book contracts, take 1

So, a few people asked me to write about getting and negotiating a book contract. I hesitate in part because others have more experience than I do in this field. But still, I think there’s a lot of what I would think of as misinformation out there about “the contract” and so I thought I would start a discussion about the phases of the process: thinking about getting a contact, getting a contract, negotiating it, and what the contract basically means. Not for the job market. But just in general. I’ve gone through this three times: for my dissertation book, my next book, and a book that is more textbook-y. And I’ve learned a lot. Next time I’ll write about the dissertation book, and the following time about my second book. But this time, I just have one single piece of advice that changed my life. Joining the Author’s Guild. You can only do this if you’re already published a book. But once you have, you can apply to join, and as I understand it, most folks are accepted. Now, here’s the great thing about joining: free legal advice. So you pay $85/year. And every year you are entitled to having one of the lawyers at the Author’s Guild review a book contract that you’re negotiating. For me, this advice was invaluable. So first post is for already published folks: join the guild. Trust me. It’s the cheapest legal advice you can get from people who really know publishing. They mostly deal with trade books, but they know about academic publishing too.

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