Author Rights

Written by Christa Gatewood
Bookmark and Share

Your rights to your manuscript are very important and should not be signed away without careful consideration. In fact, a good rule of thumb is if you have to pay anything for the publishing of your book, you should not sign away any of your rights as an author. This includes arrangements with subsidy publishers that claim you are only paying for a portion of the production costs. If money comes out of your pocket at all, keep your rights.

Signing Away Your Author Rights

If you are signing with a major trade publisher, you should expect to give up the rights to the manuscript as well as any and all derivative works. You have to give up your rights because the publisher is fronting all of the money for the publishing and taking on all of the risk. If you maintained the rights to the manuscript in this situation, you could theoretically take it to another publisher with a better deal.

When signing a contract with a trade publisher, remember that everything is negotiable. The publisher will try to make you think that the contract is standard to pressure you into signing it, but you can negotiate any points you are uncomfortable with. Many writers and even literary agents focus heavily on the compensation part of the contract, but they don't pay enough attention to the rights part. This can be a costly mistake, especially if the book is turned into a movie or a merchandising hit.

If you want to publish and keep your author's rights, self publishing is the way to go. It might be harder to get the book marketed, but you will have more control over it. Moreover, this can be more profitable for the author.

Bookmark and Share