As most of you know, I recently signed a three-book deal with Bethany House Publishers. I wanted to take the opportunity to thank ALL of you for celebrating with me! Your encouragement and excitement made the moment all the sweeter!
After the initial verbal contract over the phone, BPH sent my agent five pages of legal terminology called the "Publishing Agreement." After Rachelle scrutinized it, she sent it back to them. Then finally, BPH sent me two official copies. I read through the contract, initialed each page, added my signature, and sent everything back.
The entire contract process took about 3 weeks. During that time, I wasn't allowed to say anything about the book deal. I could hint (and I certainly did!) but I couldn't share the details. Only after my publisher had received my signed agreement, could I finally shout my news through all of cyberland!
For the average writer, I think a book contract contains a mixture of both the easy to understand and impossibly complicated. I was just glad to have an agent who could help me make sense of everything. Here are just a few areas that my contract contained:
Grant of Rights: In this section I granted my publisher exclusive rights to print, publish, and sell in all book forms, including data base, electronic and computer publishing throughout the world during the full term of the copyright of three unpublished books.
Manuscript: This was the area in which all of the deadlines were spelled out for each of my books. I agreed to deliver Book One by November 15, 2009; since this book was already complete, I merely made a few name changes and emailed it to my publisher. Book Two is due by November of 2010 and Book Three by November of 2011. (I'll discuss the pro's and con's of writing one book a year versus writing two or more in a later post.)
Royalities: This section took at least half a page. My initial royalty rate is 17% of the publisher's net receipts. After 15,000 copies of my book sell, my percentage jumps up to 18%. It will continue to rise as high as 21% as more copies are sold. There are a lot of other details in this section regarding large-print editions, discount books, audio editions, etc. The general idea is that if I can sell more books, then I'll increase the percentage of my earnings.
Web Site Usage: I agreed to the stipulation that I have the right to publish excerpts of my books on my web sites or the web sites of others for promotional purposes, but that I couldn't exceed 1,00o words total.
Author's Copies: My publisher agreed to furnish 50 copies of my book to me and a certain amount to my agent. And then if I want additional copies I can purchase them at a discount of the retail price.
Agent: In this section I irrevocably appointed WordServe as my literary agent for this book contract. It spelled out that my agent is due to receive 15% of all the money I make as a result of the contract.
Advance: The final section contained my complicated advance schedule. After my publisher receives my signed contract, they'll pay me my first advance. Then I'll be paid another amount after my publisher accepts the complete manuscript for Book One. I'll get a check after they accept and approve each synopsis for Books Two and Three. And then finally I'll get paid again after the acceptance and approval of the complete manuscripts for Books Two and Three.
There you have it! Of course this is a VERY abbreviated version of my contract and I left out sections that are much more complicated. But I think this gives an overview of some of the more important areas of a book contract.
What areas of a contract are confusing to you? And what part would be most important to you? I'd love to hear your thoughts and questions!