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Amazon Pays Advances for Your Book?

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Worldwide-Book-Rights

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Writers everywhere get excited about an email from Amazon, where they explain a glimpse into offering a new program, a crowd-sourcing program:  
Your readers and followers can decide if an e-book / audio-book will be published by Amazon – and you can keep the print rights.  There will be a (small) advance, royalties and certainly Amazon’s tremendous marketing power. Here are the first details:
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  • This new “Scout” program is only for author in the USA!
  • Focused formats: We acquire worldwide publication rights for the e-Book and audio formats in all languages. You retain all other rights, including print.
  • Submit your complete! (means edited) never-before-published book and cover.
  • After a few days, we will post the first pages of each book on a new website for readers to preview and nominate their favorites.
  • Books with the most nominations will be reviewed by our team for potential publication.
  • Should you be selected for publication you will receive benefits that include:
  • Guaranteed advance & competitive royalties: You will receive a guaranteed $1,500 advance and 50% royalties on net eBook revenue.
  • 5-year renewable terms, $5,000 in royalties: If your book doesn’t earn $5,000 in royalties during your initial 5-year contract term, and any 5-year renewal term after that, you can choose to stop publishing with us.
  • Early downloads & reviews: One week prior to release date, everyone who nominated your book will receive a free, early copy to help build momentum and customer reviews.
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    Read here all the latest details in their contract:
    https://kindlescout.amazon.com/agreement

Update:  Not Yet Worldwide …

Amazon sent out this information (October 2):
We’ll be welcoming submissions for English-language books in Romance, Mystery & Thriller, and Science Fiction & Fantasy genres. Any adult with a valid U.S. bank account and U.S. social security number or tax identification number is eligible.

Here are the things that you should prepare to successfully submit your book:
Complete, never-before-published manuscript & book cover image – We’re looking for 50,000 words or more in Word format and a book cover image that reflects the essence and uniqueness of your book. Make sure your work is ready for others to read. Only the first pages will be posted to the website (approx. 3,000 words).

Book one-liner – A very short pitch (no longer than 45 characters) for your book that will be used on the homepage and throughout the website. Think of examples like “Space opera meets the Middle Ages” or “How far will one woman go to save her family?”

Book description- Help readers understand the content and quality of your book. Keep the description to 500 characters or less.

Your bio & picture – Give readers a chance to learn more about you. You will also have a chance to answer relevant questions regarding your book and personal story in a short Q&A section.
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We’ll also ask you to review and accept our submission and publishing agreement that grants us a 45-day exclusivity period to post your excerpt and tally nominations. If chosen for publication, you will receive a $1,500 advance, 5-year renewable term, 50% eBook royalty rate, easy rights reversions, and Amazon-featured marketing. If not, you automatically get all your rights back at the end of the 45-day exclusivity period.
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Read Behind the Lines:
The titles selected for this Amazon program will not have their books published by Amazon Publishing. This is mainly why they are not offering book editing or cover art design. Instead, Amazon is hoping to give authors another reason to exclusively publish with them and forgo submitting their titles to the trade publisher competition. Net-Royalties could be 10% of gross list after deducting everything the publisher can charge to the project – including salaries and marketing…

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Hybrid Between Trade Publishing and Self-publishing
Higher royalty rates might lead to the expectation that some of those functions are the author’s responsibility.  Not only are the royalties higher than normal trade publishing royalties, Amazon offers very liberal release terms, both for rights not exercised within two years by the publisher and for situations in which the royalties are lower than expectations.  Amazon will put extracts of the books on a website and call for the audience to vote for their favorites, with the most popular going on to be considered by an Amazon panel for publication.

The rights cover ebooks and audio, but you get to keep the print book. The length of term depends on how much your book makes. If the book has earned less than $500 in royalties in the previous year, then you can get the rights back after two years and if the book doesn’t bring in $5,000 royalties in the first five-year term, then you can also quit.
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Author Comments:
“As an indie author almost anything short of my soul would be worth Amazon having an interest in my book and advertising it FOR ME. We all know, selling more of one book means selling more of your other books. Usually hardcore Amazon advertising is reserved for large publishing houses with huge budgets. We get bones tossed to us when we do a good job, but a targeted campaign? When Amazon wants to sell something they do a fantastic job of it. The big attraction is the fact that Amazon can push any book into their best-seller lists with their email campaigns and promotions. For sure, it will generate more name exposure, which could lead to more sales of your other books.”

