[Book Author] Business Musings: Myth Busting (Contracts/Dealbreakers)


Thanks to another writer’s bad situation, last week I was able to link to an existing multimillion dollar book contract, which handily proved every point I was trying to make with this series. Publishers are grabbing rights; agents are worse.

And yet, if you scan through the comments throughout the series—even in the last month—you’ll see writers who still want that traditional publishing deal. Even though they now know (and admit) that they will get screwed.

I can’t help those people. You can’t help those people. Don’t even try.

However, I do know a lot of you have listened throughout this series, and have supported it with your dollars and your shares and your comments. Thank you.

To wrap up, I’m going to address the indie/hybrid writers among us.

I know many of you think you’ll never see these contracts.

I also know many of you still believe some outdated myths.

I’m going to address a few of those myths here.

Agent Myths

Myth: You need an agent to sell your books overseas.

Here’s the thing, folks. Any agent you sign with to sell your foreign rights will have all of the bad contract practices I listed in this series. And that agent might (will) insert the same kind of rights-grab language that exists in the contract from last week. On top of all that, your agent in your home country will partner with an agent in the foreign country, so you’ll have two agents grabbing at your money (which is almost untraceable) and at your rights.

Run away. Run.

Besides, folks. Those of you who want an agent to sell your foreign rights have no idea how the agents actually sell those rights. If they sell the rights.

All the agent does is compile a new releases list (usually three times a year) and send it to all the foreign rights agents they partner with. Yes, if you’re one of the big bestsellers, the agent will hand-sell your book to the foreign rights agent, but usually foreign publishers will come calling anyway.

Some agents actually go to overseas book fairs, and talk to foreign rights publishers. The agent pitches their agency and then hands the publisher a list of available works.

That’s all.

The agent does no work. Either they farm out the work to another (foreign) agent. Or they answer the phone or an email. Nothing more.

Finally, agents embezzle from their clients a lot. And the area where the most embezzlement occurs is foreign rights. If your book earns royalties, how will you know? Most writers don’t track their foreign book’s royalty statements. (Heck, most writers don’t track their royalty statements, period.) And if you signed a contract as bad as the one from last week, your publisher(s) don’t have to give you an accurate royalty statement ever. Go back and read it if you doubt me.

The Solution: You can do handle your foreign rights yourself, faster, better, and without losing any copyright or having someone embezzle from you. This world is very small now. You can contact foreign publishers directly.”

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