Thursday, February 27, 2014

Breaking Down the House: Contracts and Legal Department

Hi everyone. In part 1 we talked about the different departments within a publishing house. This week we are going to review the Contracts and Legal Department of a publishing house.

A book contract is the legal binding agreement between an author and the publisher.

This is a most critical part for an author. Book publishing is considered to be of intellectual property and as such, this area is key in benefiting the author’s best interest. Editors and agents, as well as rights (foreign and sibsidiary) and design staff work closely with this department to negotiate and draft the best possible terms for you, the author.

The legal department is also tasked with reviewing the contracts, as well as keeping the house free from lawsuits from author errors, such as libel, fraud, and other things like if a book is about the FBI, CIA, or any other governmental organization.

Of note for self-publishers: when writing The Consequential Element, I had to do extensive inquiries into these organizations since some of the elements within the book are CIA and U.S. Embassy related. I sought legal advice from a lawyer who deals with this sort of stuff to be sure that I wouldn’t be creating any future legal issues for myself. The advice I received was priceless considering what could potentially have happened out of ignorance. I highly suggest all self-publishers to meet with an attorney at least once to determine if legal representation would be beneficial. I believe you’ll find out it is.

The contracts department will generate a draft contract once there are agreed-to terms of the book deal. The publisher will then submit this draft contract to the author’s agent for review.

Keep in mind that the publisher may use a standard boilerplate contract based on the publisher’s general policies for the type of book being submitted. A publisher may have many types of boilerplate contracts to use for various types of books and the contracts department will select the best contract for your book.

The agent will review the draft contract and then negotiate the changes on behalf of the author. During this time, the agent will address such things as the upfront advance, royalties, and subsidiary rights to name a few.

Once everything is ironed out and agreed upon by all parties, the publisher executes the final version of the contract, the agent approves it, the author signs it, and it is returned to the publishing house for final signatures. At this point the contract is considered executed.

For further information, please see:

Caroline Bookbinder – Lawyers Reading Books?
Negotiating Book Contract Terms and Royalties
Managing Intellectual Property in the Book Publishing Industry

Thank you for stopping by. I hope you find this information helpful. Don't forget to join my mailing list for the latest information. My mailing list is used to advise my list members FIRST of special events, provide sneak peaks into upcoming new releases, share cover reveals, hold special "list members only" contests and giveaways for things such as a Kindle HD Fire or Nook giveaway (yep, hold those now and then), Gift Cards of various values, and free autographed copies of my books, as well as anything else that catches my fancy for a great giveaway idea. Don't miss out!

Until next time, I wish you all the very best in your writing success. :)

Dee Ann

Monday, February 17, 2014

Breaking Down the Major Depts in a Publishing House

Getting published with a publishing house is many an author's goal, however, once their book is accepted by a house the author realizes a whole new set of fears.

What does this mean? What happens to your book once it goes behind those closed doors of the publishing house? And you thought you'd already been through the scary part, didn't you?

It doesn't have to be scary. With a little understanding, you should be able to look at it for what it is...a business deal. You're the author; you do have a say in things to some degree, as long as it's conveyed in an intelligent and educated manner.

This is the first of an eight part series that I'm doing on breaking down the most important departments of a publishing house. Of course, they have the common departments as most businesses do such as IT, human resources, and website maintenance, but I won't get into those areas. I'm going to stick to:

1. Editorial Department
2. Contracts and Legal Department
3. Managing Editorial & Production
4. Creative Department
5. Sales
6. Marketing, Promotion, and Advertising
7. Publicity
8. Finance & Accounting


The book publisher’s editors perform all the duties necessary to acquire and edit books and see them through to publication, including dealing with literary agents, authors and interfacing with the breadth of the book publishers other staff.

Editorial Director/Editor-In-Chief - oversees the editors.

Editors - If you're under the impression that the editor's main job is to correct grammar, then you're not alone. But the editor's job is so much more than that.

The editor not only acquires the book from the agent, they must then read it and determine if it is good enough to present to the acquisitions committee. If the editor gets the 'go' from the committee, the editor then negotiates the author's contract with the agent.

Further, the editor continues to work with the author to assure that the manuscript meets expectations. They will stay in communications with the author to be sure that timelines are met; and if there is to be a delay, the editor will notify the editorial department as well as the Editorial Director.

The editor performs the necessary editing processes for grammar and such. The book is then distributed to the marketing, publicity and sales departments and the editor becomes the advocate for the book in such a way that they need to relate to these departments the value and potential within the marketplace.

Editorial Assistant – Each editor relies heavily on their editorial assistant to provide services such as administrative duties, correspondence and communications, scheduling, etc.

Something to take away from here: Remember that this is a very subjective business. The editor must decide whether or not your book is ‘good enough’ to move on through the publishing house. This, of course, is the editor’s opinion. Always believe in yourself and your work.

My next post will cover the basics of the Contracts and Legal Departments.

Until then, I wish you all the best success in your writing.

Dee Ann

Helpful Links:

Self Editing for Fiction Writers
Editors on Editing
What Editors Want: A Must Read for Writers Submitting to Magazines
What US Editors Want 2014