A major publisher will (at their option) consider “delaying publication / renegotiate advance / terminate the agreement” if “you act or behave in a way which damages your reputation as a person suitable to work with or be associated with children.”
Clearly Random House aren’t looking for the new Madonna (published by Puffin), Geri Halliwell (published by Macmillian) or Katie Price (published by Bantam) of children’s literature. Equally clearly, they’re ignoring the vital point that the books are more important than the authors. Children look for stories and then want more of the same. They don’t are who wrote them. So what are they trying to achieve?
What advice can be given to children’s writers who do want a contract with Random House?
1. Put your writing career on hold.
2. Get all that damaging behaviour out of your system by becoming a glamour model or reality TV star and get photographed falling out of night clubs revealing even more flesh than your flimsy dress did.
3. Confess that having and/or adopting a child has given your life new meaning and you’re ready to turn over a new chapter.
4. Revive your writing career. Your new notoriety will ensure a publishing contract.
5. Never forget to wear demure tea dresses at book signings and associated publicity.
6. After your second book, fall foul of the appropriate behaviour clause and go running into the arms of another publisher’s marketing department. They’ll love you: you can do self-publicity and they stole you from another major publisher. Your career as a children’s writer is assured, but, remember Random House sent you on your way.