Book Rights And Wrongs And Traps To Be Aware Of For New Authors

Protect Your Book Rights

There are so many avenues available now for authors to publish a book.

At the top of the list is traditional publishing with 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 will be concerning your book rights.

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

It may include international markets and perhaps film and TV rights for the publishing work.

Generally, if a publisher is offering book advances, 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.


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 danger 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 on 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, and this is when trouble can really 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.

If you are asked to sign over the rights and intellectual property for your book, and there is no advance offered to you, think carefully.

But 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 not sure 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, think about investing in service providers who can do this for you.

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

Learn to self-publish.

It will take some time, but in fact, 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 book rights for absolutely nothing in return.


More reading: Is This Publisher Legit? How You Can Make Your Decision

Derek Haines

A Cambridge CELTA English teacher and author with a passion for writing and all forms of publishing. My days are spent writing and blogging, as well as testing and taming new technology.

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2 thoughts on “Book Rights And Wrongs And Traps To Be Aware Of For New Authors

  • Avatar for Reginald Okeke
    February 9, 2018 at 9:36 pm

    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.

  • Avatar for Brad Graber
    March 3, 2017 at 7:20 pm

    Thanks Derek. Good reminder about what’s important.

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