It’s Wednesday and my assistant tells me I’m to write about writing 😀 *cheeky grin* I love having someone keeping me on track when it would be easy to fall off and let it go because it’s easier.
One place I’ve found people not paying attention because it’s easier or they’re afraid of hurting people’s feelings is publishing. Authors become a close knit group. We’re happy and grateful to the publisher who says yes to our work, even more so for that holy grail of getting put in print. But, come with me now and wipe that starshine out of your eyes. The business of being an author is just that—a business.
We sit there with a blank page and create worlds that we love. Worlds we want people to love and to read. We are creative beasts. Few are lucky to be both creative and business minded. There is no shame in that. But here’s the deal—you can’t ignore it!
First, we’ll talk about the contract and the importance of reading your contract. Lately, a plethora of small, specialized (at least, that’s how it reads to me—the ones not standing the test of time are either badly managed, tightly specialized, or dare I say, both?) niche publishers especially it seems, are going out of business. In every house I’ve ever signed with, which is three, there is a contract clause for the rights reversion upon going out of business or putting your work effectively “out of print” even if you have an ebook only release.
Many publishers are charging—some as much as $5000 from what I heard from a contractor that works with one—if you want your edited version.
Early contract release, that’s for another blog some day. But for end of contract or publishers going out of business? No. Here’s what the RWA has to say about it.
I’m an editor. When I do edits with an author, I expect that author to do their own work. I’m there to guide, build confidence, and train them. I am not just there for the one story, I’m helping authors to build up their writing careers and themselves. Teaching them what they’re doing wrong and letting them fix it, guiding as needed, is the only way to really receive the quality manuscripts that I want to have, as well as gives the author a leg up anywhere else.
I like to help the authors even if it means they may take what they learned elsewhere?
I know that’s not the norm. That some will say you have to do it for the author. I do a few as examples, but, like my children, if I’m always doing it for them, and never let them try on their own, I’m going to end up with 150 kids that can’t walk…er, authors who are multipublished but still don’t’ know that a comma splice is two independent clauses not two unrelated clauses, or who think that starting every sentence with she or but is a great idea. Or who think all was is passive voice, or… I could go on forever.
Authors accept or reject changes. Only grammar/formatting are absolutes for most smaller houses. As long as you have the power to reject, you’re a part of the editing process. Then, a responsible author will go through and add in their own edits, and so forth until the MS is ready for publishing. That makes each mark guided by the editor, but essentially, it is the authors.
What if you’re not so good at the language of contracts? Hire someone. Have a friend help you and go over it line by line as needed.
Anyway, it’s only one point on the contracts. I’m going to be harping on the contract and pitfalls at least for one or two more blogs, but this is a start of the series for the business of writing.
This is your business. Read your contract. Don’t assume.
Your book. Your business.