What is the issue?

If a publisher wants to publish a manuscript, the writer must be offered a written contract. TWUC believes that all such contracts are negotiable — the clauses can be changed and publishers should be willing to negotiate contract terms. 

While receiving an offer to publish can be the realization of a dream for an author, it is primarily a business arrangement. The negotiation of a good, fair contract sidesteps many problems and misunderstandings later on, and should develop a good working relationship between writer and publisher based on mutual trust.


What TWUC is doing

The Union offers a Contracts Self-Help Package to writers considering publishing contracts. The package includes a Model Trade Book Agreement to be used for comparison. These resources are available to all TWUC members for free, and to any other writer for a modest fee. Unagented writers are advised to hire a lawyer who has experience with publishing contracts to formally review the document. TWUC staff, while not lawyers, are also available to answer member questions regarding contracts. 

TWUC regularly surveys members on their experience with publisher contracts, publication practices, and payments. Our Publishers’ Report Card is then made available to all members as a resource when choosing publishers.

TWUC is working closely with international colleague organizations on a global call for updated contract terms for a new age of publishing. We believe the publishing world has changed significantly over the last decade, while contract wording often remains anchored in the past. The International Authors Forum has prepared Ten Principles for Fair Contracts to help to inform writers when they are reviewing contracts on offer.


What you can do

ALWAYS read your contract carefully before signing it. Hire a lawyer to review and suggest changes to the document, with fair contract principles in mind. Take advantage of TWUC’s free contract advice for members. Make your prospective publisher aware of the Ten Principles of Fair Contracts, and your intention to see them followed.


Further reading

Stronger Together

TWUC’s advocacy is most effective as the collective voice of Canada’s professional authors. We are stronger together. If you are not already a member of TWUC and are working as a writer, consider joining the Union. If you wish to support TWUC’s advocacy outside of membership, consider donating to the Union.