Publishing contracts – Editing clauses

I hope you all had a great time with your loved ones, and that you found the time to recharge your batteries. Hopefully, 2017 will bring you more finished manuscripts, more published material, perhaps an agent (if you’re after getting published traditionally), and even more readers.

Speaking of getting published, I think it’s time to end this somewhat long-ish string of reblogged posts I started, that dealt with the process of getting published, the different paths one can take to see his/her work in readers’ hands, and of course a tiny portion regarding legal aspects. I may get back to some of these at a later time, but for the time being I think that’s it.

Today’s post deals with what to look out for when dealing with clauses in a publishing contract that deal with how a publisher edits your manuscript. On her blog, Victoria Strauss, writer and co-founder of Writer Beware, lists a few clauses she has encountered in real contracts, that should alert every writer that something’s not right. You can also find the same article on Writer Beware‘s blog.

Please keep in mind, that publishers are not trying to set a trap for the writer. They are not malevolent beings, lurking in the shadows, cackling and rubbing their hands every time they receive a manuscript. That’s not why I think such articles are necessary. The reason I’m posting this is because once we choose to publish our work, we put our artistic and creative hats away, and put our business hats on. It’s always safe, for both sides, to have a contract upon which they’ll build a healthy business relationship. Just as the publisher doesn’t know you or how determined you are to see this business partnership flourish and wants to be safe, you don’t know the publisher and, as a result, should be safe. Good contracts mean good business deals.

Hope this helps.

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.

Publishing contracts – Tips regarding the Grant of Rights clause, by Sidebar Saturdays

So you’ve chosen which publishing path is the right one for you, you’ve weighed the pros and cons of each, and are now faced with the legal technicalities. If you can afford a lawyer who specialises on publishing contracts, or if you have an agent to back you up, kudos! Agents are there to support writers and deal, among others, with the legal stuff. The rest of us, who struggle for traditional publishing, envy you, turn makeshift dummies of you into pincushions cackling in the gloom, and covet what you have.

But what about those who opted for traditional publishing without an agent or a lawyer to back them up? How many of you can honestly say they have a solid understanding of legal terms? Specifically, publishing legal terms? Chances are not many of you. It’s okay. In all my academic years, I only had to attend one legal class and I still don’t know how I passed that class.

I recently stumbled upon a website that covers many aspects of publishing law. Sidebar Saturdays is a blog where the practice of law meets the profession of writing, posted weekly by writers who are attorneys, and it’s designed to provide fellow writers with a general understanding of publishing law and help make their fictional legal scenarios realistic. One article in particular drew my attention, which had to do with the Grant of Rights clause. The writers of the article provide ten basic tips that should help those of you who are, or thinking of being, traditionally published without an agent or legal assistance, and want to have a better understanding of what happens when you grant certain rights to the publisher.

I hope you find it as helpful as I have 🙂

More about publishing books

I’ll be continuing with what turns out to be a series of posts related to the publishing industry. Why? Because I’m halfway through revising my second novel and when it’s ready (whenever that may be) I intend to approach agents for that as well. Which makes me curious about an industry I want to be a part of, but know very little about.

All compliments and credits go to the original writers of every post I’ve reblogged, who researched and wrote about the subject so we can read them and learn a thing or two.

Today I draw your attention to Kristen Lamb’s Blog. Some of you might read her blog. For those of you who don’t, click on the link and spend some time there. There’re are a lot of things to read and learn from her in almost every aspect of writing and publishing.

A while back, she wrote an article about the nuts and bolts of the traditional publishing business called The Ugly Truth of Publishing & How BEST to Support Writers. Once again, I was shocked after reading it. Shows how little I know about important things. For me (and perhaps for others like me) traditional publishing meant writing a book, editing it to the best possible shape, getting an agent (oh, how glorious moment that’ll be!), and then

photo credit: Sheng P. Hermione Granger via photopin (license)
photo credit: Sheng P. Hermione Granger via photopin (license)

magic would happen and it’d eventually reach a publisher who would love it, and I’d see it on shelves of bookstores. Then I’d write another novel, and another, and I’d get paid a percentage. Simple as that. After all, once we choose to publicise our art and feel good about earning some money from it, we become entrepreneurs.

So, hands up, how many of you have actually ever wondered how a writer gets paid once you buy one of their books? Ever heard of terms like “remainder copies” or “print runs” and how they affected the writer’s wallet? I sure didn’t. I still don’t, ’cause I have a feeling this is only the tip of the iceberg.

Okay, hands up then, how many of you believed (before you started writing or met one of those strange creatures called writers) that writers make a lot of money? If not a lot, then perhaps a decent amount of it.

photo credit: kevin dooley Hey teacher!  I know the answer! via photopin (license)
photo credit: kevin dooley Hey teacher! I know the answer! via photopin (license)

Almost every friend I have who knows I write has the same misconception.

Read Kristen’s post and see how things really are. It’s a long read, but you’ll learn so much from it.

Dark clouds over heaven?

Reminder: for those of you who missed it last week, there’s a poll I’d really like you to take part. The target group is published authors (self-published, trad-published, and hybrid), so if you have writer friends who wouldn’t mind spending a few minutes answering a couple of questions, please let them know about it.

I was going over some of the results from last week, even though it’s still too early to jump to any conclusions, but the first thing that struck me was the small number of traditionally published authors that answered the poll. Which got me thinking.

I searched a bit online about the reasons why a writer would choose a path outside that of traditional publishing, or if there’s something else wrong with it, particularly if there was anything off-putting outside it being hard to get noticed by publishers and agents. I was looking for something outside what most people have heard about. I thought it would be a wild goose chase. I thought it should be bright sunshine over heaven.

And then I stumbled on this article.

Now, I have no knowledge of the intricacies of contracts in general (let alone publishing contracts), but I’ve been following Susan Spann’s tweets about such things, particularly everything she tweets or writes about rights as often as I can (which admittedly is not as often as I should), and I must say that what this article describes was something I had a hard time accepting. No, not because it was far-fetched or false (apparently, it’s VERY real), but because I honestly (and gullibly, I guess) believed that every traditional publisher would shy away from. At least when it comes to payment. I was under the impression that a publishing contract is more often than not a struggle about who gets what rights, and any problems about payment would stem from that. Perhaps it’s just me and my limited knowledge of the industry. If so, mea culpa.

I don’t know if what Michael Kozlowski describes is a one-of incident or the norm. I have yet to land a contract. You’ll need an agent’s or a publisher’s opinion on that. I really hope it’s the former. I mean, you’d think that with all the pressure Amazon is putting on traditional publishing in general, traditional publishers would be more protective and respectful to their authors. Perhaps what Mr Kozlowski describes only happens to dubious and small houses. If that’s the case, then maybe not all is lost for traditional publishing. But what if it’s the norm? Has any of these publishers considered what would happen to their businesses if all the writers chose not to partner with them?

It’s things like that, that make me want an agent in my corner before I go anywhere near a contract.