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AG in Action: Events Recap, June 8, 2023

What the Guild is doing for you

Last week the Guild was especially busy empowering writers, giving advice about TV and film options, and reporting to international bodies about the latest on AI. Here’s a recap of each event.

“When It Hits the Fan”: US Book Show Panel Hosted by the American Association of Literary Agents

As part of the U.S. Book Show, Cheryl Davis, General Counsel for the Guild, participated in a panel hosted by the American Association of Literary Agents (AALA). The panel, “When It Hits the Fan,” sought to empower writers on what to do if their books get banned, if they face backlash or boycotts, or if they find themselves attacked on social media. The other panelists included writer and activist Charlotte Clymer, HarperCollins executive Lisa Sharkey, and Penguin Books publisher Adrian Zackheim, and was moderated by Washington Post editor Tara Parker-Pope.

A lively discussion led to several takeaways:

  • It’s important for authors to put their work (and words) in context
  • Speak out with sincerity and clarity
  • Reaching out to the Authors Guild and other organizations for assistance
  • Maintaining a sense of community and have trusted members in your circle
  • Review all legal options (if any) to challenges.

International Thriller Writers’ Craftfest: Panel on TV and Film Option Agreements

Umair Kazi, Director of Advocacy and Policy, hosted a panel with General Counsel Cheryl Davis and authors R.L. Stine and Louis Bayard at the International Thriller Writers’ Craftfest conference. They talked about TV and film option agreements, and what authors should be aware of in exploring adaptations of their books. The key takeaways are summarized below. 

  • Your publishing contract
    When it comes to getting your book adapted for TV or film, there are a few key insights to keep in mind. First, take a close look at your publishing contract and see what kind of split the publisher wants when it comes to movie or TV sales. Some publishers may want an 80/20 or 50/50 split, but it’s advisable to reserve the media rights for yourself. By doing so, you have the freedom to explore and pursue opportunities for adaptations on your own.
  • The role of marketing for self-published authors
    If you’re a self-published author, getting involved in the adaptation process may require some proactive steps to attract attention from key players. Building a strong marketing presence and promoting your work can attract attention from production companies. Participating in podcasts, appearing on news shows, and establishing yourself as an expert in your book’s subject matter can help garner more attention from potential agents and producers. It’s worth noting that certain genres, such as thrillers, fantasy, and romance, tend to attract interest from production companies.
  • We’re making a movie! Now what?
    When it comes to the actual adaptation process, the author’s involvement can vary. In most cases, authors are not directly involved in writing the screenplay, especially if they are new authors. However, there may be opportunities for consultation or input on the adaptation, although it’s rare for the author’s suggestions to be incorporated. The author’s role is typically limited to the creative vision of the book, and the production team takes the lead in bringing the story to life on screen.

IFRRO’s Annual Mid-Year Meetings in Stockholm

CEO Mary Rasenberger attended the mid-year meetings of the International Federation of Reproduction Rights Organisations (IFRRO) in Stockholm to report on the Guild’s win in the Internet Archive infringement lawsuit that ensures writers continue to receive revenue from their ebooks. She also spoke about the AI advocacy and legislation work the Guild is doing to protect writers including the following:

  1. Legislation to:
    • enable collective licensing for AI training and where authors’ names or titles of works are used in prompts
    • require AI generated material be marked as such
    • require record keeping and transparency on training materials
  2. Contract clauses that require authors written consent to use AI to translate, narrate, create cover art, or use works for training purposes.
  3. Creating licensing streams from authors to AI companies to ensure that authors receive revenue.
  4. Educating authors on how to use AI.
  5. Developing ethical standards for use of AI by authors and publishers.