Thursday, May 24, 2007

The Fine Print Freelance Writers Should Know!

This is an excerpt from the "What Freelancers Need to Know" chapter in my forthcoming book Contracts Companion for Writers, which is set to be previewed at BookExpo America 2007 in New York (June 1-3) and released to the trade in July 2007. Pre-orders will be shipped upon arrival at our office.

So if you've already pre-ordered your copy you'll receive your order before it even hits the proverbial streets! If you haven't, what are you waiting for!? I encourage you to order now because we have already re-evaluated our print run to handle all of the pre-orders.

All of the contracts I discuss are presented in full in the Appendix and on a CD-ROM included in the book. And I include commentary on key clauses and negotiating points. This book just might put me out of business as a literary lawyer because now you'll know the secrets! But I believe in sharing the wealth and passing it forward. So act fast to reserve your copy and order today!

Here's a sneek peek at the Table of Contents:

Symbol Key
Chapter 1 Get it in Writing
Chapter 2 Contracts Basics
Chapter 3 When a Good Deal Goes Bad
Chapter 4 Transferring Your Rights & Getting Them Back
Chapter 5 What Freelancers Need to Know
Chapter 6 CYA: Media Perils Insurance
Chapter 7 The Players & The Process
Chapter 8 Collaboration Agreement
Chapter 9 Work-for-Hire Agreement
Chapter 10 Agency Agreement
Chapter 11 Publishing Agreement
Chapter 12 Songwriting & Publishing Agreements
Chapter 13 Licensing Agreement
Chapter 14 Permissions and Releases
Appendix A Resources
Appendix B Forms
About the Author
Copyright 2007 Tonya M. Evans-Walls, Esq. (). Limited license granted to copy and distribute this post provided such copying and distributing is of the entire post, including author's copyright and contact information.

DISCLAIMER: The author is not engaged in rendering legal or other professional services as a result of the information contained in this article, nor is this article meant to constitute legal or other professional advice. If legal or other professional assistance is required, the services of an attorney should be sought to discuss your individual needs since all legal issues are fact-specific.

Clauses to Consider for Freelancer Submissions

If you are presented with a typical publishing agreement for an individual contribution (article, essay or photograph for example) to a collective work like a magazine, anthology or newspaper, you will likely see the following clauses in the contract.

Introductory/Recitals Paragraph: The beginning paragraph in all contracts generally identifies the parties to the contract, their legal status (individual or company, for example) and their place of residence or principal place of business. This paragraph may also identify the date the contract becomes effective. This date can refer retroactively to a prior date.

Services: This clause describes the services or work product the freelancer will provide. For example, whether the freelancer is expected to submit only one submission, multiple submissions at the same time, or perhaps multiple submissions over a period of time. This paragraph should also state the genre or topic and the required form the submission should take, the preferred manner of submission (electronic via e-mail or on CD-ROM and/or hard copy) and word or page count, if applicable.

Rights: The rights paragraph sets forth the rights being granted or licensed to the publisher. If you do not intend to transfer copyright ownership in your work to the publisher the contract should clearly state that you are only licensing permission to the publisher to use your work in a certain way for a certain purpose and period of time, and that you reserve any and all rights not expressly mentioned. If, however, you do intend to grant copyright to the publisher, you should receive a fee that properly reflects such a substantial transfer of rights. Be aware that most publishers have their own legal departments to draft their "standard" agreement solely with the publisher's rights in mind. And that standard contract just might take the kitchen sink mentality and transfer every conceivable right to the publisher. So let the writers beware.

Payments: A paragraph in the contract should address how, when and how much you will get paid (if at all) and whether you'll have to return any payments if the deal goes south for any number of reasons. Remember when you get paid is as --if not more-- important as how much, particularly if you write articles for publications that pay small sums of money. You want to receive your money as quickly as possible so push for "on acceptance" rather than "on publication" because publication dates can be months after acceptance. At a minimum try to receive some portion of your payment on acceptance and the remainder on publication and log anticipated pay dates so you can keep track of the money that's due to you from various publishers. Keep in mind that freelancers are sometimes paid in copies of the publication in lieu of monetary payment.

Finally, particularly when solicited to submit to magazines try to get a "kill fee" provision in your contract if you have been asked to write an article or shoot a pictorial (as opposed to the situation where you submit something you've already written or created). A kill fee provides simply that you will be paid a certain amount of money if the publisher decides for whatever reason not to publish your work (ie: kill it) after the work has already been created and/or accepted. The amount of the kill fee can vary widely, but is generally quoted as a percentage (10%, 25%, 50% and so forth) of the total original payment.

BUY NOW: Contracts Companion for Writers (Literary Entrepreneur series) By Tonya Evans-WallsRelease date: By July 2007