Joseph Perry, Esq.
How to Revert Your Rights in Your Book Contract (And The Considerations to Think About)
Let's assume you're not happy with your publisher and you want to revert some or all of your rights. What can you do?
The first thing is to look is at your contract. Each contract is different, but sometimes the rights reversion language is located in an out of print clause or even a termination clause. You have to see if the reversion has been triggered. Many publishers state that your book will go out of print and the rights will revert to you if you don't sell a certain amount of copies and/or your book doesn't make a certain amount of income (for example, 200 copies and/or $500) in an accounting period (or multiple accounting periods). In addition, sometimes contracts are only for specific terms like five years, so your reversion is triggered at the end of those five years. Again, each contract is different.
Assuming that your reversion language is triggered in your contract (you've only sold a few copies, made a few dollars, or the contract has expired), you (or your agent or attorney) need to send the publisher a notice that you intend to revert your rights. Please note that it may take months or even a year for a publisher to respond to you, so be patient.
Now that you know the reversion process, ask yourself a few questions before requesting your rights be reverted:
1) Why do you want to revert your rights? Is your publisher just sitting on your rights or are you upset that they haven't marketed it properly? If it's the latter, perhaps a call to the publicity and sales teams may be the appropriate solution before you hastily ruin the relationship with your publisher.
2) What do you want to do with your book? Don't revert your rights just to revert them. Have plan. Do you want to try to get published elsewhere? Do you want to self-publish?
3) What right or rights do you want reverted? Look at the economics of your book. Do you want a single right reverted, some, or all? Context matters.
If you need your rights reverted in your book contract, don't hesitate to contact Perry Law.