Mini debut author lesson: So much paper in a contract

This entry is part 16 of 21 in the series Debut Author Lessons

One of the things that I didn’t know going into this was how long a book contract was. It’s a small detail, but it’s good to know.

My book contract is 30 pages. <–This is why I have an agent, so I don’t have to negotiate all of that, because yuck.

We are not doing joint accounting, which means that each book is a separate contract. So the three-book deal we have, is actually three book deals, and three contracts. If we had done joint accounting then that would mean that all three books would be counted as one contract and I’d have to earn out theĀ total advance for all three books. This way, I earn out on each book individually. Since the three are unconnected to each other, it made more sense to not link them financially. Make sense?

So that’s 90 pages of contract to read. And I do read all of them, even though they are, in theory, identical except for the titles of the books. Typos and find/replace errors happen to everyone and you don’t want to discover that you’ve accidentally included rights you didn’t mean to.

Each of these contracts needs five signed and printed copies, for a total of 450 pages.

It still surprises me how much paper that is. By this point, I’ve learned that it’s actually about the same cost to have it printed at a copyshop than to print it at home. By the time you factor in the cost of the printer cartridge, the paper, and most of all, the time it takes to babysit the printer to add paper, clear jams and collate, it makes sense to use an online print service. I usually use Fedex Office, just because they are close and then I can ship the contract directly from there.

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5 Responses

  1. Michael Curry

    The need for separate contracts to get separate accounting is peculiar to some publishers, such as (off the top of my head) Tor and DAW. Others have long since figured out that it’s less paperwork for them (as well as for the agents and authors) if a contract for 2+ books just specifies whether those books are accounted separately or jointly.

    And good point about reading your contracts anyway, even after your agent (and their erstwhile assistant) has gone over them.

      1. Sally

        That’s a good thing to know — whether or not your publisher goes with more or less paperwork. Be prepared for either.

  2. Sylvia

    Holy crap that’s a lot of paper.
    How do you file them?

    My file cabinet has finally succumbed to the ‘cram jam’ method of filing.

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