by Eilis Flynn
Suppose you slave for what feels like decades (and sometimes it IS decades) on your writing, building your novels into magnificent works. And finally, one day, somebody agrees with you, and produces a contract for you to sign. Joy! Do a jig (hey, it’s a special occasion, in public even)! But before you really celebrate, you’ve got to sign that contract … and it’s then that the elation abates. Because that contract isn’t one that you want. In fact, it’s a lousy contract that goes against anything and everything you stand for and all of a sudden, that sense of achievement vanishes. What are you going to do?
This is a situation that applies to novice and veteran writers alike, and even to life beyond our written words (if there is such a thing, of course). What if you’re confronted with something that looks like you’ve gotten what you wanted, but really, it’s not? Do you go ahead and sign, even if you have grave misgivings, or do you step back and say, “You know, I can’t sign this the way it is.” Here’s a look at the situation, the question of if there is a situation in which you would turn down an offer. The answers may surprise you (or not):
Of course, there are other points of view on the subject. What if your agent or other representative has to advise you about it? Here’s agent Jennifer Jackson’s take on the topic:
Who knows best about the contracts and whether you should walk away? Quite possibly car salesmen, they who would know the ins and outs of contracts that get signed everyday, good or bad. Don’t be in a hurry to sign, this particular car salesman says. Keep a clear head. It’s also a matter of personalities: walk away from any deal you don’t like, from a person you don’t like. Whether or not the fit is a good one, having to deal with a person you don’t see eye to eye with will have you always wondering if you’re doing the right thing:
Contracts are a fact of our lives as writers, and learning how to negotiate using them should be an ability we should all work at.
Copyright 2007 Eilis Flynn