How much scrutiny do you or an attorney give a contract, and have you ever realized after you signed that you left something on the table?
My topic here will be a little broader. My focus will be writing for “show biz” as well as prose fiction.
When most people embark on this adventure of writing they have stars in their eyes. Maybe they think about the immortality that being an author will bring them. Maybe about financial reward. What they often don’t think about is that the word is Show Biz and Biz stands for business. So the short answer to this weeks’ question is a definite yes.
Just as you scrutinize your manuscript, again and again, to make sure everything makes sense and all the I’s are dotted and T’s crossed, you should scrutinize your contract. And, just like with your manuscript, you will probably miss something and wish you would have caught it before signing.
And just like the doctor who shouldn’t be his own patient, you probably shouldn’t be your own lawyer even if you have a law degree. It’s always best to have a pair of fresh, hard, cold eyes go over the contract.
Most contracts are filled with boilerplate and it’s often relatively easy to negotiate and change certain things to your favor. Most publishers, especially small and medium ones, are open to negotiation. And it’s all about compromise: “which hill do I want to die on”.
Clearly, you want to keep certain things for yourself. One of things for me is to retain the rights to the character. And I would recommend that to you too.
Another thing is, if you do business with certain publishers and/or periodicals over time they will have their contracts customized for you. In fact, I just received a contract today from a major magazine and on looking it over quickly, I see that they have certain things already lined out that are standard in my contract so we don’t have to renegotiate them every time.
But that doesn’t mean I won’t read the contract over to make sure everything is the way its supposed to be.
So my recommendation is to go over everything with a fine tooth comb, then go over it again.
And now for the usual BSP:
The Blues Don’t Care has been chosen by the terrific and well-respected crime magazine, Suspense, as The Best of 2020 Historical Fiction Novel. I’m grateful to the fans, staff and contributors of Suspense for this terrific honor, which came totally out of the blue. And, besides infusions of platelets, as you can imagine I needed an infusion of good news right now…
DeathBecomesHer, Crime Fiction Lover: Top Five Books of 2020
Aubrey Nye Hamilton, Happiness is a Warm Book: Favorite Books of 2020