Today's guest on The Write Type is "Book Candy Sandy" from Book Candy Studios, a company devoted to helping authors by managing tasks "so authors don't take time away from what they enjoy doing - creating books." Today, Sandy is going to share some tips about the paperwork side of being an author. ~Cheryl Kaye Tardif
With all the recent media attention on the pending Healthcare Bill and whether our elected representatives are actually "reading the bill" before signing it into law, I thought I'd take a moment to emphasize the importance of reading (and understanding) all the paperwork we as authors must contend with in our daily lives.
Earning a living in today's publishing arena is vastly different and greatly more complicated than the world our predecessors faced just 20 short years ago. Today's authors must track and wrangle agent agreements, publisher contracts, hosting agreements, domain registrations, marketing agency contracts, international publishing agreements, photographer copyrights, royalty-free licenses, social networking site terms and conditions, self-publishing contracts, and that's just to name a few. Whew!
Here's where a good (and contract-savvy) agent comes in handy. At least you're partially covered. Negotiating the finer points of your contract with your publisher definitely ranks as number one on your to-do list, and that can be handled by a smart agent – if you have one. But what about the mountain of clauses, declarations, restrictions, indemnifications and terms for termination you encounter from all the third-party services you've committed to with your signature to your bottom line?
Okay, fear not. I'm not here to scare you. Take a deep breath. First make a list of all the contracts you've signed with an actual pen (i.e., publisher contracts, self-publishing agreements, literary agent contracts, marketing agency and PR contracts, etc.) and all the service agreements you've clicked the "I agree" box with your mouse (i.e., AOL, FaceBook, MySpace, your website hosting company, Internet service provider, Google AdWords, GMAIL, etc.).
Now, rank them on a "gotcha" scale (something I created for myself):
1) High risk (i.e., you don't get paid, you lose copyrights, you lose other rights, etc.)
2) Medium risk (i.e., a big headache to fix, such as losing your domain name, your website goes down, privacy has been breached, etc.)
3) Low risk (i.e., social networking site terms and conditions, software licenses, conferences you signed up for, etc.)
Now, look at your list. If you don't understand something or if your gut tells you to look into something further because it doesn't FEEL RIGHT or LOOK RIGHT, ask for help (the legal type is best, unless you are a business attorney or contracts negotiator).
It is safe to say that we've all been burned at one time or another during our writing adventures, and most writers are willing to help their peers avoid some painful and costly mistakes. Read blogs, read articles, shoot emails to authors you know and respect. You will probably find answers. If not, at that point you might consider a lawyer.
We know a bit about contracts. We even field minor questions from time to time from worried authors. However, we are not a legal team. We don't know everything. But we are here for you if you need someone to put their heads together for you.