All Resources


Model Trade Book Contract

Negotiate your publishing contract with knowledge and confidence.

After spending years working on your manuscript, it is crucial to protect it by securing a fair book contract. That’s why the Authors Guild has provided Model Trade Book Contracts for at least seven decades. Our model contracts are intended to educate authors about the various terms in publishing contracts, their rights, and what they can and should negotiate. They are also intended to set a standard for publishers to adopt fairer and clearer terms so that authors and publishers alike can get a fair deal and maximize their earnings potential.

More Than Just a Sample Publishing Contract

Our most recent version of the Model Trade Book Contract reflects the latest changes in the publishing industry and also addresses some emerging concerns that authors should be aware of. We have added some new provisions that are not yet widely adopted in the industry but we believe should be. These include provisions:

  • Allowing authors to receive copies of sub-licenses executed by the publisher.
  • Requiring publishers to clearly mark copies for export, remainder, overstock, and review to prevent resellers from selling them as “new” in online marketplaces like Amazon.
  • Protecting authors against overbroad morality clauses.
  • Requiring publishers to render detailed royalty statements.
  • Providing for de-escalating royalties, rather than a sudden jump for deeply discounted sales given the increasing use and rising rates of discounts to retailers.

How to Use the Model Trade Book Contract

The Model Trade Book Contract contains samples of the clauses or provisions authors are likely to encounter in a publishing contract, from subsidiary rights to rights reversion. Every clause is accompanied by a commentary section that explains what the clause does and how you might improve the language in your own contract. Along the way, we have included short advocacy notes to flag terms and conditions we are fighting for on the industry level, and which would be good to ask for even though they might be difficult to obtain.

We have attempted to be realistic in drafting the provisions, but undoubtedly you will find that some of our recommended provisions differ from the language in many publishers’ agreements. Our advice is that you identify those provisions that are most important to you and concentrate on them.

The Model Trade Book Contract enables you to continue negotiating your publishing contract with knowledge and confidence. Remember, the terms you accept will govern your relationship with the publisher for years after your contract is signed.

Please note that while the model contract serves as a sample publishing contract template, it may not address every situation for every author, nor should it be construed as legal advice.

Become a Member

Regular and associate members can request a free review of their publishing agreement by our expert legal staff. Get started today!