How To Negotiate Your Publishing Contract

By on January 29, 2020

Do you want to negotiate your publishing contract? Doing so can feel daunting! If you have been offered a publishing contract, you are probably feeling on top of the world. However, before you sign on the dotted line, it is important to make sure you are happy with the terms. It can be all too easy to sign away because you feel so lucky to be in the position of being offered a traditional contract. However, doing so too hastily could mean that you regret it in the long run.

So what can you do to ensure that you end up with the contract you want? Here are some useful tips:

Negotiate your publishing contract with these top tips

Read the entire agreement thoroughly

Once you’ve signed your contract, that’s it, so don’t simply gloss over it and assume everything is OK. You need to read every line and make sure you understand what’s being said. Make a note of anything that you aren’t sure of or are uncomfortable with. Then ask your publisher to explain further until you are absolutely clear on what it means.

Get professional help

It can be a good idea to have a lawyer look over your contract. If you do enlist the services of a lawyer, make sure it they specialize in book publishing contracts specifically. They will know what’s normal and acceptable, understand the industry, and will be able to look after your best interests.

Your payments

According to the Authors Guild Fair Contract Initiative, it is right and fair to request half of the net proceeds for royalties on e-books. You should also be able to request quarterly payments. Your publisher may offer you an advance. You won’t start making money on sales until enough copies of your book have been sold to cover this. At the end of the day, only you can say what percentage feels comfortable for you. However, it is vital to get your fair share if your book does do well. Also, look out for clauses noting you rights if your book gets turned into a film and so on. If you sign away all your rights you could end up hugely out of pocket if your book becomes a massive success and there is merchandise and movies and so on to come.


Lots of publishers will request life of copyright, which means that they will have control for the lifespan of the author and an additional 70 years after their death. You should be able to have the final say on this, and if you’d rather a fixed amount of time, this is something that can be negotiated.

Remember, there is a balance

While negotiating your publishing contract is entirely within your rights, if you drive too hard a bargain or request clauses that are unheard of, you might end up putting your publisher off. Remember, they have every right to withdraw their offer, and they are a business too, so it’s essential to be flexible and realize that you might have to make some sacrifices to ensure the deal goes ahead.

By following the above tips, you should be able to finalize your publishing contact and feel satisfied and excited for what’s next! Congratulations, and good luck!

So now you know all about how to negotiate your publishing contract, why not discover more about understanding publishing terms?

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