Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Contract Considerations

Happy Tuesday, good people of the blogosphere! Well, the kids are back in school and not a moment too soon. While I enjoy having the little nose-miners at home, it's not productive to have them pulling at my skirts while I'm trying to work. I've been busier than a one-armed paper-hanger! Anywho, today we're gonna talk about contracts! I know you're all super excited about that. I'll tell you what to expect, what to avoid, and what you should be looking for. Grab those pens and notebooks and let's get going!

Yesterday, I talked about finding a good editor and what you should be looking for when you vet them. If you missed that post, take a look at it here. Tomorrow, we'll talk a little about the different kinds of editors. But, for today, let's discuss the contract. This applies to proofreading, editing, and any other service you have done by an outside source (book design, cover design, etc...).

What you should expect:
  • A contract outlining exactly what your editor will do for you.
  • Dates things are due back to you.
  • The ability to read over the contract before you're expected to sign it.
  • Clauses that prevent you from defaming your editor (and your editor from defaming you).
  • A very straightforward clause that releases your editor from any claim to your work.
  • Something that says your editor is allowed to refuse your work at any time.
  • An out clause for you that states the contract is allowed to be terminated if you choose to do so and at what point it becomes null and void.
  • An informational page that details the book to be worked on.
  • Something stating when payments are due and when the contract is settled.
  • A clause that states you're required to display the editor's name on the copyright page (this is pretty standard).

What you should avoid:
  • Anything stating the editor has claim to any part of your manuscript once work is completed.
  • An editor who doesn't use a contract (this is HUGE).
  • A feeling of unease. If your editor seems shady, listen to your gut.
  • Anyone who doesn't answer you in a timely manner.
  • Someone who changes the price on you EVER. Once you get the job quote, that's what should be on the contract.
  • An editor who's known to slander other authors.
  • Someone who doesn't give you a final, signed copy of your contract.

What you should be looking for:
  • Someone who has lots of references and is well spoken of.
  • An editor who has a backlog of books they've worked on you can check out/read.
  • A person you feel you can trust once you've talked with them.
  • Someone with a good knowledge of the English language (yeah, go read their blog).
  • A copy of the contract as soon as your inquiry is responded to so you have time to look it over.
  • Everything should be spelled out in black and white on your contract. It should include:
  1. Prices (fees section)
  2. Dates things are due (goes in the services section)
  3. Termination details
  4. A detailed list of what you're going to get for your money (services section)
  5. Slander clauses that go both ways
  6. A release of claim by the editor to any part of the work's copyright (ownership of work)
  7. Your editor's full name and address
  8. Details about the book (title, genre, word count, author, format)
  9. A spelling out of all prices (watch out for editing contracts that only contain numbers - these can be changed)
  10. Something that releases the editor of guarantees (sales, etc...)
  11. A clause detailing how the editor won't talk about your work to any third party
  12. Non-transfer clause (this is so the editor can't send the work to anyone else to be completed)
  13. Something detailing how additional changes will be handled (outside what's agreed upon in this contract)

If you read your contract and it's full of legalese, be sure your editor/proofreader/designer answers all your questions in full before you sign. Don't go into anything not understanding exactly what it is you're getting (or signing).

If you find an editor who doesn't use a contract, run away. Please.

I hope this helps you all in some way.

If you have contract questions, pop them into the comments or shoot me an e-mail. I'll be happy to answer anything.

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!


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