I just finished the first of a series of children's books and ready to sell. How does one sell their book without giving up all rights to it?

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    It's not very clear what you're asking or what you're attempting to do. Do you need an overview of how one goes about seeking publication? Do you have concerns about standard contracts? Please explain a little more about your situation, and what you'd like to see in an answer. Then we'll be happy to reopen. – Standback Dec 1 '16 at 9:05
  • It seems the POD companies who also publish and market the books make an enormous profit on my vision and labor, and I am left with less than one tenth of the sale price. I found another company that produces ebooks, but in exchange for the popularity of their name, should I want to walk away to go somewhere else, I sign over all rights to my book to them. Is there another POD company who doesn't take the majority of the sales? At this point, I am looking at creating my own website, use a POD company that is royalty free, and I market and publish my book. – D. Sum Dec 4 '16 at 14:29
  • ...Of course, I am anticipating that my book does well in the marketplace. Isn't that every author's dream! – D. Sum Dec 4 '16 at 14:32
  • OK, this sounds like you need a bit of an introduction to the field, which is beyond the scope of the Q&A we can provide here. Here is an excellent intro that touches on the state of publishing, and explains what different self-publishing options are and what your considerations might be. – Standback Dec 5 '16 at 7:45
  • If you're considering traditional publishing as well (and for a children's book, I certainly would), here's the Society of Children's Book Writers And Illustrators with a few words on getting a book published. Their Book looks to me like you might find it a valuable resource. – Standback Dec 5 '16 at 7:48

That's what a contract does. You, and ideally your agent, negotiate a contract with a publisher. The contract specifies what rights you are allowing the publisher to have in exchange for distribution and printing, and how the exchange of money works.


I think the key question is how long do you grant publishing rights. You should set some kind of limit and some kind of process for rights to revert. Any legitimate publisher will spell that out in the contract (and might even specify early termination clauses).

I'll warn you though, publishers hold a lot of cards and might just present a take-it-or-leave it contract.

If you're doing a series, you might have to give up a lot on the first volume or two and then negotiate later for better terms.

Another thing. You might be talking about not selling digital rights or movie/TV rights. That's possible, but that might cause publishers to balk at your project.

A better way to negotiate that might be to require final approval when negotiating movie rights. (Typically though, if a publisher can get something in other mediums, that's a good thing for the author in more ways than one).


Traditionally, your rights revert to you after a specified period of time when the book is out of print. However, be cautious! In recent times, publishers have been able to circumvent this by placing books into perpetual "print-on-demand" limbo. If you don't want that to happen to your book, make sure you cover it in your contract. That's one of the main reasons it's good to have an agent, even if you can sell your book yourself.

However, you may be putting the cart ahead of the horse. Most writers face their biggest hurdle in getting someone interested in publishing their book, not in protecting their rights to it.

  • The counter-point to the POD issue is that if the book is available to customers in a reasonable amount of time (a week?) yet it is not selling, why would a different publisher think it's a great idea to buy the rights so they can take a punt on a print run of a few thousand that will, on past performance, take a hundred years to sell? – David Aldridge Nov 30 '16 at 23:57

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