Monday, August 4, 2014

Contractions Caused by Contracts

I've been offered a contract: a publishing contract for one of my novels. It's exciting and terrifying.

So, that's all I've been doing: reading it, thinking about it, researching, seeking advice. It's my first one, or at least my first one for a book of my own.

I know for a lot of people the idea of negotiating a contract is business as usual, but it's totally new for me. As a schoolteacher, I get a contract, but there's nothing negotiable in it, not even in states with teacher unions. There is the contract. You accept it, or you refuse it. You don't negotiate it. It is what it is.

So, this is scary stuff. I read each line trying to figure out if I am being paranoid to imagine how that language could be used to make my life miserable. I worry that if I push back too hard, the offer will be withdrawn. I worry that if I accept it without pushing back, I'll be stepped on like a doormat or cheat myself out of reasonable compensation for my work.

My heart feels large in my chest with joy, and tight with trepidation. Who knew that getting what you've been hoping for was so stressful!

I have no reason to think that this publisher wants to run roughshod over me. If I did, we wouldn't be working together. But, that doesn't mean that bad things can't happen.

So (deep breath) (deep breath) (one more deep breath), I'm going deep-language diving. Wish me luck when I come back up for air!


  1. Congratulations! Read carefully! ;-) Might also be a good idea to consult with an IP lawyer.

  2. I love your title almost as much as I love your challenge of responding to the contracting contract. I hope it becomes expanding for you, as you take this as just one of the many negotiable contracts to come, and if you goof up really badly, more will come that you can learn from.

  3. There is a great deal of advice in reputable books and on writer's websites about negotiating your contract. Here one: and another:
    I've had five books published with two more being under contract. The best thing I've done for myself since I don't have a literary agent is becoming a member of Author's Guild. Once a member you can make an author website from a template and the site is maintained by them. You can also consult with a pro bono lawyer who knows the ins and outs of book contracts extremely well. Good luck! Visiting from IWSG.

  4. The pro bono I mentioned is through Author's Guild.

  5. Thanks so much, Stephanie. I'll check out the resources you posted.