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Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Writing Tip Wednesday--Publishing Contracts Part 2

Welcome to Writing Tip Wednesday! I’ll be discussing career topics for the next several months. For writing craft topics, see the Labels list in the left sidebar as you scroll down the page or check out my handbook in e-book or print.

Are you ready for another look at Publishing Contracts? We barely scratched the surface with Part 1.

A lot of work goes into preparing a book for publication. All of these areas should be included in the contract. If you aren’t able to negotiate acceptable terms, be prepared to walk away.

To protect both parties (author and publisher), the contract should contain an author’s statement of original work. The author must own the rights to the work. This means no plagiarism, no works in the public domain, no other publisher can lay claim to rights, no copyright infringement, etc. Although some parts of the contract will seem like common sense, they have to be in writing to be enforceable.

The projected release date should be clearly stated in the contract. Does the release date apply to digital versions, print version, and/or audio version?

While many traditional publishers register the copyrights for the books they publish, many small presses do not. Self-published authors must decide on their own whether or not to complete this step. Is the author responsible for registering the copyright and its cost? Who is responsible for legal fees and filings if the copyright is infringed upon?

Will the publisher provide an ISBN for the book? They aren’t mandatory for some retail outlets, but books without ISBNs aren’t recognized by the big bestseller lists. How important is this aspect to you?

The publisher typically sets the selling price for all formats it provides. How is the price set? Are works with comparable length and subject matter used to determine the selling price? The contract should state the policy for discounting and special sales. Does the author have the option of purchasing discounted copies?

The cover is probably the most important marketing tool for books. Does the author have input on the cover art? Can she ask for changes? The author should be provided with a cover art questionnaire to help the artist create an appropriate cover. Is the author allowed to provide her cover art at her own expense, subject to publisher approval?

Blurbs also attract buyers. Who will create the blurbs for your book? The author knows the story best, so most times she’s required to write them. Does the publisher reserve the right to edit or rewrite the blurbs? If the publisher creates the blurbs, is the author allowed to provide feedback?

Another part of marketing is the title. Will the original title be kept? If it’s changed, does the author have input or approval of the new title?

Editing is one of the most important aspects of publishing. How many rounds of edits will your manuscript undergo? The contract may or may not go into detail regarding editing, but you’ll be better prepared if you discuss the procedure with the publisher prior to signing. Does the author maintain the right to accept or reject editorial suggestions? Remember, the story is yours. You should have at least some say in the final product. The contract should state that the publisher will notify the author prior to making any substantial changes. What happens if edits aren’t returned on time? Is the release delayed or the contract terminated?

The manuscript also has to be formatted for publication. The publisher should be responsible for correctly formatting the book for all distribution outlets. If the publisher fails to complete this process and make the book available within a reasonable defined time period after the agreed upon release date, do publishing rights revert to the author?

How about we tackle promotion, marketing, and distribution next time?

Mellanie Szereto
Romance...With A Kick!

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