My contract states that my advance is "payable upon the Publisher's acceptance for publication of the complete and final manuscript for the Work." We are now past all stages of editing (including copyediting) and the editor has stated that the book is ready for design. However, they've now pushed back the publication date significantly (I suspect it's because the press is struggling), and I still have not received my advance. Is there a standard definition of "final manuscript," or is this language as subjective as I fear? Until they formally accept THIS book, the 30-day window for my next book's "first look option" doesn't even begin. For that matter, neither does the 18-month publication window for my current book.
If they don't pay my advance in a timely manner, is this leverage for me to beg out of the contract?
ah yes, the lovely D&A payment.
Delivery and Acceptance means you've delivered the manuscript and they've accepted it.
They've accepted it if they've sent it to production (ie sent off to be designed.)
However, absent language that says D&A is assumed 45 days after X event unless otherwise notified, it can be a chore to collect.
I'm assuming since you're writing to me that you do not have an agent.
(If you do have an agent, you should be discussing this with her not moi)
What you do is write a firm, but polite, letter to the editor. You will say that since the manuscript has now been copyedited and put into production, you'd like to know when you'll receive your D&A payment.
Most likely this is NOT in the editor's hands, or under her control, so be gentle with her.
If she gives you a date, you confirm that date with her.
(Confirm means you email her back with "confirming that May 1, 2017 is the date to expect D&A payment.")
Most likely you'll hear "that's up to Accounting, I'll forward your email to them."
And that's when you say "I'd be glad to email directly, please let me know who to contact."
OR you scout around on their website, or in their catalog for a name.
You also need to check your contract for a clause that says if they don't pay you, rights revert to you. Most likely you'll know if it's there, cause it's one we always have to put in. Very few publishers start out offering that in their boilerplate.
If you hear nothing from the editor, there should be a name in your contract, and an address for legal notices. Get in touch with the publisher. Again, polite but direct. Do NOT apologize for asking for your money. This is a legal contract, and they owe you this money.
If they can't pay their bills in a timely fashion, that's not your problem, and they shouldn't be balancing their books on your back. You fulfilled your part of the contract. Time for them to fulfill theirs.
At some point you might need an attorney to write a sterner letter. Let me know if you need names.