Skip to main content

What's the Average Cost to Have a Lawyer Look Over Your Book Contract?

The book submission process can be daunting. But is it worth hiring a lawyer to help you? Brian A. Klems has the answer.

Q: I'm in the middle of the submission process to agents. Obviously, I'm hoping at least one will want to represent me, but I'm also deathly afraid of making the wrong commitment with the wrong agent (in other words, signing a bad contract). Having a lawyer look over a contract is good advice, but I also fear that kind of expense. Do you know what the average cost would be to have a lawyer look over a contract and what kind of lawyer would you go to? —Anonymous

(A Legal Checklist for Writers)

A: According to WD's legal expert, Amy Cook, if you do decide to hire a lawyer for an agent or publishing contract, be sure that person has experience with publishing law, or, at the very least, intellectual property law. A lawyer who practices in other fields may offer some basic feedback on your contract, but he won't know the ins and outs and is unlikely to understand details that are important to your financial future. Think of it this way: You wouldn't seek the advice of a poet on how to improve and sell your screenplay, right?

"Publishing contracts are very industry-specific, so find someone who knows how to properly handle them," Cook says. "You can find a lawyer who fits this bill through your local bar association. Another really great choice for writers are organizations."

Several writers' organizations that offer lawyers who specialize in publishing law are Chicago's Lawyers for the Creative Arts (www.law-arts.org), California Lawyers for the Arts (www.calawyersforthearts.org), and New York's Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts (www.vlany.org), among others. Any one of these groups can provide help or, at the very least, act as a starting point for you.

What's the Average Cost to Have a Lawyer Look Over Your Book Contract?

As far as costs are concerned, hiring a lawyer to review a contract can be pricey, ranging from $300-1000 depending on the lawyer's hourly rate and the contract's complexity. It can be even pricier if you want them to actually negotiate to contract for you, falling somewhere between $500-3000. But if you contact any of the above organizations you may qualify for reduced cost (or even free) legal help.

Ultimately, the decision to get a lawyer's advice is up to you. It's always a good idea to have an expert review any binding legal document, but, like all other forms of security, it comes with a price. You just have to decide if it's worth it for your book.

Getting Started in Writing

When you take this online writing workshop, you'll discover your voice, learn the basics of grammar and examine the different types of writing. No matter what type of writing you're planning on crafting—nonfiction or fiction—you'll need guidance along the way.

Click to continue.

5 Tips on How To Write Fast—And Well!

5 Tips on How To Write Fast—And Well!

Who says your first drafts can’t be completed manuscripts? Author Kate Hewitt lays out 5 tips on how to write fast and well.

Shelley Burr: On Writing About Rage in Crime Fiction

Shelley Burr: On Writing About Rage in Crime Fiction

Author Shelley Burr discusses the less altruistic side of amateur sleuths in her debut crime novel, WAKE.

Sew vs. So vs. Sow (Grammar Rules)

Sew vs. So vs. Sow (Grammar Rules)

Let's look at the differences between sew, so, and sow with Grammar Rules from the Writer's Digest editors, including a few examples of correct usages.

Using Beats To Improve Dialogue and Action in Scenes

Using Beats To Improve Dialogue and Action in Scenes

For many writers, dialogue is one of the most difficult things to get right. Here, author and educator Audrey Wick shares how to use beats to improve dialogue and action in scenes.

Olesya Salnikova Gilmore: On Introducing Russian History to Fantasy Readers

Olesya Salnikova Gilmore: On Introducing Russian History to Fantasy Readers

Author Olesya Salnikova Gilmore discusses the changes her manuscript underwent throughout the writing process of her debut historical fantasy novel, The Witch and the Tsar.

Freelance Food Writing: How to Break Into the Industry

Freelance Food Writing: How to Break Into the Industry

Food writer Deanna Martinez-Bey shares her advice on breaking into the freelance food-writing industry, including finding your niche, pitching ideas, and more.

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Red Line Moment

Plot Twist Story Prompts: Red Line Moment

Every good story needs a nice (or not so nice) turn or two to keep it interesting. This week, have somebody cross your character's red line.

Hafizah Augustus Geter: On Confronting Complicated Questions When Writing Memoir

Hafizah Augustus Geter: On Confronting Complicated Questions When Writing Memoir

Award-winning writer Hafizah Augustus Geter discusses how her experience as a poet helped her take on her new memoir, The Black Period.

6 Ways To Collaborate With Other Writers Ahead of Your Book Launch

6 Ways To Collaborate With Other Writers Ahead of Your Book Launch

Writer Aileen Weintraub shares how to find your writing community in the process of launching your book.