In this post I advise the indie, or self published author to protect their copyright not from nasty pirates, but from exploitation.
When faced with a contract the old adage of ‘act in haste, repent at leisure’ is never truer. You’ve created a book you’re proud of and you get interest from a publisher. Life is sweet.
But before you sign that bit of paper which means so much to you, check to make sure that it delivers on your expectations. What exactly are you getting out of the contract? The biggest thing you need to watch for is that you do not sign away your rights for an indeterminate amount of time.
A friend showed me a contract that he had been sent by a small publisher and one clause in it stated that the publisher would retain sole publishing and distribution rights for the duration of the copyright.
I asked my friend if he knew how long the duration of copyright lasts. He didn’t know. So I told him, and if you don’t know either then it’s something that you should be aware of. Copyright remains for seventy (70) years after the death of the copyright holder. So although the contract wasn’t specifically requesting the copyright, it was effectively demanding control of the work for the entirety of its existence.
We’re constantly warned about the evils of copyright infringement, how illegal copies of work harms authors, artists and other creatives. But as copyright holders we’re never warned about the risks of copyright abuse where control is removed from us with little or no recompense. Regaining control of your work can be a lengthy and costly process.
What to look for:
- If you are asked to sign over sole rights, make sure there is a expiration date of the agreement. Not just when all copies are sold, or the book goes out of print. Make sure there is a set date, or explicit amount of time from the date of agreement.
- Never give up your copyright unless you are properly compensated. If you give up your copyright you’re relinquishing the rights to produce future works including any of the characters you’ve signed away.
- Do you get an advance? If not, are the terms of the contract worth receiving a couple of copies of the book that you could Print on Demand for a couple of quid?
- Negotiate different terms for digital and print rights. Digital copies are effectively risk free for a publisher.
When protecting YOUR rights don’t be surprised if a publisher comes back with a “take it or leave it” attitude. They are a business, and their business is to make money. It takes a lot of strength to say no and to hold out for a better offer, but I’d urge each every one of you to carefully consider any deal you get yourself in to.
Remember – although a publisher may be taking a risk on you, their business model depends on their ability to exploit your work. That shouldn’t end up as single sided deal. If anyone should be exploiting your work then that person should be you. You put the hours in. You came up with the idea and you created the work. Don’t be quick to give all that away to become a ‘published author’.
Long after a cataclysm that destroyed humanity had been forgotten, the descendants of the original survivors live in a protected Dome governed by a set of rules known as ‘The Orders’.
The rigid enforcement of The Orders now threatens the people they were designed to protect. Elias has a solution, except it puts him on a course of action that is at odds with the rules that he has been charged to rigorously uphold. On top of every thing else, the solution came to him in the form of a dream; in a time and place where no one dreams.
Can he save the last vestiges of humanity, or even himself?
‘Sometimes you don’t choose the house, the house chooses you’.
The supernatural story of a house that attracts lost souls. Set in South West Wales, Hannibal House tells the story of Troy who leaves Seattle in search of his roots.
Unsure of what he’s really looking for, Troy comes across Hannibal House. Immediately infatuated with the building he sets out to possess it, or is the house aiming to possess him…