Workshop 21: Landmines In Your Book Contract
“We live in a litigious society,” agent Steve Laube told participants in his ACFW conference workshop, Landmines In Your Book Contract. That fact prompts many publishers to place protective clauses in their contracts. Those clauses can be fraught with landmines for authors.
Can you decipher these potential trouble spots?
Contract landmine quiz
- The Option Clause: “Author grants to Publisher the option to accept for publication the next full book length work written by Author on the terms herein contained.”
- On terms contained herein binds the author to the same contract terms on subsequent works and hinders the ability to negotiate.
- Publisher isn’t required to publish or continue to publish the Work if in its sole judgment publication might expose Publisher to litigation. The parameters of this clause are too broad, and based on the publisher’s opinion.
- Throughout the universe? For when your book hits the bestseller list on Mars? Seriously? Not an important landmine, but a silly one.
- The basic landmine is the threshold for being declared out of print. fifty copies or less With the e-book and POD caveats, your work may never be deemed out of print. An e-book, technically speaking, has never been in print in the first place. A higher sales threshold of 500 copies in a fiscal year needs to be negotiated.
- Publically accused is a broad definition. It can mean that someone could stand on a street corner and shout accusations. That is a public accusation. Better that this clause has modification to include “evidence, court decision, or Author’s own admission.”
“Don’t be embarrassed to ask your agent to explain a contract clause you don’t understand,” Laube said.