These days, non-disclosure clauses are starting to crop up in publishers’ contracts, notably for anyone dealing with Amazon’s in-house imprints. This is a very worrying development. How exactly is a new author supposed to find out whether or not they’re being taken for a fool, if they’re not allowed to compare notes with better informed and more experienced writers?

So we’re expected to live our lives online, including sharing aspects which we’d personally rather keep private, as a trade off for the undoubted benefits we get – while at the same time, there are business matters vital to our own interests which we’re very firmly discouraged from openly discussing.

–Juliete McKenna on online life for authors.

Also know as the “you must talk about everything except the parts of the business that matter” clause.

More broadly, non-disclosure clauses about things like pay and conditions are highly contentious and, in some places and cases, illegal. They’re there to prevent unionisation and collective bargaining, and to hide nepotism.

Obviously the relationship between an author and a publisher isn’t the same as between an employer and an employee (unless you happen to be a staff writer for a franchise, I guess). But the same principles apply, if not the same legal protections.

Basically, non-disclosure clauses are not for the benefit of the individual signing them.