Would you contract with a publisher who made you a book contract offer demanding arbitration, an unfavourable marketing or editing clause in its contract?
Get Legal Tips from Professionals.
Bestselling author and self-publishing advocate J.A. Konrath wrote once: “The trade publishing system is designed to take advantage of Authors’ naiveté and lack of legal knowledge and bargaining power, and it uses the promise of publication as a carrot to get them to accept onerous, deeply biased terms.”
Best advice for any author is to know what they get into, to understand the publishing contract and to consult a contract lawyer before signing the papers. As Copylaw.com advices: “While it is difficult to see how your publishing agreement will play out in the long term, the decisions you make today could have profound, long term consequences.”
Before You Meet with a Lawyer, read these Books:
The author Law in Plain English for Writers
Lawyer Leonard DuBoff, was teaching intellectual property law for twenty-five years, and writes really simple and easy to understand.
The Fine Print of Self-Publishing by Mark Levine does not only provide sound advice, but also lists publishers and Vanity Publishers that authors must avoid under all circumstances.
Helen Sedwick, a Californian attorney and novelist, shows in the chapter “Understanding Key Contract Provisions” of her Legal Handbook the clauses of publishers and explains on the other side of the page what these provisions mean for the author.
If you are still eager to sign a contract, you should at least know what you get into, and what the contract clauses really mean. Try to negotiate. Ask the publisher to add a clause, to ensure that your consent is required for changes – less the editing.