Authors express concern about new Cengage Unlimited subscription service

online booksCengage’s announcement of a new subscription service, Cengage Unlimited, that gives students at U.S. higher education institutions access to all of the company’s digital higher education materials for $119.99 a semester has Cengage authors concerned about how their contracts will be affected.

“I think the authors should find out as soon as possible how we are going to be paid,” said mathematics author Pat McKeague, who did not receive any information from his publisher about the new service prior to its public announcement, and has not been able to reach his editor for more information. “My contracts require my written permission before any electronic version of my book can be published.” [Read more…]

Not for the faint of heart: The art of truly understanding your royalty statement

royaltiesA royalty statement should be simple to understand, right? “Show me my sales and my royalty rate, perform a simple mathematical calculation, and — boom! There’s my royalty check!” But how often have you looked at your publisher’s royalty statement and muttered, “I have no idea where these numbers are coming from,” and spent hours trying to understand the calculations? Or perhaps you’ve become so frustrated that you simply gave up, took the royalty check out of the envelope, cashed it, and threw the rest of the statement in the recycling bin, reassuring yourself that the amount must be correct if it’s this complicated. [Read more…]

Collecting unpaid royalties: Trends, traps, and litigation strategies in textbook royalty enforcement

textbooksMuch has been written about changes in the college textbook marketplace over the last decade. The industry has adapted to new pedagogical methods, the proliferation of digital learning materials, and profitability pressures felt by publishers — all leading to significant innovation in the publication of learning materials. Some observers have concluded that we may be witnessing the death of the textbook as we have known it.

As the textbook publishing marketplace has changed, so too have relationships evolved between authors and their publishers. Commercial arrangements forged in the era of print media — which were amended and extended over time to apply to the publication of new editions — have been impacted by these industry-wide changes. [Read more…]

How to part with your publisher when your textbook goes out of print

Textbook ResearchDuring the 2017 TAA Conference session, “Wanna Get Away? Maybe Now You Can: Parting with Your Publisher,” intellectual property attorney Stephen E. Gillen, a partner at Wood, Herron & Evans, said that one event that can open the door to parting with your publisher is when your textbook goes out of print.

When and how your textbook goes out of print is governed by your contract, said Gillen, which means it’s best to think about these situations in the early stages of negotiating your publishing contract. “They [your publisher] are probably going to be more inclined to make changes in that language in the beginning than they would be somewhere along the way,” he said. [Read more…]

Special offer on TAA books on textbook authoring

Guide to Textbook Publishing ContractsWriting and Developing Your College TextbookTake advantage of special pricing on two TAA books, Writing and Developing Your College Textbook and Guide to Textbook Publishing ContractsWriting and Developing Your College Textbook is now $43.95 (regularly $53.95) with free shipping. You’ll also receive a coupon code for $5 off your membership renewal! Guide to Textbook Publishing Contracts is now $14.95 for the print book (regularly $19.95) and $9.95 for the ebook (regularly $14.95). You’ll also receive free shipping on the print order and a coupon code for $5 off your membership renewal! [Read more…]

Intellectual property attorney: First-time textbook author has leverage in contract negotiations

Stephen E. Gillen, author of Writing and Developing Your College Textbook: A Comprehensive Guide, says the first-time textbook author definitely has leverage in contract negotiations, and can negotiate changes in the standard publishing agreement.

Listen to the full interview

Textbook contract clauses: Understanding advances and grants

Guide to Textbook Publishing ContractsStephen GillenAn 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. [Read more…]

5 Things to consider when negotiating your textbook contract audit clause

royalty auditOne of the most important provisions in your textbook publishing contract is the audit clause, which will specify the conditions for how and when you can request and conduct an audit. In the absence of an audit clause, some publishers will still comply with a request to audit, although they are not contractually required to do so.

While the large publishers have calculated and paid royalties to thousands of authors, contract terms can vary, automated royalty systems have limitations, and the accounting teams at publishers are made up of human beings who can make mistakes. If an author wants a better understanding as to the calculation and accuracy of his or her royalties, the best course of action is to request a royalty audit. [Read more…]

Why you shouldn’t sign a work for hire agreement

Guide to Textbook ContractsOne of the choices you can make when publishing your textbook or other instructional text is to sign a contract that simply assigns to the publisher the copyrights in your work or to enter into a work for hire agreement, in which you and the publisher agree that the publisher will be legally considered the author and sole owner of your work for copyright purposes. A significant consequence of work for hire agreements is that you don’t have the benefit of the right of termination under copyright law, said Stephen E. Gillen, an attorney with Wood Herron & Evans, and author of Guide to Textbook Publishing Contracts. [Read more…]

On Demand Webinar: 20 Tips & 20 questions for your next textbook deal

Stephen GillenIn this webinar, recorded at the 2016 TAA Conference on June 25, Stephen Gillen, a partner at Wood Herron & Evans, takes you on a tour of a typical textbook publishing contract, pointing out the highlights along the way – what’s usually negotiable; what’s often not negotiable; what questions to ask; and when to ask them.

The webinar is adapted from his book, Guide to Textbook Publishing Contracts.

[Read more…]