I have to jump in here to say
that the no resale clause is very common, is in the contracts
of all the publishers for whom I've worked, and indeed is
in there for the reason Han thought.
Publishers want local bookstores to get the book orders for
school visits and such.
HOWEVER, publishers are flexible. If there IS no local bookstore,
then other arrangements have to be made.
Also, there's nothing to prevent you from changing hats. Set
yourself up as a bookseller, which will require some paperwork.
I know authors who have done this. You can then order as many
books as you like--and they will be returnable, which author
copies generally are not.
Another Post from Harold
To add to what Anastasia said:
Lila and Han, you do not need to have a bookstore as such.
You simply need to establish an account AS a bookseller
with the publisher. The publisher isn't making exceptions--they'll
establish such an account with anyone if they fill out the
To answer your specific questions:
1. Yes, but I don't know the details. You'll need to research
this--requirements may vary from state to state.
2. Not as far as I know. Room in your garage for some cartons
of books is all you will need.
3. I've never done this. My only book is the CI Guide to
Publishing Children's Books, and so I don't do school visits!
The authors I know, like Anastasia, generally do a good
number of school visits and have several different titles
to sell. Jerry Pallotta, who I know from Charlesbridge,
did this when I was there and may still do it.
4. The publisher won't push other books on you. You might
decide to order some, but I think most people carry only
their own books.
If this is your first book, most likely you won't want to
do this. Not worth it. I just
mentioned it to let you know that if the "no resale
clause" bothered you, there was a way around it, when
the time is right. For now, if you are trying to get changes
in your contract, put your energy elsewhere.
More Harold Underdown:
Thanks for adding that, Anastasia! It reminded
me of another point I forgot:
If you are a "bookstore" you earn royalties on
the books you sell. You generally don't get paid royalties
on your author copies.
More Harold Underdown:
A few quick answers.
1) Re the publisher selling sub. rights they aren't entitled
to sell--you pretty much just have to keep your eyes open.
Publishers do NOT routinely and deliberately do this. If
you think your publisher can't be trusted on this, then
you shouldn't be
signing the contract--this is pretty basic. Mistakes DO
happen and publishers will pay you appropriately you if
they make a mistake.
2) Ask your editor about termination. Generally if the publisher
can terminate, you can too, even if it's not explicitly
3) Re Converted Books: Check out Turtleback Books. This
is a company that literally buys stock from a publisher,
removes the bindings, and then puts new, library-standard,
Hope that helps. As I say in my Idiot's Guide, it doesn't
hurt to ask your editor if you don't understand something
or have a concern.
More Harold Underdown:
And to add another wet blanket to the pile, think about
the consequences in the other direction.
If the publisher WON'T revise objectionable language in
an indemnity clause, or any other clause, are you prepared
to walk away from the contract?
Angela's right that what's in the contract can always be
acted upon. But there's a balance to be struck. It it comes
down to it, and it doesn't always, how do you weigh the
slim chance of having to live with an indemnity clause kicking
in against the
reality of walking away from a contract?
I also see this issue from the publisher's position. I know
my opinion might be unpopular (call me a traitor), but it
really does make sense that a publisher would want final
say. Yes, I know the author has put their blood, sweat and
tears into it
(boy, do I know), and is putting their name on the line
(hey, I've worried about this with every sale--book and
magazine), but the publisher is putting forth a sizeable
financial investment. They're taking a risk with each book
they publish--even more so with a book by a first-time author.
They WANT the book to be successful and (if it's a reputable
usually want the author to be happy with the final book.
But they do need to
protect themselves (their financial investment and their
reputation) by having final editorial say--otherwise they
might end up with a stubborn author who refuses to make
the changes they feel are necessary for the success of the
book. Doesn't that make sense?
One possible solution might be to do the revisions before
signing the contract. If you work on revisions now, you'll
know if you and the editorhave the same vision for the book
and if not, you can always opt not to sign. Of course, you'll
have to decide if it's worth losing the deal over, but at
least you'll have the information you need to make that
decision. Right now, you don't know what changes they want
(and you don't know if it's worth losing the deal over),
and if you go ahead and sign giving them editorial control,
you might not end up happy with their vision it will be
too late and too bad.
What you receive up-front, when you sign a book contract,
can vary a lot from publisher to publisher. Larger publishers
tend to offer more, because they have deeper pockets. Some
small publishers only offer royalties. There is no "set"
amount, especially if this is your first book. If you are
a well established author, with a proven sales record, either
you or your agent (if you have one) could negotiate a higher
advance and other perks.
Unfortunately, for a first time author, YOU do not set the
amount of money a
publisher pays you as an advance. The publisher offers you
their basic, first time author fee, and that's that. Only
later on, when book sales prove that you are an author worth
keeping, do you get "wiggle room" regarding some
items in your contract.
If you do consult a lawyer about your contract, make sure
they are well versed in literary law. This is a specialized
resource that I found invaluable for educating myself
about my contracts is Tad Crawford's book BUSINESS AND
LEGAL FORMS FOR AUTHORS AND SELF-PUBLISHERS. It provides
a sample book publishing contract along with an extensive
and detailed negotiation checklist (more than 10 pages)
that goes over the contract point by point, explaining
what is meant by various provisions, what issues should
be carefully considered, what specific language to watch
out for, and what changes you might want to pursue, suggesting
not only what you might ideally seek (though not likely
get), but also what you might realistically expect. It
even includes discussion of some issues specific to children's
Of course, there's still the potential pitfall Harold
alluded to in connection with the Author's Guild contract
service, of being so focused on the unrealistic goal of
getting the publisher to conform to the "ideal contract"
that you get caught up in raising concerns about boilerplate
legal language that just isn't going to get changed, and
that isn't really the issue. However, as an educational
tool, I found the book provided an excellent blueprint
to guide me in understanding and negotiating my own contracts.
Also, regarding the second clause you quoted, which begins:
"Indemnification: In the event of any claim, action
or proceeding based on or arising from any alleged breach
of any of the warranties and representation set forth
in Paragraph 4a above..." I note that this appears
to refer back to a warranty and indemnity provision (4a),
in which the author typically acknowledges being the sole
creator of the work, and declares that the book does not
contain any copyright infringements, defamatory material,
etc. So, only if you actually breach any of the warranties
you've made in 4a (by plagiarizing, for example,) will
the consequences described in 4b kick in. Hope that puts
the perceived "bombshells" of this (fairly standard)
clause into a more reasonable context for you.
I hope you'll find at least some of this info useful in
preparing for your contract negotiations, and wish you...
All the best,
Here comes the wet blanket
It does not matter what any editor, publisher, or well-meaning
friend SAYS the contract means. The contract language
rules in case there is any future questions to be answered
or situations to be resolved.
If a publisher says "don't worry, that clause doesn't
apply to your book", then ask them if they have any
problem striking that clause from the document. If they
still do not want to strike it, then you better well be
able to live with the worst-case scenario should the "letter
of the law" be asked of you. Which means, of course,
that you better thoroughly understand what the contract
language means in order to make that decision.
Do not get in such a rush to be published that you put
yourself in a precarious financial situation in order
to cover their boohineys. It is not worth it. Only YOU
can have your best interests at heart; and the language
in the contract is prepared
in such a manner as to look after those.
It's called doing business.