book contract lawyer

A Very Expensive Mistake…


Lawyer Helen Sedwick monitors so-called “self-publishing companies”, aka vanity publishers or subsidy publishers, through a legal lens and wrote another great article for BookWorks.
   She explains that too many writers are intimidated by the self-publishing process or simply don’t have enough time.  Many of these companies grab too much control over the author’s work.

An Expensive Mistake for Authors.
These self-publishing companies own the book cover, interior design, and ISBN. Helen Sedwick explains that authors are often bound to outrageously high retail prices which can kill their book sales. Other companies are tricking authors into contracts that give them audio and translation rights, even though they don’t provide those services. If an author manages to get out of a contract somehow or the company bankrupts (think Booktrope) then the author has to start book production from scratch: they have to buy their ISBN, have to get a new book cover and book layout etc. – a very costly departure from the predator…

Read the Contract.
Lawyer Helen Sedwick advises to read the contract, the Terms of Service (TOC), especially the License or Grant of Rights.  If that section gives the company exclusive rights, turn away.  Self-publishing contracts should be non-exclusive.  An exception here is KDP Select, because the author is in control in this 90-day exclusivity agreement.

In her article, she shows contract clauses and provisions that are favorable for authors and on the other side those that should be avoided under all circumstances.  She “translates” the legalese for authors, and explains the implications.  Her mantra: an author-publisher always should maintain control over how and where the book is sold.

Read Helen Sedwick’s article and study carefully the contract examples she provides for authors.


Top 7 Regrets of Less Successful Authors


If I would have known then, what I know now” or “why didn’t I listen to …” and yes there might be much to regret.  However, it is never too late and with your next book there is another chance to do the publishing and book marketing part much better planned and in time for the book launch. Authors are always “before the next book” so why not start today writing your prequels and use the content of your older books manuscript to create lots of short stories or blog posts, guest blogs or free chapters – in order to show off your writing and at the same time announce your next bestseller.
These Are the Regrets I Often Hear or Read from Writers:

  • started too late with Social Networking 
  • did not learn about publishing and marketing
  • did not evaluate the market for my book
  • did not study the books’ competition 
  • did not get professionals to edit / proofread the book
  • did not pay enough attention to book layout 
  • did not check the formatting before publishing

You might even add two more regrets if you sold your manuscript to a trade publisher in order to be able to brag that you are a “published” author:

  • not to have an attorney checked your publishing contract and explained it to you
  • not to have realized the implications that your book has only 3 months to fly from the shelves at bookstores and online retailers

What Can be Improved in the Future:

How to build a solid foundation to network with lots of followers, and how to find lots of readers for your short stories, newspaper articles and guest blogs long before starting to publish your book, is explained here: 

Learn all about publishing possibilities and book marketing long before writing your book. It is so easy, either by attending a weekend seminar or one-on-one via a customized online Seminar in the comfort of your home: 

Answer yourself these questions:  How many similar books are on the market?  Go into Amazon’s categories to find out. What do you think about their book covers?  How are theirs, compared to your books’ price?  Who will be your readers? Where on Social Media did you find readers in your Genre / book category? Who are your target readers? Are you visible to the right audience for the work you are trying to sell?

A few typos may look like a little matter – but they can cost you big business. The editors or the proof readers job is to partner with you on a journey to make your vision of your book working – in the way your prospective readers will see it.

Suddenly confronted with fonts, typography, page and other book layout requirements? However, not only for printed books, but also for e-books it is essential to know a bit about the possibilities and rules.

Test the formatting results on multiple devices. Get your hands on as many reading devices as possible — or, failing that, get in touch with people who have a number of different reading devices and get feedback from them. The desktop Kindle application, for instance, has quirks that the actual device does not, so it helps to know when problems like this are relevant.  Be prepared to repeat as necessary.


Signing a “Standard” Publishing Contract can have serious consequences for authors. A publisher’s standard agreement could contain a one-sided non-competition clause that prevents the author from using material from his manuscript in day-to-day business, such as blogs posts, magazine articles, even tweets. Do use the comprehensive Book Contract Checklist by Attorney Lloyd J. Jassin!

Your book has four months to fly off the shelves. If your book doesn’t sell in the first four months of its bookstore life, it will be remaindered and disappears from bookstores und could end up at “A Buck a Book”.  90 to 95% of books don’t pay back their advance. Royalty will only be paid if the advance is paid back. What you get up front as an advance is usually all you will ever get. If you screw up on your first book, you are out. If you do well with it, publishers will be eager to see your next title.

Hope you found these tips useful and your next books publication goes smooth and successful. Let us know what was your regret from a former publishing experience.




If you would like to get more support in all things publishing, have your book intensively promoted and learn how to navigate social media sites – or to learn how you can make yourself a name as an author through content writing: We offer all this and more for only $179 for three months – or less than $2 per day! Learn more about this individual book marketing help:

Or visit
to advertise your new book, specials, your KDP Select Free Days or the new Kindle Countdown Deals.

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Tagged: book contract lawyer, check formatting errors, how to publish a book, professional edit and book layout, social networking, start to promote your book, study your competition

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