As you may know, I have signed a contract to publish my book Fuzzy Logic for a release of on or before eSummer 2015. I’m still doing my happy dance, which looks a little like the Cabbage Patch performed by a nervous wallflower. (yay!)
I intend to use my newsletter and my blog to let my readers know 1) that it is possible to get a book published and 2) what my book’s publishing process is like.
I’ve only experienced a couple things so far. The first is that elated feeling when reading an email that begins: “Thank you for sending us your book. I think it is delightful. I’d like to offer you a contract.”
The second is the fear and bewilderment that accompanies reading that contract when it arrives.
So, here are a five tips for what to do when confronted with a new publishing contract.
1) Don’t sign it until you read it. Really. This is important.
2) Pay someone else to read it for you. Unless you are an IP lawyer, an agent, or a lawyer in the publishing industry, you need someone to read the contract for you. That someone should be an IP lawyer or a very experienced literary agent. Legalese is very dense for a reason: like iTunes contracts, you aren’t meant to read every word, nevertheless understand those words. Find an advocate whom you trust to read and explain the rights you are selling before you sign anything.
3) Publishing companies usually try to grab as many rights as possible. They have watched what happened to the music industry, and they are understandably trying to cover as many bases as possible as cheaply as they can. There are exceptions, like my publisher (more on who they are later). But don’t count on it. See #2.
4) Get a book like Copyright Handbook, The: What Every Writer Needs to Know, and familiarize yourself with copyright law, with what rights you own as a writer, and what you can sell.
5) Network with other writers, publishers, editors, agents, etc., and learn the business. Publishing is always changing. Keep up with the business so you aren’t caught flat-footed.
I hope these help you in the future…mostly because I hope all of you reading have the pleasure of reading the words “We want to send you a contract to publish your book.” That’s the best feeling.