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CrastersBabies
12-06-2011, 10:39 PM
Many apologies if this has already been posted, but I could not for the life of me find what I was looking for with the search function.

In short . . .

We've heard of writers begin a series, get a few of a series published then suddenly are dropped by the publisher and are unable to conclude a series due to contract (no-competitive) clauses.

(Sorry if terminology is not exact, I'm still learning)

How can a writer protect him/herself from this happening? Is there a way to have something put in your contract that if your series does not reach its full potential through a specific publisher that you can go elsewhere? That you can self-publish?

Furthermore, let's say that I want to write multiple series in the same world and want the freedom to take me (and my characters and world) elsewhere should the publisher cut me off before my "world stories" are realized?

Forgive me if this is a really newbish question, but I'm genuinely curious!

Drachen Jager
12-06-2011, 11:37 PM
Generally a well written contract with a publisher will have a clause that says if they fall below a certain number in sales/year the rights revert to the author.

So, if the series is doing well, they'll keep running it. If it's doing poorly they dump you and rights revert to you soon after.

No problem.

rugcat
12-07-2011, 12:15 AM
We've heard of writers begin a series, get a few of a series published then suddenly are dropped by the publisher and are unable to conclude a series due to contract (no-competitive) clauses.

Generally a well written contract with a publisher will have a clause that says if they fall below a certain number in sales/year the rights revert to the author.

There actually are contracts that screw an author in this fashion. The short answer is to get a competent agent who would not allow such wording to get into the contract in the first place.

eqb
12-07-2011, 12:22 AM
So, if the series is doing well, they'll keep running it. If it's doing poorly they dump you and rights revert to you soon after. No problem.

Sometimes there is a problem. Say that book #2 did poorly, but book #1 is still selling. Quite often the publisher cancels the rest of the series, reverts rights to book #2, but keeps the rights to book #1 because they are still making money from it.

Most publishers won't take part of a series. You do have the option of self-publishing the rest, so if you have an established fan base, you can do okay, but for new writers, it can be a problem.

Old Hack
12-07-2011, 12:23 AM
Generally, though, if an author is dropped halfway through a series it's not the existing contract which will prevent them getting the rest of the series published elsewhere. Publishers are often reluctant to pick up remaining books in a series when the earlier books were published by a competing publisher. There are several reasons: they don't want to spend money promoting a book when their promotions might result in sales for their competitors; and if the series has already been dropped by another publisher they will assume, probably rightly, that the either the sales weren't good enough to keep publishing the books, or the author was too difficult to keep working with.

Drachen Jager
12-07-2011, 12:46 AM
Sometimes there is a problem. Say that book #2 did poorly, but book #1 is still selling. Quite often the publisher cancels the rest of the series, reverts rights to book #2, but keeps the rights to book #1 because they are still making money from it.

Book #1 would have to be pretty marginal for that to happen.

If it's marginal the company will probably drop it from re-prints pretty quickly and rights will revert eventually anyhow.

@rugcat: That's why I said a 'well written' contract. I meant from the author's perspective.

eqb
12-07-2011, 01:17 AM
Book #1 would have to be pretty marginal for that to happen.

Not necessarily.

I'm speaking of a case I know about. The first book did very well, and continues to sell very well--so well the publisher doesn't want to relinquish the rights. But because they did zero promo for the second book, including no review ARCs, it sank without a trace. So they reverted rights on the second book and are continuing to sell and print the first one.

It happens.

CrastersBabies
12-07-2011, 07:30 AM
Amazing advice all. I appreciate it so much. Lots to think over. :)

jaksen
12-08-2011, 01:42 AM
Not necessarily.

I'm speaking of a case I know about. The first book did very well, and continues to sell very well--so well the publisher doesn't want to relinquish the rights. But because they did zero promo for the second book, including no review ARCs, it sank without a trace. So they reverted rights on the second book and are continuing to sell and print the first one.

It happens.

If the first book is still selling well, there should be a page at the end from the second book - or perhaps even the whole first chapter. Catch those readers as they're coming off Book 1, entice them with that second book.

I've seen this done with both big-name writers and those with a smaller following.

Old Hack
12-08-2011, 11:01 AM
That can work: but those pages aren't always included in the first book of a series, and even if they are, if the publisher has reverted the rights to subsequent books then they're going to make sure they're removed if the book is reprinted.