Book Authors’ Bill of Rights

This document has been endorsed by the Romance Writers of America (RWA), Novelists, Inc., Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, Inc. (SFWA), and Western Writers of America, Inc. (WWA), representing a total of nearly 11,000 writers.

Ratified version (2002)

While affirming the freedom of every writer to negotiate in his or her own best interests, the undersigned organizations nevertheless assert that the following rights should be inalienable to all book authors.

  1. The right to negotiate contracts in good faith, the right to honest and unconflicted representation by a literary agent, and the right to mediation when conflicts about authors’ and publishers’ rights and responsibilities cannot be settled informally.
  2. The right to copyright ownership on all novels or nonfiction works written solely by the author and to “moral rights” to those works, as defined in the Berne Convention.
  3. The right to an advance against royalties that reflects an author’s anticipated royalty earnings. If a book does not earn out its advance, the author shall not be responsible for repaying the balance.
  4. The right to prompt acceptance time of a completed manuscript and on the timely exercise of publisher’s option clauses on subsequent works.
  5. The right to a realistic period of time in which to review copyedited manuscripts and page proofs and to the final say on all changes.
  6. The author shall be consulted about cover design and cover copy.
  7. The right to control the use of the author’s writing names and/or pseudonyms without limitation.
  8. The right to sign all subsidiary rights contracts for a particular work, unless author has specifically authorized for such contracts to be signed by author’s agent or publisher. Authors shall be notified when their works are licensed or reprinted. Authors are entitled to a minimum of 2 authors’ copies of foreign editions.
  9. The right to accurate and separate accounting of the publication of their books, including the right to audit the publisher with an unlimited look back period. Royalty statements should include publication date, number of books in print and in stock, number shipped, current sales, cumulative sales by units, cumulative sales by type of sale, amount in reserve, reserve released, and number of returns. The author has the right to release of all reserves after four reporting periods and minimal reserves held on reprinting. The author has a right to complete reconciliation to print on request and upon termination of the contract. The author has the right to a copy of all subsidiary rights contracts upon request.
  10. The right to a swift reversion of rights when a book is out of print. The author has the right to be quickly informed in writing when a book meets the Out of Print criteria defined in the contract. Any book declared “Out of Stock” for more than three months shall be deemed Out of Print. The author has the right to reversion to the author of subsidiary rights if the rights have not been exploited by the publisher within two years of first publication.
  11. The right to the most effective protections available against electronic piracy or other violations of copyright.
  12. The right to receive effective marketing of the author’s work from a publisher, and the publisher’s timely and practical support of the author’s own self-promotion.

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