Here is my problem: is there a free or an inexpensive publishing contract (template) on the Internet that I could download?
I would like to publish a series of books in Ireland, I am a not a writer but a translator. So my situation is slightly different from the usual “writer, who wants to publish his own work”.
The authors are asking for the publishing contract, and I have tried going to solicitors (and there aren’t many, who deal with intellectual property, and those who do do are only interested in cases where you can sue for illegal copyright use), they were not interested in a small publisher. I also learnt that a lot of publishing houses do not even use solicitors and draw up their own contracts. I decided to find either somebody else’s contract or a template of a contract, amend it to suit my situation, then contact a “smaller” solicitor to verify the contract for me.
People I have talked to regarding this all worked in publishing at some stage of their lives, none of them have a contract to even show me (or so they say anyway ;). Help!
It is rather surprising how difficult it is to get a clean, coherent contract written up, particularly when you end up with a lawyer who is obsessed with covering all the possible bad scenarios and ensuring you’re not at risk given even the most outlandish situation. What should be simple one or two paragraph contracts stretch out into five, seven, even ten page contractual agreements that are more intimidating than anything else.
When we moved into our new office space, one of the buildings we liked gave us a 30-page lease agreement and another had a nice, easily read four page agreement. Just on the implication of being obsessive nit-pickers, we ran from the 30-page lease building and are happily ensconced in the 4-page building instead. There’s much to value in simplicity.
I believe that the same is true in this situation with your quest for a publishing contract. While a longer contract might well cover more situations, it also runs the risk of alienating your potential writing partners.
That said, there are two publishing contracts that I’m aware of in the online world, from O’Reilly Media and from Apress. The best one to start with is O’Reilly Media, because they don’t just have a contract, they have a detailed explanation of what’s included and why: So You Want to Write a Book: Chapter 3: The Contract.
Apress has a similar document called Write For Us and they make available a template publishing contract, their Apress Contract Template 2005 [in PDF form, unfortunately]
Most authors I know believe that the O’Reilly publishing contract is a better model for fairness and equity between the author and publisher, and as someone who has written a book for O’Reilly (Learning Unix for Mac OS X Tiger) I agree that their contracts are relatively straightforward.
I think that’ll get you started with a publishing contract.