Wattpad Launches Wattpad Books, a New Publishing Division to Bring Diverse, Data-Backed Stories to Book-Lovers Everywhere


For what they charge, they should AT A MINIMUM tell you what’s problematic and why. It’s between you and the publisher what gets negotiated (or not) – the lawyer should never defer like that.

Oh, they fully admit its a problem that just admit that they aren’t able to negotiate it out. So once you get to the “take it or leave” it stage, what else is there?


Sorry, you’re wrong. Full stop.


Because you work for each of the big five and know exactly what is in their contracts? I’ve not only signed big-five contracts but I’ve seen more than 150 of them from fellow authors. And I’ve talked extensively with IP attorneys and my 3 agents. Advances vary…basket or individual accounting varies…threshold for out of print varies. What rights are grabbed vary (to some degree) but print, ebook, and audio are all expected. They TRY to get foreign but a good agent can get those held back. Movie/television are reserved to the author (unless you have a really bad agent). The number of books you get gratis varies. But 99.9% of the contracts are exactly the same.

Now, when it comes to small presses – that’s a different matter entirely - but I’m talking about the big five here. Want more proof. Look at the Author’s Guild far-contract initiative is asking for because the points I’m talking about are all points they have tried to get the publishers to adjust and haven’t.

One last thing to note. I have FNS (Favored Nation Status) in my contract with regards to royalty rates so if my publisher (Penguin Random House) upped the royalty rate for others, they would have changed mine as well. Which hasn’t happened.


Yes, this. ^^
Entangled, the romance publisher, uses Macmillan for distribution.


That is interesting. How did you get the publisher to remove the clause?


I didn’t. The clause remained, but I got it “defanged” - other language added to it such that it was essentially moot.


Oh i see. Takes notes


The two main things is I made them define what a “competing work was” – which excluded, sequels, prequels, or any work containing these characters or the world. It was pretty much defined as any work that contained 90% of the content of this book. And the second thing I gave them is a “window of exclusivity” where I would have 2 months before their release where I wouldn’t release any other books.


Another thing, because advances came up earlier, I believe Jane Friedman indicated in an article that advances are usually confidential. Usually, direct numbers aren’t shared (though in some circumstances I have seen it) but it seems Jane is saying usually its not liked.

I believe you indicated you can reveal your advance and while I don’t think thunder would appear out of the clouds if an author did, why do you think that was practiced? Is it more the authors keeping their finances private?

oh found the article: Its targeted on gender disparity but the confidentiality is mentioned there. https://www.janefriedman.com/book-advances-by-gender/


Oh, sharing advances is definitely “not liked” - but there is nothing legally prohibited from doing so – unless there is an NDA. I think the publishers mainly rely on the old, “We don’t talk about how much we make in polite society.” So it may be the publisher has a history of authors keeping them confidential, but the reality is unless there is a NDA then can be shared.

Yes, I can reveal my advances. I’ve not in the past because it would sound like bragging, so I speak about them in "general terms…6 above $100,000, 1 above $500,000, 1 above 1,000,000. But whether those smaller ones are $100,000 or $300,000 you really don’t know. But those are just advances I also get royalties, foreign sales, and I have separate contracts for audio and what not. My problem is the opposite of most authors, it’s not too little money, it’s too much as I try to spread it out to keep out of the top tax bracket, but I’m not usually successful on that score. I know, I know, first world problems to be sure.


Ah thats good to know though i have seen articles about NDA’s in contracts and what not but i definitely was interested in knowing the culture around it because no one actually says “why” just follow these cues lol. That said, if i were to get a high advance (six figures +) I probably would be cautious about whom i discuss the numbers with too. Advance envy is real.


I know Amazon has an NDA in their contract, and I’ve seen a few contract with them, but for the most part they don’t have NDAs - which given how publishing is, is kinda strange.


And because it sounds like all the Big 5 contracts are practically the same anyway. Not that Wattpad is Big 5, but if they’re using the same distribution and publishing the same caliber of author, I can’t imagine why their standard contract would be significantly different.


It depends. The big-five walk in lock step like a cartel (which is why the contracts are so bad and the terms so consistent) but smaller publishers get much more creative - and I would think Wattpad would. In general those, that are signing new and less experience authors have HORRIFIC contracts – which I’m concerned Wattpad might have. A lot of the digital only imprints that the big-five started up during the height of ebooks had terrible contracts.

There use to be a program (I forget what it’s called) but it was essentially a contest that Amazon and a publisher ran together where once a year they would get submissions, have people vote on the books that they like the best and the winner would receive a publishing contract. The contract was posted online and the terms of it were non-negotiable. It’s terms were also horrific, and it could get away with that because it was targeting “low hanging fruit.” (Authors that will sign anything just to be published).

In contrast, the Amazon imprint contract (while under an NDA so I’m not 100% sure what is in it) has been reputed to be much more “author friendly” - I hear this from multiple authors who have signed with them. The ebook royalty rate is higher, and they have tended to be less “rights grabby” than many of the publishers.