“I assume Amazon will put a promotional push behind these books like they do the Kindle First books, especially since Amazon is invested in them. 50% of a promoted book could easily make more than 70% of a non-promoted book. It also means that if you publish an additional paperback, it will indirectly benefit from whatever advertising Amazon does for your e-book and audible.”

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The offer includes an advance payment of $1,500 and 50% royalties on net e-book revenue. A 50% royalty for being published (and promoted) by Amazon sounds a reasonable deal, but “net” doesn’t mean half of the retail price.  If you would like to sign up to be notified when this program launches, Amazon has started a mailing list. Details on this site: http://www.amazon.com/gp/gss/detail/29134490/ref=pe_1148920_123694410_pe_button/1?tag=skim0x9814-20

Most important of all for your success in this upcoming new program, is to have LOTS of FOLLOWERS on SOCIAL MEDIA to vote for your e-book’s and audio-book’s publishing deal with Amazon!

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Read more:
http://rogerpacker.com/blog/authors-got-talent-coming-soon-amazon/
http://the-digital-reader.com/2014/09/22/amazon-publishing-crowd-source-next-books-now-recruiting-kdp-authors/
http://www.publishersweekly.com/pw/by-topic/digital/content-and-e-books/article/64103-amazon-launching-new-crowdsourcing-publishing-program.html
http://goodereader.com/blog/e-book-news/amazon-unveils-new-crowdsourcing-program-for-kdp-authors

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If you would like to get more support in all things publishing, have your book intensively promoted and learn how to navigate social media sites – or to learn how you can make yourself a name as an author through content writing: We offer all this and more for only $179 for three months – or less than $2 per day! Learn more about this customized Online Seminar / Consulting for writers: http://www.111Publishing.com/Seminars

Please check out all previous posts of this blog (there are more than 1,100 of them : ) if you haven’t already. Why not sign up to receive them regularly by email? Just click on “Follow” in the upper line on each page – and then on “LIKE” next to it. There is also the “SHARE” button underneath each article where you can submit the article to Pinterest, Google+, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and StumpleUpon.
Thanks a lot for following:

@111publishing
http://www.111publishing.com
http://www.e-Book-PR.com/
http://www.international-ebooks.com/
http://bit.ly/VmtVAS 111Publishing @ Google+

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Want to Write for Glory? Or for Money?

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Writing-Query-to-Publisher
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At a recent meeting of independent writers I met a young women, who told me about an event she wanted to visit: the “path to publishing”.  The highlight will be a literary agent who accepts query letters from participating aspiring writers.  I asked her why she is querying to publishers. “Do you want to write for glory – to see your book for a couple of weeks in bookstores – or do you want to earn money with your writing?”  I admit, a bit provocative.  I explained her what she can expect as “published” author including the minimal royalty of only 8-10% what an author gets – compared to 70% (or almost 100% for sales from the authors website).  
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  1. Having an established platform and an idea how to brand yourself
  2. The first book has to be successful from day one!  Bookstores give only a couple of weeks for success
  3. Expect an exclusivity clause in your contract for series / similar topics
  4. But first of all:  Proof the publisher you and your book will be a success
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There are some questions that trade publishers and literary agents frequently ask writers before they sign them up. The problem is most writers are caught off guard by these questions and don’t always answer them the way they would’ve liked. So prepare ahead of time!
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Why do you want to be published?
Seems like a simple question, right? The agent isn’t just interested in your answer but your attitude. Let’s take a look as how some of your answers COULD be perceived…
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Answer #1: I just want to get my story on paper.
Agent’s reaction:  Then you don’t need me. If you’re not going to take this seriously and consider writing your new career, I’m not interested.
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Answer #2: I want to share my stories with the world.
Agent’s reaction:  Why would anyone want to read your stories? What makes you more special than any other writer out there? If you don’t know what’s unique about you and you can’t sell yourself, how am I supposed to?
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Answer #3: I want to become a bestseller and make a bundle.
Agent’s reaction: Get real.  Do you know how hard it is to become a bestseller? Do you understand how much work is involved? Why do I get the feeling you’re not interested in the writing, just the possible financial benefit.  Oh, did I mention you will make next to nothing with your first book and possibly every book after that? If you want to become a millionaire, buy a lottery ticket. Your odds are probably better.
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Answer #4: I want to be famous.
Publishers reaction:  That’s not going to happen overnight. Are you willing to put in the time and sweat?  What if you don’t amount to more than being a mid-lister?
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Here are more questions, which could come in many forms:

