Four Years to Publish a Book?!

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I signed a book contract in November of 2001. My book is still not out. Supposedly it’s in cover design and I haven’t seen it or seen blue lines. So I know we still have quite a ways to go. Also, and more concerning, is now that I understand publishing contracts more, I see there is no publication date listed on the contract. There is no clause that says when it will be published or how long before I can pull out because she does not publish it. It only indicates what will occur if it NEVER gets published. But there is alot of time between November 2001 and NEVER.

Another writer with them says she’s on four years. Customary and reasonable amounts of time listed in the Writers Digest says one to two years. What in the world can I do?


One year is average; two years is pushing it. Three to four years? Holy cow!

I’d be furious!

Authors should always add a “publication date no later than xx, or rights revert back to author…” clause to their contracts. Otherwise, they may wait forever.

You can try threatening the publisher with exposure about their horrible contract and slow operations if they don’t return your rights. If other authors and agents knew it takes that long to publish with that firm, nobody would submit to them and the quality of their inventory would suffer greatly. They may even go out of business. Unfortunately, with no dates promised in the contract, you will probably need to hire an attorney to try to get out of the deal.

Or, the publisher may be in financial trouble and may welcome an offer to terminate that contract. It can’t hurt to ask.

I’d really like to know the name of that publisher. We may already have complaints about them on file.