Kensington Publishing - the biggest of the non-big five. Has a contract that is every bit as in line as the big-five. We were very close to signing a deal but couldn’t get movement on some “industry standard things” like high-discounted royalty rates so we ended up not doing the deal.

Bottom line - big five = very rigid and lock step. Non-big five - can be exactly like big-five or more progressive. We wont’ know what Wattpad’s is until they start exposing some of their terms.


A noob here. What do you mean by first rights? And how do you lose them?


First rights means the “first time” a work is published. In the old days (like when Reader’s Digest was a thing) some books came out in first rights and second rights - the “second” being the reprint a bit at a time in Reader’s Digest. Almost all contracts will have some provisions for first and second rights but only first are “exercised.” (used) Once something is published, the first rights seal is broken and they can’t be put back in the bottle.

Now, these days, in the world of digital, and people posting books on Wattpad, and on their blogs there is some issue whether the “first rights” have been “broken” is an issue that many writers worry over. They get concerned that posting a work to a site (like Wattpad) might break the “First Rights seal” and with it gone, no publisher will touch them. To be honest, for the most part it’s not true because until a work is published in a way that “monetizes” the work, most publishers won’t consider the first rights as being gone. A good example is Andy Weir’s The Martian. For years he published it on his blog for free and eventually he released it as a self-published book on the various retail sites such as Amazon, then one day the book was picked up by a publisher. In his case the first rights were gone…but it didn’t matter to the publisher.

Similarly, I also self-published my debut series (well the first 5 books of it) and a publisher picked up the series and re-published it. Technically the book wasn’t exactly the same (because it went through editing) but the “first rights” were gone and again the publisher didn’t care.

Another place where “first rights” comes up often is with regards to magazine and anthologies where short stories are published. Most of these don’t want a story that has already gone “out in the world” in a different magazine or anthology, so they’ll often insist on getting the “first right.” Usually such contracts will have an exclusive for some period of time - 6 months a year, and then after that you are free to republish it…but since most anthologies and magazines aren’t interested, that pretty much means self-publishing the short. If you are REALLY famous and a story is REALLY good, you might find a magazine of anthology that will take it even though the first right has been opened. But that’s a rare case.

I hope this helped a bit.

Preventing copyright violations

Yes, it does help. Thank you so much :slight_smile: I’ve bookmarked all your posts for reference. They are very informative, precise and clear many misconceptions about publishing, Michael :slight_smile:
Thank you for all that you do. Much appreciated =]


You are welcome!


Getting back to the contract terms for a moment. Historically, the contracts that have been the most egregious in this industry have been the ones that go after “low hanging fruit.” Authors that are (a) inexperienced (b) are willing to sign anything to see their dream of being published become a reality. I think many of the people who will sign with Wattpad Books will fall into this classification. Now, maybe Wattpad Books is breaking that trend. And if they are, great! But until they provide some transparency in their terms I’m going to remain skeptical. Let’s look at a similar situation.

Back in November of 2012 Penguin Random House announced three new digital imprints: Alibi (mysteries and thrillers) , Flirt (romance) , and Hydra (sci-fi and fantasy). Because they were “digital only” (with the possibility of a print book if sales were good), they obviously were not something that someone like me would rush to, and those that would sign with them fit the description of the “low hanging fruit.” Well, it didn’t take long before their contract terms started circulating, and as expected they were horrific (even by traditional publishing standards). So terrible in fact, and PRH got so much negative press, that they revamped their terms in Mar of 2013. Did they get better, yes. Were they good? No.

Another example was the Amazon Breakout Novel Award - which ran from 2008 - 2014. The winner of that contest (and some runners up) received publishing contracts (with advances) and at the time the contract WAS published online – because entering the contest meant you would accept terms of the contract as posted, no negotiation. Period. Given where I was in my career when the Award came into being, I looked at it quite seriously. But again the contract was terrible mainly because it did a lot of right-grabby (which in their defense is common in the “industry”) but it was still worst than most. Again, this contract was aimed at the low-hanging fruit.

I would love it if the Wattpad Books contract broke new ground and actually offered a “good contract” to people signing with this imprint. And if they did that, they would have no more vocal advocate them myself. But, business being business, and the ability to pray on the weak a very real possibility, I’m skeptical. Please, Wattpad, prove me wrong, and provide some transparency on some basic contract terms:

  • Advance or no advance?
  • Does the author have to pay for anything?
  • Is the term a fixed length (if so how long), or is it for the life of copyright?
  • What are the ebook royalty rates (and are they based on list or net)?
  • What are the print royalty rates (and are they based on list or net)?

You don’t have to expose what the advance have been, but whether there are any would be a good thing to know. And for the record. I’m not saying a publisher that doesn’t offer advances is the scum of the earth. I’ve said many times I would much rather have a non-advance contract with higher royalty rates than a large adance contract with low ones. I’ve just never found a publisher that wil take me up on that offer ;-). Well, I take that back, I did have one, but other aspects of that contract made it such that we ultimately didn’t sign.


Nick just posted a place to your questions if you want to drop some of yours in (link is in the first post):

You probably already saw it, but just in case you missed it. :slightly_smiling_face: