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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Contracts, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 1 - 25 of 88
1. Contracts 101

Here are links to a series of posts about literary contracts.


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2. Negotiation

If you don't have an agent, you'll be responsible for negotiating your contracts.


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3. PubCrawl Podcast: Publishing 101 Contracts & Clauses

This week Kelly and JJ talk about CONTRACTS. Yes, contracts. No, it’s not boring, we promise. Also, how Ernest Hemingway can help you write middle grade and how everything is still Hamilton. EVERYTHING WILL ALWAYS BE HAMILTON.

Subscribe to us on iTunes, or use this feed to subscribe through your podcast service of choice!

Show Notes

We haven’t written a ton on the subject of contracts here at PubCrawl, but here is a post by alumni Joanna Volpe and Jordan Hamessley-London:

TL;DR (or TL;DL for Too Long, Didn’t Listen), the three most important clauses to which you should pay attention in your contract are:

  • Rights of Termination
  • Delivery
  • Option/Non-Compete

Creative Endeavors

JJ is still working on her middle grade novel and is reading Ernest Hemingway for research. Not because her middle grade is about bullfighting and notions of masculinity, but because from a craft perspective, no one does spare yet emotionally resonant better than Hemingway.

Books Discussed This Week

Off-Menu Recommendations

That’s it for this week! Next week, we will be talking about how to take a story FROM BRAIN TO BOOK: A Look Into the Behind-the-Scenes Publishing Process. As always, if you have any questions or comments, sound off in the comments, or ask us on Tumblr!

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4. Agent Negotiations

There are many tactics an agent should be using when negotiating a contract.


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5. Agent Contracts

Things that should be covered in your agency contract.


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6. The Truth About the Midlist

I think you're going to see a lot of blog posts based on the restructuring of Berkley/NAL. It's when something like this happens that I find myself with a whole slew of new ideas. Usually based on conversations we're having in the office or with clients.

One of these conversations involves the midlist. For those who don't know, the midlist is defined as those books that fall in the middle of a publisher's list. They aren't the top sellers (not always bestsellers, but those books that sell the most) and they aren't at the bottom, those books with sales so low that they just aren't salvageable. You know, books that only sell 2,000 copies. Ever.

Midlist books are those books that are selling moderately well, have solid sales, but just aren't pushing to top selling status. They could be mysteries, romance, nonfiction, paperback, hardcover. They could be anything because it's not about the genre, but about sales.

One of the things the Berkley/NAL conversation has brought up is the death of the midlist. The same death I've been morning since my first day in publishing. I mean, I've been around long enough now that I think I can say that's a freakishly long mourning period.

Here's the truth as I see it where the midlist is concerned. Authors who languish in the midlist are not going to be given contract after contract just to remain midlist authors. That's not what the midlist is about (at least not these days). The midlist is a place for publishers to grow authors from. Its where great books go to grow. A publisher will always have a midlist of some sort because a publisher will always be buying new books from new authors and somewhere along the way someone is going to have numbers that aren't top selling numbers, but aren't at the bottom either. When those authors come along the publisher is going to look at those numbers to see which direction they are going and what can be done to boost that author, those books and those numbers into the top selling range.

When rumors abound that a publisher is cutting the midlist it isn't mean that a publisher is taking out one kind of book over another, it means the publisher is making room for more. Have I ever told you that I'm an eternal optimist?

Books that languish in the midlist, that are selling a little less with every new book (in a series for example) aren't making money for a publisher and aren't growing an author's career. And that is always the goal, whenever an agent takes on a new client, whenever a publisher buys a new book and whenever an author sits down to write the goal is, and should always be, to grow that author's career. Not to languish in any list.


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7. Facing Facts When A Contract Isn't Renewed

With the restructuring at Berkley/NAL I've had a lot of great talks with clients about their careers and publishing careers in general. Unfortunately, in this case, we were forced to have these conversations because with any merger/restructuring, authors are going to feel the impact, good and bad.

When new people are in charge (of anything) things will change and in publishing that usually means the publisher will take a closer look at what's working and what's not and some authors will feel the fallout.

It is always difficult for an author to face the fact that something isn't working or is no longer working. There's nothing worse then putting everything you've got into a book series only to learn that your contract won't be renewed (that you won't be offered to write more books in the series). For every author during a time like this there's always a feeling of loss. I mean face it, I'm not sure there's any author who feels good about not finishing the story.

Sometimes though, that non-renewal might in fact be the smartest business decision anyone ever made for you.

For so many years writers spend all of their time focusing efforts on being published. An incredible goal to have. However, once you are published your goals need to change. No longer is your goal to be published, and it should always be bigger than just staying published. Your goal is now to build a career and continuing to write books that are reaching fewer and fewer readers with each book does not a career make.

In fact, there have been times when I've talked to my clients about ending a series even if the publisher is offering on more. If we can see the writing on the royalty reports and we know numbers are going down why would we want to continue on that road? It's certainly not building anything.

