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We have received an offer from a US-based publisher (new company, good concept, good marketing strategy, good royalties, no fees) to publish a novel in print, eBook, and audio format. We (the author and I) are based in Northern Ireland and we're keen to have it published here. However, the publishers we have submitted to here haven't been as quick to come back to us.

The question is: If the US publisher can satisfy us that they are geared to promote the book in NI and the UK as well as the US, should we accept the offer or wait until the other submission responses are received?

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Janine, can you please make this clear: Are they offering you a print contract? What does "print Ebook" mean? Or should it have been "print, eBook and audio" ? :) –  Shantnu Tiwari Jun 4 '13 at 8:56
    
@ShantnuTiwari - I think the latter. Janine, are my edits accurate? –  Neil Fein Jun 7 '13 at 11:58

2 Answers 2

If you have an agent, ask them first. If you don't have an agent, this might be a good time to try to consult with one. The specifics of your book and the specific market can be crucial to the decision. This is the agent's area of expertise - negotiating contracts, and understanding what distribution of rights maximizes your potential. Having an offer in hand makes getting an agent's attention easier to handle; an agent can also come onboard merely to negotiate a single contract.

In general, receiving a serious offer is sufficient reason to follow up with your other options. If it's been awhile without hearing back, re-contact the North Ireland publishers, and explain that you have a standing offer. (If the US publisher was very quick, you can certainly tell them that you're waiting to receive offers from local publishers.)

Bear in mind that you might also negotiate with the US publisher to not publish in NI and the UK, or to allow X time to find a better local offer, and if you don't find one, then promote there... or any other situation you feel meets your interests.

At any rate, I would be wary of signing over international promotion to a fledgling publishing company. Promoting "nearby" is tough (and rare) enough; handling promotion across the Atlantic is more than you can really expect of them at this stage.

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Be very careful of publishers only offering a eBook contract. Usually, all they will do is upload to Amazon, and take a big percentage of your earnings, and own your copyright for a very long time. I don't know about audiobooks, so I won't comment on that. But I'd spend some time researching the publisher, to make sure they are not a fly by night operator. Maybe search for [publisher] [fraud][scam] etc.

Selling books is hard, and most publishers fail at this task (I've heard figures like one or two authors like EL James making the bulk of profits). Just having a good strategy isn't enough, as things that sound good on paper fail miserably in the real world.

I am going to disagree slightly with Standback's answer. I would not recommend hiring an agent. Make sure you have read Dean W Smith's articles on agents (and the one specific to agents and contracts). An English literature major is not qualified to give you advice on legal contracts.

The better idea is to higher a good IP lawyer. To start you off, the Passive Guy has written a good article on contracts:

Looking specifically at the clause I discuss here, I don’t believe any responsible agent who understood the clause would permit her/his client to sign a contract with such a clause included, yet many agents have done that very thing

If agents are negotiating contracts and advising clients on the meaning of those contracts or particular provisions of those contracts, they’re doing work that attorneys do in non-literary settings. Trained paralegals performing services in another field that literary agents regularly perform with publishing contracts would be charged with the unauthorized practice of law.

To summarise: Hire a good IP attorney to look at the contract.

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Here's the Dean Wesley Smith article on agents and contracts: deanwesleysmith.com/?p=1213 –  Standback Jun 3 '13 at 12:39
    
@Standback thank you, I will add it to the answer –  Shantnu Tiwari Jun 3 '13 at 14:33
    
The questioner did mention that the publisher was going to print the book. –  micapam Jun 4 '13 at 0:39
    
@micapam It isn't clear to me. I've asked the author to clarify –  Shantnu Tiwari Jun 4 '13 at 8:56
    
Apologies for not coming back sooner! the contract is for '...the exclusive rights to publish in the English language in print, electronic and audio book form, in all countries of the world, a Work now entitled...' –  Janine Cobain Aug 26 '13 at 10:19

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