Negotiation Tactics 101: Building the List

Welcome back to our Wednesday series on negotiation. For those just joining, you can find the previous posts via the “Publishing Business” category in the sidebar.

Today we prepare the “meat” of the negotiation: a list of important terms.

After you complete your initial reading of the contract, read the document through again with a pen or highlighter at the ready. Underline or highlight all the terms you’d like to change.

Then make a list of the terms you’d like to negotiate and the changes you’d like to obtain in negotiation. (Note: type this on a computer, you’ll be rearranging it later).

Once you have your list, go through it and ask: would any of my requests require the publisher to change its business practices?

For example: if the contract states that the publisher pays royalties twice per year, asking for quarterly payments would require the publisher to establish a new accounting schedule just for you. That isn’t going to happen.

You don’t have to delete these items from your list, but understand that asking for unreasonable modifications may make the publisher less inclined to concede to your more reasonable requests.

Finally, prioritize your list, with the most important items on top and the least important (or least reasonable) on the bottom. You probably won’t negotiate the items in this order, but you need to decide which revisions and terms are most important to you. Don’t wait to figure that out in negotiations.

Thanks for joining me today, and come back next week to learn exactly what we do with that list!

Have questions about negotiations, contracts, or other publishing legal issues? Is there a publishing law series you’d like to see on the blog? Please let me know in the comments!



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