So instead of seeing a non-renewal as a personal insult or as a publisher who doesn't like the kind of thing you write, look at it for what it is, an opportunity to make some career shifts, something every business has to do from time to time. After all, Coca-Cola hasn't had the success it's had by only putting out a cola. When consumers wanted lemon lime they created Sprite and when water became trendy they added Dasani.

While every business owner will mourn the loss of books they love writing, no successful business owner closes the business. Instead she takes a close look at what the market is begging for or wants and checks her back pocket for which ideas fit those needs.


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8. Contracts

What the Authors' Guild Fair Contract Initiative has to say about book contracts.


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9. Negotiating

If you don't have an agent, you need to know how to negotiate a contract.


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10. Book Contracts

Ten key points to consider in your book contract. 


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11. Contract Negotiations

Use these tips to help you negotiate several typical contract clauses. 


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12. Turning Down a Contract

It takes courage, but sometimes it's in your best interest to reject an offer. 


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13. Royalty Calculations

You need to look past the percentage. 


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14. Earning Out

Does the publisher lose money if you're book doesn't sell well enough to cover your advance? 


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15. Friday Night at the Question Emporium

I have an offer from a small press and I have no agent. The publisher is a nice guy, I don't think he's trying to rip me off or anything but how do I know if what he says about the number of copies sold is right?  

Ahhh...this is why you want your contract to have an audit clause.

The audit clause generally comes right after the clause about how they'll pay you.  It needs to contain a couple things to give it some teeth.

1. Make sure it says "The Author or the Author's designated representative may examine the books"  Unless you're a CPA you won't know how to audit anything.

2. The publisher will limit the number of times you can audit to once a year, ask for reasonable notice, and probably limit the audit to information about your book (not the company as a whole.)  Those things are reasonable to agree to.

3. The cost of the audit falls to the Author. However, make sure you include language that says if there is a discrepancy of more than 5% to the author's disadvantage, the cost of the audit is borne by the Publisher.

4. And make sure that if there is ANY discrepancy to the author's disadvantage that the Publisher has to pay the sum due within a certain amount of time. I ask for 30 days, and I've settled for 60. What I do NOT agree to is "next royalty statement" because in some cases that's a year away.

Without the audit clause you have no way to verify royalty statements are accurate.  Most publishers are not trying to lie/cheat/steal or any other kind of chicanery. In most cases small publishers are people doing a LOT of jobs, and numbers and bookkeeping isn't one of the jobs they trained for.

We find a lot of errors on royalty statements but we rarely need to audit.  Most of the time, you can find the mistakes yourself because they're things like a royalty rate is wrong, a credit wasn't properly recorded, or the reserve for returns is too high.

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16. Reversion of Rights

It's important in contracts to make it clear when your rights revert back to you. 


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17. Royalty Statements

Even if you have an agent, it's important to be able to understand your royalty statements. 


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18. Foreign Rights

Even if you have an agent, it's important to understand how the sale of foreign rights works. 


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19. Dorothy Parker: Missed Deadlines, Unfulfilled Contracts and Wrong Words

Farewell DP paperback coverBY ELLEN MEISTER

Have you ever had to tell an editor you wouldn’t be meeting your deadline? That’s an uncomfortable conversation for any writer. But for Dorothy Parker—one of America’s greatest literary wits—it was so excruciating she simply couldn’t face it, and the consequences were nearly devastating.

In 1929, Harold Guinzburg and George Oppenheimer—the young entrepreneurs who founded Viking Press—convinced Parker to sign a contract for a novel, and deliver it in under a year. That’s high pressure for most writers. But for Parker, who often took six months to complete a short story, it was shooting for the impossible. Indeed, she was so slow and cautious in her fiction writing that she once remarked, “I can’t write five words but that I change seven.”

Still, she was determined to join the ranks of the contemporaries she so admired, such as Fitzgerald and Hemingway, and left for Europe to work on her book. By the end of 1930, her deadline had passed and she had nothing to show for it except one long (and often hilarious) letter she had written to her publishers over the summer. (Complete letter available as an ebook from Penguin Classics with an introduction by Marion Meade. See Alpine Giggle Week: How Dorothy Parker Set Out to Write the Great American Novel and Ended Up in a TB Colony Atop an Alpine Peak.)

And so she sailed back to the U.S. to tell the young Viking founders in person that she had failed. The conversation, however, never happened. Too distressed to face them, she attempted suicide by swallowing poisonous shoe polish. Fortunately for those of us who cherish the stories, essays, poems and reviews she wrote in the years that followed, Parker only succeeded in making herself terribly ill, and several months later she recovered.

