Musings on Photography


Posted in art is a verb, process, Solo Photo Book Month by Paul Butzi on April 10, 2009


I won’t be able to do much blogging between now and the end of the month. Nothing wrong, thanks.

Today’s offering, via Gordon McGregor’s twitter feed, these words from Hugh MacLeod.

I was offered a quite substantial publishing deal a year or two ago. Turned it down. The company sent me a contract. I looked it over.


Called the company back. Asked for some clarifications on some points in the contract. Never heard back from them. The deal died.

This was a very respected company. You may have even heard of it.

They just assumed I must be just like all the other people they represent – hungry and desperate and willing to sign anything.

They wanted to own me, regardless of how good a job they did.

That’s the thing about some big publishers. They want 110% from you, but they don’t offer to do likewise in return. To them, the artist is just one more noodle in a big bowl of pasta.

Their business model is to basically throw the pasta against the wall, and see which one sticks. The ones that fall to the floor are just forgotten.

Publishers are just middlemen. That’s all. If artists could remember that more often, they’d save themselves a lot of aggravation.

Go read the whole thing. Think of SoFoBoMo as a way to do something just to be doing it. Think of it as a way around the middlemen.

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  1. Chris Klug said, on April 10, 2009 at 3:42 pm

    I myself was offered a contract by a major publisher a few years ago. It was the first ‘book deal’ I had ever been offered. I’d done game design work under contract many times. I’d done theatrical design work under contract many times. I was no stranger to creative work under contract. But this particular contract stunned me.

    If the publisher took my words and used them on a web site, I was owed no monies.

    If the publisher took my words and recorded them onto a CD as an audio book, I was owed no monies.

    If the publisher took my words and created an interactive DVD of the book, I was owed no monies.

    The way the contract read, the only thing it stipulated was that I would get money for writing it in its original form.

    When I pointed this out to them, they replied “Well, we don’t normally do that with these types of books (it was a game design book) so don’t worry about it.”

    Worried I was.

    The deal never got done, because they couldn’t see why that concerned me.

    Again, a big publisher, one who has done lots of books on photography. They wanted the book, but obviously not enough to protect my rights.

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