Thursday, July 21, 2016

Notes from All Write Now Conference (Part II): John Rudolph on "Don't Call the Lawyers: Understanding Publishing Contracts"


One of the most informative sessions at the AWN Conference was John Rudolph’s presentation on “Don’t Call the Lawyers: Understanding Publishing Contracts.”

It was apparent that Mr. Rudolph, an agent with Dystel and Goderich Literary Management, is skilled on his topic. Here are a few tips he shared with the standing-room-only crowd:

* Hiring a lawyer might cost more than what an author makes on a book.

* Pay attention to who pays for ancillary materials (photos, indexing).

* Unless you’re dealing with a movie studio, don’t give up movie rights.

* Author should have approval over copyedited manuscript.

* Unless you accept a flat fee (work for hire), you own the copyright.

* Reserve the right to an audit and ask for an accounting statement at least once a year.

* Plagiarism and lawsuits are rare but expensive.

* Limit as much as possible the first look at next book option.

* Define Out-of-Print status.

* Agent commission should match original agreement with agent.

* Any rights not expressly covered by contract belong to you.

* Areas to negotiate: Advance, Royalty, Territory.

Remember, the publisher wants you to succeed. A contract is an act of good faith, not an adversarial relationship!

9 comments:

  1. Donna--Thanks for sharing information from this session. It was one I did not get to attend; I regret it.

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  2. Thanks. I didn't have time to go to that session. This sheds a little light on the subject, but I'm still pretty much in the dark where legalese is concerned. Thank goodness it doesn't affect my cliche usage!

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  3. Thanks, Donna. I missed this session so I'm copying and saving this post for reference.

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  4. Hi Sioux,
    You're welcome. it was an informative session.

    Hi Val,
    There was a lot of information presented, but John did it in an orderly and logical manner.

    Hi Mary,
    You are right!

    Hi Marcia,
    You're welcome.

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  5. This is all so very true, Donna! When I signed my contract I did hire an attorney, and I wished I hadn't. He charged me $250 for about 30 minutes of his time, and he didn't see anything that I hadn't already figured out for myself. It might be different with one of the big-boy publishers, but with the smaller presses---at least with my publisher---the contract is straightforward and easy to understand. I wish I had seen this two years ago. I would have saved myself some money!

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    Replies
    1. Hi Lisa,
      Thanks for this post. It might help other writers avoid paying for unnecessary fees.

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  6. I think I took 5 pages of notes during this workshop. Very valuable information!

    Pat
    Critter Alley

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  7. I think I took 5 pages of notes during this workshop. Very valuable information!

    Pat
    Critter Alley

    ReplyDelete

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