October 21, 2009

Before You Sign That Publishing Contract...By Diane Craver | printable version

I've had a few author friends complain recently about their traditional publishers. It's important to know as much as possible about your new publisher and what they will offer you before signing the contract. When you get the contract offer, your excitement might cloud your judgment. If the contract isn't going to work for you, then you need to turn it down. I had to do this a couple of times. It wasn't easy because I was anxious to have a publisher for my last two books. A sick feeling might be in your gut when you have to say no but you have to make a commitment to yourself and your career path.

This is when belief in yourself is important and you have to realize that your writing is good enough to receive other contracts. Hopefully, you only submit to publishers that you feel will be a good fit for you as an author. You need to look at the full picture of your writing career. Will you be submitting several books to this publisher?

I'm listing some of the issues I've heard complaints about, and ones I also think are important. You should be aware of these before you decide to sign a publishing contract. Every writer does have different priorities, so a contract that isn't right for you might be fine for another author.

1.) Read the publishing contract from front to back. Make a list of the things that they are asking for and what they are offering you in return.

2.) Write down the things that must go and circle the items that need to be balanced.

3.) Are they asking for movie rights? A friend was upset when she saw that written in her contracts. Don't grant a publisher additional rights, such as motion picture and TV rights. If the publisher insists on having dramatic rights (often arguing that if it wasn't for the book, there would be no movie), you can compromise by granting them nonexclusively. If the publisher finds the buyer for the movie rights to your book, it can share in the income resulting from its efforts. If your agent finds the buyer and negotiates the deal, the publisher does not share in the profits.

4.) Give the publisher rights related to the sale of the book itself, such as book-club or large-print rights.

5.) Royalties. Be sure to know how much you will get paid. After all, you do want to make money from your hard work as a writer. For example, there is a bit of difference in ebook royalty payments. Some pay only 30% or less and others as much as 50%. Expect 7% or more percent from print books. After a certain number of print copies are sold, it may be a higher percentage.

6.) Advances. Negotiate that the advance be payable as soon as the publisher receives the contract signed by you, or require the publisher to countersign and issue the check within so many days after receiving the contract. I received my advances from a small publisher when the final editing was finished on my manuscripts. My release dates were changed by the publisher so a considerable amount of time elapsed before I received my advances.

7.) Length of publishing contract. One of my traditional publishers takes full rights for digital and print for seven years. With another traditional publisher, my contract is for five years. This issue is also negotiable.

Write down your concerns so you can negotiate without getting nervous or emotional. If you can't reach a reasonable compromise with your publisher on the issue or issues you've brought up, then you are better off not signing the contract.

Diane Craver enjoys her life with her husband and six children. Her book, Whitney in Charge, is her newest release with Desert Breeze Publishing. Marrying Mallory will release in January. Diane is also the author of How To Run A Profitable Preschool Without The Hassle, The Christmas of 1957, Celebrating And Caring For Your Baby With Special Needs, Never the Same, No Greater Loss, and A Fiery Secret. To learn more about Diane and her writing, visit her website & blog at: http://www.dianecraver.com and http://www.dianecraver.com/blog.


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