canceled book

canceled book

when your publisher changes it mind

Wait, are you saying my book could get canceled even though I signed a contract?

It could, yes, but it’s probably not going to. Worrying about having your contract canceled is the least productive thing you could do right now, especially since it’s pretty unlikely, but I had to post something about it just in case you end up in that boat. How does this unlikely situation come about? Well, I know a few authors whose small publisher folded before publishing their contracted books. It’s also possible that something like artistic differences could prompt you and your publisher to go your separate ways. But I think that in general, everyone will work really hard to find a way to get your contracted book published.

***Just know that there is a really cool club of authors whose books have been canceled, and that if your book gets canceled, you can join us–I had a book canceled once (before my debut came out) so now I’m heading up the snack table at club meetings and wow, you are going to like the spread.***

Could my second book in my two-book contract get canceled?

Yes, it could. You could write a manuscript, and your house could decide they don’t really like it. You might revise it, or write another manuscript, and find that your publisher still isn’t excited. Most likely, you and your editor will work together to figure out just the right project to fulfill your contract and get that second book out there. But it’s just possible that you won’t find something you are both crazy about. And so you won’t publish a second book with them after all. That might feel dismal, or you might feel like you’re happy to start over with another publisher.

The thing is, this is a fickle business. You can go from up to down in no time at all. But if, after a terrible experience like having your book canceled, you find that you still love to write, then you’re going to be okay. Honestly. Like I said, I’ve had this very experience. I had a book canceled years before my debut came out. But I kept writing because I love it so much. I found myself writing a book I really loved, and then (thanks to my amazing agent) I found myself with a contract to publish that book–with a bigger house than the one that was going to publish my canceled book, and for a lot more money. The nice thing about that experience was that it taught me to expect outrageous vicissitudes. Don’t get too excited about good publishing news, but don’t get to down about the bad stuff either. Your contract can get canceled, but no one can stop you from writing a book you really want to write.

But what about the money?

Unless you are the one who initiated the cancellation of the contract, you should be able to keep the money you’ve been paid. You won’t get the rest of your money, though. And you might have to pay back some money to your publisher if you publish your manuscript elsewhere. It all depends on what your agent can wrangle for you.

I’m joining the Canceled Books Club. Where do we meet?

You think I would post that info here for all the un-canceled yahoos to find? Our snacks are limited. Email me.




two different book formats

Will my book come out in hardcover or go straight to paperback?

I’m guessing you would know if your book is going straight to paperback, as that would have been made clear upon signing the contract. Here are some advantages of going straight to paperback: 1) They’re cheaper, so people will be more willing to take the risk of buying a book by an author they’ve never heard of. 2) They tend to take less time to produce and release. Here are some drawbacks of going straight to paperback: 1) Libraries might be more hesitant to purchase them because they’re less durable. 2) Paperbacks are nominated for fewer awards.

Will my hardcover book eventually be printed as a paperback too?

Maybe. If you go to your book’s Indiebound/Amazon/BN page you will probably see a listing for your paperback and maybe a projected date for its release (usually one year after your hardcover publishes). But your publisher might decide to delay your paperback, possibly even “indefinitely.” Some paperbacks get delayed because the hardcover is selling so incredibly well that the publisher wants to keep on selling it (because hard covers have a higher profit margin than paperbacks do). Some paperbacks get delayed because so many hard covers have gone unsold that the publisher doesn’t want to start putting cheaper paperbacks on the market knowing that no one will then buy those more expensive hardcovers that are still floating around.

If my book gets a paperback edition, when will that edition go on sale?

Usually around one year after the hardcover. But your publisher may try to publish the paperback at the same time that your second book comes out, or even a few months before. That way, as buzz builds for your second book, readers who haven’t yet discovered your first book will pick up the paperback. Plus, Barnes and Noble, who probably stopped stocking your first book after a few months or so, will likely now stock your paperback for a few months around the time your second book comes out.

Will my paperback get new cover art?

Probably. New cover art means a second chance to appeal to readers who didn’t discover your book the first time around. Then again, if your first book’s cover art is already working well to appeal to readers, it might not get changed.



the legal right to reproduce your work

Who registers the copyright for my book?

Your publisher will do this at some point after you sign your publishing contract.

Does my publisher own my copyright after I sign my publishing contract?

No (unless you are publishing this book as “work for hire,” meaning that you wrote this book as an assignment from the publisher). You own the copyright to your book. The publishing contract you sign gives your publisher permission to publish your book exclusively until it goes out of print, but it does not transfer ownership of the copyright to them (unless you are doing work for hire).


(publishing) contract

the contract you sign that gives a publisher permission to publish your book

When will I receive my contract?

A few months after accepting a deal from a publisher to publish your book. Your agent, if you have one, will work to negotiate every point in the contract, which takes a long time. A contract is dozens of pages long, and every bit of language must be checked to make sure the contract is fair. This involves a lot of back and forth between your agent and your publisher.

What if I don’t have an agent?

You should probably hire a lawyer who is experienced with book contracts to go over your contract before you sign it. You can also look into receiving help from the Author’s Guild, but their legal services are only available once you become a member. In any case, DO NOT sign a contract straight from your publisher. Their boilerplate contract is designed to favor them heavily.

Audio book

audio book

your book read aloud by a talented stranger

Will my novel be available as an audio book?

Only if you’ve sold audio rights. Your publisher might hold these rights (in which case they will try to sell them and split the proceeds with you), or you might have retained them (in which case your agent will try to sell them on your behalf); check your contract. With any luck, a company like Blackstone or Recorded Books will pay for the right to make your book into an audio book. At that point, you will get money from the sale of rights (probably in the realm of four digits), although it’ll take a while for that money to come to you, and your agent will get 15% of your share. The company will hire voice talent to record your book. They might send you some samples so that you can help pick the talent, or they might not.

When will I know whether my book will be available as an audio book?

Audio rights can sell at any time. Before your book comes out, or after. Many debut novels are never made into audio books.

Will my audio book be sold on Audible (Amazon’s audio book app)? In bookstores?

If you have an audio book, it will probably be sold on Audible. It will probably not be available in bookstores; listeners will need to order it online or through a bookstore.

Will I get free copies of my audio book?

Probably. Ask your editor. You might get one or even a few (CD) copies in the mail after publication.

Will libraries stock my audio book?

Hard to say. Libraries don’t stock as many audio books as paper books. Audio books are more expensive for them to stock. Libraries are probably more likely to stock audio book versions of well-known books.