Negotiating Book Deals

It seems to be the season for negotiating book deals.

For the active content creator who has vibrant on-line presence, live and digital “platforms,” and is consistently blogging, writing, via video, audio or even smoke signals, the world of traditional publishing is attractive but a potential landmine for your business.

The allure of being a best-selling author is intriguing – how cool, you’re a best selling author. A six-figure advance. Why not? Well, it’s not that simple.
First, there is no question that an experienced agent is your first “investment.” But make sure that you pick the right one. Someone who understands your platform, your end-game and what you are willing to give in the control of your content in exchange for a publishing deal.

Second, having an agent is not a free ticket to pass the buck and not be involved in the details of negotiating a contract and being fully involved in understanding the restrictions that a publishing deal can have on your business and your ability to create content. You must, I repeat, must be involved in the nitty gritty of the contract negotiation process. This is not a hobby and you must treat this process with the same focus that you give to your launches, product development, etc. Insist on seeing every email exchange between your agent and the publisher.

Understand that traditional publishers still believe that their model works and its their way or the highway. That is not true. Many times my clients can monetize content more effectively, quickly and profitably than a publisher can.

Understand that publishers own the content that you create and that the typical standard contract broadly reaches out to future content that you create.
If I told you that the typical publishing contract could tie up your ability to create training programs, e-books, premium content, blogs, videos, would you still do the deal? Well, it just might, unless you and your agent address boilerplate that is antiquated and problematic.

Keep your eyes open. Ask questions and remember that that sometimes the best deals are the ones you don’t make.


by Peter Hoppenfeld