Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Morals...

It's spreading around the net right now that Harper Collins has instituted a 'morals clause' in publishing contracts.

A rather vague one.

Do I think a publisher should have the right to ditch an author who has become such an embarrassment that they can't sell books? Well, yes.

But a 'morals clause' is offputting to anyone who is not 'mainstream'. And face it. Artists are not mainstream. Quite a few writers are gay or bisexual. I'd warrant that some are polyamorous. Not all of us are Christian. Is the fact that a writer is gay going to reduce book sales? Most of the time, absolutely not. In some areas, it may increase them. And in speculative fiction, there is a long tradition of protagonists that don't fall within sexual norms. Mercedes Lackey sells plenty of books despite the fact that she seems to find it hard to write one without somebody fairly major being gay. And I've certainly written about gay and lesbian protagonists (and even antagonists) before myself and will again.

Given a section of the popular considers homosexuality 'immoral', could a 'morals clause' not be used to not just fire an author who comes out as gay but force him to repay his advance? Or could it be used against a writer who admits to being Wiccan or a druid? Or to having an open marriage? It's a slippery slope and really not a necessary one. It's not hard for a publisher to drop a writer. They do it all the time.

Now. I am absolutely sure and certain HC doesn't intend to go down that road. After all, they do sell plenty of GLBT fiction. But it's the precedent I worry about. Our 'morals' are and need to remain our own.