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 What is easily negotiable in a standard publishing contract

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Malcolm
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Number of posts: 1498
Registration date: 2008-01-11
Location: Georgia

PostSubject: What is easily negotiable in a standard publishing contract   Wed Apr 09, 2008 12:46 pm

The Internet has many examples of standard contracts and the kinds of provisions that usually go in each section.

So far, I haven't been able to find any examples that show the kinds of standard provisions that a good agent purportedly can get changed.

What I read is that even for a unknown author, there are some provisions in standard contracts that a publisher will remove without blinking an eye, but no examples of what these provisions are.

I also read that with a little pushing, a publisher can also be persuaded to remove other provisions, yet again, no examples of these.

I'm thinking that if a neophye author goes to a publisher without an agent, it would be nice to know which provisions can be easily struck from the contract, which ones removed with a little effort, and which ones basically impossible to remove.

Are there any agents or veterans here who can help sort this out?

Thanks,

Malcolm
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Jeffrey J. Mariotte
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Number of posts: 48
Registration date: 2008-03-18

PostSubject: Re: What is easily negotiable in a standard publishing contract   Mon Apr 14, 2008 11:45 am

International rights, for one. Publishers would be happy to hang onto them, and if you don't have an agent you might as well let them, because it's VERY hard to sell foreign rights without an agent. But that's something they'll let go if you ask. Other ancillary rights, as well--audio, book club, film, TV, videogame, toy, etc.. They're not really in those businesses, and if you have a better way to shop those rights, you can keep them without much of a fight. They'll give on the subject of how many author's copies they'll provide--always ask for more than they're offering. There's a standard clause saying that if they ask you for changes and you don't make them to their satisfaction, they can pay someone else to make the changes--that'll go if you ask. Anything about the delivery schedule is open to negotiation.

They'll even budge on money, sometimes. That's a harder fight, though--they know what their budget is, and while they might try to low-ball you, the fact is that they have already committed those dollars to you and other dollars to someone else. My agent has often been able to nudge them up more than enough to cover his percentage though.

Good luck,
Jeff
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Malcolm
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Number of posts: 1498
Registration date: 2008-01-11
Location: Georgia

PostSubject: Re: What is easily negotiable in a standard publishing contract   Sat Apr 19, 2008 8:47 am

Thanks a lot, Jeff. At this point, I don't know whether I'll find an agent or a publisher first for the current MS making the rounds. I figured that if a good publisher showed up, I didn't want to inadvertently let go of stuff I shouldn't be letting go of.

I agree about the foreign rights. I saw one contract (not for my book) that didn't mention such rights at all. I found that odd and wouldn't have signed such a contract for even if one assumed the publisher was taking care of it (should it ever come up), the contract said nothing about how the author would be compensated for books sold by the foreign publisher.

Thanks for keeping me on the straight and narrow here.

Malcolm
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Brenda Hill
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Number of posts: 1297
Registration date: 2008-02-16
Location: Southern CA

PostSubject: Re: What is easily negotiable in a standard publishing contract   Sat Apr 19, 2008 10:21 am

Great info, Jeff. Thanks.

And by the way, congratulations on your new book. Well, not only your new one but all of them. It's wonderful.
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