Monday, June 2, 2014

From Idea to Published in 18 Months and Ten Steps. Step 5: Negotiating the Contract
Operation Valuable Fiend
(Arcade Publishing, 2014)
In the series of blogs titled "From Idea to Published in 18 Months and Ten Steps," I have so far covered these steps of the process:
Now, you are at a point where you (or your agent) have convinced the acquisition editor of a publishing house that there is a business case for the house to publish your book. In other words, you have convinced the publisher that your book will sell enough copies for them to:

  1. Recoup the initial outlay of funds required to publish the book, including any advance you may receive upfront
  2. Cover the ongoing costs to print and market the book, and pay you a royalty, which is a portion of the proceeds for each copy that sells
  3. Make a profit
At this point the publisher will offer you a draft contract. 
This is a legal document that outlines any and all binding agreements between you and the publisher. In essence, through the publishing contract or agreement, you grant the publisher rights to your work -- what these rights are may take several paragraphs in the agreement to specify. The publisher in return agrees to pay you a certain portion of the proceeds it receives from monetizing the rights you granted -- these are the royalties you receive. Defining royalties usually takes several paragraphs to articulate as well.
Obviously, it is more complicated than this and you need a lawyer specializing in publishing agreements to review the contract before you sign it.
Can you negotiate the terms offered by the publisher? Certainly. Everything is negotiable, but go in the negotiation prepared, having done your research, and with realistic expectations. By the way, the contract negotiation is the step in the publishing process where an agent provides a great value.
Two more items specified in the contract are the delivery date of the manuscript and its length, as a range in thousand word, for example between 85,000 and 90,000 words. When you sign the contract, these become your next goal posts.
You are ready move to Step 6: Finalizing the Manuscript.