelines can be found in the iWrite section of

Writers must review at least three short excerpts from works by other authors before they can post an excerpt of their work for consideration. If an excerpt receives high ratings, an editor will read the full manuscript and decide if the work should be published as an ebook and, if it meets certain requirements, as a print-on-demand book.

"The seductive appeal of e-book publication should not blind authors to the risk involved in the iPublish contract," said Guild president Letty Cottin Pogrebin. "No professional writer or responsible agent would accept terms that call for the author's virtual surrender of basic literary rights yet with its pitiful advances and Draconian option clause, this contract does just that. The Authors Guild deplores Time Warner's exploitive approach. We strongly advise authors who are interested in digital publication to hold out for a publishing partner who respects their work and a publishing agreement that reflects fundamental standards of fair industry practice."

Claire Zion, editorial director of, defended the contract in a released statement. "We're disappointed that the Authors Guild chose to misrepresent iPublish's relationship with writers. We think it is a disservice to writers everywhere for the Authors Guild to release such an inflammatory statement."

Zion also said, "We firmly believe that our contract is fair and highly favorable for the unpublished writers we are committed to nurturing."

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