Thursday, December 27, 2007

Publishing Terms -- Pre-Empts

If you've read Publishers Marketplace book deals, you're probably heard of books being sold on pre-empts to publishers. So what is a pre-empt? To quote Miss Snark,

A pre-empt is when a publisher coughs up enough dough to keep all the other players off the field. They say I'll give you x gazillion dollars and you tell everyone else drooling onto your doorstep that the project is sold.

It's ALSO when you hold an auction and only get one bid. We call those preempts rather than "ooops".

On Jonathan Lyons blog at Lyons Literary LLC, he defines it a little more formally as:

A "pre-empt" is a preemptive offer. A publisher conveys this offer in advance of an auction or an expected auction in an attempt to preempt other publishers from getting the book. Typically this offer is conveyed for a short period of time (24 to 48 hours) before it's pulled from the table.

The biggest issue is whether the offer is good enough in order to preclude going to auction. Problems also arise when the offer is for more rights than the author and the agent want to grant.

In case you don't know what an auction is, Jonathan Lyons defines that as:

An auction is a process which allows multiple publishers to bid on your work. Auctions can vary in shape and type, depending on the number of editors interested, the type of book, and the agent involved.

He then goes on to talk about the details of how various auctions can work, so follow the link to read the rest of his informative blog post.

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