This post was originally published at Novelicious.com and is now at WritingTipsOasis.com. WritingTipsOasis.com acquired Novelicious.com in June 2022.
I have to admit that before I got my book deal I didn’t give the components of it that much thought. I wanted to be traditionally published, I got offered a book deal that would see that happen, but I have to admit I was totally naive as to what a publishing contract really entailed.
First up was the World rights vs World English rights. World rights means that the publisher would have the right to publish the book in the countries/territories that they published in, and then they could sell it to other countries and territories. For each foreign deal that they negotiate, you as the author get a percentage and the publisher gets the other part of that percentage. Don’t forget if you have an agent then they will also get part of your percentage too.
In contrast World English means that the publisher would own the rights to the English speaking publishing world, and then agents are free to sell to non-English speaking countries. The offer of the advance for World English would usually be lower than World Rights, as your publisher would make less money from your book as they wouldn’t be making money on foreign sales.
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I opted for a World English offer, with the hope that my literary agency would be able to sell my foreign rights. I was extremely excited a couple of weeks ago as they had an offer from a Dutch publisher. Don’t Tell the Groom is going to be published in Holland next year!
Then there’s components like audiobooks. These again can be included in your contract, and if the publisher sells the audiobook rights then you get a percentage. I was very lucky that I received a three book audiobook offer on my books separately on the condition that I agreed a deal with a UK publishing house.
And if you haven’t been bamboozled by the rights, there’s then the breakdown of royalties. I almost felt I needed a maths degree to navigate them. You could take a small percentage of the price the publisher sells your book to a book shop for. But if your publisher sells your book to a big Supermarket so that they can sell it at a discount, then often you’ll only get 50% of your normal paperback royalty rate – which means you could be looking at 3 or 4%. But then you have to remember they’re buying in bulk which means you sell more.
So once you (or your agent) has negotiated the contract there’s then that little thing called money. In my naivety, I thought if you were getting an advance, it would be just that, you’d get it in advance of writing. But they’re actually split up, so you get a part on signing, a part on delivery of the manuscript, and the last part on print publication. The royalties get dished out twice a year, and are likely to come about six months after publication (and that’s once you’ve earned out your advance).
It’s easy to get excited and carried away with the champagne popping when you get your publishing deal – but it’s worth really looking at the elements of your contract and knowing what you want and what you’d be willing to accept. Your agent is a wealth of advice on this topic, and if you join the Society of Authors they can vet your contract for you.
Is there anything you think aspiring authors should look out for when signing a publishing contract?