Wednesday, January 4, 2012
Toolbox Tuesday: The Contract
So, today's tool is The Contract.
*cue ominous music*
I felt it necessary to include the contract in the toolbox because contracts make everything wonderful.. Well, not really...they're full of language you don't understand and loopholes...But for what I'm talking about they are wonderful. :)
What I'm talking about is expectation. Contracts are great for working out what is and isn't expected between two parties. AND, if someone doesn't follow a contract then you get to pwn them in all sorts of legal ways. I am not a proponent of illicit law suits, but sometimes you just gotta fight and everyone's weakest spot is in the wallet.
So, contracts. I'll admit I have no legal knowledge, so I can't clarify contract language and what-not. I have a lawyer writer buddy and an agent for that. What I can say is that a contract should be fair and you should fully understand every aspect of it before you sign it. If it's full of language and legal terms you don't understand, get someone who does to explain it to you. It's never a good thing to accidentally sign away your kidneys as collateral...
If you don't like something in your contract, ask for it to be changed or try to make an agreement that both you and the party you're signing with can agree on. If you're lucky enough to have an agent, they'll do this for you.
Although, you're going to want to make sure you make your expectations clear to your agent so that he/she can rally for your cause. Be aware that if you're a new author, the likelihood of getting those golden clauses in your contract is slim to none. That doesn't mean you shouldn't educate yourself on what you should ask for or fight for what you want. You never know...
Finally, don't ever do anything or make any kind of agreement without a contract. This is an industry and this is your job. We rely too heavily on other people for agents, editors, and publishers to be dragging their feet or leading you by your nose. Get a contract, make sure they follow it, and make sure you follow it!