  • What’s your next book about?
  • What else are you working on?
  • Where do you see this series going?
  • What is your blog about?
  • How many followers do you have on your Social Media sites?

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What Are Publishers / Agents Expecting?  They want to know you’re committed, that you understand this journey is hard, long, and not always rewarding. They want you to dream and to set goals, but they need to believe you are willing to work to attain those goals.
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Must-Read Blog to learn more about agents and how to approach them
http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/guide-to-literary-agents
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How to Write a Query Letter
http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/guide-to-literary-agents
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Less than Minimum Wage for Authors?
https://savvybookwriters.wordpress.com/2013/08/15/less-than-minimum-wage-for-authors/
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Successful Query Letters
https://savvybookwriters.wordpress.com/2014/01/06/5-tips-for-successful-book-submissions/

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If you would like to get more support in all things publishing, have your book intensively promoted and learn how to navigate social media sites – or to learn how you can make yourself a name as an author through content writing: We offer all this and more for only $179 for three months – or less than $2 per day! Learn more about this customized Online Seminar / Consulting for writers: http://www.111Publishing.com/Seminars

Please check out all previous posts of this blog (there are more than 1,070 of them : ) if you haven’t already. Why not sign up to receive them regularly by email? Just click on “Follow” in the upper line on each page – and then on “LIKE” next to it. There is also the “SHARE” button underneath each article where you can submit the article to Pinterest, Google+, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and StumpleUpon.
Thanks a lot for following:

@111publishing
http://www.111publishing.com
http://www.e-Book-PR.com/
http://www.international-ebooks.com/
http://bit.ly/VmtVAS 111Publishing @ Google+

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Do You Understand Your Publishing Contract?

In the last two blog posts you found a lot of tips for authors what to look for in a publishing contract. Now, imagine, you found a literary agent, and he’s landed you an offer from a publishing house. You have made it! Wrong! Publishing contracts should not be signed right away, even if you have an agent. Let your own lawyer (specialized on contract law) explain you the agreements and let your agent negotiate on your behalf.
Do you really need to know all the “small print”? Yes, every bit of the contract!
And yes, even if the book project never gets off the ground. Without appropriate contract provisions, it may end you up in a legal limbo. Read more about all the important contract clauses you might encounter and get the Book Contract Checklist:

 

Savvy Writers & e-Books online

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Court-House

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Traditional Publishing Contracts – Part Three of a Series
Signing a “Standard” Publishing Contract can have serious consequences for authors. A publisher’s standard agreement could contain a one-sided non-competition clause that prevents the author from using material from his manuscript in day-to-day business, such as blogs posts, magazine articles, even tweets. Or a clause in the contract might state that the author is prohibited to produce another work that competes with the title under contract without prior permission of the publisher. Well, what authors do with their time is their business, isn’t it? Shouldn’t they be able to write other books, for themselves or for other publishers? Are they slaves of the publisher?

Read the examples of book contract clauses here and in number two of this series (compare
them with your own contract) and find out “what it means” to you as the author:
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Publication and Revised Editions:

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Posted by on May 5, 2014 in Marketing

 

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The Traps in Publishing Contracts

The key to a good publishing contract is clarity. For authors, it is helpful to keep in mind that most contracts are not take-it-or-leave-it propositions. Be courteous. Be tactful. Knowing what to ask for is critical. Use an agent or attorney who understands the parameters of the typical publishing deal to negotiate your contract. Working through an agent or attorney allows the author to preserve his creative relationship with the editor or publishing house, explains Attorney Lloyd J. Jassin on his website.

