Author's Bill Of Rights What you should expect from a self-publishing company
By Mark Levine
Beware the pitfalls in agreements. Authors do have rights. Be sure to protect yours.
The following Bill of Rights has been gratuitously added into our Tool Kit for all to use. IN, and Mark Levine, author of The Fine Print and CEO of Click Industries, hope it will be of some use in your future creative endeavours.
The Bill of Rights was developed by Mark, who after spending nine years as a corporate, entertainment and intellectual property attorney, with the intent that it will assist writers in avoiding the legal pitfalls that can be placed into a publisher's agreement, thereby stripping writers of their rights.
Print it, photo copy it and use it when looking over contracts. The following should and is not intended to replace the hiring of proper legal council. Before signing any contract or agreement you should have the paperwork reviewed by a noted legal authority.
All authors have the right to expect certain things from a self-publishing company. Only choose a publisher that:
1. Allows an you to see a copy of their publishing contract upon demand (if a contract is not posted on the publisher’s website).
2. Takes no rights in your book whatsoever, including the right to negotiate rights on your behalf with any third party (e.g. movie rights, book club rights, etc.)
3. Explains exactly how the royalty percentage is calculated and doesn’t back out vague expenses such as "administrative" and "processing" fees.
4. Does not double-dip when it comes to royalties. Double dipping is when the publisher pads the actual cost of printing the book (which is subtracted out of the gross sale prices before calculating royalties) and still takes a portion of the royalty.
(Note: You will need to purchase The Fine Print of Self Publishing to learn the actual book production costs self-publishing companies pay.)
5. Does not give itself a trade discount for sales it makes through its own online store.
6. Allows you to terminate your contract at any time and without penalty by giving no more than 60 days written notice.
7. Upon termination of the contract, gives you all digital files that contain your formatted book and the cover art in a format that will allow you to print copies of the book without incurring additional formatting fees.
8. Upon termination of the contract, immediately ceases selling your work, except for any remaining copies of your book still in the publisher’s possession.
If a publisher refuses to comply with any of these enumerated rights, find another publisher.
Mark Levine, CEO, co-founded Click Industries, Ltd. in 2000 after spending nine years as a corporate, entertainment, and intellectual property attorney. The company provides small-business entrepreneurs and artists with affordable help in the business start-up process and the protection of business assets and intellectual property. He is the author of The Fine Print of Self-Publishing, two novels and several scholarly works.