self-publishing contracts

A Look at Self-Publishing Contracts

Estimated reading time: 3 minutes

What’s in those documents you have to sign to self-publish your book?

Self-publishing contracts vary widely in length, scope, detail, and other aspects.

Each self-publishing firm has its own agreement, so as you consider using various firms to publish your book, don’t assume that one contract is like the next.

Below are links to several self-publishing contracts. They are not necessarily the “best” or “worst” agreements, rather, they are a random selection to give you an idea of what such contracts can cover. Before clicking on the links to the agreements, think about what you’re looking for in each.

Please note that I’m a ghostwriter, not an attorney, and I am not offering legal advice.

As you read these self-publishing contracts, look for items such as…

  • Who owns the copyright to the text, cover design, and other elements of the book?
  • Exactly what services does the self-publishing firm provide?
  • Precisely what costs are you responsible for?
  • Do you surrender any control over the book’s content or appearance?
  • Who controls the book’s sales and marketing? If the self-publishing firm does, exactly what will be provided?
  • Who determines the book’s sales price, and how?
  • Exactly how are the royalties calculated?
  • Is the contract exclusive, or can you accept other publication offers?
  • Can you terminate your agreement with the self-publisher? If so, when and on what terms?
  • Does the contract reflect the statements that appear on the company’s website, in their brochure, and in other materials? Or is there a disconnect between what they promise and what they actually do?
  • What warranties are you making?

Study the self-publishing contracts carefully!

Most of the contracts from reputable self-publishing firms are fairly reasonable, according to industry standards. But remember, what is “reasonable” for one author may not be favorable for you.

Think carefully about what you would like to do with your book in the near and distant future; which options you would like to keep open, and which you are willing to surrender.

There’s an understandable tendency to focus on the royalty schedule in these agreements, but remember that money is just one benefit you stand to gain from your book.

So study self-publishing contracts with a sharp eye and open mind!

For some background on self-publishing, see our “Introduction to Self-Publishing.” And remember to review all contracts with your attorney.


Contact us! We’re Barry Fox and Nadine Taylor, professional ghostwriters and authors with a long list of satisfied clients and editors at major publishing houses.

You can learn about our ghostwriting credentials and process on our ghostwriter page.

For more information, call us at 818-917-5362 or use the contact form below to send us a message.

We’d love to talk to you about your exciting book project!

Please Note: Although we’re based in Los Angeles, California, we travel around the U.S. and abroad to meet with our authors. We do not ghostwrite screenplays, books for children, poetry, or school papers.

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