Barbara Brabec's Author-Publisher
Book Contract Consulting Service
Trade book publishing contracts
have many financial pitfalls for first-time authors 
who don't understand the legalese in a publisher's contract.

Barbara Brabec's
Author-Publisher Book  Contract Consulting Service

Need help in understanding the contract you've received from a trade book publisher? Wish you could get some of its clauses changed? Need tips on how to negotiate with the publisher to get a better deal on book royalties or literary rights?

 

Before you hire an expensive literary attorney at $350 or more an hour, let me critique your trade book publishing contract and point out its financial pitfalls and specific clauses you should try to negotiate.

NOTE: The following information is applicable to contracts from traditional trade and academic book publishers in the U.S. (and some foreign countries whose contracts I'm familiar with). But this service is NOT applicable to contracts issued by Web-based book publishing companies or others that offer self-publishing packages. This is a different kind of contract altogether, one that can't be negotiated, and one that could not only cost you a bundle but rob you of any real profits from your book. (Read this article for perspective.)

The Financial Pitfalls in Book Publishing Contracts

IF YOU DON'T HAVE a literary agent or an affordable attorney who understands the inner workings of the publishing industry (a regular attorney is not recommended for this job), first  read my article, Author-Publisher Contract Tips. It won't address all the tricky clauses in today's book publishing contracts (particularly those related to eBook royalties), but it will help you understand some of the publishing legalese in the contract you have received.

If you are a first-time author, you can be sure that any contract you are offered by a trade book publisher will be a "boilerplate special," which basically means that you will be offered as little as possible in hopes that you don't understand how the book industry works—and that you will be so grateful to be published that you will sign the contract as offered.

But you don't have to do that because publishers WILL negotiate terms, even with a first-time author. You just have to know what to ask for and HOW to ask for it.

And that's what I can help you with,
as these authors confirm:

"I followed [Barbara's] advice about how to negotiate without being aggressive or alienating the publisher . . . To my delight, and largely because of my approach and tone, the publisher was very willing to make changes that I would not have even thought to ask for had it not been for [her]." - Sherrie Vavrichek (New Harbinger contract)

"She gave me great advice on the contract Wiley offered me and helped me talk with them from a position of strength and knowledge." - John Davis (John Wiley contract)

"Thanks to Barbara, we felt completely confident during the renegotiation process and actually got the publisher to agree to all the changes she
suggested!"
- Roxana Soto and Ana Flores (contract from Bilingual Readers, Spain)

"Barbara's fee was just as advertised, with no hidden costs. It was the best money spent. She had no agenda, other than to be helpful." - Suzette Hodnett (contract from Findhorn Press, Scotland)

As a first-time author unfamiliar with customary terms, conditions, and practices in the publishing industry, I benefitted greatly from her experience and wise counsel." -  Roger Dooley (John Wiley contract)

CLICK HERE . . . To read the full comments of each author and learn about specific contract concessions they were able to get after consulting with Barbara

Note that I do not offer legal advice.

From my viewpoint as an author of several trade books who happens to have a keen understanding of the financial implications of book contract clauses, I will simply study the publishing contract you have been offered, discuss it with you, and give you a written summary of clauses that would bother me greatly if the contract was for one of my books.

Understand that I didn't set out to become an expert on this topic, but I've had more than thirty years' experience with several trade book publishers, and I've also learned a great deal from observing how my very smart literary agent modified most of the clauses in my own book publishing contracts. In recent years I've also read many other contracts sent to me by author friends and clients. Thus I know better than most how publishing contracts are always weighted in the favor of the publisher—particularly now that trade publishers are scrambling to get on the "eBook Wagon"—and how certain clauses may be negotiated to help balance the scales.

I'll cite each clause that concerns me—particularly those that are going to diminish your royalties or give you less control over your intellectual property. I'll tell you what you should discuss with the publisher, what to ask them to change, and how to do this in a way that will make it easier for them to accede to your requests.

The needed changes may be just an added or deleted word or two, a phrase, a sentence, or a whole paragraph. Sometimes these changes require the addition of an amendment page to the contract that expands the language in existing clauses or adds a new one. (Note that publishers never issue a revised contract once one has been offered; they merely make modifications to the original in one form or another, and both author and publisher will initial each of these changes to accept them.)

No Charge for an Introductory Phone Chat

There will be no charge for an introductory ten-minute phone chat to discuss your particular publishing situation and the publisher you're dealing with. Note that my unlimited long-distance service covers the Continental U.S., Hawaii, Alaska, Canada, Puerto Rico, Guam, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. If you live in another country and don't Skype, you will have to stand the expense of the follow-up phone call that is part of this consultation service.

The fee for this service is $295,
payable in advance through PayPal.

REMEMBER . . . today's traditional trade book publishers are seeking more control over an author's work now than ever before, particularly in the area of electronic rights. Contract clauses have always been obscured by legalese, but most trade publishers today are compounding the problem by using new phraseology never seen in contracts prior to the explosion of the eBook industry and print-on-demand technology.

For less than what you'd pay for an hour's worth of time from a literary attorney, you'll get five or six hours of my time as I analyze the contract, write my critique of clauses you need to be concerned about, and then communicate with you by phone as needed to discuss everything and answer any questions you may have. Once begun, this work can usually be completed over a period of three work days.

BE ASSURED that this information will enable you to successfully negotiate changes to your publishing contract that will give you more control over your book and probably thousands of additional dollars in royalties over the lifetime of your book. I may also be able to help you get an advance if one wasn't offered initially.

Depending on what you tell me at the onset, I may work with you in one of two ways: After studying the contract and considering your particular publishing quandary, I'll either want to first discuss the contract with you by phone and follow up with my notes for changes to certain clauses; OR (2) I'll send the written critique notes first and follow-up with a phone call to discuss each troublesome clause. Either way, you will get a considerable amount of my time and be able to get answers to all your questions before we're done. YOUR SATISFACTION IS GUARANTEED!

Specifically, the phone consultation and critique will focus on clauses that:

will dramatically cut royalties and subsidiary rights income;
limit eBook royalties and income from other electronic uses of content;
make it impossible to create spin-off products and services;
limit the author's control during the publishing process;
make it difficult to sell copies of one's book;
curtail the author's use of content for promotional purposes . . . and more.

I cannot write legal contract clauses for you, but where necessary, I will suggest specific wording that would be desirable in certain clauses and link you to some helpful articles on the Web that will give you additional negotiating power. I'll also send you my special tips on how to successfully negotiate the whole contract with your publisher.

TRANSMITTING THE CONTRACT. Publishers generally send contracts as a WORD or PDF document, and I can work with either. But it's much easier for me and the author if I can edit the contract itself by making appropriate changes and writing notes there instead of in a separate written critique. (Note that contracts may be scanned as editable Word documents. If the contract is on legal-size paper, fold pages in half and scan as two pages and then bring all the pages together in one master document.)

AGAIN . . . There is NO CHARGE for an introductory ten-minute phone chat to get acquainted and discuss your particular publishing situation and the publisher you're dealing with. I won't ask for payment until I'm sure I can be helpful to you.

Book Manuscript Editing Services

Book Manuscript Critiques

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by Barbara Brabec
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