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aruna
11-08-2007, 11:20 AM
Need some advice here.
My first novel went out of print around the beginning of this year... at least, that's what a bookstore told me when I tried to buy one. At the time, they (Waterstones) said that it was not yet decided if the publisher would reprint.
My contract grants me reversal of rights after six months out of print. That time has long passed.
AM I supposed to be informed by the publisher, or does this just happen automatically, or do I have to insist on written confirmation that the rights have returned to me?
What if the publisher should decide, say now, that they want to reprint... would I have to get a whole new contract, or could they just do so underhand? The agent who brokered the deal is no longer my agent, and I do not have an agent to put these questions to.

Old Hack
11-08-2007, 12:15 PM
Sharon, you should still speak to your ex-agent on this one, as she/he's the person who handled the deal. Just write to the agent, explain the situation, and ask for written confirmation that your rights have reverted to you. Copy the letter to your ex-editor, too.

aruna
11-08-2007, 03:58 PM
Sharon, you should still speak to your ex-agent on this one, as she/he's the person who handled the deal. Just write to the agent, explain the situation, and ask for written confirmation that your rights have reverted to you. Copy the letter to your ex-editor, too.


(Groan) I knew someone would say that. Wanted to skirt that possibility, as we did not part on the best of terms. However, I have taken the bitter cup and done it. She is just checking for me.

Namatu
11-08-2007, 07:01 PM
That's good. I wouldn't expect the publisher to send you a letter. We'd like such a courtesy, but businesses for some reason are never that considerate. ;) Good luck!

maestrowork
11-08-2007, 07:10 PM
Yeah, ask your agent. But my gut feel is that if it's in the contract, it's legit and they have to abide by that. Read your contract again and see what it says. Getting a written confirmation is not a bad idea. I would say if they reprint it now (after almost a year being out of print), you will need a new "reprint" contract. However, I think it's good idea to make sure you get the actual out of print "date" and not depend on a book store.

Carrie R.
11-08-2007, 07:21 PM
I think my contract deals with that and I think I have to write them and ask that it either be reprited or that the rights be reverted. I can't remember off the top of my head but it might be worth re-reading your contract.

Tish Davidson
11-08-2007, 08:44 PM
However this ends up, get everything all in writing and make sure the person at the publisher who is giving you the information actually has the authority to make contract decisions. It will save you and your estate problems later.

Crinklish
11-08-2007, 09:09 PM
Our boilerplate generally specifies a time after which the book is declared "out of print" if it hasn't had sales (though that's currently being complicated by developments in POD technology), after which the author/agent must contact the publisher by letter to request a reversion of rights. The publisher then has a set period of time (6 months to a year, usually) to get the book back into print, otherwise the rights revert.Your contract should have the specifics.

The publisher won't automatically revert rights or let you know that it's time, because it's in the publisher's best interests to keep the rights to your work as long as possible. Even if your book hasn't sold anything in years, if you suddenly hit it big at another publisher, the first house will whip that baby back into print, thus rendering the reversion clause immaterial.

CheshireCat
11-09-2007, 01:31 AM
What Crinklish said.

Check your contract in case the house has its own procedure for reverting rights, but the industry standard is that once you believe the book is out of print, and has been out of print for the time stated in the contract, write a formal request for reversion of rights. Again depending on the contract, they generally have a period of time in which to decide whether to revert rights or reprint the book. If that time passes with no action from them, send a second letter stating that according to agreed-upon contract terms, rights have now reverted back to you, the author, and that you request they confirm this in writing.

You do have to have that written confirmation before another publisher would reprint the book.

Georganna Hancock
11-11-2007, 03:09 AM
Another new twist to watch out for are publishers that start offering a book via on demand publishing, by which it can never be out of print. Or so they claim.

popmuze
11-11-2007, 04:03 AM
Another new twist to watch out for are publishers that start offering a book via on demand publishing, by which it can never be out of print. Or so they claim.


