October 30, 2013

Does Your Publishing Contract Guarantee a Print Edition?

Publishers Weekly just ran an article about contracts and book formats that affects anyone looking for a traditional deal.

Agents (most speaking anonymously) are concerned that contracts will soon come with clauses that make no guarantee on format. In fact, according to agent and e-book publisher Richard Curtis, that's already the case with big houses that are releasing e-originals.

For a new author, this can hit hard. Traditional publishing royalties are generally higher for print as opposed to e-books. That means less money for you.

But unless your contract stipulates otherwise, a publisher can test a digital version of your book before deciding if it's worth investing in print.

Since I expect to be going the indie route, this isn't a big issue for me. However, if I were looking for an agent, it would be huge. Why sign away my rights when distribution may be limited?

What are your thoughts? Would you sign a contract that doesn't guarantee a hardcover or paperback edition?


  1. I read about that too. There are so many people who still read print books that I would hate to see them be phased out. Plus there are lots of people without e-readers. Not sure what I'd do, though I'd probably sign the contract.

  2. Hi Natalie,
    I don't think print books will ever be phased out, but I do think it's a disservice to authors if that option is denied. Would hope the contract allows you to print copies via CreateSpace or some other POD vehicle for readers who want a hard copy.

  3. I actually make much more with my e-books than my paperbacks. Because the cost of producing and shipping paperbacks is so much higher, I make about a quarter the percentage of the books sale than I make with e-books. I think it's all in how the contracts are written.

  4. Heidi,
    I agree, it's all about the contract. I think the concern is that some publishers aren't offering a choice of formats. So authors needs to be very careful about what they sign.


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