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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Contracts, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 96
1. Post-Contract Schedule

Your work doesn't end just because your manuscript is accepted.

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2. Subsidiary Rights

Foreign rights, film sales, merchandising--these are all subsidiary rights.


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3. Out of Print

How does a publisher decide your book is out of print, and what does that mean for you?


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4. Contracts 101

Here are links to a series of posts about literary contracts.


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5. The Best Career Advice I Can Give: Read Your Contract

Contracts are not sexy.

I taught a course on publishing contracts at The Loft Literary Center recently–a long-held dream come true–and one of the first things I told my students is that contracts are not sexy.

It’s easy to glamorize the publishing industry and the life of a writer. It can seem like an endless swirl of cover reveals and starred reviews and book tours. Even the difficult parts can be romanticized: the struggle to put words on the page, to find an agent, to land a deal.

But it’s also important to remember that, for those who publish, writing is a career. I’m passionate about publishing contracts because I want to help empower writers to take control of their careers. And I believe the single most important thing a writer can do to take control of their career is read and understand their contract.

If you have a publishing contract have you ever read it? I mean really read it, not just skipped ahead to the section detailing your advance payments, or grinned like a maniac at the sight of your name on the signature line. I know a lot of authors haven’t. And I get it. Contracts are intimidating. They’re long, full of a lot of complicated language, and sometimes have entire clauses dedicated to things that will never happen (Force Majeure, anyone?).

I implore you to read yours.

If you have representation, your agent should be well-versed in contracts and will handle all the negotiations on your behalf. So in that case it isn’t particularly important for you to force yourself to read through your entire contract, right? Wrong.

Your agent isn’t a party to the contract; you are. You are required to meet all contractual obligations and you should know what they are and what happens if you don’t or can’t meet them. You should know how your current contract affects your future books. You should know how long the Publisher will own the rights to your work, and when and how you can get those rights back. You should know what warranties you’re making to the Publisher, and be sure they’re all true. Even if your agent negotiated the best possible deal for you, it’s still your responsibility to understand the terms.

Writers today have more resources at their fingers tips than ever before. If you have an agent, use that resource. After you’ve read your contract ask your agent to explain things that you don’t understand. If you don’t have an agent, ask your editor. Talk to other authors. Google. And do it before you sign.

I have heard so many horror stories from writers who did not properly read their contracts. Some signed on with scam Publishers and got their hearts broken and their books ruined. Some signed on with well-respected Publishers, and were unhappy to discover that their contract was more restrictive than they had assumed.

I know as a culture we’re conditioned to scroll to the bottom of User Terms and Conditions and click “agree” without so much as a backward glance; I’m guilty of it, too. But don’t be so cavalier with something as precious as your intellectual property. Don’t be so indifferent about the fate of your career. I’ve worked in publishing for a long time doing many different things, but the most valuable insider advice I can give you is to read your contract.

If you want to learn more about contracts I’ve written about what it’s like to be a contracts manager here.  We’ve also talked about contracts in various episodes of the Pubcrawl Podcast.

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6. Slavery contracts

Guy and Doll have agreed that Guy will act as Doll directs, and that Doll is entitled to use force or punishment to get Guy to do as she directs if he ever demurs or falls short. Guy has contracted to be Doll’s slave. Such contracts are familiar from fiction and from history; and some people may have familiarity with them in contemporary life. It is common for philosophers to argue that such contracts are impossible.

The post Slavery contracts appeared first on OUPblog.

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7. Publisher Rights

It's important to understand the rights in your contract that the publisher may want to keep.


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8. Contract Negotiations

Negotiating contracts is more than just getting the biggest advance.


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9. Agency Contracts

Contracts can be overwhelming, so here are some things to look for in your agency contract.


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10. Foreign Rights

Even if you have an agent, it's important to understand how the sale of foreign rights works. 


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11. Dorothy Parker: Missed Deadlines, Unfulfilled Contracts and Wrong Words

Farewell DP paperback coverBY ELLEN MEISTER

Have you ever had to tell an editor you wouldn’t be meeting your deadline? That’s an uncomfortable conversation for any writer. But for Dorothy Parker—one of America’s greatest literary wits—it was so excruciating she simply couldn’t face it, and the consequences were nearly devastating.

In 1929, Harold Guinzburg and George Oppenheimer—the young entrepreneurs who founded Viking Press—convinced Parker to sign a contract for a novel, and deliver it in under a year. That’s high pressure for most writers. But for Parker, who often took six months to complete a short story, it was shooting for the impossible. Indeed, she was so slow and cautious in her fiction writing that she once remarked, “I can’t write five words but that I change seven.”

