Contract considerations when switching from contributing textbook author to lead author

Michael Lennie

Michael Lennie

Q: If an author is transitioning from a contributing author role to the role of a lead author, do they have to accept the same contract conditions/stipulations that were negotiated by the original authors?

A: Michael Lennie, Attorney and Literary Agent, Lennie Literary Agency & Author’s Attorney:

“I see at least a couple of meanings to your use of the term ‘a contributing author’, each of which results in a different answer. If you have been ‘contributing’ only to certain elements (e.g., chapter summaries, or a particular supplement to the main text), but not to the overall book, you may have entered into what is designated a “work-made-for-hire” (‘WMFH’) agreement with your publisher. A WMFH agreement requires the agreement be in writing clearly stating that it is in fact a ‘work-made-for-hire’ agreement. A WMFH agreement is quite different from an author/publisher agreement (ah, but that’s another tale).

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