Friday, January 28, 2011
Lesson 1: Any Fool Can Sign a Book Contract
Unless you want to understand what you are giving up and what you are receiving in exchange.
I have decided to dedicate my 2011 posts to book contracts. And yes, you'll have to wait an entire year to read all of them. So if you are fortunate enough to have a book contract in your hand, look for other resources.* Or if you have an agent, get the agent to explain the contract to you. But if you are still waiting for both an agent and a contract, these posts may help.
I'm not going to talk about specific clauses in this introductory post, but I will tell you what you'll get out of the series. AND what you won't.
These posts will not help you negotiate the perfect deal. Unless you are already a big name, you aren't likely to get many concessions out of your publisher. And some won't negotiate at all. Since a royalty publisher takes the financial risk in the enterprise, I don't blame them for wanting to get as much from the contract as they can.
So you may be able to use the information in upcoming posts to negotiate small changes, but don't count on even doing that.
Then why do you care what the contract says? If you're desperate to publish your book, maybe you don't. At least not at the time. But somewhere down the road it will matter. Like when a large house accepts your second book and then you discover that your earlier contract says you have to offer it to that publisher first. (More about these clauses in a later post.)
If you aren't quite desperate, you may want to know what the contract says before you sign it. Even if you can't negotiate, you can walk away.
So stay tuned for Book Contracts 101.
Kathryn Page Camp
*At the 2010 ACFW Conference, the Indiana chapter's own Cara Putman discussed book contracts in a session called "Author Law 101." You can purchase a downloadable MP3 file of that session at http://www.acfw.com/conference/2010sessions.