Publishing contracts are full of pitfalls. Murky language and unfamiliar terms can obscure the contract’s true meaning. One wrong step and you could lose control of your work, restrict what you can publish in the future, or expose yourself to costly litigation.

As an Authors Guild member, you have access to experienced lawyers who can review your publishing agreements line-by-line and recommend specific changes, additions, and deletions. Our legal team can give negotiation tips to help you secure the best deal possible; we may even be able to intervene if you find yourself in a dispute.

Beyond our contract services, our lawyers can advise you on all types of copyright, trademark, First Amendment, and piracy issues. Every Guild member also receives a print copy of or electronic access to our Model Trade Book Contract and Guide, which clearly dissects every term in a typical book contract and explains what’s fair and what isn’t. It’s an education in what to watch out for.

*Legal services not available to all membership levels

Contract Review & Assistance

The terms of your publishing agreements determine the control you retain over your works, as well as how much you’re paid. Our legal team will review your contracts at no charge and help you understand what you’re giving away before it’s too late. We provide members with detailed written reviews of all types of agreements, including traditional publishing, e-publishing and self-publishing contracts, agency agreements, multi-media deals, film options, freelance agreements, and other book-related contracts. We’ll highlight the major risks and unfavorable terms of any offer you receive, and we’ll suggest alternative language that will leave you better protected.

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Improving Your Book Contract

The terms of your publishing agreement determine the control you retain over your work, as well as how much you’re paid for it. Our contract review will help you identify and avoid all kinds of traps in publishing agreements.

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Copyright Advice

Do you have a question on copyright registration, fair use, renewal, copyright duration, or infringement? Are you trying to obtain permission to use another’s work? Need guidance on terminating an old publishing agreement under the copyright law’s termination provisions? If your book is approaching its 35th year in print, you may be able to terminate your book contract and get your rights back.

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Writer's Legal Guide

Sooner or later, any writer who publishes will encounter a legal question. The answer is probably in the Writer’s Legal Guide. The updated fourth edition of this legal handbook is an indispensable resource for all writers who want to protect their work and succeed in both traditional and digital markets. Topics include registering copyrights, tax and estate planning, periodical rights, obtaining permissions to use others’ works, the limits of free expression, self-publishing advice, and much more.

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Model Book Contract

The Authors Guild Model Trade Book Contract is a classic and invaluable reference guide. Newly updated to include recent changes in the treatment of digital rights, the Model Contract examines publishing contracts clause-by-clause, empowering authors with knowledge and insight for their negotiations with their publishers.

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References, Forms, & Seminars

The Authors Guild offers seminars and symposia to members in person and through phone and video conferences on legal matters of professional interest, such as contract negotiation, electronic rights, publicity rights, agency arrangements, enforcing your rights, and legal trends in publishing and copyright. We provide template forms to cover a wide variety of legal issues and will also refer members with complex legal issues or litigations to outside attorneys with specialized expertise.

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Dispute Intervention

The fact that we write for a living doesn’t mean we’re above the fray. Business disputes happen, even to authors. Whether it’s a payment problem, a reversion of rights dispute, a publication delay, or virtually any other issue that may arise, we’ll advise our members appropriately—and we may even be able to intervene if necessary.

First Amendment, Piracy, & Trademark Advice

Our legal services team can address members’ questions and problems concerning censorship, defamation, or other First Amendment concerns. We’ll also advise members on combating Internet piracy, trademark issues, and more.

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