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Termination Fees in Publishing Contracts: Not Just Bad for Authors

Header image: "Contract" printed on concrete, with crack running through the middle (credit: Lane V. Erickson at

(A version of this post was first published in 2016.)

I'm often contacted by writers who are looking for an evaluation of a book or magazine contract they've just been offered (I'm not a lawyer--something I always mention upfront--but I do know a lot about publishing contracts, and am always willing to offer feedback).

Although they've often already spotted problematic language, nearly always there are also problem clauses that they've missed. One red flag clause that frequently flies below writers' radar: fees for early contract termination.

Editing Clauses in Publishing Contracts: What to Watch For

Header image: red pencil on a yellow background

Editing clauses are one of those publishing contract areas where there should be a balance between the publisher’s interests and the writer’s.

Publishers need a certain amount of latitude to edit a manuscript to prepare it for publication. They also need to have the right of final approval–they don’t want to be forced to publish a manuscript that the author can’t or won’t revise to their satisfaction.

Writers, on the other hand, need assurance that they will be a partner in the editing process, and that their work won’t be changed in major ways without their permission.

Guest Post: The Book Marketing Scam That Went the Extra Mile

Screenshot of fake response from "Martha Teichner" claiming to have worked with SBRC: "I got 3K sales and the reviews were brilliant"

In the super-crowded world of publishing, authors must fight for readership and exposure. That makes marketing and promotion a top concern--which makes for fertile ground for scammers.

PR scams are among the most common of the many solicitation scams that target writers. Often appearing to be reasonably priced, they promise services like social media posts, reader reviews on Amazon and Goodreads, blog posts and interviews, and similar low-cost-to-provide, low effort methods that sound impressive but in reality are next to useless for book promotion--even if the services are delivered, which often is not the case.

At best, this kind of "marketing" is a waste of money. At worst, the scammer will simply take the money and the scammer that's the subject of today's guest blog post from author Alina Adams. This scammer went the extra mile to cook up an appearance of authenticity...but as you'll see, Alina wasn't fooled.

Rights vs. Copyright: Untangling the Confusion

Header image: pile of copyright symbols on multicolored Post-it notes (StepanPopov @

Copyright, literally, is “the right to copy.” It guarantees the authors of creative works–including books,  artworks, films, recordings, and photographs–the exclusive right to allow others to copy and distribute the work, by whatever means and in whatever media currently exist. It also prohibits copying and distributing without the author’s permission, and includes moral rights: the right of attribution (the right to be named as the creator of the work) and the right of integrity (the right to control changes to the work).

In countries that are signatory to the Berne Convention,, the international source for copyright law (including the USA, Canada, the UK, Europe, and  many other countries), you own copyright, automatically, as soon your work is fixed in tangible form–i.e., the minute you write the words. Your ownership extends beyond your death--between 50 and 70 years, depending on which country you're in.

Contained within copyright is the entire bundle of rights that authors can grant to others or utilize themselves. For book authors, that includes primary rights (the right to publish in print and digital formats) and subsidiary rights (the right to make translations and audio recordings and films, to create serializations or abridgements or derivative works…the list goes on, and continues to expand as technology makes different forms of publication and distribution possible).

Alert: Scammers Impersonating Video Streaming Services With Fake Job Offers

Header image: man holding a photo of a woman's face in front of his own

About a year and a half ago, I wrote a post about a job offer scam in which fraudsters impersonated Acorn TV.

The scammers' M.O.: they messaged writers on Twitter and Instagram, claiming to offer an opportunity to write stories for Acorn TV and earn an improbably large amount of money. If writers expressed interest (and why wouldn't they), a two-part "texting interview" on Telegram followed, at the end of which the writer was offered a job agreement and description. Although I never heard from anyone who accepted, the presumed goal was to steal personal details, such as Social Security numbers and bank account information.

The same scammers are at it again. This time, they're impersonating Minno, a Christian streaming service for kids.