Author Contracts

‘A contract is… a legal document that binds two parties. It must be fair to both.’- William Germano (2001).

In the first half of the class we looked at the difference between an academic contract and a trade contract. In a trade contract,  film rights would be important to mention, however it is not usually important for academic publishers.

We looked at some emails between the commissioning editor, Tony, and the authors. Some authors ask for help from societies, who usually advise them to go through and question the contract line by line. However, one must understand that it is a general contract they have been given, so not everything will apply to the individual. it became clear from reading these emails that both the publisher and the author sometimes haggle to find a balance and reasoning that is right for them both before the contract is signed.

In the second half of the class, we looked at times where the contract was challenged and the responses that were provided which gave us a real insight to what it would be like when faced with those sort of challenges. There were also emails shown to us about authors falling out and not being able to finish the manuscript and an author plagiarising work after the book has been put in to print. These are all serious things to consider for any publisher and it was good to see how this would be looked at from a legal perspective.


Clark’s Publishing Agreements: a Book of Precedents by Lynette Owen is a useful book to look at when considering the Law in publishing. This was published in 2013 by Bloomsbury Professional,  Online, p.93

Germano, William. (2001), Getting It Published, University of Chicago Press


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