Monday, March 31, 2014

Guest Blog by Author Gianni Hayes!

What You Should Know About
by Gianni D. Hayes author of 24 books, including:

An eclectic collection of short stories that are like windows into the various stages of a life. They examine the various passages that affect us all, as the protagonists of the stories face various problems: fun events, medical issues, the tragic death of a friend. 
With so many ongoing changes in the writing and publishing industry, authors need to keep up with them to protect themselves. You can go to Writers Digest’s book club and purchase books on contracts, as well as going online and researching the composition of a good contract—one that is fair to the author and the publisher…including yourself, if you are self-publishing. Signing a bad contract is akin to giving your work away, and likely forever.

Joyfully, I recently was offered a 4-book contract, of which the first contract was to serve as the template for the next 3 books. But while reading the initial agreement, I became alarmed; there were problems with my rights.

I sent the publisher numerous questions, most of which he answered but was adamant regarding what rights he wanted. I understand that publishers must have certain rights granted to them in order to receive equity on their hard-earned work, but writers must be on top of things to see if they are being treated fairly.

More commonly today than when I began writing and getting published in the early ‘80s, is a writer dealing directly with a publisher than through an agent. Self-publishing and POD publishers are more the norm today than finding agents to sell your book to big traditional houses. Three reasons for self-publishing and using PODs are control of: 

1. The entire writing/publishing process;
2. The profits; and
3. Your rights. 

Finding a good and legit POD publisher is everything. They, like traditional publishers, must carry the cost of printing, the onus of proofing, and the patience to deal with finicky authors among other facets. I have found Cambridge Books/Write Words, Inc to be one of the most reputable PODs. Always this company puts its writers first, and they do this by providing a just contract and high quality work. 

With any publisher, author concerns should always valid and viable. Any publisher should strives to make authors a part of the entire publishing process.

Gianni DeVincenti Hayes, Ph.D, has put her heart and soul into a story that allows readers to explore humanity’s feelings: Adoration for others, thoughts, dreams, as well as the fears and hate, that constantly plague us. The story emphasizes the importance of communication with, and love for, another—or the lack of love even for God—that forces each of us to go on that risky journey, called “The Search.”

 I’ve had many contract experiences during the years my 24 books were published. While all contracts are a give-and-take process, there are those publishers who believe they should acquire most or all the rights they can take from writers, especially new writers. 

It’s best to get someone who understands literary contracts to look over yours. If you are a member of the National Writers Union, the Authors Guild, and other literary agencies, they will offer contract advice; otherwise, seek the help of savvy published writers, or get a good attorney. This especially applies to writers who are working with publishers, not self-publishing.

Digital publishing has taken a forefront in contracts. You should try to keep the bulk of digital printing rights. Today, most publishers want both print and digital rights. This is okay as long as everything is spelled out in the contract for both venues.

Contracts can be sticky, so keep the following in mind anytime you’re selling your creative work. Not all contract items are included below, but they’re a good start to consider; hence, this article introduces, in broad strokes, contract concerns: 

1.Limiting “world” sales to English in U.S., its territories and Canada may not be a good idea unless your publisher is well versed in foreign sales. 

2.Copyright must be in the author’s name; no exceptions. 

3.Always have the rights and percentages to subsidiaries clearly written out.

Retain your approval rights for any use the publisher wants; you can’t demand 100% on everything. You have to pick your battles, most of which should center around your rights.
Also make certain that you are able to use excerpts or partials of the work you gave to the publisher. One publisher I had—but did not sign with—demanded that I get his permission for anything I write on the topic of the book in any form (articles, blogs, online, YouTubes, etc) past, present and future!

Determine what derivatives the publisher wants in whole or in part, and how they will benefit you. Some publishers often want all the derivatives in current and future formats and media. 

The publisher is in the business of presenting a good book to the public through marketing and other tools. Most contracts will contain such clauses (paraphrased) for getting your book out: 

“To sell or license any supplements, revisions, condensations, serial works, and abridgements, along with such venues as video, screenplays, TV, film, and other dramatic rights, along with radio, cassette, audio, digital and YouTube productions, and any electronic medium available at the time of the contract or in the future.”

Again, discuss your concerns about subsidiaries and supplements with the publisher.

Ascertain that you can make galley corrections, as well as any revisions needed in context so that if you or others found errors in your narrative that you can change it before it’s printed or reprinted. 

Before you go messing with the galleys you should have made your major changes in a copy prior to the galleys which most publishers supply. The galley proofs are not for lengthy or significant rewrites or additions.

Do not agree to any terms that suggest you must pay for unsold books being warehoused or stored elsewhere. Consider purchasing at a low price your unsold books that the publisher no longer wants to carry or will sell off as remainders, or even shred or recycle.

You should not have to pay for indexing your book.

Some publishers will ask for revisions, but when you do the rewrites, they may come back and state that you did not revise your work adequately and thus they will have someone else rewrite your book and you must share with them your advance and royalties. Do not allow this.

There is much, much more, that goes into contract discussions. Read every word over and over, and obtain help from veteran authors and literary agents or attorneys.

Don’t “give away” your baby, but do remember that contracts are made to be negotiated.

Jacob’s working on a formula that will cure both AIDS and cancer. It will save the world—as long as nobody realizes it can also become a doomsday weapon.

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