Your publishing contract: What language is this?

(It’s Friday, and you know what that means… That’s right! Look in your car’s ash tray, or in the laundry drum of your washer, for some extra change because it’s time for this week’s edition of Ned’s Nickel’s Worth on Writing. Can’t find any change? No problem! We’re on the honor system here at NWOW; we trust you’ll send that nickel, and you trust that the advice you receive will be worth the gum ball you gave up. As most of you know, these are my re-posts from Gliterary Girl, a book review and writing website where I’m a weekly contributor. I am also the only male. Is my masculinity threatened by this? Ha! Ha! Of course not! Only my wife can do that…)

image So this is one of those rare posts that comes in two parts. And if you’re an astute observer, such as myself, you are beginning to realize that, yes:

This is part two.

This next sentence includes a link to Part One right here, which is my own attempt at a Hulu-like service to readers, with the added benefit of no commercials or irritating ads.

Go ahead. I’ll wait for you while eating this delicious new Chicken Wrap from a participating McDonald’s…

… Welcome back!

As you’ve discovered, our topic is a continuation of last week’s post on publishing contracts, in which we covered things like Terms of Agreement, Grant of Rights, Author Guarantees and Warrants, First-Time Rights, and Providing Your First-Born.

OK, the last one was just to see if you’re paying attention. For those of you who momentarily weighed the advantages and disadvantages of giving up your first born, please skip ahead to the “So You Want to Be an Agent?” section of this column.

Today, we’ll be discussing Royalties, Future Options and Permissions.

Though Royalties probably doesn’t need much explaining, I’ll cover it anyway just to be thorough. As you know, England has a Monarchy wherein one family, known as Royalty, pretends to run the country while not having any actual say in anything whatsoever. From time to time, someone from the Royal Family comes to the U.S., and those within the publishing industry get a piece of the financial pie by writing about them.

Book royalties work in a similar way; the more excited people get about your book, the better the chance of it leaving the U.S., providing you with a piece of the financial pie while having no actual say whatsoever. The percentage of your royalties — or slice of the pie — from each book sale is determined ahead of time and agreed upon with your signature on the contract.

Generally, the percentage you receive will increase a few points with every 15,000 copies or so.

You should also receive a Royalty Report every six months, letting you know where all the members of the Royal Family are and how much pie they are bringing you.

This brings us to Future Options, which is basically a publisher’s chance to get a jump on other publishers when it comes to your next book.

My agreement has no demand to allow my publisher for Humor at the Speed of Life to receive dibs on my next book, which will more than likely go to pay for lawsuits brought on by Bruce Jenner and the Kardashians from my first book.

Future or First Option rights is something generally reserved for authors of a series, such as Harry Potter, Hunger Games or Swifties: The Many Short-Term Relationships of Taylor Swift.

If you think you have a hot property that is a series, think hard before entering into what could be a long-term relationship with a publisher.

Lastly, we have Permissions. This can get a little tricky because it permits the publisher to allow selections of your book to be printed in digests, abridgements, serializations, etc., without compensation to you, IF the publisher deems that it will benefit the overall sale of the book.

There is a level of trust implied here, so be careful before signing off on that.

As long as your publisher isn’t making money off of providing bits from your book to be printed elsewhere (while you make nothing), giving those permissions is reasonable, and is likely a legitimate strategy to increase book sales through “teasers.”

However, if you suddenly notice 1) your publisher has a new boat in his or her driveway and 2) you’re beginning to see portions of your book in Readers Digest, and 3) hear a dramatic reading of chapter 5 on Amazon Audio Books by Meryl Streep, you may not have read your contract as well as you should have.

As I sit here looking at my contract, I can say I feel comfortable with signing. And not just because I’m in a massage chair. My decision to publish with Port Hole Books has taken place over the course of several months, with several meetings and phone conversations, and plenty of time to look over what I’m signing.

I not only like and respect my publisher, but am convinced she has my — as well as her — best interests in mind.

We are both motivated to be successful in this venture.

Oh, not to mention that she gave me a really great red pen to sign with as a souvenir.

Next week: Finding your muse: It’s always the last place you look

Published by

Ned's Blog

I was a journalist, humor columnist, writer and editor at Siuslaw News for 23 years. The next chapter in my own writer’s journey is helping other writers prepare their manuscript for the road ahead. I'm married to the perfect woman, have four great kids, and a tenuous grip on my sanity...

31 thoughts on “Your publishing contract: What language is this?”

  1. Trusting your assurance that not a soul is watching, I feel perfectly comfortable (you aren’t the only one with access to a massage chair) in saying “Ned is THE BEST WRITER IN THE WORLD.” Really. Trust me.

    1. By the way, what do you mean “when” you get published? It just happened with your article, no? You are a published author! Just sayin’…

      1. Oh right!! I need to change my way of thinking….thanks for the reminder. I’m going to write a few more random articles and submit them….I wonder if they have room for a new column?? Time to find out. 🙂

            1. Thanks Susan, you too! I’m teaching a two-day extrication class this weekend at the fire dept., showing how to tear open cars. It will definitely be a FUN weekend! 🙂 Hey, if you want to turn your car into a convertible for free, stop by!

  2. Ned!! This – “This next sentence includes a link to Part One right here, which is my own attempt at a Hulu-like service to readers, with the added benefit of no commercials or irritating ads.” – cracked me up, and I’m totally stealing it the next time I feel like doing a little shameless self-promotion and linking to my own posts.

    PS: Had one (or two) margaritas last night in your honour! 😀

  3. Can you add me as the official reader should your book go to audio? Killer voice here…

    1. Hmmm. If your voice is like a 1-900 number voice, I’m not sure if my humor and sexy go together. In fact I’m pretty sure thy don’t 😉

No one is watching, I swear...

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s