For any new writer, the day that they finally receive the contract from a publisher is pretty much the best day of their lives — aside from perhaps getting married or having their children. Your heart is pounding with excitement as you click on the link in the email and there it is, in black and white printed text, the little piece of paper that says this publisher is going to publish your novel. You will get to hold it in your hands and people all over the world will be able to finally read it.
Sounds like a dream, doesn’t it? What could possibly ruin this perfect moment? The answer to that is a bad publishing contract. While it’s always advised you should seek legal counsel before signing on the dotted line, below are a few bullet points to really consider.
TOO LONG CONTRACT TERMS
Most authors have really good relationships with their publisher and are very happy with the arrangement. There are some cases, however, that the relationship hits a road too bumpy to mend a sour experience. If you are in contract for a long period of time, you might find yourself stuck with the publisher for way longer than you’d like.
LOW ROYALTY PERCENT
Most publishers offer anywhere from 25% to 40% royalty off the cover price, per book sold, and if you are like any writer facing the choice, you are, and should, really take a step back and think about how much that means you will get in royalties. If you are looking at just 25%, do you want to sign with this publisher or look for one that offers a higher percentage?
NO PUBLISHER BANKRUPTCY CLAUSE
Are you protected should your publisher file for bankruptcy? This question should be given more credit than most people think to give it in the beginning. But in this ever changing publishing world, smaller publishing houses are struggling against the book and self publishing giant, Amazon.com and unfortunately, they are having to close their doors.
NO OTHER MEDIA RIGHTS
While publishers are mostly after the rights to publish your novel in eBook and print formats, there is a growing trend in the writing world of audio books. If your contract doesn’t mention other media rights, make sure you get in writing from the publisher what percentage of rights are retained by you should you have audio books made.