Another Look at that YA Morality Clause

By Neal Comment

Remember last week’s item about Random House‘s YA morality clause? That clause, which Random’s UK division was inserting into contracts in order to give itself leverage over authors who “act or behave in a way which damages your reputation as a person suitable to work with or be associated with children,” wasn’t showing up here in the States, according to one agent specializing in young people’s literature. This morning, another agent with a similar focus confirmed that initial impression, observing such a clause would be like Random refusing to publish Norman Mailer because he’d stabbed one of his wives.

“I can’t imagine anything to do with behavior that I would let get through a contract here, and I can’t believe too many UK agents are letting that get through,” this agent said, adding that in his experience publishers are usually as wary of anything that smacks of censorship as agents and authors. “Something must have happened to spark that,” he said. “I would imagine that Random House had been burned somehow, with something coming out about an author that left them stuck with thousands of copies of the book.” Though he had no direct knowledge of any such incident, he continued, it could have been anything from inappropriate behavior at a signing to “getting caught in bed with a fifteen-year-old and having it splashed all over the Sun.”

How about it, UK readers: Anything like that happen in recent memory?