I've successfully gotten the rights back to a number of my books, but I first had to ask for them. Sometimes the publisher will waive the six month rule if they really have no intention of putting the book back in print. But with this new POD arena, it's a whole new ballgame. On my last contract I had that clause reworded, I think.

CheshireCat
11-11-2007, 04:43 AM
Another new twist to watch out for are publishers that start offering a book via on demand publishing, by which it can never be out of print. Or so they claim.

Yeah, writers should be extremely watchful of any contract terms that allow the publisher to hold on to rights/licenses indefinitely. Talk such terms and clauses over with your agent or a literary attorney, and make very sure your rights are clear.

You are NOT selling your book to a publisher, you are selling them, for a finite period of time, the license to publish the book. If they fail to exploit that license, rights should be reverted to the creator/author of the work.

Beware of any clauses or terms that allow the publisher to define "in print" as being available via their catalog or website, or through some eBook or POD technology. If the pub insists on terms of this sort, and it's a dealbreaker, at the very least impose a minimum-sales number, i.e., the book is determined to be "in print" only if 100 (or 500, or whatever number you're comfortable with) copies are sold during the reporting period, in one or all of the formats.

Something like that. Just be careful. Contract terms unfavorable to the author tend to creep into useage because nobody challenges them, and then by the time we realize we've been screwed, it's too late to force the industry to make changes.

aruna
11-11-2007, 10:36 AM
Thanks to all who have answered here and sorry for disappearing for so long... been very busy!
ANyway I have reread my contract and I see I have made a mistake.. serves me right for not reading with more care!
The contract says,

If the Work goes out of print, so that it is not avialaible in any of the Publisher's trade editions covered by the Agrrement, and if the Publishers decline or neglect other than through circumstances beyond their control to arrange within 6 months of a written reqwuest from the Author for the reissue of the Work, this Agreement shall automatically terminate, provided the Author is not indebted to the Publishers for any sum owing to them under the Agreement, such indeg=btedness not including any unearned balance of an advance paid to the Author herein. OM termination, all rights granted to the Publishers under this AGreement... revert to the Author.

Grrr! I should have asked them to reissue it as son as I realised it was going out of print, now it is going to take at least six moinths before I get the rights back.

Unless they do reissue. Which, now, I hope they will. I have reason to believe that deamnd will increase inthe next four months. This is already hapenning with the German edition, muyb publishers there produced a new edition (with new cover and everything!) in March this year, purely by coincidence. Due to Guyana being the focus for next year's World Day of Prayer it is now selling like hot cakes.. I have already signed and sold 200 copies since July.

People have been asking me for copies through my website, and I have been buying used copies and sending them. Last week one of the amazon sellers had the nerve to send me a used proof copy... I am going to have to return it and give the seller a bad rating. What a jerk. It says clearly on the cover, "Not for Resale".

aruna
11-11-2007, 08:28 PM
BTW.. I'm not as negligent as it sems; the file with al miy contracts was in Germany and I onmly got to retrieve it last weekend.

New question: if I get the rights back, do I also get the manuscipt back? I don't have the original draft they bought, after which I made several changes that only the publisher has.

CheshireCat
11-11-2007, 10:12 PM
Grrr! I should have asked them to reissue it as son as I realised it was going out of print, now it is going to take at least six moinths before I get the rights back.


Not necessarily. They may decide within a few weeks that they aren't interested in reprinting, in which case they'll notify you of that and rights revert back to you.

As for the original manuscript, that depends on the house. For every one I've written for, at some point after the book is in print, I receive my original, copy-and-line-edited manuscript back (called in the industry "foul matter"!).

But I've also never had to produce that original copy when anything was reprinted by a different publisher. As long as they can obtain a copy in some format, electronic, a physical book, or galleys, they can reissue.

For what it's worth, I usually keep my galleys, both first and second-pass pages, and just fax back the pages with changes. That way, I have an unbound hard copy of the final, published book. Just in case.

aruna
11-11-2007, 10:44 PM
Thanks. Well, I'll keep you posted. It'll be interesting to see how this playes out.