publishing contracts

I Don’t Want to Bug My Agent, But…

Dear Editor…

My agent will be negotiating a two-book deal with a publisher for me. An experienced children’s author friend of mine brought up four issues I might want to talk to my agent about: separate accounting for the two books, escalation clause, electronic rights split, and who has the right to sell the film rights. My main questions to you: Should I talk to my agent about this before she starts negotiating? Just bring up one or two of these issues now? Or wait and see what she and the editor come up with first and then get into it? (Is this last option a bit late in the game?)

Debut Author

Dear Debut Author…

First, huge congratulations to you. Second, banish that Timid Author Syndrome, my friend. Don’t step into your writing career with the mindset of a grateful pawn—you are a partner in a business venture. These are your books, and these negotiations will affect your income and intellectual property. Understand as much of what’s going on as possible. Your friend is concerned because joint accounting (which requires both books earn out before you get royalties) doesn’t favor authors yet some publishers insist on it, film rights are sometimes best handled through sub-agents than publishers, and electronic rights are a battleground these days. Your agent knows this publisher’s strengths and will explain why some things are worth fighting for while others should be granted. Ask before she starts negotiating so no one has to backtrack. That’s not stepping out of line, it’s making sure you’re all happy with the final contract.

Happy writing!
The Editor