(I’ll publish a series of these as and when I have something I think is useful to share that I hope will help fellow writers)
I don’t profess to be an expert on publishing contracts although I have had a read a few now — and no that’s not a brag I mean mostly in the ones we send out at Bridge House and the one I used for Paws n Claws. I think for most of us it’s all legal speak and we’re so excited to have a contract we’d probably sign our life away — right?
The editor at Parthian said to me that they could only offer me a small advance to which I replied (so professionally — not!) and I quote “I don’t care! I just want it published!” And I do.
But when the contract came through I looked at it and it was more complicated than the ones we have at Bridge House. But more important because now we’re talking about being the sole author and not where your royalties are shared with lots of others and where you never get any … not really, it does make a difference. I’ve had 18 short stories published in books and the only one that ever paid any royalties (and that’s because it was launched at Hay and was on TV) — was Gentle Footprints. And we donated those to Born Free! But with a novel that has the potential to do really well, it does matter … things like royalties, audio books, ebooks, film rights … and how do you know at this stage it’s all above-board?
For those of you who have had contracts (and I am guessing a few have from all my ‘In The Spotlighters’) you will know a lot more than I.
But I had some great advice that I took and I’m glad I did.
I had never joined the Society of Authors because I had never had a volume of work published in my own name exclusively. When I talked to them they did say with all my editing as well and the number of books I have a credit for, I probably would’ve qualified, but I always thought of it as something you couldn’t do until you had a book in just your name. And in a way I made it my goal , a milestone if you like, to join if I was blessed with such news.
They offer invaluable advice and it costs £95 per year. But what was great was even while the membership application is pending (they have a meeting in the 01 of each month to assess your eligibility) you can send them your contract and within a couple of days they send comments on any clauses that they think need removing, clarifying they even suggest alternative wording. And they tell you things like this is generous, or this is modest — you should expect — and in my case — you should try to retain all film rights — and they will say things like it’s unlikely they’ll change this but you could suggest …
I urge anyone in the position I found myself in last week to use this service. Parthian even suggested their authors often do this, so it is expected by reputable publishers and they shouldn’t mind. And as long as you use some common sense and only raise key issues that you think will affect you (this is what the adviser told me) and bullet point them in a polite way so you don’t come across as too brash, they will clarify and change if needed. In my case there were only one or two points I wanted clarification on. Regarding film rights they explained that since they are bringing the book to the market place, they want to retain some of the rights (a small percentage) and I agreed.
It may have delayed returning the contract by 3/4 days in all, but since it takes so long to write a novel let alone find someone willing to offer you a contract, it’s nothing in the great scheme of things. What’s another couple of days? And it meant I posted the contract happy it had been looked over.
Good advice. And I hope this might help some of you.
Here’s their website: http://www.societyofauthors.org/
Well I am about to start the last chapter of I Am Wolf (first draft!)… how excited do I feel? And good timing for a short story I have been commissioned to write. a few subs of stories I have already written … and for when I need to start edits on While No One Was Watching.
Great being a writer … init!
By the way I have one piece for next week’s Fiction Clinic so will happily look at 1 or 2 more if you want to send something over!
Happy Writing one and all!