A couple weeks ago, I received notice that a story of mine (that I'd workshopped here, thank you all very much!) made it into an anthology. Yesterday, I got an email from the editor giving me a heads up that the publisher is including a clause in the contract that they would hold rights indefinitely.
Now, I probably wouldn't balk too hard on that if the payment was good, but it's only $25. The appeal there is that's the minimum to gain entry to the HWA, but I've already met that qualification.
So I have a decision to make, but my question is whether this is typical. I know for mags, rights typically revert to the author after a year at the outside. But this being an anthology, is this "rights are indefinitely ours" clause typical? Should I run for the hills?
My impression is that it's non-negotiable.
This isn't one that I've personally seen with any of the shorts that I've published, but yeah, you may want to ask yourself if $25 is worth it for you to sell that story away forever.
Also, just a little something to keep in mind, if the publisher goes under or if the anthology goes out of print, I believe the rights revert back to you.
No, it's not typical. Anthologies are usually a matter of months, and I've seen a year, but never seen one in perpetuity. You couldn't even publish that story in your own collection were that the case. I wouldn't sign unless they'd let you modify that clause. Or maybe they don't mean "exclusive" indefinitely, just that they can continue to publish it in other forms and editions, but not stopping you from selling it elsewhere after a certain period of time. Get clarification.
Ask if you can reprint it in a story collection after a specific amount of time passes. If not, don't sell it.
I agree with Bradley about this one. I got stuck in a two year contract for a story in an anthology that nobody but me promoted. Well, some of the other authors did a little promotion, but most didn't. I couldn't wait for that contract to end.
If they mean "exclusive" rights, then no it's not typical and I wouldn't do it. As others have suggested, I'd tell the editor you need that clause struck out or no deal. In my experience, if one place finds a story publishable, another will too so there's really no need to let them take advantage like that. Good luck.