DON’T SIGN THAT BOOK PUBLISHING AGREEMENT without reading and understanding between the lines.   The other day I got a new book client, and that’s the first thing I said to him—DO NOT, and I repeat, DO NOT sign the publishing agreement he received from the publisher before talking to me.  In fact, I told him not to even nod in the direction of the publisher, because even a nod can be perceived as an asset to a contract offer.  That’s right; did you know that oral agreements are enforceable, just like written agreements? And in some cases body language has been held to be an acceptance.
Here are a couple of things for you to know about publishing agreements and contracts in general:

  1. NEVER sign anything without reading AND understanding what’s in it. Contract language is so tricky and even the smartest folks sometimes get deceived.  You blink and before you know it, you have given always your valuable rights, and the key to your kid’s college fund and your retirement fund. That simple and innocent looking email “Deal Memo”, which you said “yes” to is as good as an enforceable agreement, so beware!
  2. All contracts are negotiable.  Some of you may be thinking, “Francine, you are lying, my contract wasn’t negotiable.”   But in fact, all contracts are negotiable, and your job is to know what makes them negotiable.  There are 4 things which will make a publisher give you more of what you want.  I’ll discuss them in this week’s Webinar.
  3. There are 6 REALLY important contract clauses in every book agreement, and believe it or not the “Royalty” provision is NOT one of them. Most new authors only care about the royalty payout and the advance.  Well hear this-while important, they are NOT the most provisions in your book contract.
  4. Boilerplate does not mean forge ahead with your eyes closed. Often authors think boilerplate means “there is nothing you can do about it.”  WRONG.  Boilerplate clauses are clause which generally go into an agreement, but you should read, understand, and delete or modify where appropriate for you.

That’s it for now. Do you have an opinion about this? Join my conversation on my Facebook Law PageGoogle+ pageTwitter feed, or in one of my LinkedIn group discussions.

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