The Publishing Audit

February 1997
by Ivan Hoffman, B.A., J.D.

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Ivan HoffmanIvan Hoffman (photo right) is a publishing, copyright, Internet law, recording, and music attorney as well as a published writer and author. He practices in the Los Angeles area. You may reach him at or 818/342-1762.

If an author has sold a reasonable number of books, it often pays to examine the records of the publishing company in order to verify the statements the author has been receiving. If the author is negotiating a new deal with the same publisher, it may also pay to examine the account on the old deal or deals. This information may increase the author’s bargaining position relative to the new deal and you can also check out discrepancies in the event there are cross-collateralization issues.

For authors who feel that to do such an examination during the relationship would somehow create ill feelings on the part of the publisher, I suggest that these concerns are perhaps misplaced. This is a normal aspect of the business relationship, one for which the publisher in its contract has already provided.

There should not be any implication in the request for an audit that you suspect any foul deeds on the publisher’s part. The relationship between the author and the editor is not in question for the accounting is done by individuals with no relationship to the author, personnel with many accounts to keep. The likelihood that simple contract misinterpretations and accounting errors have crept into the statements is a far more common occurrence than an outright attempt to cheat the author.

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