Who doesn’t want a book deal these days? Celebrities make it seem like a piece of cake to come up with the idea to write memoirs and have every publishing house jumping at the chance to put it in print. That is far from the way it is for ordinary folks like us.
When a romance publisher agrees to buy your manuscript that brings up negotiations over a publishing contract. The contract is an agreement that you enter in with the publisher saying that they will pay you to publish your romance book. Your agent is there to haggle on your behalf. They will go through the wording (as well you should) to see that everything is in order.
Parts of a Romance Publishing Contract
- Your rights – This has nothing to do with the Constitution. These rights are defined as how your romance book will appear where it will be sold and the term of the contract. You have probably heard of North American rights, first rights, international rights and such. Be careful, there may be wording about media rights which extend to movie rights, video rights and others. If you aren’t sure what they are talking about ask your agent.
- Royalties – Everyone wants the money. This is how much you will be paid for each book sold. Before you sign on the dotted line, it is in your best interest to take a look with a microscope. Be sure that the percentage that you are going to be paid is off of the book’s suggested retail price and not just what the publisher makes. It’s all money, but you want to be sure to get a large piece of the pie since it was your toil and sweat that created the manuscript in the first place.
- Cash advances – Big time romance writers get these and not from the ATM machine. New ones with an excellent manuscript are also cash advance winners. You may get an advance on future book sales when you sign the publishing contract. Be sure that the contract states what they amount will be and when it will be paid. Your agent will be anxious about this also since they get a cut of what you make.
- Details – Here we are talking about the description of your work to be negotiated upon. Read this section as carefully as you read the others. Specify name of book, genre, and what the story is about. Delivering less or worse, not catching an error, could be grounds for the publisher to make you deliver something you never intended to.
Romance publishing contracts, like other contracts are full of industry and legal jargon. Knowing that jargon can be the difference between your work being protected and well compensated and you ending up with less than you are entitled to. Don’t be afraid to ask for clarification from your agent or a lawyer that handles contracts. The agent represents the manuscript but the publisher represents themselves. Make the best deal that you can.