The moment has come, fellow unagented writer, where a publishing contracts is actually in your hands! Years and years of struggling, querying agents, submitting to publishers, revising, disheartening comments (though helpful in the long run), editing, stress, and God knows what else have finally paid off. An actual and no-longer-imaginary contract is in your hands. You probably consider never washing those hands again so you may always have that feel of the contract on them (though I strongly advise you against it). A publisher has finally recognised your worth. How awesome is that! Chances are you’re jumping up and down with glee and excitement, the edges of your mouth almost touching your ears. You’re singing, and with the pen in your hand you’re about to –



Read that contract again. You owe it to yourself, to your career.

There are things all writers, who don’t have an agent or a publishing attorney or an in-depth knowledge of publishing law, should look out for.

Susan Spann, who specialises in intellectual property, business and publishing contracts, has a few things to say about what to look out for. In her post How to Spot–and Avoid–Predatory “Pay to Play” Publishing Contracts, she explains in brief some of the things you should consider as red flags in the contract you hold in your hands. Yes, publishing contracts are precious to us, but how certain are you that you’re as precious to the publisher who offered you that contract?


Susan Spann (@SusanSpann) often tweets publishing-related advice under the hashtag #publaw. Ever since I joined Twitter, her posts on publishing law are the ones I read several times over. I think you’ll also find her advice helpful.

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3 thoughts on “Publishing scams – More about publishing contracts and red flags

  1. This is so helpful, thank you for sharing! I hope to publish some of my novels someday, and this really opened my eyes. I actually share snippets from my books on my blog (if you wanted to check it out and tell me what you think) because at the moment that’s the only way I can get it published.

    1. I’m glad I was of help 🙂 There are a few places on the web that offer advice on publishing and contracts, but as their owners openly state, they’re not there to substitute the knowledge and skill publishing attorneys and agents have. As for publishing some of your work on your blog, from what I’ve read on other sites, and magazine and small presses submissions guidelines, they all want first publication rights, so if you’re planning on going after trad publishing or submit to small presses, that may be a problem. I’m not an expert, but snippets of material that is somewhat different from the final submitted copy should be ok, but again I’m not entirely sure. I’m learning as I go 🙂

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