Transferring copyright doesn't have to be all or nothing.
The law allows you to transfer copyright while holding back rights for yourself and others. Here are some ways to hold back rights:
- Edit the publishers agreement: Publishers often will accept changed agreements: edit wording of contract so that instead of granting "exclusive" rights to the publisher, you grant "non-exclusive" rights. Initiate the changes and submit a signed copy to the publisher.
- Add the SPARC author addendum
- Use a Creative Commons license in place of the license provided by the publisher
It is important to read through each contract so you understand what you are transferring to the publisher and what you as an author retain. It is also important to keep an electronic or paper copy of the copyright agreement so you can refer to it when needed.