Saturday, June 27, 2009

A Moral Clause in Publishing?

An article in USA Today caught me by surprise. I had not considered there might be a moral clause, either written or understood, in a publishing contract. Although, I don’t know why it hadn’t occurred to me since it would make sense not to publish a book if the author were found to be, say, a mass-murderer.

But, my surprise aside, the idea that Kate Gosselin’s publisher might consider nixing her book on cooking for the family because she and her husband are now divorcing seems a bit knee-jerky. And let me state here that I have never seen Jon & Kate Plus 8 - we can’t get cable where I live.
Tim Penning, assistant professor of communications at Grand Valley State University in Michigan, said the publisher is probably going to need to hold off.

"It would be a fine line for them to try to sell this book with the kind of revelations that have happened," said Penning, who teaches public relations. "I think the public generally understands that it was a good idea, but times have changed.”
According to the USA Today article, “The 240-page hardcover is expected to feature Kate Gosselin's nutritious recipes, advice on "how to craft family traditions that create happy memories," and "meaningful mealtime blessings…"

Seems to me, those things are just as important, if not more so, for divorced families.
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  1. I kind of get the idea they were selling an image, not what was in the book. Now they're unsure because the image has changed. All they have to do is repackage the image. In light of the many single moms out there, they should have no problem.

    Morgan Mandel

  2. Very good point, Morgan. That reminds us all to think of how we package our books and ourselves when we're out promoting.

  3. I think that as a marketing ploy, the former approach of creating happy family memories is lost now due to the scandal surrounding their situation. I do think that as Morgan suggested they might consider repackaging the whole thing and creating a book on how to create happy family memories despite hardship and divorce. With eight kids, once she becomes a single mother, that woman is going to need a lot of happy plotting strategies to keep those kids on the level. Big families like that need the full structure to hold it together, and maybe that's what they need to focus on. Great post. Wow. who'd have ever thought there would be a morality clause in a publishing contract surrounding one's personal marital status. crazy.


  4. I agree with the repackaging. Just a bit of tweaking is all. No need to shelve the book or place it on the back burner. I know too many single parent families who have a very happy home life and well adjusted kids.

    - Steve Tremp

  5. Repacking is a good idea.

    I think after the whole scandal with Brittany Spears and her sister resulted in her mother's book on raising kids being cancelled has made publishers cautious.

    L. Diane Wolfe

  6. Personally I don't much care for Kate & Jon and the way they've commercialized their lives at their children's expense, and now the divorce "for the children's sake" Make me want to puke.

    That being said, this does seem a bit Knee-Jerky and in the interst of doing business and making money, which is after all what Kate is MOST interested in, repackaging would surely work.

    The Old Silly

  7. Sounds like the publisher should pay attention to this group and figure out a way to repackage the book and the promotion of it.

  8. I think this whole phenomenon of creating celebrities via reality TV is demeaning and the media buzz around Kate & Jon makes me wonder where some people have left their brains.

    Sorry about the borderline rant, but with so many important issues and people in the world why the story of the breakup lead on some online news sources is beyond me.

  9. The book should be judged on its merit, not the people involved. If it isn't exceptional, send it back.

  10. I'm with you, Maryann. I'd never heard of Kate & Jon until suddenly they were on the news. And couldn't understand why they were news.

    And I agree with you, Jean. Unfortunately, too many people buy a book based not on the writing but on the celebrity name.

  11. I can understand why the publisher would want to back off some at this point. As Morgan said, part of it is selling an image. Is in not the same as sports people being dropped by sponsors for "naughty behaviour"?


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