 

Savvy Writers & e-Books online

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Traps-in-Publishing-Contracts
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Traditional Publishing Contracts – Part Two of a Series 

There should be a large neon sign that says: NEVER, NEVER, NEVER sign a contract without having your contract lawyer going over it and explaining it to you in detail – sentence for sentence. The contract clauses described here in this blog post are the “norm” in publishing. It is difficult to see how your publishing agreement will play out in the long term, what you sign today could have profound, long term consequences.

Contract attorney Ivan Hoffman explains in his blog:
“In the US, many contracts that consumers commonly sign, such as for mortgage or auto loans or to
obtain a credit card, are subject to statutory requirements for fairness, clarity, etc.  If some of the clauses and drafting techniques commonly included in publishing contracts used by publishers were found in consumer contracts, those provisions would be…

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5 Tips for Successful Book Submissions

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Dictionary

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Don’t give agents or publishers a reason to reject your manuscript submission.  I could write a book and fill it with these dreadful “submissions” that came to my inbox/mailbox in the last years. On one site I feel pity for the sender, on the other hand I just can’t understand why they don’t make the effort to read submission guidelines on publishers websites, get it right and learn how to write submissions to publishers. Why do authors work many months or even years on a manuscript, and then don’t learn how to sell it? There are just a few basics to be familiar with:
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Genre / Category
Most publishers or agents are specialized in certain genres. It also gets harder for authors if they do cross-genres. However, sending a query for poetry to a publisher, who explicitly states on his website under submission guidelines, that they only accept non-fiction and how-to-guides, is a waste of your and their time and money to ask “if they take on poetry”.  Not researching what genres an agent or publisher is interested in, is not only impolite, but will for sure result in rejection.

Many resources such as PublishersGlobal, PublishingWeekly, Writer’s Market or AgentQuery.com will help you to find the right places / agents / publishers for your genre.  Another possibility is to perform a Google search for the words literary agent and your genre. Carefully study your selected agents’ website to find more information.
A word of caution: In former blogs we wrote that – as in many other publishing fields – there are a few “rotten apples”, meaning agents that are charging authors for reading their manuscripts or demand a fee for his or her “evaluation” of their manuscript.
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Follow Submission Guidelines
Not reading and acting accordingly to an agent’s or publishers individual submission guidelines will end your query letter immediately in the recycle bin. Find answers to questions like these in the agents’ guidelines:

  • Do they want a query letter only?
  • Do they want a query with the first pages of your manuscript?
  • Do they want a query and the first three chapters?
  • Do they accept queries via e-mail or via regular mail?
  • Read and follow their guidelines in detail!

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How to Write a Query Letter
First of all: find out the name of the agent or editor at the publishing house you will query. Never, ever, write “To whom it may concern”. It only shows your are not caring whoever will receive it. Maybe the intern … Don’t forget to add all of your contact information: address, e-mail address, and phone number.

The QueryShark advises:

  • “The opening paragraph is meant to make a pitch regarding your protagonist and your book in a way that the agent will fall in love with them.”
  • “The second paragraph provides the synopsis. Do not include every little detail, it is meant to summarize the essence of the obstacles in the story. Stick to the big picture.”
  • “The third paragraph is all about you. What relevant credentials, honors, and awards have you or your books achieved? In other words, why you and not another author should be published.”
  • “The closing paragraph should recognize the agent’s submission guidelines, why you felt they were a good fit for your novel, and an action to take…i.e. requesting the full manuscript.”

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Your Query
You will need a complete book proposal, three sample chapters and a cover letter (the query). A book proposal is made up of several components, such as an overview, competitive titles, marketing of your book, etc., and should be at least 10 pages long – a kind of business plan for your book. BTW: This is something that every writer should do for their work, no matter if they pitch an agent or publisher or if they intend to self-publish their book.

Most writers don’t know that they need only three chapters written, not the entire manuscript when pitching to an agent or publishing house. Once the offer is accepted, the rest of the manuscript has to follow within a certain time frame.
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Spelling and Grammar
When submitting a query letter to agents, ensure that all spelling and grammar issues are resolved. Typos or even shortcuts are a turnoff. Do hire a professional to read your letter!
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Following these tips will help you in landing an agent. Read about all the famous authors who were rejected, but, it was their persistence that paid off in the long run.  Get lots of tips from literary agents here.  Consider not only to submit your manuscript to publishing houses, but to author-publish it, in order to earn more and if successfully, agents and publishers will approach YOU!

