Publishing Contract Review

Clients Rate Lawyers on our Platform 4.9/5 Stars
based on 3,949 reviews

Jump to Section

Need help with a Publishing Contract?

CREATE A FREE PROJECT POSTING
Post Project Now

What Is a Publishing Contract Review?

A publishing contract often called a book deal, is an agreement between a writer and publisher to publish original content as a single work or series.

Like other legal contracts, the terms and conditions of a book publishing agreement are negotiable. Therefore, the author may want to modify the terms, such as deadlines or word count, before entering a contractual relationship with the publisher.

If you want to enter a book deal with a publisher, knowing the ins and outs of publishing contracts can help you negotiate the most favorable terms. You can also negotiate to reserve certain rights over your work.

Here is an article overview of book deals and what’s included.

Types of Publishing Contracts

There are several types of publishing contracts you might encounter. Each has nuances, so understanding how they differ is an excellent way to protect yourself and your work.

Traditional Publishing Contract

In a traditional publishing contract, the author signs an agreement to produce a manuscript in exchange for a cash advance and future royalties. Traditional contracts also address publishing rights, distribution territory, manuscript deadlines, and subsidiary rights.

Subsidiary rights impact how much money a publisher makes off of third-party publications, such as movie adaptations. You can also grant exclusive or non-exclusive rights and determine what type of derivative works you permit.

Typically, publishers seek agreements that offer them greater authority over the author's final manuscript. This may include modifying the final manuscript without the author's approval. Many publishing houses also reserve the right to design the book's cover and control all of its marketing.

Conducting a publishing contract review is the best way to ensure your book deal does not take away any rights from you as the author.

Co-authoring Contract

Similar to traditional publishing contracts, co-author contracts are between a publisher and two or more writers. This type of contract determines how writers will be paid, including what percentage of advance and royalties each author receives based on their contribution.

A co-author contract legally binds authors to a publisher like a regular book deal. They must meet expectations and benchmarks for manuscript length, word count, and reading level. Most importantly, the authors must agree to share the copyright of the final work.

Single-book Deal

A single book deal is a publishing contract between an author and publisher to produce a single work of original content. The single book deal is most common for first-time authors. Many publishing houses do not want to sign multi-book deals with an author until they know they are profitable.

One of the most important elements of any book publishing agreement to negotiate is royalties. Unfortunately, first-time publishing authors may focus solely on the advance, not realizing they could miss out on major profit if they don't negotiate their royalties.

A publishing contract lawyer can help you negotiate the best terms.

Multi-book Deal

A multi-book deal is an agreement to publish a series of works over a period of time, usually over the course of several years. While it often comes with a more significant advance, a multi-book deal also comes with greater demands and deadlines for the writer.

When reviewing this book deal, make sure your publisher’s demands are reasonable and achievable. Particularly, pay attention to when each manuscript is due. Are you able to produce the work in the allotted period of time without compromising quality?

Furthermore, address when advances are paid. In a multi-book deal, you may only be given portions of your advance each time you submit a manuscript. Then, you will be given the other part of the advance after each manuscript is approved.

Here is an article with a detailed guide to publishing contracts and how they work.

Meet some lawyers on our platform

Justin K.

3 projects on CC
View Profile

Michael M.

166 projects on CC
View Profile

Kelvin R.

10 projects on CC
View Profile

Bryan B.

95 projects on CC
View Profile

Who Can Review a Publishing Contract?

A contract lawyer can review your contract to ensure it is fair and legal.

Having a lawyer review your publishing contract is the best way to ensure you don't sign away any rights you don't want to. For example, you may not want to grant the publisher rights to sell your book manuscript to a television or movie producer without your consent.

Your publishing contract review should also cover all of the stipulations for publication. These include:

  • Minimum and maximum word count
  • Deadlines for manuscript submission
  • Copyediting rights

Here is an article with ContractsCounsel’s guide to publishing contracts, including a sample contract from Random House, a major book publisher.

What Should a Publishing Contract Include?

Negotiating a publishing contract can feel overwhelming. However, with so many details, knowing which elements are the most important and how to negotiate them is important.

Here are the seven most important elements when conducting a publishing contract review.

1. Copyright

As the author of the work, the sole copyright of the manuscript is yours. However, in some cases, a publishing contract may have an author sign away their copyright in exchange for publication under their name.

You must ensure the publishing contract reserves your copyright regardless of how your book is published.

