Taking the fear out of contracts: A guide for non-contracts people

Get confident with contracts.

Course overview 

Some publishers have access to in-house lawyers, others have a professional contracts team who handle author and subsidiary rights agreements. Many have to work it out for themselves, drafting, checking and keeping track of their own contracts. Whichever set-up you are used to, many people without a contracts background feel daunted when faced with long legal-sounding agreements.

In this introductory course, you will find out why those contracts need to be in place, learn to find your way around a contract, and be guided on the key terms and clauses that need to be included.

Course outcomes:

  • Get confident with the basics of copyright – the how, when and why.
  • Identify the key elements of a contract and how to ensure the correct agreement is in place.
  • Learn about the different contract styles and structures, and how to find your way around them.
  • Understand the key clauses of contracts and why they are there.
  • Plan for the future with best practices for storage of contracts, associated paperwork and assets.

Who is this course for?

  • Editors, rights sellers, and any publishing professional who needs to work with, or consult, author contracts.

Your Course Leader

Diane Spivey is a freelance Publishing Contracts and Rights Consultant.  She recently retired as Group Contracts Director at Hachette UK, after a long career working across contracts and rights selling.  She has worked primarily for trade and children’s publishers including Little, Brown, Simon & Schuster, Cassell, and Hodder & Stoughton. She is a regular lecturer and trainer on Contracts and Selling Rights and is a contributor to Clark’s Publishing Agreements. She also works as a writing coach in association with Gale & Co.


‘Thanks so much for a wonderful masterclass. A great overview of the key issues which explained the theory and legislation of copyright in a practical framework and demystified some highly complex issues to the non-specialist.’ 

Clare Somerville, Senior Lecturer in Publishing, Kingston University

‘On behalf of the organisers, I’d like to thank you for your contribution. We’ve got very positive feedback from the audience simultaneously during the session. They think your session is interesting and helpful.’ 

International Publishing and Cross-cultural Exchange Online Training Program, Beijing

‘Thank you for your video for the SYP conference. I’m an editor who has never been particularly interested in contracts but, as I progress, I understand how important they are. […] It was incredibly informative and clear on what can be a fairly intimidating topic. When I get back to work, I’m actually excited to take a closer look at some of our contracts and that’s something I never thought I’d say!’ 

Holly J., the SYP

About Instructor

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Course Includes

  • 6 Modules