View Full Version : I have a book contract, now what?

10-06-2011, 02:52 AM
Not sure where to put this question; after checking with mods, questions like mine have happened before but no one seems to remember quite where they belong. "Ask the Agent" seemed like the most fitting recommendation.

The genre of nonfiction I write for is not known for attracting agents, which is another factor.

I've been offered a book contract. The contract is for a publisher in the UK and the contract is subject to UK law. I am a US citizen. There are things here and there in the contract I'm not 100% OK with, but I'm also not confident I understand the specific provisions well enough to just strike them out.

Can I just take this to the lawyer that my partner uses to negotiate his freelance contractor agreements? Since the lawyer is from the US, will that make his input invalid? Is there someone I can find who is used to handling tiny scale international agreements? Or is this all stuff I'm just going to need to sort out on my own, as there's no advance involved?

10-06-2011, 03:13 AM
It may depend on what you want to negotiate. As I understand it, a US trained lawyer would not be trained in UK law (and vice versa) unless they specifically (for whatever reason - say working in an embassy) sought that training out and while there are similarities in the law they are by no means the same so there are traps for the unwary...

I would say that a US lawyer might be able to look over the contract and translate it into english (instead of lawyerese) for you because the language use is probably similar. However, he could not advise on which clauses are standard in a UK contract and which are not and be able to navigate the UK legal system to work out which are legal and which are not (and likewise, effectively defend or prosecute for you if something went awry with the contract).

Are there not any UK publishers or agents in here who could give more specific advise? Perhaps if you post the clauses you are not happy with it can be discussed?

10-06-2011, 05:23 AM
I'm a bit wary of publicly discussing a contract, but if a UK solicitor/agent has any insight, I would be pleased to discuss it privately.

Susan Littlefield
10-06-2011, 05:49 AM

I can't answer your questions, but I can say congratulations on the offer!

10-06-2011, 06:55 AM

I can't answer your questions, but I can say congratulations on the offer!

Thank you! I'm just deferring my happy dance until I'm confident the project will be truly supported.

Old Hack
10-06-2011, 10:18 AM
You can take it to any solicitor that you like but be aware that only an IP lawyer who specialises in publishing contracts will be able to give you useful advice.

You could try the UK's Society of Authors: I'm not sure if it accepts overseas members but if it does, it costs about 90 to join and members have access to an entirely free contract advisory service, which provides incredibly detailed reports on contracts.

10-06-2011, 05:43 PM
I would explain your situation to a UK agent who works with a US firm and request representation. You'll have to give up about 15 percent of royalties, but you'll get the legal advice you need and you'll have an agent with whom you can hopefully work on more US and UK projects. I would think an agent would be darned happy to take on a project that is already sold.
Congratulations, regardless!!

Lady MacBeth
10-06-2011, 06:23 PM

I can't answer your questions, but I can say congratulations on the offer!

Ditto that. Congratulations!:hooray: