Want to grow bitter quick? Sign a contract and find out you’ve just signed away thousands, if not more of your money.
You have put your blood, sweat and tears into birthing your baby, and she grows into an amazing story. Finally, you’ve taken all the right steps: revised your drafts several times, got a beta reader, hired a qualified editor (and missed out on a month of dinners for P&J sandwiches), wrote a perfect query letter and set up an amazing marketing plan. You find a literary agent that is more in love with your baby than you are, or in love with the money she can make from it, or you find an independent publisher that ‘gets you’ and wants to invest in your career. Yep. Everything is finally coming together and your dreams are seemingly coming true.
And then you get the contract in the mail. What now? Fear. Anxiousness sweeps over you like a torrent wind and knocks you into a land of contract Oz, where you not only feel like it’s a bit too colorful for you, but you’re surrounded by a bunch of small clauses and dancing words that seem like their only objective is to lick you like a lollypop. What do you do?
For one, the best advise is to hire an attorney. No, not your neighbor who does Family Law and has never worked on a publishing contract, and no, not your boyfriend’s sister’s uncle’s friend who retired from his job as an attorney’s assistant—YOU NEED A REAL ENTERTAINMENT LAWYER, and one who works regularly with publishing contracts.
But … I can’t afford a lawyer of that caliber. Well, there are some
options. I mean, you did just put together seventy thousand words into a wonderful novel and manage to sell it, so perhaps, you can do some quality research, comb you contract thoroughly, and make the proper amends to your contract.
Whether you hire an attorney (one who does publishing contracts regularly) or decide you are intelligently qualified to make some appropriate legal amendments, I suggest you BEST BEWARE the clause in your contract about Future Technology.
Let me paint you a picture how disregarding that clause can make you throw your laptop and every manuscript you ever created into the Pacific Ocean, Red Sea, or Hudson River: It’s 1970, and you’ve signed your publishing contract. At that time, there were no CD’s, DVD’s, or Audible.com, so the thought of selling your work in those mediums never crossed your mind, of course. Okay, you know where I’m going.
The publisher makes thousands of dollars selling your work in those mediums and you get screwed. So imagine, in the future when books will be sold on holograms or in interspace modules, or whatever. Don’t let that happen without you being compensated appropriately.
In your contract, it will be called Future (i.e., new) technology rights.Make sure you have your attorney cover all the bases for you.
Now, this is not to say for you to add this clause, yourself by writing in a hologram clause. No—no—no, a contract is a legal document, and follows certain rules. That’s why its’ important to let a person familiar with writing legal terminology amend it for you.
There are many other clauses to look out for, as well, and I may cover those in another article at a later date. But for now, I wish you the best of luck and congratulate you for birthing the next great classic, or at the very least, beginning a wonderful and promising career.