Signing A Book Deal
Signing A Book Deal
Jonny Geller (Managing Director - Curtis Brown (Books)) gives expert video advice on: I've signed a book deal what happens next?; What should I do if I don't understand the terms of my contract?; Once I've signed my contract when can I expect to recieve the money? and more...
I've signed a book deal what happens next?
Once you've signed the first book deal in the UK, there's a long process where nothing happens. After you've delivered your book, there's a nine month to a year period where the publishers prepare the cover and the blurb, they start talking to Waterstones and W.H.Smiths and Anderson's six months ahead of publication, saying, "This is a big title for us, would you read a proof?" So they make a proof of the book that's about to come out to show the people, and they start the buzz. As an agent, you help your author in all those areas, you advise them about the blurb, you advise them about the cover and you perhaps just give them advice to keep them on a stable route.
Can I sell other rights to my book?
Some people are lucky and can sell their manuscript to film, on a film option, and some people can get attention in America or Canada or Europe. But not many, to be honest. The top books can, and the books that have a very strong hook or plot can. But other times, you have to wait until the book is published and it gets its reviews, it's promoted in book shops. There's a sense of it happening, and then, as a second chance an agent has to sell the author's book. But it's a long process.
Is my publishing contract negotiable and do I need an agent to negotiate it for me?
The publishing contract is completely negotiable. That's what we agents do for a living. Everything is negotiable. I think the point of a big agency, as opposed to a small one, is that we have a thing called a boiler plate, which means that there are agreements that we forged with main publishing houses over years of having top authors with them. We supposedly get the best terms because of that. The way that publishing works is that the top govern everything. If you have the top authors, they can demand the right clauses and that will allow your smaller authors to benefit. Of course, your smaller authors will hopefully one day be your big authors and that's the way the publishing system works.
What should I do if I don't understand the terms of my contract?
If an author doesn't understand the terms of their publishing agreement, they must talk to their agent. If you sign any contract in life and you don't understand it, you have no protection in law. That's a very important thing: You must be able to ask the right questions. If you don't find that satisfactory, there are several books that explain publishing agreements that are out on the market and are worth buying.
What are the most frequently asked questions when it comes to author contracts?
The most frequently asked questions when people are confronted with their publishing contract are: "Do I get a say in the cover?", "Can I have the right to go to Australia and promote the book?" and, "What level of royalty will I have and what control will I have on it?" Now, the big book chains demand a very high discount for their books and that high discount means your royalty gets lowered so the author wants to know what that really means.
Once I've signed my contract when can I expect to recieve the money?
We demand that publishers return contracts within two or three weeks, but various publishers have varying degrees of speed. Once you have signed a contract, you should receive your signature advance within two weeks.
Does signing my first book deal mean a second book is guaranteed to get published too?
In publishing, nothing guarantees you anything. If you sign one book deal, you don't necessarily have a career in writing. What it does do is put your foot in the door. If your book sells and they like your writing, there is more than enough chance of you being able to sign a second book deal. Most book deals now are two book deals. That cements the deal between the author and the publisher for longer.