Friday, 8 January 2016

So you've got that elusive publishing contract. Now what?

So you've got that elusive publishing contract. Now what?

Hurrah! I can finally announce that I have signed a publishing contract with the fantastic So Vain Books.  I should be getting the structural edits required in the next couple of weeks - so watch this space. I'm excited too for Poison in the Water - the book they are set to publish. They have classed it as a Romantic Suspense novel which I am happy about because I worried that it was between genres of Chick Lit and Thriller.

I have to admit when I received the contract I was a bit wary - why?  because a contract is legally binding and no matter what is said and done you need to make sure you are protected so if there ever if a fall out, if the relationship turns sour (I hope that will never be), you are covered.

Now,  I'm a bit of a researcher and what I have found is this: I have to admit you read some articles where people have signed away their rights to TV show etc, never seen a penny and all that and you think that wont happen to me - I can't see them buying the TV rights to this book I won't worry about it and so you don't. Typically the rights get snapped up and you didn't pay attention to that clause so you never make a penny. Most sites will tell you be wary ask them to take out this clause etc. and there are several clauses they will tell you never to sign. A contract is serious stuff and you should pay attention to it, but at the same time don't be so scared you have sleepless nights. There is a lot of scaremongering going on out there.

I think a little differently (often to my own detriment - well sometimes). I say pick your battles. Look at all the clauses and what they say and pick the ones that are important to you to have removed/amended.

You can go in and strip the contract bare - by all means that is what contract negotiation is all about, but at the same time be reasonable.

The important thing is to make the decision yourself and live by it!  You win some,  you lose some - yes your book may make millions of pounds if the TV rights are picked up, but will the rights ever be picked up if you don't sign the contract in the first place?

But in saying that don't be scared to stand up for what you want (once you have picked your battles) just because you are a first time author. For my first contract I asked a friend who had the same publishers to run me through the contract and it was fine. Looking back I would have added a couple of things to it definitely about termination rights (In this new era of ebooks) but I didn't so I chalk it down to experience. There is no use crying over spoilt milk and all that.

With this contract I was bold enough to ask for the removal of some clauses and the addition of another and they agreed. The best thing about this is that we are both happy and we can now file away the contract and work collaboratively which is how the best relationships evolve (If you keep referring back to the contract - you know where the relationship is going or isn't).

I rarely talk about my day job on here, but I do deal with projects and contracts all the time and the collaboration is a must to get something done (and have fun at the same time), so I have some experience here.

What I would definitely recommend though is to join the Society of Authors and either send your contract to them or read the various info papers they provide on what should be included/excluded for contract deals including E-book and POD deals.

You must also check out Stroppy Author's blog. the author goes through the clauses in the contract line for line explaining it. It's a must read...

And finally, you can of course consult a solicitor, especially if you have a friend who is one. If you are paying remember they need to provide a report on their findings which is more likely to scare you more than anything else.

So there you have it, my top tips for signing that contract! I hope it helps.

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