Your publishing contract review should ensure that your book deal only grants the publisher a copyright license agreement to produce your work, not the work's copyright.

2. Grant of Rights

Granting rights means that you give a publisher permission to reproduce and publish your manuscript under certain conditions. The terms for the grant of rights are more negotiable than you might realize.

The grant of rights covers things such as:

  • Publication territories
  • Approved mediums (such as hardcovers and eBooks)
  • The length of the publishing license

A lawyer can help you cover these factors and negotiate fairer agreements if you are unhappy with them.

3. Advances and Royalties

Authors signing a publishing contract usually offer a future advance and a royalty agreement. An advance is a lump sum of money you receive upon signing the publishing contract, and royalties are a percentage of book sales you receive.

Make sure that you review this portion of your book deal in-depth with a lawyer. Many publishers change the number of royalties they give the author based on the medium and even the vendor. For example, book royalties can vary based on hardcover vs. paperback editions and the store they’re sold in.

You may also wish to negotiate royalties depending on which edition of a book is being sold. For example, if the first printing of your book sells out, you may request higher royalties on future printings.

4. Author’s and Publisher’s Obligations

Every publishing contract review should specify the responsibilities of the author and the publisher. For example, the author has to produce their manuscript within a given timeframe, and the publisher has to publish the work within the scope of their license.

As the author, you have the right to ask for a clear deadline for publication. This prevents your manuscript from being turned in but not approved for an indefinite period of time.

5. Delivery Clause and Publication Timeline

The delivery clause states that the author must produce the final version of their manuscript by a set date.

The publication timeline underscores how the publisher will proceed to handle the publication of the work. Therefore, the publication timeline must be fixed, so there is no misunderstanding about when the book will be published or when you will be paid.

6. Types of Publication and Print Count

Types of publication include:

  • Hardback books
  • Paperback books
  • E-books

The print count simply states how many copies of each type of book will be printed under the publishing contract terms.

7. Author’s Rights to Alterations of Work

In some publishing contracts, the author may inadvertently waive their rights to alterations of their work. This is something you want to avoid at all costs. Make sure that your contract states that you must review and approve any future changes the publisher wants to make to your manuscript.

Here is an article where you can review a sample book contract.

How Does a Publishing Contract Work?

A publishing contract, or book publishing agreement, gives a publisher the right to print and sell copies of original work by an author. The author grants the publisher rights to reproduce their work in exchange for financial compensation.

The financial compensation of a book publishing contract is usually broken down into two parts. First, there is the advance, a large sum of money they receive upfront. Most advances for first-time authors range from $5,000 to $15,000.

Royalties are a percentage of each book sale that the author receives. They can also pertain to subsidiary royalties from movies and TV adaptions.

Here is an article that defines the publishing contract.

What Does a Typical Publishing Contract Look Like?

A typical publishing contract grants the publisher rights to publish original work from an author. It also sets deadlines for manuscript submission and publication. A typical book publishing contract will also include information about the following:

  • Subsidiary rights
  • Advances
  • Royalties
  • Copyright
  • Printing

You should hire a contract lawyer to ensure that your book deal fully protects your work. A publishing contract review provides that a contract does not take advantage of the author or excessively favor the publishing house in terms of profit.

Here is an article with a 6-step guide on how to get a book deal.

How Much Does it Cost to Review a Publishing Contract?

According to ContractsCounsel’s marketplace, the average contract review cost is $608. Still, the total cost for your publishing contract review may differ. It all depends on the lawyer you choose, the scope of your contract, and your needs as an author.

Post a project in ContractsCounsel’s marketplace to receive flat fee bids from lawyers for your project. All lawyers have been vetted by our team and peer-reviewed by our customers for you to explore before hiring.

How ContractsCounsel Works
Hiring a lawyer on ContractsCounsel is easy, transparent and affordable.
1. Post a Free Project
Complete our 4-step process to provide info on what you need done.
2. Get Bids to Review
Receive flat-fee bids from lawyers in our marketplace to compare.
3. Start Your Project
Securely pay to start working with the lawyer you select.

Meet some of our Lawyers

Joseph L. on ContractsCounsel
View Joseph
5.0 (13)
Member Since:
July 25, 2021

Joseph L.

