I was offered a book contract this past week with a term in it I had never seen before, it stated the rights were for “the life of the copyright”. “Interesting” I thought as every other contract I’d signed had a distinct life-span, as in “when out of print and the publisher won’t bring it back to print” or a distinct time-frame (5 or 10 years as I recall without looking at the contracts)
The “life of a copyright” is now the life of the author plus 70 years. So if I accepted this contract, I was giving away the rights to this book for my life, my children and quite likely my grand-children’s life.
Luckily there were other clauses that prevented me from even having to consider this contract seriously.
What is interesting though is that if I were a first-time or beginning-author, would I give away the baby to get into print or would I have the guts to call them on this ridiculous larceny and walk away?
Here’s the deal
I don’t need a publisher anymore. I make more money on Amazon every year than I ever made from any book – even in the good times. It feels strange. To have been “brought up” in an old culture and then to strike out in an entirely new one.
But even when I look at the balance sheet, I “want” a hard copy book to wave around and say, “See! See! They published my book!”
Now, all I get is a note from Amazon saying, “transferred your money.” One is good for the ego and the other is great for simple things, like eating.
Publishers Need Writers
Ever thought about that? If you’re a good writer with a decent social platform, and can sell books then publishers need you. They need writers who can sell their books. Plain and simple because as any writer knows, the majority of publishers don’t do much with a book after the first few months it’s in print.
In fact, in the future, publishers will need you more than you need them. (probably not right now though as there are a lot of folks still holding on to the status of having a hard-copy book printed)
If your objective is to make money and live from your writing, then you don’t need a publisher. If your objective is to get status, then you need a publisher.
Do not confuse the two – I still do and I’m deeply into the e-publishing world (that’s one of those easier said than done things)
And don’t – however tempting it may be – give away your work with contracts that screw you with clauses such as “for the life of the copyright”.