Publishing Contract Decision Part 3: My Contract
So, back to it.
Point 7 - Contributor Copies.
This will outline what you (as the author) get out of this deal. For Free. You should at least get one digital copy pdf/mobi/epub. One paperback and one hardcopy, should it get printed. If you're getting it printed, make sure you've not signed over the printing rights.
It may also offer you a discounted price should want to purchase more.
However, depending on the size of the company etc. You may be offered a stack of books, you know for friends and family. Because they want a free copy and not to support you by spending a measly fiver. Cheapskates (yes you dad).
Point 8 - Copyright and Authorship Credit.
This will be small, simple and to the point. Confirming you (as the author) own the copyright and that your name will be on all copies of the work. It will also describe how your name will be credited, so if your alias is Big Muffin, this is where it will be confirmed.
Point 9 - Warranty & Indemnity.
This is protection for the publisher, it basically relieves them from any fault should your work be discovered to be fraudulent, or that you never really owned the copyright in the first place.
It's full of scary words like infringement. It's not fair on the publisher to take the hit if you've nabbed the story from someone else and peddling it as your own, all they're doing it trying you make you (and them) money.
It does however, not permit the publisher to settle a claim made against you without your approval.
Point 10 - Artistic Control.
This, I imagine will change greatly from company to company. So it really comes down to what you are comfortable with.
The contract I signed (still shocked I have) prevents the publisher from choosing a price for the book, sending out free copies, deciding on a method of printing and other publishing processes and choosing the exact date of publication without my input. Note that's not my consent, we will be discussing all of the above closer to the date of publication.
If you're precious about the title of your book, time to consider it a darling and prepare to kill it with a crowbar. It is now a working title, you are a writer and not a marketer, the title you have chosen may not lend to people picking it up.
I wrote a screen play a while back when I was half of Stray Dogs Film Productions, we had an awesome title which had many layers if you delved into the subtext of what would seemingly be nothing but a black comedy. Now ten years later, the other half has pulled it together and turned it into a film. Awesome, except that film, like books aren't just for you (the writer). It's for the audience, and to get it to the right audience sacrifices must be made. And so the title was changed.
So far, my publisher hasn't expressed any indication GunBoy will need to be changed. That said, I'm prepared to get shot of it (see what I did there? not impressed? no, neither am I really) should the right title be suggested.
This point includes cover art, I've gone into how I'll probably lose my cover earlier, and it's all but confirmed. Sad affair, Leo did a fantastic job on it. I am heartbroken if it won't end up on the cover, but it's hanging up in my house, or will be once I find a spot to set it. Again, I'm not a marketer. My publisher seems to be doing very well with their cover choices thus far, so I will yield to the know it alls.
There will be reference to editing here also, stating that the publisher will send me proofs, which I shall review and return as soon as possible and there will also be something about advertising. Somewhere in your book, normally on the back of the cover there will be adverts for other books which the publisher wants to sell. You won't receive royalties for these books should they be sold, but as your book will be advertised in someone else's book who will also not receive royalties I suggest you suck this up.
Point 11 - Revisions.
You will have to agree to revise the work, within reason, on request of the publisher/editor. Your book is good, it's got you this far. Trust that they want to make it great. Pick up that crowbar and wipe those crocodile tears from your eyes, or argue the point of why it needs to stay.
They may not like a certain line, paragraph or even chapter. It doesn't mean get rid of it, or completely change it. You know why it's there, but they're reading it from an audience's point of view. You need to show (not tell) them, on the page, why it's integral to the story. If that means re-writing it so it's better, so be it.
At least that's what I'm hoping going into this, I promise to let you know how I find it along the way.
Point 12 - Successors and Assigns.
This prevents either party passing the contract onto anyone else. I can assign payments from this book to another person, but I can't see a benefit to that. Sorry T.
Point 13 - Infringement.
Someone stolen your idea? Well this allows you to sue them together with your publisher. Don't have the cash to put in for the legal work? If your publisher wants to pursue it regardless, this allows them to and you still get to split the earnings from the venture (minus what you would have paid for the legal fees of course).
Point 14 - Termination.
