Authors: Who has your best interest at heart?

Dear Authors,

Okay, look, Cuil Press is a publisher. And like all publishers, we want to make money. Why? Because if we don’t make money, we can’t publish more awesome books.

There is no such thing as a publisher who is looking out for your best interests. I’m sorry, that’s the hard truth. We are looking out for the best interests of the company and (hopefully) our readers. Your publisher is, ideally, an ally: someone who will support you and work with you in reaching your goals. But like many allies, we have our own goals, and sometimes our goals and your goals don’t line up.

It’s okay! It happens! But it’s why you need to be looking out for yourself, and not trusting us to do it for you.

Now, the point of all this?

There are publishers, and there are publishers.

At Cuil Press, we’ve been reviewing publicly available publishing contracts to compare with our base contract and make sure we aren’t missing anything important. And recently we ran across this clause:

“…assigns, all right, title, and interest in and to the Work, throughout the world, in perpetuity, and in any and all media and forms of expressions now known or hereafter devised, including but not limited to all copyrights therein for the full term of such copyrights (and any and all extensions and renewals thereof), including but not limited to the following rights.”

Authors, please, if you ever see a phrase like this in a publishing contract offered to you, RUN. Do not pass go, do not collect the cursed $200, DO NOT SIGN THIS CONTRACT.

Why? Because once you sign this, you no longer own your work. The publisher owns all the rights to the work until it goes into public domain—in the US that means 75 years after you die. Someone wants to buy the movie rights from you? To bad, the publisher owns them. You want to put out a sequel? If the publisher doesn’t want it, you can’t do anything. Publisher has decided it isn’t selling enough so they’re not making it available anymore? Nothing you can do about it, it’ll disappear from everywhere. And you never get the rights back.
(Oh, and the contract this clause came from? Also outlines a thousand and one ways the publisher can get out of paying you royalties.)

Look, we’re not gonna lie to you. Like we said in the beginning, Cuil Press is not looking out for your best interests–that’s your job. But we are committed to dealing with your fairly and in a sustainable way. Because we want you to keep coming back to us book after book after book.

Not all publishers are the same. Some publishers are just out to get whatever they can from you and leave you bleeding by the side of the road.

Author Beware.