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If you would like to get more support in all things publishing, have your book intensively promoted and learn how to navigate social media sites – or to learn how you can make yourself a name as an author through content writing: We offer all this and more for only $159 for three months! Learn more about this individual book marketing help: http://www.111Publishing.com/Seminars
Or visit http://www.e-book-pr.com/book-promo/
to advertise your new book, specials, your KDP Select Free Days or the new Kindle Countdown Deals.

Please check out all previous posts of this blog (there are more than 970 of them : ) if you haven’t already. Why not sign up to receive them regularly by email? Just click on “Follow” in the upper line on each page – and then on “LIKE” next to it. There is also the “SHARE” button underneath each article where you can submit the article to Pinterest, Google+, Twitter, Facebook, Tumblr and StumpleUpon.
Thanks a lot for following:

@111publishing
http://www.111publishing.com
http://www.e-Book-PR.com/
http://www.international-ebooks.com/
http://bit.ly/VmtVAS 111Publishing @ Google+

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Do You Understand Your Publishing Contract?

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Court-House

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Traditional Publishing Contracts – Part Three of a Series
Signing a “Standard” Publishing Contract can have serious consequences for authors. A publisher’s standard agreement could contain a one-sided non-competition clause that prevents the author from using material from his manuscript in day-to-day business, such as blogs posts, magazine articles, even tweets. Or a clause in the contract might state that the author is prohibited to produce another work that competes with the title under contract without prior permission of the publisher. Well, what authors do with their time is their business, isn’t it? Shouldn’t they be able to write other books, for themselves or for other publishers? Are they slaves of the publisher?

Read the examples of book contract clauses here and in number two of this series (compare
them with your own contract) and find out “what it means” to you as the author:
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Publication and Revised Editions:
In some instances the book project never gets off the ground and without appropriate contract provisions, it may end up in legal limbo. What happens to the rights in the book in those events? Do the rights revert to the author? Do they remain with the publisher? What about revised editions? Will they be considered a new book? How will royalties be calculated on these newer versions?

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Competing Works:
“The author shall not publish any book on the same or similar subject matter that would directly
compete in the marketplace with sales of this manuscript. The author shall not undertake to write
another book for another publisher until the manuscript is delivered.”

What it means: If you have a contract for any type of cook book, say one about vegetarian
recipes, you cannot write a barbecue cook book and offer it to the producer of George Foreman
barbecues, and even a baking book, offered to another publisher who is specialist in bake
recipes is out of question.

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Unsatisfactory Material:
“If the Material for a given Book is not, in the publisher’s sole judgement, satisfactory in all
respects, the publisher may terminate this agreement upon written notice.”

What it means: The Publisher can end the deal for pretty much any reason it sees fit – as the
contract clause has no specific criteria to determine – or for no reason at all…

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Marketing:
“The Publishing House will also provide marketing/sales services for your book; this involves
handling sales to bookstores and direct mail sales.”

What it means: This unprofessional publisher has no clue about what’s involved in marketing.
He makes the author believe that delivering a book which is ordered from a bookstore or from
their website means marketing. Delivering is not marketing! Selling is not marketing! The problem is that when you enter into the publishing agreement, you don’t know whether your current book will sell well, and whether the publisher will do a good job marketing it.
The author should insist to have the publisher establish some sort of marketing plan in advance
and this plan should be part of the contract so that the author has some recourse should the
publisher not promote the book as originally discussed.

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General Provisions:
“In the event of bankruptcy or liquidation of Publisher for any cause whatever, Author shall have
the right to buy back the publications at fair market value to be determined by agreement or
arbitration, and this Agreement shall terminate. If Author does not purchase remaining copies of
the book, the representative of Publisher shall have the right to sell same at the best obtainable
price without payment of royalty to Author.”

