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Are You Pure Enough to Write YA?

A few weeks back, Guardian blogger Sian Pettenden called attention to a morality clause in Random House‘s contracts for children’s book authors: According to an alert distributed by a UK-based support group for writers and illustrators of literature for young people, the publishing conglomerate is now attempting to tell authors

“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 [sic] we may (at our option) take any of the following actions: Delay publication / Renegotiate advance / Terminate the agreement.”

It is unclear based on Pettenden’s reporting, however, whether this clause is appearing in contracts offered by the American division of Random House as well. Picking up the story for BoingBoing, Cory Doctorow notes that “Random House Audio published my young adult novel Little Brother and did not request this clause.” An agent at a New York-based literary agency that specializes in representing authors of young people’s literature said that, although it had been a while, the most recent contracts he’d seen from Random House hadn’t included any such clause, either. But, he observed in passing, “there’s a lot of strange language that goes into UK contracts that has little bearing on the American market.”

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