Book Contracts: What to Confirm Before Signing

The first contact you made with a publisher is probably enough to get you over moon. Like, “Yay! Some publisher took notice of my book!”. That’s amazing, really. However, are you prepared for what comes next? Are you ready to talk to the publisher about the book publishing contract while ensuring that you don’t get the short end of the stick? Here are seven points you should confirm first before you affix your signature on that dotted line:

#1. Amount, Payment Schedule, and Advance

You can easily negotiate any payment-related information. However, the negotiations will be significantly more difficult after signing. Thus, see to it that the dollar amount you receive before the publishing of your book  – aka the “advance” – is clearly stated in the contract. You have to be aware of how much you’ll be getting all in all as well as when the payout will be.

#2. Royalties

Almost all authors probably know what royalties mean. Generally, it is the amount you will receive for every book you sell. However, there’s much in-depth detail to discuss about royalties.

Your book can be published in three different formats: ebook, hardcover, and paperback. The publisher should then let you know how much royalties you can enjoy for each book sales, categorized for each publication format.

#3. Rights

For books, be aware that you have more than just the copyright to be mindful of. Know that you, as the author of the book, originally hold the audio book rights, ebook rights, movie rights, radio adaptation rights, translation rights, and many other rights. Your book is your intellectual property, and if you are having it published, ask what rights will your publisher hold and what rights you’ll retain.

#4. Share

So now you’ve properly indicated what rights go to whom. The next thing to confirm is whether or not you’ll have a share of the profits earned from the rights you’ve parted with.

Say, your publisher has the movie rights to your book. Walt Disney then comes knocking, expressing their willingness to adapt your book into a movie. Of course, the profit your publisher gets from that deal will definitely be a hefty sum. If you don’t want to let go of such a good opportunity to earn from your IP, then clearly have the publisher indicate how much your share will be in the contract. It can be in percentage or in fixed amount.

#5. Obligations

The contract should clearly define both parties’ obligation. It may be that the publisher takes on the book publishing and marketing works while all you have to do is write the book. Sometimes, you may be required to participate in the marketing process through book signing, online promotions, and the likes.

Nowadays though, with the existence of vanity press offering affordable publishing packages to authors, publishers will limit the obligations they have towards the author. One example is when the author writes the book and prepares it for publication (inclusive of proofreading, book cover illustrations, and book layout) while the publisher takes charge of the actual printing and marketing.

With a clear definition of each party’s obligation, it will prevent book publishing-related problems from arising in the future.

#6. Approvals

Be sure to get a hold of the right to approve certain things related to your book. You should be able to put in a word or two when it comes to your book cover illustrations or book layout. You, as the author, knows your book better than anyone else. Thus, if you think that the proposed book cover illustration doesn’t fit well with your novel, you should be able to have it changed.

#7. Publication date

Make sure that there is a date for publication written in the contract. Sometimes, publishers will promise to publish your novel yet hold on to it for a year or two. This will consequently mean that your royalties and payments are delayed for a long period of time. If you don’t want that, then confirm that the contract has the date of publication included.

Book contracts are not as complicated if you know what you should confirm beforehand. If you need help in checking your book contracts out, you can always talk to our Legaia Books publishing consultants. Just give us a call at 1 (844) 692-2665.

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