She never did deliver on the manuscript. In the 1970s, Viking reported that their agreement with Dorothy Parker was the longest unfulfilled contract in the company’s history. In the intervening years, however, they contracted with Parker to edit a collection of works by her friend F. Scott Fitzgerald. She struggled writing the introduction and simply couldn’t complete it. It was 1945, and facing her editor with this failure wasn’t any easier than it had been fifteen years earlier.

Fortunately, however, Parker found a less dangerous way to avoid the confrontation: she sent him a telegram. And while most of Parker’s papers were destroyed, this small treasure (complete with a spelling error that is probably the teletypist’s), still exists to remind us that even our literary heroes struggled putting words on a page.


PASCAL COVICI, VIKING PRESS                                     1945 JUN 28 PM 4 37 18 EAST 48 ST



Ellen Meister author photo low resEllen Meister is a novelist, essayist, public speaker and creative writing instructor at Hofstra University (Hempstead, NY). She runs a popular Dorothy Parker page on Facebook that has over 130,000 followers. Her novels include Farewell, Dorothy Parker (Putnam 2013) and The Other Life (Putnam 2011).

In February 2015, Putnam will publish her fifth novel, Dorothy Parker Drank Here. To connect with Ellen, visit ellenmeister.com, and for daily quotes from her Dorothy Parker, follow her Facebook page.

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20. Reversion Clauses

With the advent of digital media, it's more important than ever to understand the reversion clause in your contract. 


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21. Rights Reversion

What's involved in getting the rights to your book back from your publisher?


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22. Reversion Clauses

It's important that you have a non-ambiguous reversion of rights clause in your contract. 


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23. Editing Clauses

How to protect yourself from having your work edited without your approval. 


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24. Waiting for Your Contract

Why does it take so long after acceptance to get your contract? 


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25. Breaking into Corporate Writing For Freelancers: Contracts & Rates

freelance writing | corporate writingIf you are interested in corporate writing, read today’s tip of the day from 102 Ways To Earn Money Writing 1,500 Words or Less by I.J. Schecter. Before accepting any writing assignment, you should know what your rate is and have a freelance writing contract ready for each client/project.

Determining Your Freelance Writing Rate

When your work is accepted by newspapers, magazines, or literary journals, you’ll have little say about what you’re paid. Once you become established, you’ll earn a bit of wiggle room when it comes to negotiating rates upward, but only a bit. For the most part, rates are set. But when you write for the corporate market, it’s you alone who determines what to quote for a given assignment or project, and this will be based on the hourly rate you determine for yourself. Writer’s Market lists low, high, and average rates for every type of writing you can think of. Base your hourly rate on this data. When people ask what you charge, don’t be sheepish. Answer quickly and firmly. The more you sound like you believe in the value of your services, the more potential clients will believe it, too.

Refer to the What Do I Charge? chart in Writer’s Market and notice it talks in terms of hours, not dollars. This is because (a) every writer’s rate will be different, so it isn’t fair to assign a blanket dollar amount to a specific type of project, and (b) within the same type of project there will be different sizes of projects.

A presentation might be five slides long or fifty; a speech might be three minutes long or thirty. So when you quote on a project, do it based on a fair assessment of how many hours of your time you think it will require. Don’t approach a project thinking “How much money do I want to make off this?” because you’ll inevitably skew your own estimates according to a number of factors, including how much money you do or don’t have flowing in at a given point. That will lead to inconsistency in your quoting, which clients will come to recognize. But quote according to a true projection of the hours you’ll need to do the project and do it well, and clients will come back again and again.

Create a Standard Writing Contract

Develop your own standard freelance agreement so you’re never in danger of doing a project without having something in writing. (No pun intended.) Companies are often rushed to complete their projects, and the last thing the middle manager assigned to find a writer wants to do is go through the extra step of having to prepare a formal agreement just to allow you to edit his marketing brochure. Send him your own agreement instead, outlining clearly the nature of the project, the expectations on your part, the agreed fee and deadline, and the set number of rounds of revisions before extra time kicks in. This document doesn’t have to be long—mine is barely two pages. The important thing is that you get a signature. You may be reading this and thinking it’s a giant pain in the rear end to create a contract every time you get a corporate assignment.

Consider this scenario: The manager who’s contacted you to write a long marketing piece, along with Web site copy, for a total fee of $3,500 has bolted from his company for a position elsewhere. The marketing piece has been handed off to someone else, and this person doesn’t feel that the expense of a writer is worthwhile. If you had only a verbal agreement with the previous person, you’ve just lost $3,500. If you got it in writing, you’ve made $3,500.

That’s the more elaborate scenario. The much simpler, and more frequent one, involves your having to chase a client for payment. It would be nice if this never happened, but any veteran freelancer can tell you more stories than she’d like about delinquent clients. Without signed agreements, getting them to pay is like trying to précis Hemingway. Get all your corporate assignments in writing and you’ll never have to worry.

To learn more about writing for magazines, newspapers, literary outlets and everything else under the sun, get your own copy of this book today!

Buy now!

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