Dramaquill's All Things Writing

December 4, 2009

Contracts and negotiating

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So the most amazing thing has happened and a publisher has offered you a contract on your book.  Suddenly, you are presented with pages and pages of legalese, fondly known as your contract.

Many new writers might be so filled with the excitement of having finally scored a book deal that they rush to sign and return their contract.  No matter how tempted you are to do this, always go over every clause and know what you are signing before you jumpt to return your contract.

Some things to look for:

What rights are you signing away? 
Try never to give up all rights.  It’s your work, afterall.  Check out all the different types of rights online by googling “writer’s rights” or “publication rights”.  Here are a couple of comprehensive articles on the subject:

http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/226598/writers_rights_know_what_rights_youre.html?cat=31

http://freelancewrite.about.com/od/legalissues/a/rights.htm

Check out the publisher and see if you can find out how they rate in the business community of writing and publishing.  Make sure there aren’t complaints posted about not paying etc.  One place to check is the preditors and editors website:

http://www.anotherealm.com/prededitors/

As a new writer, don’t be afraid to ask questions or seek clarification on anything presented in the contract.  Publishers are more than willing to answer your questions as long as you remain professional in your communications with them.

Don’t take the deal if you don’t like the terms.  It’s tempting to just snatch up the first offer but you may regret it later if you aren’t 100% happy with the terms.

If at all possible, have a lawyer experienced in the publishing business look over your contract.  The lawyer will be able to explain things to you that you might not otherwise understand before you contact the publisher.

Be happy that you got an offer, whether or not you decide to take it.  You’re well on your way to more offers and acceptances once you’ve conquered your first hurdle.

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