The right contract for the author!

What should an author do when a publishing house decides to publish his work? It is time to negotiate the contract. But before doing so, you need to look at various things, advises Angela Schaaf De Lavado.

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You did it. A publishing house decided to publish your work and now it is time to negotiate the contract. But before doing so, you should think about the following questions:

WHAT are you going to create? How specifically do you know what is it that you are going to create – is it a fictional story, a non-fictional text or a unique style of illustration? And in how much detail do you want that information to be mentioned in the contract, so as to avoid misunderstandings later?

Angela Schaaf De Lavado
Angela Schaaf De Lavado

WHAT KIND OF PAYMENT do you want to negotiate? A royalty rate plus an advance payment or a lump sum for one or more pre-defined formats such as a hardcover edition and an e-book edition?

WHICH RIGHTS do you want to grant the Publisher? In case you grant the whole possible range of rights, make sure you also negotiate the payment for the other rights that the Publisher wishes to exercise apart from the main rights.

FOR WHAT DURATION do you want to grant those rights to the publisher? The best option for the Publisher would be if you granted the rights for the whole legal copyright protection period, for example 10 years.

What are the OBLIGATIONS OF THE PUBLISHER? Sounds weird, but one obligation should definitely be that your work will really be published, which might not be the case if for example there is a change in the publishing strategy of the publishing house.

It is definitely worth investing time in the negotiations of a solid contract that later might save you a lot of time, disappointment and money in case things don’t go the way you expected them to. And don’t be afraid, contracting is not as difficult as you might think!

In which cases will the RIGHTS REVERT to you? When the Publishers fails to publish the title? When the title is out of print? When the title is being dumped or pulped?
In case the publisher is able to SUBLICENSE your work? In all these cases, what will be YOUR SHARE?

In which cases the Publisher has to CONSULT you and maybe even ask for your permission? In case your work has to be adapted into any other medium. In case he/she received an offer for a sub-license.

It is definitely worth investing time in the negotiations of a solid contract that later might save you a lot of time, disappointment and money in case things don’t go the way you expected them to. And don’t be afraid, contracting is not as difficult as you might think!

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