Contract Terms Before and After Negotiation
Although many businesses that exploit copyrights may tell you that the contract they present to you is a “standard form,” or that “everybody does it this way,” you may have more room to negotiate than you think. The publisher is probably expecting that you won't know any better, or that you are too intimidated to object. In fact, however, behind many standard forms are more standard forms, of increasing degrees of author-friendliness (or at least, of decreasing degrees of author-unfriendlines). If you object to certain clauses, chances are that the business with which you're dealing already has another version of the form contract with different clauses. Or even if you ask for something the business hasn't already anticipated, you might end up getting it anyway. It can't hurt to ask (nothing ventured, nothing gained), and you might find that your co-contractant, when pressed, can be very reasonable.
Below are some “before-and-after” examples of publishing contracts: contract language as originally presented to the author, and the language the author was able to work out with the publisher in the end.