Bram Stoker's 'Dracula' Contract Revealed in New Book

The late horror author got a frightfully good deal and saw agents as vampires.
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For more than a century, Bram Stoker's Dracula has set the standard in the horror genre. The author also managed to set the bar quite high in contract negotiations.

A new version of Dracula is about to be published, and the most fascinating inclusion is Stoker's 1897 contract, which reveals he got a 20 percent royalty fee — about twice as much as most authors get today. The publishers of the new version say it indicates that Stoker, who studied law, knew what he was doing.

"Stoker wrote the contract himself, which from a publisher's point of view is rather extraordinary," says Nick Robinson, chairman of publisher Constable & Robinson, in an article published Sunday in the UK's The Independent. "The terms – roughly 20 percent royalties – are, again from a publisher's point of view, pretty tough. But he clearly knew how to frame a contract and was able to dictate terms."

Well, kinda.

Stoker apparently had less luck in the U.S., where he struggled with copyright laws that required serialization first. Evidently, Stoker signed a publishing deal with Doubleday, which has never revealed its own agreement with Stoker, who died in 1912 of syphilis.

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But the U.K. contract is coming to light for the first time, having spent a long time in the locked desk of his publisher.

The Independent also notes an interview that Stoker gave around the time that Dracula was first published. He wasn't a big fan of agents.

"Some men nowadays are making 10,000 a year by their novels, and it seems hardly fair that they should pay 10 or 5 per cent of this great sum to a middle man," said Stoker. "By a dozen letters or so in the course of the year they could settle all their literary business on their own account."


Twitter: @eriqgardner