Thursday, September 07, 2006

If the Author's Guild Came to Campus, What Would You Ask?

Literary contracts may be the single most vexing aspect of publishing a book with a university press. Many professor/authors sign the boilerplate, assuming it can't be negotiated. But there is a lot of leeway in most contracts, and there may be some very good reasons why you want to think and negotiate before you sign.

Author's Guild Executive Director Paul Aiken and General Counsel Jan Constantine will be coming to campus in October (exact date and time TBA) to discuss university press contracts. Now is your chance to set the agenda by submitting your questions and concerns.

If you haven't yet heard of the Author's Guild, here's your chance to get acquainted. As they note on their web site, "The Authors Guild is the nation's largest and oldest society of published authors and the leading writers' advocate for fair compensation, effective copyright protection, and free expression." Its board includes authors like Oscar Hijuelos, Susan Cheever, Roger Angell, Sarah Vowell, and many others. Your $90 per year membership gets you up-to-the-minute contract advice, reasonably-priced template-based author web hosting, plus the satisfaction of knowing that you are supporting important litigation surrounding key issues such as copyright in an electronic age, e-books, Google's book copying ambitions and more.

Send e-mail to Carole with your questions and ideas for a session format tailored to your needs.

1 comment:

nlbelardes said...

I've known people who didn't allow anyone to look over their contract but themselves. Why? Because people get overly excited when they get any kind of contract.

Especially in today's 'accept a software contract with a blink, wink and click' era, people expect and want instant gratification so they can move on to the selling and books on shelves aspect of publishing.

Take your time, ponder, and have an expert look at the contract. If there's a problem, have the contract rewritten until it's fair to both parties...