THIS IS A LAYMAN'S VERSION OF OUR CONTRACT...
Steel Moon Publishing and you, the author of a work, have decided to
get together and put your book out in front of the public, in print form.
In order to do that we need you to give us the rights to publish your
work. A particular title and edition of that work, in fact. If your work is
out there with other publishers, you need to get them back and assign
them to us. Now, similarly, we are not going to give or sell those rights
to anyone else. Why do we need those rights? Because if we print
your book, and someone else has the rights, then they are going to be
very upset and probably send someone from a company named…oh,
like…Dinkle, Dinkle & Sue’em to our doorstep. Any other material you
have, or are working on, is still yours and can do with as you want.
This product, this book or material we are putting out in front of the
public, will not cost you a penny. That is, you will never be asked to
front us money to do our job. Because of this, we need some time to
make it profitable to both of us. How much time? Let us start with a
term of two years. After that period, we will talk it over and see if we
still like each other. After that period of time, either you or I can say,
“Hey, this isn’t working,” and with a month’s notice cancel the contract.
After that 30-day’s time, all book rights will be returned to you, the
author who granted them in the first place.
There is a caveat to the above paragraph. If in that initial two-year
span, we figure out that your book just flat is not moving we can notify
you we want to drop out of the deal and after a month cancel the
contract. You can do the same, but we are going to be mean (because
we have to stop the wheels and deals we have instituted) and make it a
60-day notice on your part.
If, sadly, you or I do terminate the contract, we have to do something
with the books that are in print or existence at the time. Yes, all our
contacts will be told that your work is going out of print. If you are
publishing it with someone else, the ISBN that is associated with our
publishing of your work cannot be used. Cover graphics and internal
illustrations are yours to use if they were yours to start with. You are
welcome to purchase those remaining copies of your work that are on
hand, but realize…you get them at cost and can resell them yourself,
but no royalties will be paid by Steel Moon on them. If you decide not to
grab them up for yourself, we will keep selling them until they are gone
and yes, we will still pay you royalty on them.
You are promising, guaranteeing, and swearing on a stack of bibles that
the material we are printing is YOURS! By this we mean that you wrote
it or have the legal right to tell us, “Hey…it’s mine…all mine…and I want
you to print it and distribute it for me!” To hound on this point, if you
have it published with someone else (remember Dinkle, Dinkle & Sue’
em?) you have gotten the rights back from them before you gave the
rights to us. Dinkle, Dinkle & Sue’em will not be kicking our ass. They
will be appearing on YOUR doorstep. (Note to self: See if there actually
is a group named Dinkle, Dinkle & Sue’em; on the off chance they will
appear on our doorstep just for typing that)
Copyright of your book. Oh, sheesh…this is so simple yet so
confusing. Moreover, everyone that you talk to is a jailhouse lawyer
who had a friend of a friend who…well you get the idea. Yes, it (the
work, manuscript, whatever) is yours. You have decided to part with
the rights to print the thing, but you are concerned with copyright.
Now, you hear that once you create it, it is copyright. Yes, that is true.
Now prove you wrote it. It has been said that you can mail yourself a
copy of it and not open it, thereby proving you wrote it. Sounds good,
and I like the idea. I wonder if it really works? What it all boils down to
is you need to get a copyright legally if you are concerned. No, we will
not do it for you, but if you ask nicely, we might give you a hand. We will
not pay for it, and no, we do not consider that a part of publishing your
work. We will be happy to toss a copyright sign on it to scare people, if
you want. No charge. For what it's worth, we do highly recommend you
get it copyrighted.
In paragraph 5, subsection D-337463545...no just kidding…we
previously touched on ISBN numbers. We supply them. It costs us
about $275.00 to get a block of ten. (If you want to get one for yourself,
you can go to…oh, say…Lulu and they charge [through Bowkers]
$149.00 for one. Here is the thing: They cost money. They are specific
to one book. They are specific to one publisher. That means material
with that ISBN is sold through the publishing company that assigned it.
Once an ISBN is assigned to a property, the author cannot come back
and say, “Um…let’s delete chapter two and put in these forty-seven
How much money am I going to make? How much will the book cost?
Can I buy a new Mercedes today? The answers: “Beats the hell out of
me. Not sure yet. I wouldn’t recommend it.”
The cost of your book is variable. We want to keep it as low as
possible, because if the price is too high it will put buyers off. It will
depend on whether it is paperback size, trade size, magazine size or
hard back. It will depend on how many pages are in it. It will depend on
the amount of royalties we want to wring out of it. Now, here is the dog’
s tail on the subject. If it is sold through the web site, the royalty is
fairly easy to set. Say the base printing cost is $4.00 and it has 150
pages at .02 cents per page. That is seven dollars. Not too bad. Oh,
wait! We want to make some money on the deal. Okay…hmmm…we
tack .98 cents on it. Seven dollars and ninety-eight cents. Cool. We
make about a dollar. We split it even-steven. You make about .50 cents
and we make .50 cents. Uh-oh. We forgot something. If a books store
wants to handle it, they do not want to pay the same price they are
going to sell it for. So…we do a bulk price that saves us some money.
But wait…they like to sell it below the cover price, so their buyer’s think
they are getting a deal. Too many things to go into in public. If you
want a break down, believe me, we will go through the exact details
many times before your book sees the light of day. However, the
question in the back of your mind, and you are too bashful to ask, “If I
want a copy of my book, how much?” Well, it is like this. You get one
copy for zip, zilch, and zero. That is the pre-ISBN edition where we
make damn sure it is what we both want. After that, you get any or all
you want at the same price it costs us. But we do not pay royalty on
books sent to you at no profit.
In addition, please remember that you and I pay our bills on time.
Booksellers have a nifty thing that says it can take from two months to a
year for them to cut a check. We always keep the author appraised of
what is going on, where the books are and how much, but we cannot
take a cattle prod to the bookstores. (Note to self: The idea sounds
nice; get names and addresses of accountants in major markets. Buy
new batteries for cattle prod)
Who does what when the book is put together? You supply the
manuscript and title. We may ask you to change the title, and we will
edit the book. By that, we mean make suggestions, point out typos,
errors in perspective and such. When these gory details are done, we
will send you a pre-ISBN book for you to edit. We will have one also.
We will hash out the final edition, place an ISBN on it, and publish to the
public. We will perform cover art, with your input. If you have your own
artwork, we will attempt to use it (at our discretion). If you have
someone else dig out their crayons and put something together (no, we
won‘t pay for it), that is acceptable also (pending approval), but you
must make sure you have the right to use that artwork (and prove it to
us). Remember Dinkle, Dinkle & Sue’em?
If you have given us the rights to your material, can you still brag about
it, put notices on websites and forums; and such? Yes. Oh, hell yes.
Get it out there in front of everyone you can. We do. Can you mention
Steel Moon and use our logo in your enthusiasm and glee…yes; I
suppose so, to the extent you do not try to give the rights to someone
else, the cover artwork, or such.
If for some reason Steel Moon Publishing goes out of business; such
as, but not limited to; I drop over dead from a heart attack or get shot in
the line of duty, the rights to your material reverts to you. From a
personal viewpoint, I really, really hope this never happens.
"My work has been pirated before publication. Help!" God, I hope you
had it copyrighted. We are not responsible for pursuing the culprit, but
we probably will. You have to remember, they not only messed with
you, they messed with us. If it is pirated after publication, we will more
than likely hire Dinkle, Dinkle & Sue'em ourselves.
LAYMAN CONTRACT - A SAMPLE, NOT THE LEGAL ONE
No mercy should be expected...
For none shall be shown.