What it means: …. this Agreement shall terminate: there is no set time limit. It can terminate in
three days, three weeks, three months. It is the sole decision of the publisher / liquidation trustee.
And the author does not get any compensation whatsoever, if the publisher goes bankrupt, while
the author is in vacation and who doesn’t know that an agreement is terminated.
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Indemnity:
“The author shall indemnify and hold the publisher harmless from any losses, expenses,
settlements, recoveries, or judgement arising from or related to any claim, action or proceeding
which would constitute a breach of author’s representations and warranties, especially to hold
the publisher harmless against any expenses incurred, including counsel fees, in connection
with any claim, demand, action or proceeding against Publisher or any other person, firm or
corporation selling the Work”

What it means: The author has to reimburse even third parties, such as movie companies, TV,
magazines, firms or corporations who reprint excerpts or selling the work and even subcontractors
of the publisher for expenses in any claims. Publishers will use lawyers to get money it feels it is owed, but not use lawyers to protect the author in case of being sued (for libel, copyright issues etc.). Publisher takes the lion’s share of the profits, but doesn’t make any effort to protect the acquired work from any lawsuits, so the author takes all the blame and financial burden. Example: Some books involve not only original writing, but also quotes from other sources, photographs, illustrations etc. Such materials should be licensed by an agreement in writing from the owner of the rights to such materials, and should be done by the publisher as he is the one profiting most from the book’s success.
Authors could face continual threat of action against them by the publisher at any time and no
definable cause – according to some clauses in publishing contracts. Such penalties could
include:

  • refusal to publish
  • withholding payment due
  • refusal to extend time for delivery pay advances, and pay royalties
  • reimbursements for advances or monies due

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Option on Next Work:
“Publisher shall have the exclusive option to acquire upon mutually agreeable terms the publishing rights to the next (i.e. written after the work) full-length work written by the author. The author shall not submit the said next work to other publishers, nor seek offers from or negotiate with others, with respect thereto.”

What it means: Any book that the author writes after delivering the manuscript to the publisher
has to be offered to him first – and only when the publisher refuses, the author is allowed to pitch
another publishing house.

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Out-of-Print and Reversion of Rights:
“In the event that after three years from the date of first publication, the work shall not be in print
and for sale in any edition by the publisher or any of its licensees and after written notice from the
author shall not within six (6) months be reprinted by the publisher or a licensee and offered for sale, (unless prevented from doing so by circumstances beyond its control) then in either of these events, the author shall have the right to terminate this agreement and upon written notice to that effect by the author to the publisher, all rights granted under this agreement shall revert to the author, subject to any outstanding licences and the publisher’s continuing right to participate in the proceeds thereof”.

What it means: The publisher alone decides if a book it “out-of-print” – which can be after three
years or never, as he can easily put the book on POD (print-on-demand), which means the
book is available and “in-print” indefinitely.
What events kick off the termination other than merely the book being declared “out of print” by
the publisher? What are the author’s and publisher’s rights in the event of termination? Can the
author get a complete list of outstanding licenses and deals made by the publisher? What are
the author’s rights to buy inventory? Who owns the rights to the work in the event of termination?

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Conclusion
Don’t become a slave of publishers!
Standardized contracts could be powerful negotiation tools. However, some authors will simply sign them, without even asking questions. These “standard” book contracts may have unexpected and unfair consequences for authors and their work. It is essential that authors approach the negotiating process with both, knowledge of their rights as well as a broad vision about what may happen to the book over the course of its publishing lifetime and deal with those potentialities within the contract.
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Do use the comprehensive Book Contract Checklist by Attorney Lloyd J. Jassin!
It will help you to prepare for a meeting with your contract lawyer, to check out your publishing contract in all details and to list your amendments you might have for your publishing contract.

As J.A. Konrath wrote in his blog: “The Big 5 are in such lockstep when it comes to this boilerplate contracts, they have effectively created a unified front. In other words, there is simply no other option because the Big Publishing Cartel have the unfair-contract market thoroughly cornered.”
Don’t accept clauses in “standard” book contracts, that denies you as an author not even

remotely equal power. You can better do on your own! Especially as nowadays authors have to market their books themselves – and more and more even have to deliver a fully edited
manuscript at their own cost.
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Resources:

Reversion of Rights

What Not to Miss When Negotiating Your Book Publishing Contract

Ten Key Negotiating Points

Frequent Asked Questions

Unconscionability Cases

Legal Corner for Authors, Levine Samuel, LLP

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7 Comments

Posted by on August 17, 2013 in Marketing

 

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The Traps in Publishing Contracts

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Traps-in-Publishing-Contracts
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Traditional Publishing Contracts – Part Two of a Series 

There should be a large neon sign that says: NEVER, NEVER, NEVER sign a contract without having your contract lawyer going over it and explaining it to you in detail – sentence for sentence. The contract clauses described here in this blog post are the “norm” in publishing. It is difficult to see how your publishing agreement will play out in the long term, what you sign today could have profound, long term consequences.

