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  • Writer's pictureJoseph Perry, Esq.

7 Red Flags That You Shouldn't Sign Your Book Contract

When negotiating your agreement, you should watch out for these red flags from your publisher. If the publisher exhibits any of the following behaviors, I would be hesitant in signing the book contract, no matter how excited you are that someone wants to publish your book.

  1. The Publisher Pressures You to Sign an Agreement. Sometimes publishers will continually ask you to sign on the dotted line, whether they say that you need to sign an agreement by a particular date or simply by emailing you continuously asking what is holding you up. I would ask why they continually are asking you to sign. What are they hiding?

  2. The Publisher Refuses to Negotiate Their Agreement. Some publishers will say their agreement is a "take it or leave it" deal. That is so outside ordinary book publishing standards that I would run the minute a publisher told me this. For any legitimate publisher, there is an expectation that the author and the publisher will negotiate the terms.

  3. The Publisher Charges an Exorbitant Amount of Money. There is no need to spend tens of thousands of dollars to publish your book. The chances are that your publisher doesn't have the distribution or marketing/publicity capability to have you break even let alone turn a profit.

  4. The Publisher Automatically Accepts Your Manuscript. If the publisher doesn't have developmental editing AND copyediting, do not sign with the publisher. The publisher should want to make your book the best it can. If they don't invest money in their own company to develop your work and to make sure it's grammatically correct, do not sign your contract.

  5. The Publisher Lacks Transparency. If the publisher refuses to answer your questions or you have to continually ask questions to get information that should be readily available (e.g., who owns the copyright to your book), you may want to think twice about signing with the publisher.

  6. The Publisher's Scope of Services Keep Growing. Some publishers' services will magically continue to grow (along with additional charges) as you go along in the publication process, without initially telling you. Ask for a detailed scope of services upfront so you know exactly what the book publisher is providing you and what you'll be paying.

  7. The Publisher Can't Get Your Book in Stores. If you want your book to be produced and sold in bookstores, don't sign with the publisher if they don't have a distributor nor have success in marketing/publicizing past books. Ask the publisher to provide numbers on their most successful books.

I hope this helps in determining whether to move forward with your publication offer. If you have any questions about your book contract or need assistance negotiating it, call me at 914-775-8774 or email me at

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