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.

How Roleplaying Helps Our Writing—and Our Marriage

How Role-Playing Helps Our Writing—and Our Marriage

As co-writing partners who fully embody the stories they tell in their writing process, authors Emily Wibberley and Austin Siegemund-Broka share how role-playing helps their writing, and their marriage.

How To Get Started in Copywriting

How To Get Started in Copywriting

From writing and reading to majoring outside of journalism, copywriter and author Robert W. Bly shares how to get started in copywriting.

Poetry Prompt

Wednesday Poetry Prompts: 640

Every Wednesday, Robert Lee Brewer shares a prompt and an example poem to get things started on the Poetic Asides blog. This week, write a pursuit poem.

Writing Light When the World Is Heavy

Writing Light When the World Is Heavy

Author Audrey Burges makes a case for spending time with details when writing light when the world is heavy.

Winter Woes

Winter Woes

Every writer needs a little inspiration once in a while. For today's prompt, your character is not happy with the cold weather.

Richard Hurowitz: On Finding Heroism in History

Richard Hurowitz: On Finding Heroism in History

Author Richard Hurowitz discusses the process of writing his new history book, In the Garden of the Righteous.

New Village Press: Market Spotlight

New Village Press: Market Spotlight

For this market spotlight, we look at New Village Press, a publisher focused exclusively on grassroots community building.

From Script

Should I Give Up the Writers’ Group I Started? (From Script)

In this week’s round up brought to us by Script magazine, gain insight on how to gauge if it’s time to move on from your writers’ group and take inventory on what’s working and not working for your writing trajectory.

How a Diagnosis of MS Inspired an Emmy-Nominated Author

How a Diagnosis of MS Inspired an Emmy-Nominated Author

Author and editor Meredith Berlin discusses how her MS diagnosis inspired her to finish her novel.