Published authors may not have to deal with constant rejection letters, but they have other problems. Sometimes authors are backed into unfavorable contracts. Sometimes they’re not paid competitive royalty rates. And sometimes tumultuous relationships with the publisher are enough to make authors wonder whether it’s hard to switch book publishers.
It can be difficult, but if you know your rights, read your contract thoroughly and consider hiring an attorney, it’s possible to switch publishers and ensure that your author career is uninterrupted.
How to Switch Book Publishers
It might be tricky to change book publishing companies, but this guide can make it a little easier.
Step 1: Review Your Contract
Before you abruptly cut ties with your publisher, keep in mind that some contracts have early termination clauses, which means you’ll owe the publisher a certain amount of money if you want to end the contract early.
You’ll also need to review your publisher’s rights over your intellectual property. Do they own your characters or stories? Do they have TV and film rights? Unless you’re the copyright holder for your books, this may prevent you from publishing any of your work for a certain time.
Step 2: Consider Hiring an Attorney
Don’t feel bad if you can’t comprehensively read your contract — the language is rather obtuse by design. You might want a lawyer to translate it for you, explain its implications and advise you on your next steps. You’ll also need their services if you plan on suing your publisher or if they plan on suing you.
Step 3: Research New Publishers
If you can cut ties with your publisher, it’s important to choose the right one next time. You don’t want to go through all that work just to get caught in a similar situation — or a worse one. Look for a publisher that treats its writers well, offers flexible and negotiable contracts and has a track record of success that indicates future business continuity.
Step 4: Make Your Move
As long as your contract allows it, breaking up with your publisher may be as simple as sending them an email or letter that you want to part ways. You could also have your agent or lawyer do this step for you.
What to Know Before Signing With a Book Publisher
Whether you’re transitioning to a different publisher or you want to make sure you don’t have to switch once you find one, here are a few things to keep in mind to ensure a profitable and happy relationship with your publisher:
Many authors are adamant about not signing away the rights to their books. Some publishers offer enough compensation in royalties and bonuses to make the prospect worthwhile, but it’s better to retain the rights to your intellectual property.
A copyright may last the author’s lifetime plus 70 years, but a contract should not. Publishers can go out of business, get bought out or change in ways that make them unpalatable to the author. Review the terms carefully, and make sure they’re favorable to you.
Many authors make an income from sources other than books. Some publishers frown on this and put competition clauses in their contracts. This prevents authors from upselling their books with film adaptations, audiobooks, software and other tie-in products. You can negotiate these clauses before you sign the contract.
Once a book goes out of print, there’s no reason for a publisher to retain the rights to it. A break clause ensures your publisher doesn’t leave your book in limbo once they’re not willing to produce new copies.
Early Termination Clause
Publishers don’t want to let their profitable talent go, so they may have an early termination clause that disincentivizes authors from trying to leave. This way, if an author wants to leave a publisher, they will have to pay for the right to break away.
Right of First Refusal Clause
Once a publisher identifies a profitable author and begins a working relationship, it doesn’t want the author to suddenly publish a book with another firm. That’s lost profit. Many publishers include a clause that states that the author has to submit new books to it before going to other publishers.
Self-Publishing vs. Working With a Traditional Publisher
Given the potential logistic issues that can arise with traditional publishers — not to mention how difficult it is to change book publisher companies — many authors choose to pursue self-publishing.
Self-publishing grants more creative control to the author, and it allows them to run their business however they see fit. It also means that a lot of additional work falls on the author, including finding an editor, cover designer and advertising options — all of which a publishing house usually handles.
Self-Publishing Made Easy With Print Bind Ship
One of the biggest reasons authors choose not to self-publish is the issue of fulfillment. No one wants to store hundreds of books in their garage. But Print Bind Ship can offer your customers print-on-demand services, shipping globally within 24 hours of an order.
If you’re ready to cut out the middleman and enter the world of self-publishing, contact Print Bind Ship to get started.
Yes, but it’s not always an easy process. Some publishing contracts have early termination clauses that charge authors money for leaving. Even then, publishers will still sometimes retain the rights to the author’s works.
As long as you own the rights to your book, yes. But if your current publisher owns the rights, you must reacquire them first.
Authors switch publishers for several reasons, including when the author wants to change genre, their current contract is unfavorable, they want to work with a particular team, or they want to make changes to their work that their current publisher does not approve of.