Still, she was determined to join the ranks of the contemporaries she so admired, such as Fitzgerald and Hemingway, and left for Europe to work on her book. By the end of 1930, her deadline had passed and she had nothing to show for it except one long (and often hilarious) letter she had written to her publishers over the summer. (Complete letter available as an ebook from Penguin Classics with an introduction by Marion Meade. See Alpine Giggle Week: How Dorothy Parker Set Out to Write the Great American Novel and Ended Up in a TB Colony Atop an Alpine Peak.)

And so she sailed back to the U.S. to tell the young Viking founders in person that she had failed. The conversation, however, never happened. Too distressed to face them, she attempted suicide by swallowing poisonous shoe polish. Fortunately for those of us who cherish the stories, essays, poems and reviews she wrote in the years that followed, Parker only succeeded in making herself terribly ill, and several months later she recovered.

She never did deliver on the manuscript. In the 1970s, Viking reported that their agreement with Dorothy Parker was the longest unfulfilled contract in the company’s history. In the intervening years, however, they contracted with Parker to edit a collection of works by her friend F. Scott Fitzgerald. She struggled writing the introduction and simply couldn’t complete it. It was 1945, and facing her editor with this failure wasn’t any easier than it had been fifteen years earlier.

Fortunately, however, Parker found a less dangerous way to avoid the confrontation: she sent him a telegram. And while most of Parker’s papers were destroyed, this small treasure (complete with a spelling error that is probably the teletypist’s), still exists to remind us that even our literary heroes struggled putting words on a page.


PASCAL COVICI, VIKING PRESS                                     1945 JUN 28 PM 4 37 18 EAST 48 ST



Ellen Meister author photo low resEllen Meister is a novelist, essayist, public speaker and creative writing instructor at Hofstra University (Hempstead, NY). She runs a popular Dorothy Parker page on Facebook that has over 130,000 followers. Her novels include Farewell, Dorothy Parker (Putnam 2013) and The Other Life (Putnam 2011).

In February 2015, Putnam will publish her fifth novel, Dorothy Parker Drank Here. To connect with Ellen, visit ellenmeister.com, and for daily quotes from her Dorothy Parker, follow her Facebook page.

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12. Reversion Clauses

With the advent of digital media, it's more important than ever to understand the reversion clause in your contract. 


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13. Rights Reversion

What's involved in getting the rights to your book back from your publisher?


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14. Agent Negotiations

There are many tactics an agent should be using when negotiating a contract.


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15. Agent Contracts

Things that should be covered in your agency contract.


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16. The Truth About the Midlist

I think you're going to see a lot of blog posts based on the restructuring of Berkley/NAL. It's when something like this happens that I find myself with a whole slew of new ideas. Usually based on conversations we're having in the office or with clients.

One of these conversations involves the midlist. For those who don't know, the midlist is defined as those books that fall in the middle of a publisher's list. They aren't the top sellers (not always bestsellers, but those books that sell the most) and they aren't at the bottom, those books with sales so low that they just aren't salvageable. You know, books that only sell 2,000 copies. Ever.

Midlist books are those books that are selling moderately well, have solid sales, but just aren't pushing to top selling status. They could be mysteries, romance, nonfiction, paperback, hardcover. They could be anything because it's not about the genre, but about sales.

One of the things the Berkley/NAL conversation has brought up is the death of the midlist. The same death I've been morning since my first day in publishing. I mean, I've been around long enough now that I think I can say that's a freakishly long mourning period.

Here's the truth as I see it where the midlist is concerned. Authors who languish in the midlist are not going to be given contract after contract just to remain midlist authors. That's not what the midlist is about (at least not these days). The midlist is a place for publishers to grow authors from. Its where great books go to grow. A publisher will always have a midlist of some sort because a publisher will always be buying new books from new authors and somewhere along the way someone is going to have numbers that aren't top selling numbers, but aren't at the bottom either. When those authors come along the publisher is going to look at those numbers to see which direction they are going and what can be done to boost that author, those books and those numbers into the top selling range.

When rumors abound that a publisher is cutting the midlist it isn't mean that a publisher is taking out one kind of book over another, it means the publisher is making room for more. Have I ever told you that I'm an eternal optimist?

Books that languish in the midlist, that are selling a little less with every new book (in a series for example) aren't making money for a publisher and aren't growing an author's career. And that is always the goal, whenever an agent takes on a new client, whenever a publisher buys a new book and whenever an author sits down to write the goal is, and should always be, to grow that author's career. Not to languish in any list.


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17. Facing Facts When A Contract Isn't Renewed

With the restructuring at Berkley/NAL I've had a lot of great talks with clients about their careers and publishing careers in general. Unfortunately, in this case, we were forced to have these conversations because with any merger/restructuring, authors are going to feel the impact, good and bad.

When new people are in charge (of anything) things will change and in publishing that usually means the publisher will take a closer look at what's working and what's not and some authors will feel the fallout.

