Doing the Unthinkable – Turning Down a Contract!
Yes I said it and if you've fallen off your chair with shock please climb back up and read on.
When you are starting out as an author all you can think about is getting a contract offer. It doesn't cross your mind that you would turn it down if you received one. Well, this is exactly what has just happened to me.
I am not going to name names and all the contact I had with the publisher in question was lovely; very friendly, seemed very professional, and they answered my queries promptly. What put me off though was the contract terms; in particularly the indemnity clause. This basically states that the author has to indemnify the publisher if they are subject to any legal action in respect of the story. A potentially huge liability to take on!
From what I have read this is fairly standard wording in the publishing industry, but other publishers I have signed with have not included this scary clause in their contracts. Now I doubt many authors starting out can afford to pay for lawyers to review their contracts and if I hadn't previously signed a contract that didn't include this type of clause, I probably wouldn't have thought to query it.
So, for all newbies and not so newbies signing with a new publisher, here's a few little tips for what to look for in a contract:
- Be clear about what rights you are giving up, how long you are giving them up for and where in the world those rights can be exercised
- How does renewal/cancellation work?
- Check you are happy with the royalty rates and payment dates
- What does the contract say about timescale for returning edits, proofs etc? Is there flexibility built in for the days when the world runs away with you?
- How much say do you get about cover art and titles? Most publishers have final approval on cover art but good ones will work closely with you. Would you be happy if the publisher changed your title?
- Check for anything that involves you having to pay the publisher money. You should never have to pay for editing, cover art or publishing your book and be aware of indemnity clauses.
- What does it say about promo/review copies? Most contracts give you a certain number of copies to give away.
- What are the respective responsibilities for promotion, advertising, review request etc? Be sure you are both going to be working for your book.
This is of course by no means a complete list, but these are a few things to be aware off and my best advice is that no matter how excited you are to receive a contract, don't rush into signing it until you've had a good read through the terms. Make sure the contract works for you because this is your baby you're giving up and while there are many wonderful publishers out there, sadly we also know there are some rotten ones. If it doesn't feel right, chances are it probably isn't.
So, I hope you have found this useful and best of luck on all those contracts I am sure you will be signing in the future!
Bio and Links
Writing sizzling paranormal romance and erotica and dark paranormal horror SJ Thomas has been published in several anthologies and had her first stand alone novellas published in 2012. She reads, writes, and breathes sexy possessive paranormal creatures and the heroines (or heroes) that bring them to their knees. Her latest release, Hot Flashes Vol 1 from Breathless Press, is an anthology of short and sexy flash fiction from an amazing array of authors, perfect for the lunch break or the daily commute. SJ lives in the South West of England with her wonderful husband and a very spoilt Springer Spaniel. She has a full time day job so has to fit her writing in when she can, but of course would love to write full time one day. When not writing or working she enjoys reading, walking, geocaching, and surfing badly.
Facebook - www.facebook.com/sjthomaswpr
Twitter - @SJThomas25
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Goodreads - www.goodreads.com/author/