Contract attorney Ivan Hoffman explains in his blog:
“In the US, many contracts that consumers commonly sign, such as for mortgage or auto loans or to
obtain a credit card, are subject to statutory requirements for fairness, clarity, etc.  If some of the clauses and drafting techniques commonly included in publishing contracts used by publishers were found in consumer contracts, those provisions would be deemed void and unenforceable. In some cases, they might even constitute consumer fraud and would subject publishers to fines and penalties.”
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My advice: Before you even have a publishing contract meeting, do your homework and google the publisher, adding the word “complaint”. You might be surprised what you will discover!
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Publishing contracts are not negotiated from the ground up between the author and the publisher. They are prepared by the Publisher and delivered to the Author as though ready for signature.  And many authors sign without understanding what the contract contains or what rights they are giving up. They focus only on the royalty rate and the advance, if there is any. While those points are important, they might be far less important than some other provisions in the agreement. Authors should not assume a “standard” contract will be fair or equitable. Nor should authors assume they will be able to easily get out of that contract if found out later to be unfair.
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Samples of unfavorable publishing contracts

Duration of the contract and Territory:
“Author grants and assigns to publisher the sole and exclusive rights to the manuscript throughout the
territory, (which means the World – I have seen contracts that state “throughout the Universe” ….) during the entire term of the copyright and any renewals and extensions thereof.”

What is means: This contract is for the life of the author, plus 70 years after her death, plus renewals and extensions, binding to your heirs as well… Have you ever seen or signed a contract that extends beyond your lifetime? Pretty unfair and one-sided! It also should have a clause, that you get the rights back if the publishers doesn’t exploit it in a given time. For example: if they don’t translate your book into French, Spanish or Cantonese, they should state in the contract to return the rights for those countries to you, say after 2 or 3 years. Most likely they will refuse to …
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Rights granted by the author to the publisher:
“The Publisher has the exclusive rights to:

  • Magazine or newspaper before and following publication
  • Publication of condensations, abridgments, and in anthologies
  • Book club publication
  • Direct sale and mail order”

What it means: In their contracts, publishers will almost always seek to obtain ALL rights to the
manuscript. No author should give up all rights. If the author is in a stronger bargaining position, the
author may be able to withhold electronic rights, foreign rights or any other of the rights. If for any reason the contract terminates, there should be a clause, dealing directly with what happens to the rights in the book in those events. Do the rights revert to the author?
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Manuscript delivery and unsatisfactory material:
“If the manuscript for a book is not, in publisher’s sole judgement, satisfactory in all respects, the
publisher may terminate this agreement upon written notice.”

What it means: the Publisher can end the deal for pretty much any reason it sees fit, or for no reason at all. This clause has no single criteria to determine if a book is satisfactory – and it doesn’t give the author equal power to terminate the contract if she/he is not satisfied by the book the publisher created, for example if the publisher did not edit the book properly, priced it to high for the market or choose a terrible cover or a ridiculous title?
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Advances and Royalties

What is an advance
An advance payment is not a signing bonus. Instead, it is money the publisher is paying the author to live on while the book is being written. The publisher will be paid back this money once the book starts selling. They will take the advance money right off the top of your earnings. Depending on the size of your advance and how well your book sells, you may not receive any royalty payments for a long time. Maybe never. When a book sells enough copies to cover the cost of the advance, it means the book “has earned out.” Now your royalties can start rolling in …
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Royalties:
“Hardcover: 10% of the invoice price for the first 5000 copies, 12.5% thereof for copies from 5001 to
10,000, and 15% thereof for copies in excess of 10,000. Mass Market Paperback: 8% of the invoice
price for the first 150,000 and 10% thereof for all copies thereafter. On Ebooks: 25% of the amounts
received by Publisher, excluding taxes and handling charges.”

