Getting published, part 8. What to look for in contracts

Okay, the phone was out AGAIN!   This time it was the highway mowing crew that cut something in two or knocked something over, or whatever.  That makes 9 days during the past three weeks that our phone has been out.  Terrible feeling, especially when cell phones don’t work down here in the hollow where we live!  (One reason we can’t get high speed Internet here.)

Now, back to our topic.  Publishing.

What will a fair contract include?  I recommend an expert eye as stated in part 7, but you can look for some things on your own:

1.   Business stuff:  Can you work with stated deadlines?  What rights do you retain?  If selling second rights is in the contract, do you get a reasonable cut?  (My present publisher and I split second rights advances and royalties 50-50.) How are you protected if the company goes out of business?   And, can you get your rights back under reasonable circumstances?

2.  Editing.  Will the publisher give good editing support?

3.  Distribution:  Is it easy for bookstores and libraries to order books from the distributors they are used to working with, like Ingram and Baker and Taylor?

4.  Publicity:  Does the publisher offer any publicity support.  (Mine produces flyers and catalogues.  They send out hundreds of these to libraries, bookstores, and interested readers, and give me a thousand or so to distribute myself.  They send out multiple review copies.  They promote on their well-publicized web site.

5.  Price:  Is the retail price in line with similar books.  Is the bookstore/distributor/library discount reasonable?  (45% or more is average.)

6.  Returns:  Can unsold books be returned to the distributor or publisher for full credit?  Unfortunately, at this time, that means even if damaged.  Note:  Publishers are beginning to squirm under this return policy, some, even in NY, are beginning to refuse returns, and, at lease (I think) publishers should only accept books in good condition and without stickers, marking, or autographs.

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