Ten principles for fair contracts

The ASA has joined the International Authors Forum (IAF), which represents over 300,000 authors through 50 author-member organisations worldwide, in calling on publishers to support its new Ten Principles for Fair Contracts.

The Ten Principles call on publishers to take account of new publishing realities and revise some of their standard contract terms to make them more equitable for authors. Authors should get at least 50% of ebook profits, not a mere 25% or less; and they should not have their hands tied with reversion clauses that are impossible to exercise or non-compete and option clauses that make it even more difficult for them to write and publish new books. Royalty statements should be transparent and comprehensive.

In Australia, the average income authors receive from their writing has fallen from $22,000 in the early 2000s to just $12,900 in 2015. There are many reasons for the decline in authors’ income, but unfair terms in publishing agreements contribute significantly to this. Without serious contract reform, the full-time professional author will become an endangered species and publishers — as well as society at large — will be left with less and less quality content.

The ASA's Chair, David Day, has written an Open Letter to the Members of the Australian Publishers Association calling for standard book contract reform. And the ASA will be asking for individual meetings in the coming months with publishers both large and small to discuss the Ten Principles for Fair Contracts and what can be done to work with them to ensure that the publishing business is profitable for those who create the works that sustain it.

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