Negotiating Publishing Contracts for Writers - Words IrelandAs a member, you can receive a free contract review from Legal Services. Here are some basic rules of thumb applicable to most publishing agreements:. Never assign or transfer your copyright to a publisher; grant only specific rights e. Consider what specific territories and languages you want the publisher to have and be sure the grant of rights is limited to those territories and languages. Demand a deadline for publication and demand that you be able to terminate the contract and keep your advance if the publisher fails to bring out the book on time.
Contracts, Rights and Royalties - What makes it stand out?
How to Negotiate a Publishing Contract: Home
Negotiating Book Contract Terms and Royalties Warning: This information is based on my personal experiences and confidential communications from others. It is not intended as legal advice First, my advice to all commercial authors is, get a good lawyer with book contract experience. I got through my last contract negotiation and a Federal court lawsuit for copyright infringement somebody ripped me off with the help of Zick Rubin, a terrific Intellectual Property lawyer in the Boston area. Check out his "Really Legal" columns. The publishing industry has a bad reputation amongst the majority of writers, many of whom see publishers as little more than law firms with an editorial department in tow.
I am writing this note as a general guidance based on my experiences in these negotiations which often involved drafting of carefully worded clauses and further refinement as the two sides come closer to a deal. Your relationship with your publisher is unique and what is achievable in contract negotiations can depend on how much the publisher wants to publish your book and how commercial the publication is. This note is a general guidance note only and is not intended to be comprehensive or a substitute for legal advice. Each negotiation turns on its specific set of facts, so you should not rely on this note in place of seeking professional advice. As a writer, you have probably been anticipating the moment when a publishing agreement is sent to you by your publisher or agent. It is an exciting time and a great achievement to have got to this stage but, without sounding too much like a lawyer, I would advise caution before cracking open the champagne just yet! Having put so much work into your book, you now need to apply that rigour again to understanding and negotiating the details of the deal.
A contract is a business agreement for the supply of goods or performance of work at a previously specified and agreed upon price. The payment often comes as an advance against royalties, which allows the author to have a share of income for the life of the book, although sometimes a flat fee payment is made. A good contract maps the story of the book from acquisition to publication, and understanding how your contracts work is not simply about rigorously applying the law. I am always so thankful for the knowledge and expertise of Contracts Managers. Asking them questions however foolish you may think they are could end up saving a lot of headaches and a lot of money, if the road gets bumpy further on. The Contracts Manager does a lot more than navigate the way through comments and queries from authors, agents and licensees. They can offer advice on copyright, permissions, rights, translations, ghost writers, distribution, royalties and terms.
Image: Matthew Loffhagen. There are many glamorous, romantic problems associated with being a writer. Less glamorous are the problems that assail those of us who write professionally: making enough money to put food on the table, negotiating writing contracts and, for the novelists among us, negotiating good book deals. These are dull, real-world problems with which writers often lack any useful experience. But no more! Negotiation is, at the end of the day, all about communication. You need to find common ground and, despite what leagues of cunning businessmen will tell you, directness is often the best option.