Posted by: Kathy Temean | March 17, 2009

Before You Sign that Book Contract

If you have an agent, you can let him or her worry about the ins and outs of your book contract. But what if you sold your own book? It can be difficult to know what you are signing or if there is anything in the legal form that you should not sign. Things like subsidiary rights – book clubs, foreign language, dramatic rights, etc. can be confusing to a new author, so if you don’t have an agent, most authors will give control of these things to the publisher. You may not be able to budge the publisher on the amount of your advance or the royalities, but you may be able to have them give you more copies of your published book or add that you be consulted on the final version of the book jacket or illustrations. Nevertheless, signing a legal contract can be intimidating and riddled with clauses the average author wouldn’t know how to handle. So what’s an author to do?

You probably should have an experienced attorney who specializes in book contracts look it over. If you are a member of the Authors Guild, one of their attorneys will review your book contract for free – A good deal, since membership dues are $90 for the first year.

If you are an SCBWI member you can go online and print out their publications on book contracts and read up on what is standard and what things should be negotiable.

Good Luck,


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