The subject of non-compete clauses came up in a recent meeting of my local indie writer’s group, so I thought I would point to a number of blog entries regarding them over the years. They’re not in any particular order, nor are any of them necessarily canonical. However, if you read them all, you’ll get a pretty good feeling on why non-compete clauses are bad for the author and why you should be wary of any contract a traditional publisher offers you.
The Passive Voice talks about the bad attitude of agents and publishers towards authors.
Kristine Rusch talks about the various forms a non-compete clause can take.
More from the Passive Voice on how to read a contract with non-compete clauses. In fact, I recommend all of the Passive Voice articles on how to read a contract.
A few more thoughts on not signing dumb contracts.
And finally, a cautionary tale of how publishers really will exercise that non-competition clause to stop you from self-publishing that independent book.
Does all of that spell the death of the hybrid author approach? That is, does this mean you cannot do both traditional and self-publishing? No, it doesn’t. But the key to success seems to be to start as an independent self-publisher, and then once you have something that traditional publishing wants, you will have the leverage necessary to negotiate away the non-compete clauses in their various forms. If you start with the traditional publishers from beginning, you don’t have much to negotiate with.