"Wherever men have lived there is a story to be told." Henry David Thoreau

Monday, May 3, 2010

Get to Know Publishing Law

Many authors believe that all they have to do is sit back and let their agent iron out the details of their contract with the editor. And, yes, that is the agent's job, but you, as a writer, should have some knowledge about a book contract so you can talk intelligently to your agent. Many new authors are under the misconception that their agents can work miracles with a publishing house and get them anything they want. In reality, the negotiations depend on many factors. The more you know, the more you will understand your agent's job and the limitations she might face in negotiating certain aspects of a contract. You will also know if you have an agent who "isn't" negotiating at all for you but accepting a boiler plate contract.

A very good book I think every author should have is Kirsch's Handbook of Publishing Law (1994) by Jonathan Kirsch. He also has another one called Kirsch's Guide to the Book Contract (1998). There might be newer additions, but I have "Publishing Law" and it is invaluable for the author who wants to understand contracts and contract negotiations.


Lydia Kang said...

Good to know. I'll have to bookmark this for future reference. Thanks for the post!

Janet Johnson said...

I'd never thought about that before. Great post, and great idea! :)

Ben Hutchins said...

Good advice. I just met an author who is very unhappy about her contract, and she signed away without putting much effort into understanding it. Big mistake.

Linda Sandifer said...

You're right, Ben. This happens too often. Sometimes you can't negotiate certain things, especially if you're a first-time author, but there are parts of contracts that most publishers expect to negotiate.