Now that I have started pitching my books to be made into a digital or film format. I have begun to study book sale contracts, what are the rights of a writer, what entails copyright and how much remuneration a writer of a book, bible or screenplay can ask for. There are certain industry standards in terms of money and terms and conditions that the producer will ask the writer to adhere to.
Writers Right: Now that I am an SWA member I get a lot of help from their website, I also know that as the writer of my book all rights to creation are with me and I am the sole creator of the written book or screenplay. When I sell the rights of my book I am selling rights to everything that will be created from my work, web-series, documentaries, Ads, TV serials, Feature film, video games, drama, radio play, comics, cartoons, etc. I also give the rights to the producer to dub my work in different languages, use real names of the character, use subtitles and even alter some portions after doing more research. All this is being sold for price consideration.
Writer Remuneration: SWA has come out with minimum pay slabs for different works a wider produces for TV, FILM and has come out with an average slab as a guideline for producers to follow as to how much they should pay the writer. See the screenwriter association for the figures. But for the first time, new author a figure of 3 lakhs is about right for the rights of his first book. This figure can go cup to 10 lakhs if the film and the project are above 15. Cr.So always ask what the project size is before you ask for compensation. That will give you a fair sense of what to ask. Writers can also ask a share of the profits up to 2% of all profits as compensation along with a lower fixed rate. Many writers have made more than 50 lakhs for their story and screenplay this way. An established already sold author with two dozen books could get up to 30 lakhs for a very big banner film. So yes with the OTT platforms and global digital content things have improved a lot for the writer in terms of money and in terms of the glut in the market for new stories. I got that feeling at the Content Hub conference also, there were a lot of writers and many excited buyers also.
Signing the Contract: If you have made your pitch to a production house and they have managed to slot your book well in the market and if the genre they are looking for fits with your story, a good deal can be done. Insure what format they will make your story and what platform will showcase it. If it is going to be an original that’s even better originals have bigger budgets and marketed well too by the platforms. So chances of you hitting the bullseye are more. The producer contract will have the amount and payment terms. Generally 10% on signing another 10% after a month and the rest when the film goes on the floor. Try and get all the money upfront and insist atet you will get credit as the storyteller and author of your work in every format the producer chooses to reproduce the work in at a later stage.
When you sell, you are selling all your rights from any audiovisual that is made from your book and also agree that there are no libels that the producer will incur. Most contracts also mention that writes will have no say in casting or in who does the screenplay, this will be decided by the director and production team.
Royalty: Most contracts are made that the writer has to forgo on the royalty from his work, the lumps money given to him is all and total compensation he will get. You can negotiate for the royalty also with the producer along with the fixed amount.
Read all clauses before you sign up and make sure a termination close is added if you are not getting the money upfront then you put a clause if the money does not come to you in 3 months, you are open to signing with someone else.