Q&A: Can you renegotiate your textbook contract when going into subsequent editions?
Q: “Can I renegotiate my book contract when going into subsequent editions?”
A: Steve Gillen, Attorney, Wood, Herron & Evans:
“If you are the original and sole author and they really need you to prepare the next edition, and they acknowledge that, your leverage is to say no to writing the next edition if they don’t improve the offer. However, you need to be prepared to walk away, and they need to believe you will.
You get what amounts to a right of first refusal on subsequent editions. If the publisher realizes that it needs your special talents and reputation for the revision, your threat to decline the opportunity to revise may buy you some improvements in your contract. But if you say no, they can find a replacement for you and charge the cost of your replacement against your royalties, which would step down in subsequent editions.”
A: Michael Lennie, Authoring Attorney and Agent, Lennie Literary & Authors’ Attorneys:
“You can put in the revision clause in the original contract that the contract is negotiable in the next edition. This is very difficult to do, but could be done.
You should also include a phase out clause whereby the author would receive 50 or 60 percent of the royalty if he or she did not participate in the next edition, 25 or 30 percent of the royalty if he or she did not participate in the next edition thereafter, and 10 or 15 percent if he or she did not participate in all subsequent editions thereafter.”