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).

[Read more…]

How to negotiate textbook contracts strategically

Many textbook authors, especially new authors, are intimidated high stack of booksby the idea of negotiating their contracts, but strategic and artful contract negotiation is essential to ensure that you get the best offer possible.

“It is very important to negotiate your contract, because the first offer will not be the best deal, so you’ll just be leaving money on the table if you don’t negotiate,” said Stephen Gillen, intellectual property attorney at Wood, Herron & Evans.

Michael Lennie, attorney and literary agent at Lennie Literary Agency, considers the clauses regarding royalties, competing works, and the rights to electronic versions of the work to be among the most important portions of a contract to negotiate. In addition, he suggests that authors try to negotiate the reversion clause, which is a clause that determines a date for when the rights to a book will be reverted to the author in the event that it is never published or goes out of print. [Read more…]

How to negotiate the textbook royalty clause

All standard publishing contracts are enormously lopsided inTextbook with money symbol. favor of the publisher. In textbook contracts there is no such thing as standard royalty provisions. Having said that, a review of more than 100 TAA author contracts in my files does reveal some common “ranges.”

“Standard” ranges. The concept of “standard” royalties is less common in textbooks than trade books — so much so that it is almost counterproductive to state ranges. I am concerned that young authors may put too much stock in a so-called standard range, while more seasoned authors may find it contrary to their experience. Accordingly, view the following as indicators only, and don’t be afraid to push for royalties appropriate to your stature, leverage and revenue generation for your publisher — even outside the ranges discussed here. [Read more…]

Lawyer: Rank your textbook contract negotiation goals

Successful contract negotiation requires knowing “what you’re Determining author orderwilling to give up and what you’re not,” said authoring attorney Michael Lennie, with Lennie Literary & Author’s Attorney.

Authors should negotiate better terms on several contract provisions, he said. They include:

[Read more…]

Attorney advises textbook authors on e-rights

Michael Lennie, an authoring attorney and agent for Lennie ebook tablet on bookshelfLiterary & Author’s Attorneys, compared the items on a publishing contract to a bunch of asparagus and said authors can either give all their rights away in one bunch, or negotiate them one by one.

“Electronic rights is just one of those spears of asparagus,” he said. “And on that one spear are many different e-rights elements. The author is in the enviable position of owning all of those spears.” The publisher, said Lennie, will want them all, and the author has to decide whether to give those rights to the publisher or retain them. If your publisher wants all of your e-rights, he said, here are a few things to consider: What has the publisher done with e-rights in the past? Do they have the technical expertise to do it or will they license those rights to a third party? “The publisher may give you 50 percent of the rights of third party sales, but that may only be seven percent of the publisher’s 15 percent from the licensed third party,” he said. [Read more…]

Why you might want to consider hiring a literary agent to help you negotiate your next textbook contract

Michael Lennie

Michael Lennie

Authoring Attorney and Literary Agent Michael Lennie, of Lennie Literary & Author’s Attorneys, answers some questions about the advantages of hiring a literary agent to represent you when negotiating a textbook contract:

Q: How often are you hired as an agent for textbook authors?

Lennie: “A rough estimate would be 5-8 times a year, and the number is slowly growing.” [Read more…]