Let me start by saying, I’m not a literary agent and one of the best things you can do to protect yourself and your rights is
We have a lot of advice on here for indies, but the fact is, there are a lot of options to authors today and trade authors are not the only ones who need to be weary of contracts.
One of the most important things to remember is you created your book, and it has value. While you’re looking for a publisher, or if you’re approached after self-publishing, these 3 things are important to keep in mind before signing any contract.
Before I get to the meat and potatoes of this post I have two stories. One where an author was taken advantage of and one where an author was prepared and looked after her rights.
The first is that of Margaret Atwood. If you haven’t read her work you’ve probably heard about The Handmaid’s Tale. Well, when Margaret signed her book over to the publisher they took all TV and movie rights. What does that mean? She sees no money from the success of the TV adaptation of her novel. Not cool. I don’t know if she had an agent or not but this is why you need to be very careful.
The second story is about J.K. Rowling. When she signed the contract for Harry Potter, kindle and eBooks weren’t even a thing. Yet there was a line in her contract stating the publisher would have all digital rights to the book. She had it amended to save she retained all digital rights. Which she proceeded to self-publish and make bank with.
Before we get started I’m assuming your book has been professionally edited and you’ve made it the best you can.
You are allowed to ask questions
Contracts can be tweaked. If you don’t agree with or understand the wording of the contract. Ask for clarification of anything you don’t understand and ask for changes if you don’t agree with the terms.
Don’t sign away all your rights
This goes along with asking questions. If they want all digital, print, and audio rights you have every right to ask if and how they intend to use those rights. And if they don’t, you have the right to retain them. JK Rowling is a self
Your Book Has Value
Your book is worth something. That’s why larger publishers offer advances to authors. It’s not out of the goodness of their hearts, it’s because they believe that book will make that money back. Your book also has value. Don’t go begging someone else to publish it. The offer should be as valuable as your book. Think of it like a car. If you own a car and someone else wanted it. You expect them to give you what it’s worth, or close to it. Distribution is amazing and slightly complicated for indies and small presses but, it’s not worth losing all your rights over. Make sure they’re offering more than that.
These are just a few things to watch out for. When possible, seek expert advice and don’t be afraid to ask questions or walk away from a deal that doesn’t suit you.
About the Author
Marissa Frosch is a Certified Book Launch Coach and author of fiction under the name Cameron J Quinn.
She formed Raven’s Quill Publishing in March 2019 after leaving Amphibian Press where she worked for five years to make a go of it on her own.
Marissa is also working on her Story Grid Editor’s Certification to round out her author helping skill set.
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