Draft author contract

I’m new at this and I don’t want to have half a dozen different discussions and end up with different contracts for everyone. Therefore I have begun drafting a short-story author contract for the first anthology.

I say it’s for the first anthology because it is likely to develop as I gain experience (and make mistakes) so there will be tweaks as we go along. For the first one, I need to be ready fast.

Note that this is for a short story book. One off payments for a single use in a single anthology. The contract for novels and single-author books will be different, and based on royalty payments over a set time of contract (after which the author can say ‘screw you, I have a better deal with Penguin Books now’).

Okay, here goes. Any questions, loopholes or legal pitfalls spotted? Let me know.

The Underdog Anthology

Author Contract

This contract constitutes an agreement between the author and Underdog Publications UK that permits the publisher one use of the author’s work in this one anthology. This single use extends to worldwide publication in print and eBook formats in English only.

Copyright remains with the author and all publication and ancillary rights (TV, film, other media rights, audiobook, translation into other languages) remain with the author. Underdog Publications UK purchases only the right to include the story in the anthology titled ‘The Underdog Anthology’ and will not use the story in any other publication or form.

Any interest shown by a third party in acquiring film etc. rights will be referred to the author. Underdog Publications UK will take no further part in the matter, and will expect no reimbursement or percentage of any deal made between the third party and the author in respect of their story in The Underdog Anthology.

The author, for their part, warrants that the work is their own and is not copied, plagiarised or downloaded from another author’s work. That they have full rights to the story and that if it has been published elsewhere previously, it remains or has reverted to full ownership by the author at the time of submission.

The author accepts that payment (in cash, copies of the book or as may be alternatively agreed) means that the story becomes a permanent part of The Underdog Anthology and that upon publication, the author retains all rights to re-use the story elsewhere in any form they choose but cannot subsequently demand it be retracted from the already-published book.

Should the publisher wish to reprint the story in another form other than print or eBook, or include it in another anthology, the publisher cannot do so without the agreement of the author and the issue of a further contract and agreement of reimbursement to the author.


Then a signature section, with the story and payment details.


What have I missed?



11 thoughts on “Draft author contract

  1. A bit of pedantry (which is probably a good thing in a legal document).

    Your last paragraph contradicts your second paragraph. Para 2 says (in effect) “I won’t use your work again”, last para says “If I want to use your work again I’ll ask”.

    Suggestion: Delete the last paragraph and make the second paragraph read something like “…will not use the story in any other publication or form without further authorisation from the copyright holder.”

    Liked by 1 person

  2. The author not only has to warrant that the work is his own, but that it does not include anything akin to libel , and for your own protection as publisher, that he fully indemnifies you against any lawsuit involving the work in question. That’s standard in any writer’s contract. If you like I can look up many of the pretty much standard, though negotiated, contracts I’ve signed. I also believe that, to be legal, while you can draw up a general template, you need to specify in your opening the name of the author, the title of their work, the tirle of the anthology and the name of your “publishing company” since that’s who the contract is between. Also spell out the amount you’re paying as well as when you’ll pay it. Are you doing this POD? However you do it, you should likely spell out that you’ll be producing it to finish from their raw ms. That’s one of YOUR obligations unless you state otherwise. If you want more info (or want me to shut up) you can reach me thru facebook. Walt Cody

    Liked by 2 people

  3. In any of that text, don’t refer to Underdog Publishing UK, or yourself or the specific name of the book – those go in a “Terms of reference” section, which should precede agreement (section 2; what you have written above). If you want to be really picky, number each paragraph 2.1, 2.2 etc.


    Author Contract

    On [date]
    Between author name (“the Author”) AND publisher name (“the Publisher”)

    1) Interpretation
    In this Agreement:

    The Author shall refer to “Fred Bloggs”, of 22 Acacia Cul-de-sac, Anytoon
    The Publisher shall refer to Underdog Publishing UK, [address]
    The Book shall refer to “The Underdog Anthology”

    2) Agreement

    2,1) This contract constitutes an agreement between The Author and The Publisher that permits The Publisher…..


    Within the text, refer to The Publisher, The Author, The Book – and make sure you use that exact case. “The Author” etc in section 1 should be bold

    Doing it this way means you can use it as a template for everybody, and for other books.

    I am not a lawyer, but I am a contractor, and have read probably a hundred of these kind of things over the last 25 years.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. “The author accepts that payment (in cash, copies of the book or as may be alternatively agreed) ”

    Is that a copy of the book per story? So if I submit 53 stories, I get 53 copies? And is that choice of format (printed, ebook)?


    • If you have 53 stories that’s probably two books on your own 😉

      That would be a separate contract similar to a novel contract (as in, I get to publish it for a set number of years, pay royalties on sales, and after that you can look for a better offer elsewhere or carry on with me).


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