New language in the termination provision of the Harper’s boilerplate gives them the right to cancel a contract if “Author’s conduct evidences a lack of due regard for public conventions and morals, or if Author commits a crime or any other act that will tend to bring Author into serious contempt, and such behavior would materially damage the Work’s reputation or sales.” The consequences? Harper can terminate your book deal. Not only that, you’ll have to repay your advance. Harper may also avail itself of “other legal remedies” against you.
There is quite a wave of response to this in the blogsphere, including the an initial posting from Richard Curtis (quoted above), a spicy offering from Ursula Leguin, and a fun romp from Jock Stewart. Steve Laube offers a somewhat different take, citing the standard MO of Christian Book publishers.
While I ruminate...what do you all think?