Writing a book – Part 5 – Contract

January 23rd, 2006

This is the forth installment in a series of posts on writing a book (first post here, second post here, third post here and the forth post here).  It's not so much a "how to get published" but rather one author's experience of the entire writing process, starting with the idea and taking that to a finished book. 

Same disclaimers as last time - I'm writing from a technical author's viewpoint and ideas may not translate to other kind of writing, I can't guarantee that you'll make millions or that you'll even get published but I'm pretty sure that the information here isn't going to harm your chances!


OK, if you get as far as the contract stage then you can truly call yourself a writer!


There's a good chance that you will have been shown a draft contract in electronic form before you get the actual paper version but still nothing prepares you for the first time you hold the contract in your hand!  This is the stage at which the whole thing starts to feel real.

There are a few areas of the contract that you should pay close attention to:

  • Deliverables - What are you actually going to deliver!
  • Timescale - When are you going to deliver the chapters
  • Advance - How much cash you get upfront and what the payment schedule will be
  • Royalties - How much cash you get per book sale

You'll probably get two copies of the contract to fill in and sign.  Work carefully through each one (as a rule all good publishers use those cool "Sign Here" stickers to make your life easier).  Fill in all the blanks carefully. 

DON'T MAKE ANY ALTERATIONS TO THE CONTRACT!  If you spot something wrong, get in touch with your contact.

Note: If you live outside the US then chances are that American publishers will require you to have an ITIN - Individual Taxpayer Identification Number.  You can get details of how to get one of these by contacting a US Embassy.  Failure to have an ITIN will delay any payments that you are owed.

If you are uncertain about a contract then get a a legal professional to have a look at if for you, although as a rule this isn't really necessary as I've not come across a publisher who wants to rip off a writer. 

If in doubt, ask for clarification.  If you see anything wrong, pick up on it, and if the contract looks OK, sign it and return it ASAP (most publishers will allow you to use their courier account to return the documents at their expense).


This entry was posted on Monday, January 23rd, 2006 at 23:53 and is filed under Book Talk!. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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