Contracts & Agreements

Categories: ACWRIMO, Contracts, Focus Series, Getting published, Uncategorised

Using the tag #AcWriMo, writers around the world discuss their goals and progress, and share resources throughout November.  Find the evolving series here. If you log into MethodSpace, you will be subscribed and receive new posts by email.

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Abstract, the Textbook and Academic Authors Association (TAA) open access blog, includes excellent advice for writers who are negotiating book contracts. Read on to learn from lawyers and experts who specialize in this niche:

5 Things to consider when negotiating your textbook contract audit clause
One of the most important provisions in your textbook publishing contract is the audit clause, which will specify the conditions for how and when you can request and conduct an audit. 

Analog contracts in a digital world
College level textbooks and their publishers have been in the news a lot lately, with all of the major higher education publishers emphasizing a shift to a digital first market strategy. The vast majority of publishing agreements for established textbooks were written in a world where print books were the dominating market offering. As the world shifts, there are certain contractual provisions to be mindful of when evaluating one’s royalty statements and in negotiations over amendments.

College textbook publishing: Royalties, risk, and reward
Regardless of their motives, every textbook author must grapple with the same question: How can I achieve the best return on the time I spend writing a textbook, and how much risk should I accept in exchange for my sweat equity? To this end, there are several considerations authors should keep in mind regarding royalties as they negotiate a publishing agreement.

Intellectual property attorney: First-time textbook author has leverage in contract negotiations
Stephen E. Gillen, author of Writing and Developing Your College Textbook: A Comprehensive Guide, says the first-time textbook author definitely has leverage in contract negotiations, and can negotiate changes in the standard publishing agreement.

The anatomy of a textbook contract
During her 2018 Textbook & Academic Authoring Conference presentation, “The Anatomy of a Textbook Contract”, intellectual property attorney Brenda Ulrich walked participants through a standard textbook publishing contract clause by clause to dissect and explain what the language means, what is significant, what to look for, what is worth trying to change and what is not. This post includes key points from the presentation covering the first four contract elements: grant or transfer of rights, manuscript preparation and delivery, acceptability of manuscript/acceptance, and failure to deliver.

Reflections on negotiating a contract 1: Leverage and the power to negotiate
Getting the offer was a great milestone, but it didn’t put an end to the larger process of getting published. The next phase began with the question of whether to accept the offered contract and whether and how to negotiate for changes. As with my previous series of posts, I offer the reflections of a relative novice, not the advice of an expert.

Reviewing your author contract: Planning for the future
The life cycle of a successful textbook reaches well past the life of its author, given that copyright law currently extends rights in a work to the life of the author + 70 years. That means not just your children, but even your grandchildren may benefit from the fruits of your labors. At the same time, for books—and in particular textbooks—governed by publishing contracts, it is important for both you and your heirs to understand your, and by extension their, rights and responsibilities.

Textbook contract clauses: Understanding advances and grants
An advance is a pre-payment of royalties to be earned upon the publication of your textbook. …A grant, conversely, is a payment intended to cover some or all of the out-of-pocket costs of research and/or manuscript preparation.

Tips of the Trade: What is the best way to handle pre-contract communication with a prospective publisher?

TAA Member Kamalani Hurley from Leeward Community College asks: “What is normal in the timeline between an acquisitions editor expressing interest in publishing my material and the written contract?”

Textbook author Mike Kennamer, who is director of Workforce Development at Northeast Alabama Community College, and Julia Kostova, an acquisitions editor at Oxford University Press, share their advice in this post.

TAA is a membership organization that serves writers from across disciplines. 

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