publishing contract - authors guild

Before you sign that publishing or freelance contract, you’ll want to make sure you know the standards of the industry and what you can negotiate. These seminars, templates, and guides will help get you started.

members onlyEvents and articles marked with a lock icon are restricted to members only and require a member login. Not a member? Learn more about joining the Authors Guild.


The Guild’s Three-Step Approach to Negotiating Book Contracts

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.

Things Every Writer Should Know Before Signing a Book Contract»

Under the publishing agreement you signed for your latest book, you are most likely responsible for any legal claims that might arise out of it. Among other things, you “represent and warrant” to the publisher that the book won’t defame anyone, won’t invade anyone’s right of privacy, and won’t tell readers to do things that are dangerous.

Fair Book Contracts: What Authors Need»

In 2015 we announced the Authors Guild Fair Contract Initiative. Its goal was to shine a bright light on the one-sided contract terms that publishers typically offer authors and to spur publishers to offer more equitable deals.


Form Takedown Notice »

A form that can be sent to any internet service provider that hosts or links to content that infringes copyrights must take down the infringing content if it receives a takedown notice from the copyright owner or an authorized party.

members onlyContract Review & Assistance»

Our lawyers provide Authors Guild members with full written reviews of their U.S. publishing contracts.

members onlyThe Writer’s Legal Guide»

The Writer’s Legal Guide is an indispensable resource for all writers who want to protect their work and succeed in both traditional and digital markets.

members onlyModel Trade Book Contract»

The Model Contract examines publishing contracts clause by clause, empowering authors with knowledge and insight for their negotiations with their publishers.

THE CASE ACT: How It Will Work

A visual flow chart to illustrate how The CASE Act is designed to help creators protect their work and is designed to give everyone an easier way to resolve copyright disputes.

Fair Use: Writing About Real People


Legal Vetting: Pre-Publication Review of Manuscripts

The importance of pre-publication legal review of your manuscript cannot be overstated. In this one-hour seminar, Carolyn Schurr Levin, a New York City attorney who specializes in pre-publication legal review of content and editorial risk management, will discuss what the legal vetting process entails, what to expect, and why it’s worthwhile.

The PRO Act: How Would It Impact Freelance Writers?

A discussion of the PRO Act, passed by the House of Representatives and pending in the Senate, which, if enacted, would give freelance writers and authors collective bargaining rights, and what that means. We will walk you through the pertinent provisions of the PRO Act—in particular its use of the ABC test—and the National Labor Relations Act, which it amends, to illustrate how the legislation would impact you as a freelance writer. We will also address misinformation fanned online about how the PRO Act would "nationalize" California's AB5 law and make freelance writers employees—which in reality is not the case.

Estate Planning for Authors

Estate planning, providing for loved ones and distributing money and property according to one’s wishes when he or she one day passes away, is important for all adults. Authors, however, have additional interests to consider, including directing how their books and other creative property will be handled after their death. In this webinar, attorney Edward M. McCoyd will discuss wills, trusts, and other estate planning vehicles, like appointing a “literary executor” or “literary trustee” to manage the copyrights in the author’s estate,providing for the administration of websites, social media pages, and other digital assets, exercising of statutory rights to terminate copyright grants after an author’s death, and the potential role organizations like the Authors Guild play in managing an author’s literary legacy. Panelist: Ed McCoyd

Bad Contracts Are Not Forever: A Review of The Statutory Right of Termination In Section 203 of the Copyright Act (video)

Many authors are unaware of a key provision of the U.S. copyright law that lets them recapture their rights after thirty-five years. Section 203 of the Copyright allows authors a second bite of the apple: a right to terminate any assignment, license, or transfer of copyright (except works made for hire). In this webinar copyright attorney Ed Klaris and Authors Guild attorney Umair Kazi will discuss this important right that Congress built into copyright law and the formalities for getting your rights back. Panelists: Ed Klaris, Umair Kazi

The CASE Act and Why It Matters to Authors (video)

Authors Guild Executive Director and copyright expert Mary Rasenberger will present a webinar explaining the Copyright Alternative in Small Claims Enforcement Act, better known as the “CASE” Act. In addition to describing the provisions of the Bill, this webinar will explore the history and purpose of the CASE Act and its potential impact on authors. The CASE Act has already been passed by the Senate Judiciary Committee and is expected to come up for a vote by the full Congress this fall, so if you have questions about what the bill could mean to you.

Legal Issues When Writing about Real People (video)

Recently there has been an upsurge of cases attempting to limit the use, without consent or compensation, of a celebrity's name, picture or story in creative works. While the recent cases have involved TV films and videogames, the statutes and the decisions of the courts will apply to all creative works, including fiction and non-fiction, books, plays, movies, etc. What does all this mean for authors’ ability to write about real people in either fiction or nonfiction? What do authors need to be wary of when writing about real people? Does it matter if they are deceased?

Book Contracts 101 (video)

Authors Guild Director of Legal Services Michael Gross will guide you through the basics of a traditional publishing contract, focusing on critical provisions to include and perils to avoid.

Monetizing Your Content (video)

This webinar explores the importance of retaining rights, and provides practical guidance on what rights to retain and how to reclaim rights to out-of-print works. But owning the rights is only the first step. The webinar also surveys the options available to authors for maximizing rights exploitation, including new audio formats, direct-to-library lending options, back-in-print programs, self-publishing, print-on-demand options, and more.

Registering Your Copyright (video)

This webinar will provide authors with everything they need to know to register their works, whether in print or electronic form, with the U.S. Copyright Office.

Copyright 101 (video)

This webinar will explore the basics of how copyright works to benefit both individual authors and our society at large. It will then teach participants about the changes the law has undergone in the digital age, touching on issues such as fair use, remedies for online piracy, and more

Changing Tides: Novel Approaches to Combating Digital Piracy (video)»

Piracy has always been a cat-and-mouse game. But with the rapid pace of technological changes in the publishing ecosystem, such as the emergence of new digital formats and business models, it is becoming increasingly difficult for authors and publishers to respond quickly—and effectively—to stop the circulation of pirated books. In this webinar we will discuss some of the new methods that book pirates and counterfeiters are using to produce and disseminate pirated books. We will also look at the novel strategies used by some authors to curb piracy, and discuss ways that authors can limit the availability of pirated copies of their books on the internet. Presenters: Sarina Bowen, Umair, Kazi, and Cheryl Davis.

Writers Collaborating: Sometimes It Gets Complicated (video)»

Even the greatest teams can fall apart. Both personal and professional conflicts can arise, often unforeseen, and sometimes unsolvable. With that in mind, this webinar discusses various co-writer arrangements and the salient terms to address contractually.

Negotiating Rights: What to Know Before You Sign (video)»

This webinar will arm authors working with or without an agent with the knowledge and negotiating skills to get the most out of their book deals before, during, and after signing.

members onlyThe State of the Book Business in the U.S. and Abroad: A Trans-Atlantic View (audio)»

Panel discussion exploring the international movement for fair book contracts set in motion by the Authors Guild’s Fair Contract Initiative.

members onlyPublishing Contracts 101 (audio)

Authors Guild attorneys Michael Gross and Stevie Fitzgerald guide you through the basics of a traditional publishing contract, focusing on critical provisions and perils to avoid

Back to the Writers' Resource Library»

Join the Authors Guild to learn more

Become a Member

Log in to your member account. If you are a member and do not have an online account, get in touch with the Authors Guild via our contact form.