Juicy. This covers what has to go wrong before you can end the contract early. This is not an extensive list, there are laws which you can fall back on to terminate a contract if you've been screwed. But these are the ones you agree on the table as gentlemen.
Mine allows me to terminate the contract if the book goes out of print and the publisher doesn't put it back into print within 90 days. This means they have to have copies available for purchase within the contract length (if you're like me and have a fish brain, my contract is for five years).
I can terminate if I don't get paid.
I can terminate if the book isn't published in a timely manner. I've agreed to a twelve month turn around, so if it goes longer than that and doesn't seem to have an end in sight I can give written notice and take my book back.
The contract automatically terminates if the publisher goes into insolvency. I'm not going to jinx this by giving it any more thought than that.
In the event of termination, all the rights come back to me. Make sure this is stated, you don't want some defunct company holding onto the rights for another two years making you impotent to sell it or gain any royalties.
Point 15 - Promotion.
I have consented for my pen name to be used to advertise the book, and myself. As long as it's dignified and consistent with my reputation. I don't have a reputation yet, so I'm unclear on what this actually means for future me.
I have also agreed to make reasonable efforts in playing an active role on Social Media to assist the publisher selling GunBoy. I guess this is part of it, and you thought I was doing it out of love. Sap. Wait, I have to gather reviews. Of course it's out of love. All of this is out of love.
As well as online networking, I have to meet people and talk to customers. I have difficulty talking to people I consider my friends so if you happen to meet me, bear with me. I chose to write because I don't like talking. I'll promise to make an effort if you promise not to call me an asshole to my face.
I get permission to approve any content the publisher creates for websites and I also get to put portions of my book on my own website for free. I say this without any ego, aren't you a lucky bugger.
Point 16 - Arbitration.
This defines what happens if the publisher and I come to a point where we disagree enough to settle up. To save time and money in going to see a lawyer, we have agreed to do an online meeting (and yes I will be attending in my pyjamas), mediated by the American Arbitration Association. This is an online settlement company. You don't have to go to America, don't laugh. I asked that question.
Point 17 - Entire Agreement and Modifications.
This gives either party the ability to change the contract after it's been signed. However, you both have to agree to the changes in writing.
Point 18 - Governing Law.
This highlights that as the company is run within the United Kingdom, we adhere to it's laws within the terms of this contract. Which is why I mentioned earlier, that even if something isn't written in this contract, there could very well be a law out there than can help either party should you need to end it prematurely.
Contracts are like marriages (don't hit me T), you enter them full of hope for the future. But along the way, you may find that the other person isn't quite right for you. You may even find another special publisher who you want to work with. It's not the end of the world. But, it's the decent thing to tell your partner your heart has changed. Don't go sleeping around, it only ends badly for you.
The last part of the contract covers that you are you and by signing below, you agree to what is above. It also duplicates the first paragraph somewhat by including your address again, as well as the publishers.
So there you have it, my contract. If you've not decided whether or not to self publish then I hope this will help you, even a little bit in making that decision. Because that's what you have, and it's not a small thing. It's your book, it's your life and your decisions are what makes you who you are.
Yes, I've signed, I'm going to be published. But my royalties will be 40% of the 70% of what I would earn from each ebook sold on Amazon. That's a lot lower, but I have partnered up with people who believe in me and my book. They also already have a fan base who they can introduce me to, so overall I'm hoping this will even out.
I work a day job, which is restrictive. 11 hours (including commuting) a day, 5 days a week doesn't leave a large amount of time to write another book. Edit this one, blog, and pursue other promotional activities. So this deal seems right to me in that I'm making new friends, ones who know the business and can help me on these first steps. If that works out, then hopefully you'll be enjoying my book, twelve months from now.
As this is one book deal (with first refusal of the sequel, should I write it), I have the fall back of not going into another deal if I want to self publish or try taking the next manuscript to another publishing house. Excellent.
Disclaimer: This is clearly an extensive article, I've highlighted points I find interesting in the hope you'll find them informative and useful. But it's not everything, so should you want to know more please drop a comment or email me and I'll be happy to field any questions you may have.