Writing is hard work. You pour your heart and soul into a manuscript. You spend hours reading, editing, and rereading it. You debate the pros and cons of self-pubbing, finding an agent, or approaching editors on your own. You have beta readers go through the manuscript with a fine-tooth comb before deciding to submit to a few select editors. Twelve weeks later, you have a contract in your hands…a real publishing contract! You read through said contract, and thinking everything is on the up and up, you sign and return it.
YOU DID IT! YOU ARE GETTING PUBLISHED!
A year later, you find yourself in a situation you never expected. Sales aren’t great, your relationship with your editor is strained, you aren’t getting emails returned, and you’ve signed a contract that requires you to submit future works to the publisher for first right of refusal. You want out, but now you’re stuck!
I have had many authors contact me recently, including authors I currently represent, regarding contracts they signed prior to representation. As an agent, I can help navigate the murky waters of rights reversal, however, there is no guarantee that an author will get their rights back once they’ve signed a legal and binding publishing contract. And it stinks when I have a talented author who is stuck in an unsavory publishing situation.
Self-pub, find an agent, or approach editors on your own? A debate for the ages. My recommendation? Should you decide to approach editors on your own or respond to an open manuscript call and get a contract offer…seek out a knowledgeable agent to help you negotiate the contract. You’ve put a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into your manuscript! Please, do not sign that contract before ensuring you’ve protected your rights and received the best publishing deal possible.