Contracts

Dear LDS Publisher,

I received a contract from “ABC PUBLISHING” the first part of March. I read through it and emailed this change back to the managing editor:

I understand Section 2 to mean “ABC PUBLISHING” would have right of first and last refusal. Is it possible to tweak the language in Section 2 to right of first refusal only and also that it only apply to LDS themed works?

The managing editor emailed back to say she’d forwarded my email to the COO since he’s is the one authorized to answer all questions about contracts. That was on March 17. I haven’t heard anything since then. Would it be okay for me to send an email asking for an update? Who should I send the email to? I don’t have the COO’s email.

Thanks for your help!

  1. Good for you for not simply accepting that right of first and last refusal (ROFLR)! IMHO, a right of first refusal clause is okay, if it’s limited by time or genre. But first and last? I’d never agree to that. If you want to read my previous posts on ROFLR, go here and here and here.

  2. I am sure they get that question frequently and it should be a simple answer—either yes or no. Maybe they’re trying to decide how badly they want your book? Regardless, it’s been over a month and they should have responded by now. Contact the managing editor and ask if a decision has been made yet.

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Contract Deal-Killers

October 12, 2010 · 4 comments

Since you mention that you wouldn’t sign a contract with a certain clause here, LDSP, I thought I’d go ahead and ask: what would be the deal-killers in a contract in your opinion? ROFR, ROFLR, etc.?

As a publisher, I think ROFR (Right of First Refusal) is a good thing. Usually, a first book does not sell as well as a second, third, or twelfth book. It takes time for an author to build up a fan base. When I invest in an author, I’m not just investing in one book. I’m investing in that author’s potential. The ROFR clause is there to help protect my investment—and in most cases, it should be reassuring to the author, knowing that the publisher sees this as a long-term relationship and not a one-hit wonder.

However, it’s easy for ROFR to turn into a monster. It needs to be limited. For example, it must be the next book, not every new book into eternity. It also needs to have an end date, for example, a book written in the next two years. Or it can be limited to a series, or to a genre.

Lately, I’ve seen contracts moving away from ROFR, toward a multiple book deal. For example, a publisher may contract an author of a YA fantasy for the one book they submitted, plus two more for a series. Or maybe for the submitted mystery, plus two more unrelated mysteries. I’m fine with that. To me, it seems fair to both publisher and author—assuring that the publisher makes back an investment and that the author has an automatic in for the next two books (assuming they’re good); but after that, both parties are free to move on.

ROFLR:
The ROFLR (Right of First and Last Refusal) is a whole different kettle of fish—and very stinky fish at that. What this means is, you submit your next book, to Publisher #1 and they reject it. You submit it to Publisher #2 and they like it—but before you can accept their offer, you have to go back to Publisher #1 and give them the option to consider it again. That can take up to a year or more. At which point, publisher #2 may no longer be interested. I’d never agree to this.

Payment to Publisher: The other thing I’d never agree to is paying money to a traditional publisher. (There are situations where you might consider an author-assisted publishing contract, but that’s for another discussion—and is never part of a traditional publishing contract.)

Those two, along with the repayment of royalties, are the only things that I would definitely reject. Other things would depend on my circumstances.

The important thing about a contract is, you need to know what each clause means in real life language, and understand how it will effect you as the author and your future abilities to write and publish.

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Overpayment Refunds?

October 5, 2010

Hi. I’m looking at my first publishing contract. I’m a real greenie, here. It has these words: “In all instances in which the Author shall have received an overpayment of monies under the terms hereof, the Publisher may deduct such overpayment from any further sums payable to the Author in respect to the Work.” I […]

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I Have Contract in Hand, Now What?

February 9, 2010

Normally, this would be a Writing Tip Tuesday post, but I have several questions in the queue and I want to get to them before I start posting the short stories for the contest. (10 more days to submit; tick-tock!) Dear LDSP, I finally have a contract in hand, (AAaahhhh!!!) but have no idea how […]

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ROFLR Rears Its Ugly Head—Again

December 9, 2009

Updated to be more clear… My author friend has a book deal with [a particular LDS publisher]. She’s published a few books with them. I was shocked when she told me that TPLDSP [this particular LDS publisher] has first and LAST right of refusal. Meaning that she has to publish ANYTHING she writes through TPLDSP […]

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ROFLR Clause

November 18, 2009

Can you please explain the ROFLR clause in contracts? Does that mean if my publisher rejects a manuscripts and I find another publisher, I have to go back to my original publisher and allow it to reject the manuscript a second time? First off, ROFLR does not mean “rolling on floor laughing riotously” (although sometimes […]

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It’s All Negotiation

November 5, 2008

How do you go about negotiating changes you want made in a contract you’ve received from a publisher? I’m very intimated by this and am not sure how I would go about it. Email them? Call them? Send in a hard copy with the changes you want? And what changes should you expect to be […]

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LDS Agents

February 19, 2008

Say there was someone silly enough to work for chicken feed, and they decided to become an agent for LDS authors in the LDS market. What are the odds that the publishers would work with them? Standard agenting fees are 15% of royalties (paid by the author), so unless you were really, really good at […]

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The Horrible Story of Nathan Newauthor

August 28, 2007

On the subject of marketing and promotion, I’m saddened to hear that some publishers don’t get back to their authors in a timely manner concerning promotional events. Sometimes it’s beyond their control and a matter of bad timing, but if it’s a regular occurrence, that’s really unfortunate. And as an author, you may feel hamstrung […]

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Selling vs Retaining Rights

March 12, 2007

Can I ask another question about contracts? Why do publishers want all the rights to my book, worldwide and in every possible format, even when they say they probably won’t use them? For example, my publisher wanted the audio rights even though they said they probably will never put my book on CD. What if […]

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It’s a Small World

March 7, 2007

One of the comments on my post suggesting you seek legal advice on publishing contracts lamented the lack of experienced attorneys in Utah. That may be the case, but we live in a world connected via the Internet and your options are not limited to the state where you reside. I did a quick Google […]

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If You’re Unhappy…

March 5, 2007

Geez, I go away for the weekend and you all go crazy on me! I love it. And I thought I’d hit a hot button when I got 6 comments on a post. But we’ve set an all-time record here. And my hit stats are through the roof. Thank you. A lot of the comments […]

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