S139. Wait! Wait! Don’t Sign That: A Writer’s Guide to Book Contract Basics

Oregon Ballroom 203, Oregon Convention Center, Level 2
Saturday, March 30, 2019
9:00 am to 10:15 am


Publishing agreements are some of the most important documents authors ever encounter, but for many writers, book contracts remain shrouded in mystery. In this panel, Authors Guild Executive Director Mary Rasenberger will moderate a discussion among publishing industry attorneys, offering an author-friendly introduction to the various standard book contracts. Learn what every book agreement should contain, how best to approach a contract negotiation, and what provisions to avoid or add. The panel will also address agency agreements, as well as some things to bear in mind when considering self- and hybrid publishing.



Mary Rasenberger is the Executive Director of the Authors Guild. Prior to joining the Guild, Mary practiced law for over 25 years, specializing in media and copyright law, and served as senior policy advisor for the U.S. Copyright Office and program manager at the Library of Congress.

Ellis B. Levine, a partner of Cowan DeBaets Abrahams & Sheppard, served as Vice President, Secretary, General Counsel and a member of the Board of Directors of Random House, Inc. from 1989 until 1998. He primarily represents book and audio publishers, authors and literary agents.

Umair Kazi is a Staff Attorney at the Authors Guild, a writer, and a translator. He received his JD from University of Iowa College of Law and his MFA in Creative Writing from Columbia University School of the Arts.

Michelle Brower is an agent with Aevitas Creative Management, where she specializes in literary fiction, book club fiction, and narrative non-fiction. Her authors include Clare Beams, Sarah Domet, Jason Mott, Tara Conklin, Viet Dinh and many others.


March 8–11, 2023
Seattle, Washington

Seattle Convention Center