The Nine Worst Provisions in Your Publishing Contract by David P. Vandagriff
My rating: 5 of 5 stars
David Vandagriff is a lawyer with a lot of contracts experience, who got interested in publishing when his wife started writing fiction. He's worked with a number of writers on contract issues, and has been collecting contracts from many more writers to keep up with what sorts of contracts are being issued by traditional publishers. He blogs at The Passive Voice, posting mostly links of interest to people in the writing/publishing business, but he's also posted a lot of commentary about publishing contracts and similar matters, from the point of view of a lawyer looking in from the outside at things writers and publishers have taken for granted for decades. Check out his blog, particularly things posted under the "Contracts" category.
In this book, Vandagriff looks at the worst clauses routinely found in publishing contracts, one per chapter:
Your Contract Lasts Forever -- Life of Copyright
No Minimum Performance Standards -- Out of Print
Assignability of Contract without Consent
All Money to the Agent -- Agency Clause
Payment Every Six Months with Reserve for Returns
Each chapter is organized in the following parts:
What is this Provision?
What's the Problem?
What does it look like? (sample language)
How do I fix it?
Rationale for Change
If you work with a traditional publisher, or are considering doing so, I highly recommend you read this book. It's short and to the point, and is easily readable. This isn't some long, dense slog through the legal swamps.