The subject of non-compete clauses came up in a recent meeting of my local indie writer’s group, so I thought I would point to a number of blog entries regarding them over the years. They’re not in any particular order, nor are any of them necessarily canonical. However, if you read them all, you’ll get a pretty good feeling on why non-compete clauses are bad for the author and why you should be wary of any contract a traditional publisher offers you.
The Passive Voice talks about the bad attitude of agents and publishers towards authors.
Kristine Rusch talks about the various forms a non-compete clause can take.
More from the Passive Voice on how to read a contract with non-compete clauses. In fact, I recommend all of the Passive Voice articles on how to read a contract.
A few more thoughts on not signing dumb contracts.
Does all of that spell the death of the hybrid author approach? That is, does this mean you cannot do both traditional and self-publishing? No, it doesn’t. But the key to success seems to be to start as an independent self-publisher, and then once you have something that traditional publishing wants, you will have the leverage necessary to negotiate away the non-compete clauses in their various forms. If you start with the traditional publishers from beginning, you don’t have much to negotiate with.