In most cases, when a book is published, the author will grant the publisher a license. For the duration of the agreement, the author grants the publisher certain rights to their content. These rights may include the right to publish, disseminate, and distribute online, as well as the right to sublicense. These rights are solely provided to this publisher. It is important to note that an agreement will need to be signed by both parties before any content can be released.
At its core, a license is a contract. The terms of the contract usually include some provision regarding the duration of the license (which may be either full or partial), identification of the items being licensed, and consideration for granting the license. In the case of books, publishers typically require that authors sign over all rights to their work to secure publication. Authors often receive advance copies of books that are about to be released so that they can review them and identify any potential issues with their own material that should be addressed with editors prior to publication.
After signing the contract, the author will usually receive a formal letter from the publisher notifying them that their book is available for purchase. This letter is called an offer to sell. Upon receiving this offer, the author has until it expires to accept it. If they do not accept it within the allotted time, another publisher may come along and make their own offer.
The author's rights will also expire at this point.
The author assigns to the publisher all of their rights as author and copyright owner. In journal papers, it is usual for writers to grant copyright to the journal or publisher. The license usually contains restrictions on how the material can be used. For example, the publisher may not be able to sell the material for profit.
In academic books where a new edition may be necessary in several years, the author will often allow the publisher to retain the copyright until the end of the first printing cycle (usually about five years). If the book is successful, then another edition may be printed. At this point, the author gets their royalties and also grants the publisher additional rights. For example, the publisher might be allowed to sell other products based on the book (e.g., teaching materials).
If there are subsequent editions, then the author would normally get paid again. However, if the book is still popular after many editions have been published, then publishers will sometimes try to find new authors to cover more recent research or they may simply want to bring in new talent. In these cases, the author's rights would be reviewed by an editor at the publisher and terms agreed upon before proceeding. If there is no success with finding new authors or selling new rights, then the publisher will usually just continue to use the original author without paying them further royalties.
The author remains the legal owner of the copyright, but in most countries they also receive an award based on sales numbers that reflect their contribution to the field.
Can the author also be the publisher? This is possible, but it depends on how the company that publishes the journal allows it. Sometimes authors take out licenses with many publishers at once, which means they can share credit even if they don't work with them directly.
Others may want to limit their exposure to risk. If you publish your work with one publisher and they go out of business, who pays? That's why many authors grant copyrights to their journals or publishers instead of themselves. The old system was called "authorship lagging behind publication" because authors would often wait years before claiming their ideas were their own. Now that we use early open access as our default mode of publication, this problem doesn't exist anymore. Authors can now quickly put their work into public domain or license it with an open access policy.
The only way this wouldn't be the case is if you published your work with someone who didn't allow authors to be both editor and publisher.
If the author assigns their copyright to the publisher, the publisher is allowed to publish their work for the life of the copyright without seeking permission from the author. It is also fairly usual for works that were previously available in print to be released on internet platforms. In this case, the publisher will need to obtain permission from the author's estate or assignee before proceeding with further publication.
In both cases mentioned above (ie. self-publishing or publishing with a traditional publisher), the author retains all rights they had before publishing. They can sell these copies of their book, give them away for free, even make multiple editions - they retain control over how many copies are printed and sold.
They do not have to include copyright notices with their books. However, if they choose to include such notices, then they have the right to ask publishers or other authors who may want to use content from their book to license its use under the same terms as those used by the original author.
Copyright protects an original work made by someone who is identified as the author. The author can be either a human being or another organization such as a company or government body. Copyright lasts for approximately 70 years after the author's death unless they specify otherwise in their will. After this time, only those who know about the copyright should be able to profit from it.
This implies they have first right of refusal to publish the material. In that instance, the author may submit the manuscript to a different publication. However an agreement should be in place before negotiations begin. If there is no such agreement, then the publisher has not committed itself to publishing the book.
In other words, yes, an author can always change publishers. It's when someone says "you can't" without discussing any such arrangement with you first that you have a problem.
In return for the right to print an author's work in book form, a publisher pays royalties to the author. Royalty rates are percentages of book sales and are completely negotiable, while some publishers have set royalty rates or royalty ranges that they strive to adhere to for the bulk of their book deals.
Books that sell well tend to generate more revenue with which to pay authors, so sales can be seen as a factor in how much a writer will be paid. However, even if a book does not do well at first, an author can still earn money through various other channels including licensing, app development, and more.
Books are a large part of what makes up the industry of publishing. There are many different roles within publishing that involve working on different aspects of a book including editing, designing, marketing, and publicity. Most publishers hire outside companies or individuals to perform these tasks instead of doing them themselves. These companies or individuals are referred to as "contractors." Contractors may be employed directly by a publisher or may be independent professionals who offer their services to multiple publishers.
Publishing is a competitive industry.
The number of books published each year is very large, and publishers rely on copyright protection to allow them to continue publishing new works.