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Publishers Contracts


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In this presentation, Gavin D. J. Harper explains basic publishing contract terms for the benefit of would-be writers!

In this presentation, Gavin D. J. Harper explains basic publishing contract terms for the benefit of would-be writers!

Published in: Economy & Finance, Business

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  • 1. Gavin D. J. Harper
  • 2.
    • Manuscript Prep. & Delivery
      • Provisional Title
      • Submission Date
      • How many printed pages?
      • How many words?
    • Multiple Authors
      • Names of Authors
      • How are rights apportioned
      • How is royalties apportioned
  • 3.
    • Right Conveyed
      • Who owns the copyright?
      • Derivative works rights
        • Internet Media
        • eBooks
        • Further Editions
    • Authors Warranty
      • The author states they have the ability to enter into this contract indemnifying the publisher against loss if material is supplied e.g./ that breaches copyright.
  • 4.
    • Competing Works Clause
      • The author agrees not to print a competing publication with another publisher.
      • There is usually a stipulation that …% of material can be reused in connection with author’s professional activities.
    • Right on next works clause
      • The publisher will usually ask for first refusal on the author’s next work.
  • 5.
    • Royalties
      • Advance
        • £/$/€……. Paid Before Publication on Receipt Of A Signed, Dated Contract
        • £/$/€……. Paid On Submission
        • [Sometimes] £/$/€……. Paid On Publication
      • Royalty
        • Amount equal to the advance must accrue before royalties are paid.
        • Royalties paid on a stepped scale based on sales numbers.
        • May be different rates for hard / paperback
  • 6.
    • Royalties
      • Royalty
        • Stepped Scale for Domestic Sales e.g./
        • 10% on first 10,000 copies
        • 12.5% on the next 5,000 copies
        • 15% on all copies sold thereafter.
      • Foreign Sales
        • Usually a fixed % (low)
      • Direct Marketing
        • fixed % for books sold direct to the reader e.g./ publishers website.
      • Special sales
        • sales from promotions – fixed %
  • 7.
    • Royalties
      • eBooks
        • % for books distributed electronically.
      • Translation & Subsidiary Rights
        • % of the publishers receipts from licensing the work to others.
      • Exercise of other rights
        • % for other rights not covered above.
      • Reserve Against Returns
        • % Held back by publisher as a reserve against returned copies.
  • 8.
    • Author’s Copies
      • The publisher will agree to supply … copies of the book to the author free of charge.
      • The author will have an option to buy further books at a heavily discounted price.
  • 9.
    • Revised Editions
      • The author will agree to make further revisions to the book as they become applicable.
      • If the author cannot make these revisions, the publisher will have them made by another author, in exchange for a fee or percentage of the royalty on revised editions.
  • 10.
    • Out Of Print
      • Definitions vary as to what constitutes ‘Out Of Print’
      • Once the publisher terminates publication of the book, rights revert wholly to the author [usually].
  • 11.
    • If this is your first book, the chances are… No. Publishers generally have standard rates for books which are generally inflexible.
    • If you already have a track record of successfully publishing books, have worked with the same publisher on numerous occassions, or have something ‘very special’ to offer, there may be room for negotiation.
  • 12.
    • Advance Too Low
    • Subsidiary Rights Issues
    • Royalties
      • Net & Gross Royalties
        • Royalties paid on ‘Net Reciepts’ tend to be about half the value of those paid on ‘Gross Receipts’
          • (The ‘Gross Price’ is the cover price of the book)
          • (The ‘Net Price’ is the cover price minus the publishers costs)
    • Who Owns The Copyright (Negotiate for author to own rather than the publisher.
  • 13.
    • ‘ Reserve against return’ Clauses
      • A publisher will hold a certain amount of royaties as a ‘reserve’ against books that are returned unsold by booksellers.
      • In the competitive world of bookselling, where publishers often have to offer concessions to booksellers in order to place books, deals are often arranged where seller offer to take a large amount of books on a ‘sale or return’ basis.
  • 14.
    • ‘ Late Penalty’ Clauses
    • No ‘Bankruptcy Clause’ (Especially important with smaller publishers.
    • Clauses that state author must repay advance if publisher cancels the book.
    • ‘ Non-competition’ clauses – publishers don’t want other books that will compete aganst those they have publisher, but at the same time, you need to write about what you know.