What it means: Between 8% and 12.5% for books is a pitance, and a lousy pay for the hard work of the author. And equally outrageous is what the author gets on e-books: 25% royalties – which is equivalent to 17.5% of the list price. However, the publisher gets 52.5% of the list price! Compare it to 70% you get from Amazon for books between $2.99 and $9.99. Do I need to say more?
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Royalty Payments
“Publisher shall provide Author with semi-annual royalty statements showing the amount due to the
Author, by April 1 and October 1 of each year for the six-month period ending the preceding December 31 and June 30th, respectively.”

What it means: These publishers might have never heard from a computer, nor do they use any : ) It does not take 6 months to compile the data for sold books, Amazon shoes your sales in mere minutes, and Barnes&Noble, CreateSpace and Kobo pay monthly. But if the money is withheld for months,it’s to the Publisher’s advantage. The longer, the more interest they can earn on the principal due to delayed payments.
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Most important: What is your royalty based on?
Retail price? Wholesale price? Or net price? Bookstores and other retailers get often deep discounts, up to 55%. If your contract states 10% of net, and the book is delivered at 55% discount to retailers, you might end up with only a couple of cents per book …

  • At a discount of 50%, 20% of net is same as 10% of the retail price of your book
  • At a discount of 40%, 16,66% of net is same as 10% of the lretail price of your book
  • At a discount of 20%, 12,5% of net is the same as 10% of the list price of your book

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Joint accounts – another trick of the trade publishers:
“Books one, two, and three will be held in a joint and open account, and the publisher shall not pay the
author’s share of royalties and subsidiary rights income on any book of the work until the author’s share of royalties and subsidiary rights income for all books exceeds the total advance.”

What it means: If you have a three-book deal with an advance of $60,000, you don’t make a cent in
royalties until all $60,000 has earned out – if for example book one earns already royalties, those
royalties go toward paying off the advances on books two and three. This is called a basket account or joint accounting. This way you might not earn anything, even with one very successful book, just
because other books in the basket weren’t as successful, often at the publishers fault – or haven’t been released yet.
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Statements and Payments
“Books one, two, and three will be held in a joint and open account, and the publisher shall not pay the
author’s share of royalties and subsidiary rights income on any book of the work until the author’s share of royalties and subsidiary rights income for all books exceeds the total advance.”

What it means: If you have a three-book deal with an advance of $60,000, you don’t make a cent in
royalties until all $60,000 has earned out – if for example book one earns already royalties, those
royalties go toward paying off the advances on books two and three. This is called a basket account or joint accounting. This way you might not earn anything, even with one very successful book, just
because other books in the basket weren’t as successful, often at the publishers fault – or haven’t been released yet.
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Reasonable Reserve
“The publisher may retain a reasonable reserve against returns in any accounting period. If the author
receives an over-payment of royalties resulting from copies of the work reported, sold, but subsequently returned, the author shall repay such amounts to Publisher to the extent that Publisher is not able to deduct such amounts from monies due to Author at the end of the royalty payment period after the period in which the over-payment is discovered.

What it means: This looks like a Publisher can pretty much withhold money from an author, and it
doesn’t define what a “reasonable” reserve is.

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As contract lawyer Ivan Hoffman wrote:
“However, in the absence of consumer-type protections, the laws governing (publishing) business contracts assume that each party to such contracts will watch out for themselves. If both parties sign a contract, the strong presumption is that each party understood what the contract meant and voluntarily agreed to be bound by it. In extreme cases, if a lawsuit were filed, a contract might be deemed unconscionable and voided in whole or in part, but that is a high hurdle to clear.”
Knowing the problem is widespread, doesn’t mean it should be ignored. Big companies are exploiting artists. They are getting rich, and the creators are getting shafted.
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Stay tuned for number three (final) in the series, and spread the word, RE-BLOG these articles, so that as much writers as possible learn about the tactics of the publishing industry and how to read between the lines.

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Resources:

Great Book Contract Checklist

Book Publishing Contracts: Checklist of Deal Terms

Copyright Termination

How to Read a Book Contract

Author Concerns and Complaints at Crimson Romance Contracts

Blog Posts by a New York Contract Lawyer

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