Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2023


Publishers and publishing, Book industries and trade


This research paper examines the satisfaction clause included in publishing contracts, the reason for controversy surrounding it, and what the future may look like for it. This is accomplished by looking at the history of the clause, how it functions in publishing contracts, and three major court cases centered around it. The satisfaction clause allows a client seeking a job done to determine whether the work is satisfactory to them. Much of the time these contracts are written to favor the client, part of the reason for its controversial status. In the context of publishing, the satisfaction clause is important to publishers because it can protect them from things like lawsuits. However, for authors who don’t have much legal knowledge or an agent to do negotiation for them, they are left with very little power over their work or whether they’re going to be rejected. Thankfully many scholars and courts have determined that publishers are required to perform in good faith, preventing them from rejecting a manuscript for arbitrary reasons and giving authors some protection. One development that determined what is included in good faith is the obligation to provide editorial services, but to what extent hasn’t been determined. After analyzing the precedent three major cases established and after, the current precedent is that publishers are required to communicate with the author and provide editorial services. But the reasons a publisher gives for rejecting a manuscript only have to follow reasonable commercial standards. It’s clear that the satisfaction clause will remain in contracts, but some proposed changes could help to even the balance of power between authors and publishers.


© 2023 Maliea Ruby

Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Paper submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in Writing: Book Publishing.

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