How to publish with a traditional publisher?
When to take the offer and when to run with the money.
A client of mine was ecstatically over the moon when a publisher offered her a deal to author three books. That is until she received the contract to be signed… I get a call from her in the middle of the night saying, “ they want exclusive rights, indefinitely.”
The contract started with this long paragraph.
“The Author grants to the Publisher for the full term of copyright, including all renewals and extensions thereof, the exclusive right to reproduce, publish, distribute and sell the Materials in and as a part of the Work and in whole or in part, as separate, stand-alone products or combined with other works in compilations, in all languages throughout the world, in all print formats, including print-on-demand, and in all electronic or digital formats, including electronic/e-books and electronic or digital formats for personal digital assistants, cell phones and similar devices, using all methods of copying, recording, storage, retrieval, delivery, distribution, display, broadcast or transmission now known or hereafter devised. The Author also grants to the Publisher the exclusive right to exercise and to license to others upon such terms as the Publisher may determine the subsidiary rights listed, in all languages throughout the world, in any format or media and using any methods of copying, recording, storage, retrieval, delivery, distribution, display, broadcast or transmission now known or hereafter devised.
The Author grants to the Publisher and its licensees the right to use the Author’s name, likeness, and biographical data in connection with the Work and the marketing and promotion of the Work.”
She was offered $8000 advance for each book and she does get credit for the work.
She wanted more: she wanted royalty, the book to be copyrighted in her name, opportunity to work alongside the editorial staff and to make sure the book actually went into publication. There was a clause in the contract for cancellation of the project by the publisher.
Mind you my colleague does not have a book to her name yet, traditionally published, self-published or otherwise.
After a week of discussion she agreed to negotiate with the publisher for some changes to be made.
This is what she is going to do.
- Take the deal with $8000 per book, discuss royalty and incorporate it into the contract.
- Forgo the lump sum payment altogether and negotiate a higher royalty for soft cover and hard cover books. In the long run this sounds better.
- If the publisher is unwilling to negotiate royalty and give her editorial involvement then she should take the $8000 per book. Maybe she can ask for a higher lump sum payment.
Remember, I mentioned earlier that she has not published any books. Well, she is passionate about her writing and does not want to relinquish any rights. She even wants to print the same books in the future with another publisher. Sadly, I had to let her know that might not happen.
I keep telling her that she can discuss and negotiate with the publisher. The worst that can happen is she might not get what she is asking for. She can still take the deal. She is a newbie and as an unknown, at this point, she should just go for it.
Now, what would I do if I were offered such a deal?
I’ll probably try negotiating first and if everything fails I’ll take the deal as is and forget about my work altogether because it is not my work anymore once I relinquish all the rights to the publisher.
As a creative person, as a writer, I should be ready to do this. And if you are, go ahead and publish with a traditional publisher signing all your book rights away.
If you can’t deal with it, there is always self-publishing.
What would you do?