Publishing contracts means something different if you are an author versus a song writer.
For a writer, being presented with their first potential book deal is one of the most exciting, stressful, and confusing times in their career. Too often writers get frustrated once the actual contract negotiation begins, and not until they have tried to negotiate on their own behalf do they then seek legal counsel. It is important that writers, and artists in general do not rush to sign however, as the impact of the first publishing deal can be long lasting, sometimes even once the term of that contract is over.
Writers need to be cautious and think about several key negotiation points that will inevitably be in their contracts in some way, shape, or form, such as:
1. Who owns the copyrights? It is pertinent that the copyrights remain in your name. You attorney will discuss the time frames for making sure the work(s) are registered as it relates to the publication date.
2. What amount of royalties will the writer receive? First and foremost make sure that the royalty rates are within the average industry standard.
3. Will there be an advance? How much? In general the largest advance possible is sought out with the shortest realistic time period possible for repayment. What is best for you of course depends on your circumstances.
4. Who will have subsidiary rights? For how long? What rights did you grant to the publisher or a third party? It is important to understand these sections what you are granting to the publisher under the contract. Your attorney will also want to know what rights you retain in your work.
5. What is the schedule for payments under the contract? You will want to make sure that the contract allows you to audit your publishers books upon reasonable notice. Most contracts allow for once a year.
6. What about rights for sequels, TV shows, or movies? Most publishers want to retain as many of these rights as possible, for the obvious reason, they hope that your book will become so successful that someone will make a blockbuster movie out of it. Hopefully you believe this is a possibility for yourself as well and you will try to keep as many of these rights and/or as high of a percentage of these rights as possible.
You may be anxious to sign and get your project moving, your attorney will make sure that every word of your contract is reviewed, discussed with you to ensure you understand it, and even more importantly, will go back to the publisher to negotiate the terms on your behalf.
When you are fortunate enough to presented with your first publishing agreement you do now want to skip steps. If you do not already have a relationship with an attorney, now is the time to find one that you are comfortable with and that you have confidence can represent your best interests.
© Hilary Metz, Esq. 2015
Twitter: @HilaryMetzEsq & @MillsMetzLaw
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Hilary Metz is an attorney licensed in Florida and New York. Hilary Metz founded Mills Metz Law in order to pursue professional goals of her choice and to have the ability to choose the clients she works with and the focus on the areas of law she loves. As a songwriter and entrepreneur Ms. Metz understands first-hand the stresses and the fulfillment of being in charge of one’s own destiny and the creative process that goes into building any business. By providing advice to businesses on contracts, social media, copyright, trademarks, trade secrets, media & entertainment, and issues associated with creating and commercializing innovations, and creative content, and drafting and negotiating contracts and licenses, Ms. Metz is always hands-on with her clients. Hilary Metz is a member of the FL Bar, the NY Bar, and the ABA. Hilary Metz is a partner in several entertainment company’s, including Mics On Live, a radio show focused on unsigned artists in South Florida and Exec’s and Talent, an entertainment company focused on networking and educational events for the entertainment community. To learn more about Ms. Metz please visit her website at www.MillsMetzLaw.com