How can I retain digital rights so as to exclude my work from digital publication?
I am an aspiring novelist who, like probably everyone who's ever dreamed of building their career with the written word, hopes one day to be published and see my work on bookstore shelves. Nowadays, however, that includes "virtual shelves" at shopping sites like Amazon and Barnes & Noble, where people can click online to have a book shipped to their door.
But it also includes this murky and still-controversial developing technology known as e-books. There are some traditionalists, like me, who cringe at the thought of the old-fashioned, tangible "printed word" being done away with in favor of books readable on machines like the Kindle, Nook, or iPad.
What I am writing to ask is, if at some point I am lucky enough to sign a book contract, and I am able to "retain digital rights," does this put full control of the digital distribution in my hands, in which case I might actually prevent my work from becoming an e-book? Or would I be expected to e-publish in some other fashion, meaning I have control over where/how my work gets e-published, but not "if"?
~ Phoenix, AZ
To be honest, I typically only read books in e-book format now.
On the other hand, a well written publishing contract can accomplish what you wish. In other words, it is completely negotiable. Your lawyer should be able to draft a contract (or suggest modifications to the publishers contract) to accomplish your goals. Likely, if you request that the publisher not e-publish, you will be preventing the publisher from making money. They could ask for you to make up the difference. Or, it might change the economics of the book contract in such a way that the book contract would not likely be profitable.
So, advice from an experienced attorney or publishing agent may help you know whether to counter offer on a book proposal.
Good luck getting published.