Sunday, October 5, 2014

Read the Contract: Caveat Emptor

There's been some trouble in the publishing industry lately and authors discussing contracts so I'm reposting this blog.

Caveat Emptor: Latin, Let the buyer beware. A warning that notifies a buyer that the goods he or she is buying are "as is," or subject to all defects.

Nowhere is this warning more important than when an author signs a contract to publish their book. Now I know that for an author who has been struggling for years to be published, the euphoria of actually being an offered a contract for their book may be overwhelming. So sing, dance, get out the champagne. BUT before you sign the contract READ it. Read every single word. Look at what is there and what isn’t there. Just because your good friend talked her advance up from $1000 to $3000 doesn’t mean you will. Just because she increased her percentage of royalties from 35% to 50% doesn’t mean you will do that either. Especially if you don’t have a dozen bestsellers under your belt already.

Does the company help you promote your book? Do they challenge book piracy? Who pays for cover art and editing? How often do they send out your royalties? Have you heard stories about authors not getting their checks regularly? What happens if the company goes bust? This is very important as companies go belly-up with distressing frequency. Do you automatically get your rights back or not?

Google the company and do some research. You really should have done all this before you submitted your book to that publisher, but if you didn’t, at least do it now before you sign the contract. And if you can’t understand the contract, warning lights should be going off in your brain. Get someone to explain it to you. Whatever happens don’t just sign it and hope it’ll be okay. It’s much better to submit the book somewhere more reputable, or self publish it.

For more details on this topic, check out Writer Beware:

Helen Woodall
Helen is available to line edit and/ or content edit fiction and non-fiction. Rates on application.

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