It is always difficult for an author to face the fact that something isn't working or is no longer working. There's nothing worse then putting everything you've got into a book series only to learn that your contract won't be renewed (that you won't be offered to write more books in the series). For every author during a time like this there's always a feeling of loss. I mean face it, I'm not sure there's any author who feels good about not finishing the story.

Sometimes though, that non-renewal might in fact be the smartest business decision anyone ever made for you.

For so many years writers spend all of their time focusing efforts on being published. An incredible goal to have. However, once you are published your goals need to change. No longer is your goal to be published, and it should always be bigger than just staying published. Your goal is now to build a career and continuing to write books that are reaching fewer and fewer readers with each book does not a career make.

In fact, there have been times when I've talked to my clients about ending a series even if the publisher is offering on more. If we can see the writing on the royalty reports and we know numbers are going down why would we want to continue on that road? It's certainly not building anything.

So instead of seeing a non-renewal as a personal insult or as a publisher who doesn't like the kind of thing you write, look at it for what it is, an opportunity to make some career shifts, something every business has to do from time to time. After all, Coca-Cola hasn't had the success it's had by only putting out a cola. When consumers wanted lemon lime they created Sprite and when water became trendy they added Dasani.

While every business owner will mourn the loss of books they love writing, no successful business owner closes the business. Instead she takes a close look at what the market is begging for or wants and checks her back pocket for which ideas fit those needs.


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18. Contracts

What the Authors' Guild Fair Contract Initiative has to say about book contracts.


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19. Negotiating

If you don't have an agent, you need to know how to negotiate a contract.


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20. PubCrawl Podcast: Publishing 101 Contracts & Clauses

This week Kelly and JJ talk about CONTRACTS. Yes, contracts. No, it’s not boring, we promise. Also, how Ernest Hemingway can help you write middle grade and how everything is still Hamilton. EVERYTHING WILL ALWAYS BE HAMILTON.

Subscribe to us on iTunes, or use this feed to subscribe through your podcast service of choice!

Show Notes

We haven’t written a ton on the subject of contracts here at PubCrawl, but here is a post by alumni Joanna Volpe and Jordan Hamessley-London:

TL;DR (or TL;DL for Too Long, Didn’t Listen), the three most important clauses to which you should pay attention in your contract are:

  • Rights of Termination
  • Delivery
  • Option/Non-Compete

Creative Endeavors

JJ is still working on her middle grade novel and is reading Ernest Hemingway for research. Not because her middle grade is about bullfighting and notions of masculinity, but because from a craft perspective, no one does spare yet emotionally resonant better than Hemingway.

Books Discussed This Week

Off-Menu Recommendations

That’s it for this week! Next week, we will be talking about how to take a story FROM BRAIN TO BOOK: A Look Into the Behind-the-Scenes Publishing Process. As always, if you have any questions or comments, sound off in the comments, or ask us on Tumblr!

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21. Negotiation

If you don't have an agent, you'll be responsible for negotiating your contracts.


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22. Earning Out

Does the publisher lose money if you're book doesn't sell well enough to cover your advance? 


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23. Friday Night at the Question Emporium

I have an offer from a small press and I have no agent. The publisher is a nice guy, I don't think he's trying to rip me off or anything but how do I know if what he says about the number of copies sold is right?  

Ahhh...this is why you want your contract to have an audit clause.

The audit clause generally comes right after the clause about how they'll pay you.  It needs to contain a couple things to give it some teeth.

1. Make sure it says "The Author or the Author's designated representative may examine the books"  Unless you're a CPA you won't know how to audit anything.

2. The publisher will limit the number of times you can audit to once a year, ask for reasonable notice, and probably limit the audit to information about your book (not the company as a whole.)  Those things are reasonable to agree to.

3. The cost of the audit falls to the Author. However, make sure you include language that says if there is a discrepancy of more than 5% to the author's disadvantage, the cost of the audit is borne by the Publisher.

4. And make sure that if there is ANY discrepancy to the author's disadvantage that the Publisher has to pay the sum due within a certain amount of time. I ask for 30 days, and I've settled for 60. What I do NOT agree to is "next royalty statement" because in some cases that's a year away.

Without the audit clause you have no way to verify royalty statements are accurate.  Most publishers are not trying to lie/cheat/steal or any other kind of chicanery. In most cases small publishers are people doing a LOT of jobs, and numbers and bookkeeping isn't one of the jobs they trained for.

We find a lot of errors on royalty statements but we rarely need to audit.  Most of the time, you can find the mistakes yourself because they're things like a royalty rate is wrong, a credit wasn't properly recorded, or the reserve for returns is too high.

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24. Reversion of Rights

It's important in contracts to make it clear when your rights revert back to you. 


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25. Royalty Statements

Even if you have an agent, it's important to be able to understand your royalty statements. 


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