Attorney
Free Consultation
Get Free Proposal
CT
40 Yrs Experience
Licensed in CT
Southwestern University School of Law

Mr. LaRocco's focus is business law, corporate structuring, and contracts. He has a depth of experience working with entrepreneurs and startups, including some small public companies. As a result of his business background, he has not only acted as general counsel to companies, but has also been on the board of directors of several and been a business advisor and strategist. Some clients and projects I have recently done work for include a hospitality consulting company, a web development/marketing agency, a modular home company, an e-commerce consumer goods company, an online ordering app for restaurants, a music file-sharing company, a company that licenses its photos and graphic images, a video editing company, several SaaS companies, a merchant processing/services company, a financial services software company that earned a licensing and marketing contract with Thomson Reuters, and a real estate software company.

Harry S. on ContractsCounsel
View Harry
5.0 (1)
Member Since:
July 27, 2021

Harry S.

Director
Free Consultation
Get Free Proposal
London
9 Yrs Experience
Licensed in NY
BPP

Stirk Law is a law firm based in London that advises on dispute resolution, commercial and corporate arrangements, employment and private wealth. We are experts in our areas and experienced in advising on complex and high value matters in the UK and internationally. We have extensive onshore and offshore experience across a variety of areas such as the administration of trusts together with complex fraud and trust disputes. Our expertise includes the conduct of significant and high-value cases valued at up to in excess of £1 billion over a combined 40 years of legal practice in England, Jersey and Guernsey. As well as having a large international network, we work closely with a corporate investigations and risk advisory business based in London and Vienna. Together we can deliver a holistic service for cases involving fraud, dissipation of assets or other illegal activity.

Talin H. on ContractsCounsel
View Talin
5.0 (1)
Member Since:
July 29, 2021

Talin H.

Owner
Free Consultation
Get Free Proposal
Chicago
14 Yrs Experience
Licensed in IL
DePaul College of Law

Talin has over a decade of focused experience in business and international law. She is fiercely dedicated to her clients, thorough, detail-oriented, and gets the job done.

Craig M. on ContractsCounsel
View Craig
5.0 (3)
Member Since:
August 2, 2021

Craig M.

Attorney
Free Consultation
Get Free Proposal
Maine
7 Yrs Experience
Licensed in ME
New York Law School

I have been practicing law for more than 4 years at a small firm in York County, Maine. I recently decided to hang my shingle, Dirigo Law LLC. My practice focuses mostly on Real Estate / Corporate transactions, Wills, Trusts, and Probate matters.

Melissa G. on ContractsCounsel
View Melissa
5.0 (1)
Member Since:
August 5, 2021

Melissa G.

Owner/Managing Member
Free Consultation
Get Free Proposal
Chicago
19 Yrs Experience
Licensed in DC, IL, OH
University of Michigan

Melissa Green recently opened her own law firm which focuses on providing general counsel subscription services (think of it as your attorney "on-call"), business formation services, and contract services (including review and mark-up, custom contracts, templates, and negotiation assistance). Prior to opening her own firm, Melissa joined the American Medical Association (AMA) as an Assistant General Counsel in November 2019. In her role at the AMA, Melissa supported the CPT and Masterfile licensing programs, in addition to supporting the legal needs of the Professional Satisfaction and Practice Sustainability business unit. Prior to arriving at the AMA, Melissa was the Chief Legal Counsel and Privacy Officer at The Chartis Group, a healthcare advisory services and analytics company, headquartered in Chicago, where she was responsible for commercial transactions for Chartis and its wholly owned SaaS company, and also served as the organization’s privacy officer responsible for HIPAA compliance. Melissa started her legal career in Cincinnati, Ohio at the law firm of Frost Brown Todd where she served as an associate in the Corporate department doing healthcare transactions, securities, and general corporate work. In 2007, Melissa transitioned into her first in-house counsel role at GE Aviation. During her time at GE, she had many roles including supporting new engine sales transactions for the Europe/Middle East/Africa region, its Electric Power business located in Dayton, its Engine Services business (supporting the CF34 and CF6 engine lines), and compliance. Upon leaving GE, Melissa had a brief stint at MedStar in Virginia before accepting a full-time position at the University of Maryland Medical System in Baltimore, Maryland in July 2013. Originally from East Lansing, Michigan, Melissa received her bachelor’s graduate from Michigan State University’s – James Madison College and is a graduate of the University of Michigan Law School.

Yaser M. on ContractsCounsel
View Yaser
Member Since:
July 21, 2021

Yaser M.

