The Writer's Legal Companion

By Brad Bunnin; Peter Beren | Go to book overview

1
THE PUBLISHING CONTRACT

INTRODUCTION: ABOUT CONTRACTS AND INTIMIDATION

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.

-5-

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The Writer's Legal Companion
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Contents ix
  • Introduction 1
  • 1 - The Publishing Contract 5
  • Introduction: About Contracts and Intimidation 5
  • In Conclusion: A Little General Advice 68
  • 2 - Publishing in Magazines 69
  • Introduction 69
  • 3 - Collaboration 85
  • Introduction 85
  • 4 - The Legal Relationship Between Writer and Agent 103
  • Introduction 103
  • 5 - Watch Your Words: The Confusing Law of Defamation 115
  • Introduction 115
  • 6 - The Right to Be Left Alone: Protecting Privacy and Publicity 133
  • Introduction 133
  • 7 - What is Copyright? 143
  • 8 - Copyright Formalities 165
  • Introduction 165
  • 9 - How to Protect Your Copyright 195
  • Introduction 195
  • 10 - Tax and the Freelance Writer 201
  • Conclusion 209
  • 11 - Legal Resources for the Writer 211
  • Introduction 211
  • 12 - The Author and the Business of Publishing 225
  • Introduction 225
  • Conclusion 266
  • 13 - New Information Technologies and the Author 269
  • Introduction 269
  • Appendix a Resource Directory 283
  • Appendix B a Glossary of Publishing Terms 291
  • Appendix C Publishing Agreements 299
  • Appendix D Copyright Material 319
  • Appendix E Permissions Guidelines 331
  • Appendix F Author's Questionnaire 339
  • Index 345
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