Book contract

I’ll be signing a book contract with a local book distributer/publisher in the near future. I self-published the book and have been selling it through Lai Lai Books who are a English-language book distributer. The book is doing well and LaiLai want to take over the publishing side for the second printing and pay me royalties. This suits me as I won’t be here on a permanent basis. Does anyone have any related experience? Can anyone recommend a lawyer? Cheers.

If I publish a book, I get a cut of the cover price at the time the books are printed. I decide the cover price, and have some input into design and layout. Content is entirely up to me, but I am required to use an approved editor for the Chinese portions.


I have some experience writing for royalties in taiwan and I would say approach the deal with extreme caution. I worked for almost three years on a project, only to be completely screwed over in the end. I don’t want to write much about it here on a public forum as we are still planning to take the company to court in the future. Send me a private message and I’ll be happy to talk more about it and give you my lawyer’s number.

A few things for others who may be considering writing for royalties. Unless you can secure full copyright, a minimum sales clause (this means that if the company sells less than say 500 copies a year, all rights return to you), and a date of publication, don’t do it. If you give up copyright the company can do with your work what they want to. They can decide to postpone publication indefinitely, can cancel the book at any time, sell portions of it with other works (for which you will get no royalties), and so on.

Another thing to consider if can you trust the company to pay you the proper amount? Do they have computerized records of all sales and will they let you emained those records? If they won’t or are hesitant to grant this right be suspicious.

The alternative is to prepare for three or four years of court battles to secure your rights later.

If you have self-published the first edition then you have done all the hard work, so self-publishing the second edition should be easy. Will you make more money giving the rights to the publishing company? This would only be the case if the company could give you much wider distribution and larger sales. Otherwise maintain control.

Have a look at No Media Kings

My book came out a few months ago and I would make two comments:

  1. get an attorney familiar with the publishing business (although in a sense that is hard to do because of the fact there is almost zero legal specialization in Taiwan: most local attorneys handle all matters equally incompetently)

  2. Realize that there is no law in Taiwan in the Western sense of the word and that judicial verdicts are about as predictable and have as much connection with reality as do the pronouncements of the fortune tellers outside the Lung Shan temple.

Having said those two things, let me close on a positive note: congratulations on getting a publisher interested in your book and good luck.

take care,

Thanks for your posts. When I have some freetime (probably in about six months) I will make a website about my publishing experiences. Trying to make a living from writing is bloody hard; you are competing against a massive number of wannabe writers who are willing to work for nothing, and you are up against publishers who can screw you over with complete impunity.

I feel I should give a warning about the newpaper ads seeking writers of ESL material. I’ve applied for several positions but having stated I was a published author looking for proper financial compensation received no reply. These people are looking for slave labor. If you get involved with these outfits, make sure you know what you are getting into.