My situation is as follows: I signed a contract with a book publisher to write a book.

The problem is now I wish to terminate the contract early. I have not received any money from the publisher yet. The editing process has just started, they started editing one chapter (out of 10).

Normally in this kind of case, will I be required to pay any damages? I am ok with giving up the rights to my work to the publisher. (It is a children's workbook), however if possible I would like to avoid paying any damages.

Thanks for help.

  • 1
    What do you expect to gain from terminating the contract, if you're OK with giving up the rights?
    – cpast
    Sep 19, 2015 at 5:14
  • Hi, I am a newbie in the publishing industry, just worried I will be asked to pay compensation. I just want a peaceful termination of the contract and move on with life. The amount of work (3 rounds of edits for 10 chapters) is too much for the amount I expect to earn (maximum 1k to 2k USD) from the book,and there is no guarantee from the publisher that my book will even be published, hence I decided to focus more on my main full time job which will be more productive rather than wasting any more time on the book.
    – yoyostein
    Sep 19, 2015 at 5:30
  • This would massively depend on the wording in your contract.
    – Terry
    Jan 25, 2016 at 12:54

1 Answer 1


Short Answer

To successfully exit your contract, you need to do two things.

  1. Read the contract to understand your position.
  2. Negotiate with your counterparty to achieve an exit.


Step 1. Read the contract.

The contract might or might not address this specific situation. Before you approach your counterparty make sure you have a thorough understanding of what the contract stipulates your relative positions are. If the contract doesn't address it, then you need to become familiar with the common law in this situation and whether or not your counterparty will have a claim to be reimbursed for any expenses they might have incurred so far.

Step 2. Negotiate with your counterparty.

After you understand your legal position, figure out what is a reasonable range of outcomes for both parties. And look at the situation from their point of view. For example, if they spent money based on assurances you made in the contract, you might conclude they are due to be reimbursed that money. Then the question becomes how much more would they be due. If nothing, then fine. You might want to open the negotiations with that offer.

Also: Study common industry practice

Also, you should become familiar with how these matters are commonly dealt with in the publishing industry. Ask around. Read some articles. Do some GIYF research. Maybe get a publishing attorney's advice. This should all help you understand what a reasonable range of outcomes might be in this situation. Then negotiate.

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