Your publishing contract: What language is this?
This is part two.
This 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.
So 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, 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. The 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.
Next week: Finding your muse: It’s always the last place you look