Book Rights And Wrongs And Traps For New Authors

Protect Your Book Rights

So many avenues are available now for authors to publish a book, but you should always be mindful of your book rights.

At the top of the list is traditional publishing and the five big publishers and their myriad of imprints. Then follows medium and small press publishers.

There are also hybrid publishers, micro-publishers, vanity publishers, and, lastly, untrustworthy charlatans.

It can be daunting for a new author to know which is the best avenue. This is especially true for those not confident in taking the self-publishing route.

Your book publishing rights

Whenever you consider using a publisher, the most critical element is making a decision concerning your book rights.

Whether in part or total, a publishing house will always want the rights to a book before they publish.

It may include rights for different international markets.

Sometimes it’s film and TV rights for the publishing work.

Rights can also be assigned or not to different versions of a book.

In some cases, a publisher may only want the rights to the print book version and allow an author to retain the rights for ebooks.

Generally, if a publisher offers a book advance, it is logical to expect that an author would agree to sign over the rights to a book.

But advances are becoming a rarity in today’s publishing world, even for established traditionally published authors.

Whenever an author writes a book, they own the book rights and copyright, which are different.

It’s always up to the author to decide what to do with these rights to their books.


Be aware of who pays

For new authors, the far more common occurrence is that a publishing company will demand the rights but offer no money in return.

Due to a lack of financial resources, many small publishers ask for money from the author to cover a part or even all publishing costs.

It is definitely a dangerous signal.

Signing up with a publisher is an exciting time for new authors.

But signing away the rights to your book without knowing how financially sound a publisher is or checking how successful they have been can lead to serious problems down the track.

Almost every day, there is news of publishers going out of business, which is when trouble can strike.

If your publisher goes broke or is liquidated, getting your book rights back could take years, and that may even be optimistic.


What can a new author do to avoid making a mistake?

Generally speaking, if you are asked to sign over the rights to your book by your literary agent or publisher, and there is an advance on offer, consider it carefully.

It is about as good as it gets in publishing today.

But if you are asked to sign over your book’s rights and intellectual property, and there is no advance offered to you, think carefully.

In the end, perhaps don’t do it.

If a publisher asks for your book rights and also asks YOU for money, definitely DO NOT do it.



If you are unsure about taking the self-published route because you are not confident in the technical aspects of ebook and print-on-demand (POD) publishing or book promotion, consider investing in service providers who can do this for you.

Yes, it will cost a little bit of money, but you will keep your rights and have total control.

Learn to self-publish.

It might take some time. But once you gain a little knowledge, you will find out that self-publishing is very easy.

Whichever route you take as a new author, remember one point.

Never give away your rights for absolutely nothing in return.


Related Reading: Is This Publisher Legit? How You Can Make Your Decision

2 thoughts on “Book Rights And Wrongs And Traps For New Authors”

  1. I found this really helpful, thanks a lot. I recently finished a fantasy/ science fiction novel and really need a publisher. I live in Nigeria but I would like to publish it in the west as I know it would do better there.
    Can you offer me any advice or help.

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