I received an email this week from a woman who has co-authored two editions of a successful non-fiction book. She and her co-author have always split the royalties, and that information is included in their traditional publishing contracts. Yes, they each have their own contract with the publisher. Furthermore, this author was brilliant! When they started working together, she had an additional contract drawn up that specifies exactly how the royalties would be split, and it specifically covers “all future editions” of the book. Of course, both authors signed that contract as well.
The publisher recently requested a third edition and the author told me that her co-author wants to exclude her entirely from the third and subsequent editions.
I told her that she needs to first contact the publisher. If that doesn’t work in her favor, she needs to contact an attorney.
The book would NOT be rewritten entirely. As with other non-fiction books, updated editions contain a great deal of material from the previous editions. And, of course, some (if not all!) of the jilted author’s hard work would still be in the book.
This is not the first time I’ve heard of this happening. Of course, the other author is simply trying to scam her co-author out of all future royalties.
If this happens to you, hold strong. Do NOT agree to negotiate. Simply tell your co-author that you’re abiding by the original contract terms. Period. Don’t argue. Don’t get into long diatribes. She or he will just try to break you down. That’s what bullies do. Just simply say NO.
If he or she keeps pushing you, contact the publisher. They may kill the new edition altogether but at least you’ll still be getting money from sales of the previous editions. If the publisher tries to side with you co-author, get an attorney fast. One nasty letter from a respectable law firm is probably all it will take to get your co-author and the publisher to see things your way.
Never, ever let a bully take away your rights, and your future income!
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