Let’s say a new author signs a two or three book deal. Are books two and three for the exact same terms (advance, print run, percentages, etc.) or is everything renegotiated upon acceptance of the second MS.
I would like to think if the first novel sold well that at the very least there would be a larger print run for the second. Or maybe even a tiny bit of the elusive marketing dollar would go to promote book two or three.
What a great question! It’s been a while since I’ve gotten something that I was really excited to answer.
The answer . . . they are on the same terms. For the most part a multi-book contract will be three books (or two or six or whatever) on one contract. Which means that they usually have the same royalties, the same subsidiary rights, the same everything. The only thing that frequently differs in this case is the advances. Oftentimes you’ll see an advance escalation—Book #1 might be for $5,000; Book #2 for $7,500; and Book #3 for $10,000, for example.
Print runs are not a contractual issue. Sometimes an agent will negotiate bonus money based on a print run, but at this stage of the game (sometimes one, two, or even three years before a book is published) a print run and marketing dollars can’t be determined. And yes, absolutely, if the first book sells well then you will get a larger print run for the second book. Conversely, if the first book doesn’t sell well at all you will likely see a smaller print run for books two and three. Print runs and marketing dollars are based on a book’s sales performance and (with a first book) estimates of its sales performance. The final decision on print runs is usually made by the booksellers. If they don’t order the books it’s unlikely your publisher is going to have them printed.
So what are the pros and cons of a multi-book deal?
You get a little more cash up front (you’ll have a higher payment when you sign the contract) and you’re guaranteed that more than one book will be published.
If your first book does phenomenally well you’ve likely been underpaid. Granted, you’ll still get the money owed to you in royalties, but you might regret needing to wait for the money to come through.
When a multi-book deal is offered I often discuss these pros and cons with my clients. If we were hoping for more money, for example, we might want to accept a contract with fewer books. If, however, the author likes the security net of knowing exactly what her schedule is for the next one to two years, then I say go for the multi-book contract. Remember, in the end you will get the money you’re owed in royalties. If they underpaid you, you’ll just have more to negotiate the next time around.
I hope that answers your great question.