{Secret Library Podcast} Autumn Witt Boyd demystifies the book contract.


Once you sell a book, you’re going to have to sign a book contract.

Thanks to Autumn coming on the show, this doesn’t have to be a terrifying process. Every writer who has come on the show has emphasized book contracts as something you need to understand before you sign. I don’t know about you, but despite the fact that the majority of my friends are lawyers, I wouldn’t feel comfortable reading and signing a contract without some help. Autumn speaks in simple language in this episode and clarifies all the areas you’d need to understand and the areas you need to consider before signing a contract.

In this day and age of eCourses, eBooks, and spin-off options for books, there is a lot more to a contract than just royalties and hardbacks and paperbacks. This is the beginning of a conversation you’ll want to have with a lawyer yourself when it comes time to publish your book. This can apply as well if you’re self-publishing as it’s possible you will get picked up from there for print rights or if there is a movie in the offing, a la The Martian. I promise this episode is just as fun to listen to, even if the content is more practical. Autumn is delightful and very passionate about supporting authors. Get ready to feel a whole lot more confident when you sell that book one day. Hopefully, you can feel that day getting closer already.

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Discussed in Episode 55 with Autumn Witt Boyd:

  • Why you need a lawyer who specializes in IP and, ideally, publishing and creative fields as well
  • The need to clearly define the book you are writing from a contract perspective
  • Publishing contracts are specific to the publishing house
  • Deciding what rights the publisher will have
  • What rights there are: paperbacks, TV, film, podcasts, eCourses, etc.
  • Other pieces that may be up for negotiation: audiobook rights, cover design, book layout for visual books
  • The negotiation process and how it differs between publishing houses
  • The difference between fiction and non-fiction contracts
  • Pitfalls to look out for in contracts
  • What happens if the publisher buys the proposal and not a finished manuscript
  • Handling changes between proposal and delivering a manuscript
  • Why you should not sign away your copyright to the publisher
  • How a lawyer fits in to the writer, publisher, and agent relationship
  • The difference between hiring a lawyer for a flat-rate project or on retainer
  • The skinny on multiple-book deals and how they work
  • The dynamics of the book advance
  • The difference between intellectual property and “the book.”

 

This episode is brought to you by The Story Intensive, now open for enrollment, with Caroline as a TA option. Learn more and sign up here!

Further Exploring

  • June 17, 2017 - 02:15

    AC K. - Excellent 43-minute audio podcast that summarizes book contracts and what typical red flags to watch out for!

    I would have included a reminder to both US-based and international authors to make should they register their manuscript’s copyright with the US Copyright Office BEFORE shopping it around; do NOT rely on the “poor man’s copyright”! In fact, I wouldn’t even trust the publisher to register my book!ReplyCancel

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