Self Employed
Free Consultation
Get Free Proposal
Houston
13 Yrs Experience
Licensed in TX
University of London

I have practiced law in foreign jurisdiction for more than 11 years and more than one year in Texas. I am Texas licensed attorney. Practice areas include Corporate: incorporation of business entities, drafting of operating agreements, by-laws, and business contracts; Commercial: business disputes, demand letters, cease and desist lettera, dealing with insurance companies, negotiations, settlements of disputes, commercial real estate, and business litigation Litigation: business disputes, personal injury, civil rights, cross-border matters, maritime matters, drafting of litigation pleadings, motion practice, legal research, white-collar defense.

Stanley K. on ContractsCounsel
View Stanley
Member Since:
July 29, 2021

Stanley K.

Corporate Attorney
Free Consultation
Get Free Proposal
Waltham, MA
29 Yrs Experience
Licensed in CA, MA, TX
University of Texas School of Law

Stan provides legal services to small to medium-sized clients in the New England region, and throughout the U.S. and abroad. His clients are involved in a variety of business sectors, including software development, e-commerce, investment management and advising, health care, manufacturing, biotechnology, telecommunications, retailing, and consulting and other services. Stan focuses on the unique needs of each of his clients, and seeks to establish long term relationships with them by providing timely, highly professional services and practical business judgment. Each client's objectives, business and management styles are carefully considered to help him provide more focused and relevant services. Stan also acts as an outsourced general counsel for some of his clients for the general management of their legal function, including the establishment of budgets, creation of internal compliance procedures, and the oversight of litigation or other outside legal services.

Sam W. on ContractsCounsel
View Sam
Member Since:
July 30, 2021

Sam W.

Entertainment attorney
Free Consultation
Get Free Proposal
Los Angeles
9 Yrs Experience
Licensed in CA
Columbus School of Law, The Catholic University of America

Entertainment attorney and film producer. Counsel clients on all matter of entertainment-related contracts, including talent representation, crew deals, financing agreements, and production legal. Former litigation attorney and owner of a documentary and scripted film and television production company. Well versed in small business foundation and general business contracts.

Robert D. on ContractsCounsel
View Robert
Member Since:
August 3, 2021

Robert D.

Solo Practitioner
Free Consultation
Get Free Proposal
Cincinnati, OH
29 Yrs Experience
Licensed in DC, NY
University North Carolina Chapel Hill School of Law

Robert is a skilled corporate lawyer, licensed to practice law in NY and DC. He has over 25 years of experience, with a focus on Venture Capital, Private Equity, M&A, General Business Law and Company Formation. Robert brings business side experience to every legal transactions. This allows him to shape a client's legal needs around its business goals to drive success in an effective and efficient manner.

Tim M. on ContractsCounsel
View Tim
Member Since:
August 3, 2021

Tim M.

Managing Partner
Free Consultation
Get Free Proposal
Cambridge, MA
25 Yrs Experience
Licensed in MA, NY
Boston College Law School

Tim has 20 years of experience representing a wide variety of emerging and established companies in the technology, software, bitcoin and professional services industries. He works directly with his clients’ executives and boards of directors on corporate, intellectual property, and securities law issues. Recently, Tim has advised clients on Series A and Series B financings, corporate structuring, complex video licensing agreements, and structuring new hedge funds. Tim previously served as Forrester Research, Inc.’s General Counsel and Secretary where he was chief legal officer, led the company’s legal group, and managed the company’s legal and regulatory affairs. Tim played an integral role in the company’s initial public offering in 1997 and coordinated its secondary offering in 2000. He directed the legal process in the company’s acquisitions of Giga Information Group, Inc., Fletcher Research and Forit GmbH and oversaw over $125million in transactions. He also managed the company’s intellectual property assets. Tim is admitted to practice in Massachusetts and New York. Tim holds a Juris Doctor degree from the Boston College Law School and a Bachelor of Arts degree from Trinity College

Spencer W. on ContractsCounsel
View Spencer
Member Since:
August 4, 2021

Spencer W.

Partner
Free Consultation
Get Free Proposal
New York
12 Yrs Experience
Licensed in NY
Columbia Law School

I’m a New York based attorney with substantial experience in media and art law, corporate structuring and commercial contracts. For the past several years, I have been advising startups and new business on their legal needs, with a special focus on tech and entertainment.

Find the best lawyer for your project

Browse Lawyers Now

Want to speak to someone?

Get in touch below and we will schedule a time to connect!

Request a call