The Guild’s Three-Step Approach to Negotiating Contracts
Step 1: The Authors Guild Model Trade Book Contract and Guide
Every new Guild member receives a copy of The Authors Guild Model Trade Book Contract and Guide. This 78-page reference, recently updated to include changes in the treatment of digital rights, contains in-depth explanations of virtually every clause in traditional publishing agreements, along with helpful negotiation tips and strategies. It’s an invaluable, eye-opening resource for authors and their representatives in reviewing and understanding publishing agreements of any nature.
Step 2: The Written Contract Review
Once you’re a member, you can send the Guild a copy of any proposed agreement with a U.S. publisher, agent, or any other third party who may offer a written agreement. The Guild’s legal staff will provide a written summary of its review of your contract. The written review will provide suggestions for proposed changes and explain the need for and rationale behind such changes. Members are encouraged to ask follow-up questions if they have any concerns, and if necessary, can set up a call with one of the Guild’s attorneys to discuss any outstanding issues. Time and again, members say that these reviews have saved them time and money, and have helped them avoid big mistakes they would have never caught otherwise. If the contract is on a subject that is outside of the expertise of the Guild’s attorneys, they will attempt to refer a member to outside counsel who will fully advise the member on the matter at hand. Legal fees and costs charged by outside counsel are the responsibility of the member.
Step 3: Aid During Negotiations
We invite and encourage members to contact the office for guidance during contract negotiations. While the Guild does not generally negotiate individual agreements, we will answer members’ inquiries to help them get the best deal possible.
The Legal Department regularly holds contract seminars to instruct members how to negotiate with publishers and agents. This knowledge can help keep harmful terms out of contracts in the first place and make sure they do not surreptitiously appear later in negotiations.
Our lawyers provide Authors Guild members with full written reviews of their U.S. publishing contracts.
*Contract review services are unavailable for emerging writer and student memberships