Author-Publisher Book Contract
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
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.
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)
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
are scrambling to get on the "eBook Wagon"—and how certain
clauses may be negotiated to help balance the scales.
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
in one form or another, and both author and publisher will initial each
of these changes to
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.
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
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:
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
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.
Manuscript Editing Services
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Copyright © 2000-2013
by Barbara Brabec
All Rights Reserved
Barbara Brabec's World