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Saturday, June 23, 2007

Negotiating Book Contracts

This was a meaty forum, handled by several agents. They recommended that if you've been offered a publishing contract and you don't get an agent, at least consult an entertainment lawyer.

When you do get that call from a publisher, say thank you and tell them you'll get back to them. Even an oral agreement can be binding. Don't agree to anything until you've seen the contract.

The agents did mention that Author's Guild will look at your book contract for free. What they didn't mention is that you have to be a member of Author's Guild. Nonetheless, the website did have some useful information, so I recommend checking them out.

One of the things they cautioned authors was the clause called "time is of the essence" whereby you are given a deadline. Unless it is a time-sensitive book, like a non-fiction book dealing with current events, that clause should fall in favor of the author, not the publishing house.

Rights your agent should try to gain for you:
• Translation rights
• Audio
• Movie
• Comic Book
• Theme Park (yeah, no kidding)
• Fair Payment

Things you should ask when obtaining an agent:
• Where have you sold?
• Can you talk to his clients?
• What is his experience?
• Does he have any ties to Film?
• What is his commission?
• Who does he plan to sub your book to?
• Are foreign rights handled in house or does it have to be handled elsewhere?