Textbook contract clauses: Understanding advances and grants
An advance is a pre-payment of royalties to be earned upon the publication of your textbook. It will be recouped out of the royalties first accrued from the commercial exploitation of your work. It is not uncommon for publishers to agree to advance from 50% to 100% of expected royalties on projected first year sales. The advance may or may not be refundable if your manuscript is rejected and your contract is cancelled.
A grant, conversely, is a payment intended to cover some or al of the out-of-pocket costs of research and/or manuscript preparation. It is generally not recouped out of accrued royalties, and like the advance, may or may not be refundable in the event the manuscript is rejected.
If you are successful in obtaining substantial advances, be sure that they are paid upon submission of manuscript (and not on the publisher’s acceptance, which might be delayed) and that they are not cross-collateralized (i.e. recoverable from royalties earned by other titles that you might have written or might yet write for the same publisher). Since grants are intended to offset or reimburse expenses, some portion should be disbursed right away to get you started and the remainder should be disbursed as you provide evidence of expenses incurred. Grants should not be refundable, even if your manuscript is rejected.
This is an excerpt from Stephen E. Gillen’s Guide to Textbook Publishing Contracts. The book shares an example of a typical and better contract clause for the Advances and Grants portion of a textbook contract.
Stephen E. Gillen teaches Electronic Media Law at the University of Cincinnati College Conservatory of Music. He worked for nearly 20 years in publishing prior to entering private practice in the middle 1990’s. He is presently a partner at Wood Herron & Evans (a 145-year-old Cincinnati law firm focused on intellectual property) where he concentrates his practice on publishing, media, and copyright matters. He is a long-time member of the TAA Council and a regular speaker at TAA conferences. He will present “Wanna Get Away? Maybe Now You Can: Parting with Your Publisher” at the 2017 TAA Conference in Providence, RI, June 9-10.