THE PUBLISHING CONTRACT
This chapter is a guide to effective negotiating for the author who has something to sell--the right to publish his or her work--to a publisher who wants to buy it. The chapter is about power and money. The author has the power to sell or not to sell. The publisher has money to pay for the author's exercise of that power. The publishing contract is the legal means by which power and money change hands.
Most authors, even those with a great deal of publishing experience, doubt their power. They often feel compelled to sign any agreement the publisher submits, without negotiating, afraid that the publisher will back out of the deal at the first sign of ingratitude. This is simply not true. It evidences the author as the victim of his or her own imagination, of self-intimidation. Virtually without exception, publishers willingly change contracts at the author's request, whether the author speaks directly or through an agent or attorney. A new author may lack the bargaining strength of an established money-maker, but publishers take reasonable requests seriously even when a rank beginner makes them, because even the novice has power.
The time to use that power is before you sign away your rights in the publishing contract, while you still have something your publisher-to- be wants.