(3/14/01 8:30:10 am)
Hi, sorry to be off topic here, but does anyone know where I can get some more information about publishing contracts, such as examples etc.?
I've just received an offer of a contract for my book, but some of the clauses I am not very sure about at all, and I would not be happy to sign it as is.
(3/14/01 10:11:15 am)
The rule of thumb in this sort of instance is: if you have already sold the book and you have been sent a contract, go get an agent *before* you sign anything, and let her look the thing over and kill the ugly stuff.
Certain publishers have historically had different contracts for different circumstances: contracts that will steal everything, for unrepresented writers who don't know any better; more reasonable contracts for represented authors whose agents will not put up with the BS.
Get thee to an agency before signing,
(3/14/01 7:48:49 pm)
What Greg Said. There are sample contracts available at places like www.sfwa.org, but nothing beats having it vetted by a good agent who's used to spotting bad clauses and getting them cut out.
(3/15/01 6:23:51 am)
After 20 years in the NY publishing industry, I have to agree with what Greg and Richard have said. I good agent is worth every penny of their percentage. And it's easier to interest a good one when you've already proven yourself by having a contract in hand. How to tell a good agent? Look at their client list, and see if they are agenting writers with the kind of careers that you hope to have yourself. If you're publishing with the big NY publishing houses, it's generally best to have an agent in New York (though there are a *few* agents who manage to work successfully outside the city.) If you're working with small or academic presses, then you need someone whose expertise is in those fields.
Congratulations, by the way.
(3/15/01 10:47:28 am)
Um, what they said. Just a caveat, also, if you haven't worked with an agent before. Beware of any agent who charges you more than 10-15 percent of the deal. When you get into foreign agreements the percentage will go up since your agent will be working with a sub-agent. That's normal. Any reputable agent will do the following, but: you definitely also want an agent who will work to retain foreign/film rights for you (unless you've gotten an extraordinary offer for world/all rights). Also keep an eye to when the publisher deems the book out-of-print. With new technology, some places are trying to retain indefinite holds on material--but eventually you DO want the rights to revert to you. Congratulations, and good luck!
(3/16/01 1:45:45 am)
Thanks for all the advice. I have decided against going with this particular publisher. Questions about the contract were met with "it's non-negotiable" and I cannot find any of their books for sale anywhere. Does that scream "dodgy" to anyone else?
I think I may have stopped myself from getting my fingers burned.
So it's back to the drawing board to find an agent and/or publisher again.
(3/16/01 8:17:22 am)
Annette, I'm sorry to hear that. But you're right, it does sound dodgy. I've never heard of a reputable publisher being unwilling to negotiate a contract. I think you're making a wise choice.