Saturday, November 21, 2015


When an editor indicates an interest in buying any type of written material from you, you are not obligated to accept the initial terms that he offers for the purchase of your material. Periodicals may or may not offer a contract, but you can still take the opportunity to respond to the editor's offer. Typically the offer will include the amount they will pay for the piece, plus what rights they are offering to buy. It may be that the price is acceptable, but they want to buy all rights, and you only want to give them first rights. Conversely, they may ask for only first rights, but are offering you a payment too low. In either case, you can negotiate with them for more acceptable terms. However, you may not get exactly what you want in either scenario, so before going into this type of negotiations, be sure you know at what point the offer would not be acceptable and you would be willing to turn down their final offer.

If it is a book contract being offered, then negotiation takes place after the contract has been received. If you have an agent, it will be that person’s responsibility to negotiate the contract, incorporating any specific terms the author is concerned about. If you don't have an agent, then you will negotiate the contract yourself. It is not necessary to enlist the services of a lawyer. Unless it is a lawyer that specializes in book contracts they will not know what is typical and what is not, and will only complicate the negotiations. There are, however, experienced writers who can advise you on what points to negotiate. Just have a clear understanding of what changes you want to ask for and at what point the contract would become nonviable for you without the changes you are requesting. Keep in mind that as a first-time author you have little clout when asking for changes. The more books you have published, and the more successful they are, the better your chances of getting the terms you ask for. Never be afraid to ask for the changes you want or need. Negotiating a book contract is a normal part of the publishing business, so if a publisher becomes hostile or is unwilling to negotiate at all, then you may want to look elsewhere for a publisher. There are a number of books available on the market that will lead you step-by-step through the negotiation process. For help through the main steps and an explanation of what to look for and why, go to:

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