Thursday, August 11, 2005

Handy Writer Reference

It’s one of those books that when you need it, you need it right away.  For the last few entries, I’ve been talking about contracts and this book is related to this discussion. Several years ago, I purchased Business and Legal Forms for Authors and Self-Publishers by Tad Crawford (revised as of January 2005). I’ve actually had two versions of this book (and I’m going to purchase the third version since it has a few more forms). The first version had tear-out forms but did not include the CD-ROM. The current version includes a CD-ROM which increases the usefulness of this resource.  If you need a particular form, you pop the CD-ROM into your computer and copy the Word document to your computer. Then you can easily fill in the form or modify the language to your particular situation. Each of these forms are fill in the blank—but they also include step-by-step instructions and checklists for negotiations.

What forms are in this book?

  • Estimate Form
  • Confirmation of Assignment
  • Invoice Covering Reproduction Rights
  • Contract with a Literary Agent
  • Book Publishing Contract (Including Checklists for Contracts with Book Packagers and Subsidy Publishers)
  • Collaboration Agreement
  • Contract to License Audio Rights
  • Permission Form (to Use Copyrighted Work)
  • Nondisclosure Agreement for Submitting Ideas
  • Privacy Release
  • Author's Lecture Agreement
  • Contract with a Printer (including Form to Request Printing Price Quotations)
  • Contract with a Sales Rep
  • Contract with Book Distributor
  • Property Release
  • Transfer of Copyright
  • Copyright Application Form TX (for Text)
  • Contract with an Independent Contractor
  • License of Rights
  • License of Electronic Rights

Depending on where you are in this publishing process, you may wonder why you need such a resource on your book shelf. Let me give two quick examples and you can create other possible scenarios from the list of forms above.

You are considering collaborating on a book project with someone. Whether this collaborator is your best friend or someone you recently met, you need to have a written collaboration agreement at the start of the project. In general terms, this agreement lays out who does what part of the project and how each person is compensated for their work. The agreement is fairly easy to complete at the early stages of the project. Now later on, you might have a problem getting the agreement completed. Let’s say you work on a project only on a handshake or verbal agreement, then the book idea becomes something that is in high demand from different publishers with a substantial advance in the conversation. It’s better to talk about the division of money and other such matters before there is any actual funds in the conversation. It’s much easier to divide pretend money than real money—or so it seems to me.

Or you contact some literary agents and receive an agreement from this agency to sign before you begin to work together. Because you are new to this publishing world, you’ve never seen an example of an agreement and have no idea how to understand the contractual language in it. The agency will explain the terms to you (or should) to some degree but you will likely not fully understand some of the finer points of it. If you have this resource, then you can examine that agreement and begin to make better sense of the agency agreement.

There are multiple uses for this type of resource. It’s one of those handy writer reference books that you should pick up and have on your bookshelf.  Remember you will have to customize the form for your particular need or use and it’s likely not perfect—but it’s a good place to begin the process. When it comes to contracts and the written form of this business, knowledge is power and you need to make sure you have enough of that power to protect your interests in the process.

10 Comment:

At 12:04 PM, Blogger Mikesell Left a note...

Great article, Terry.

I have the first edition of the book and thought I'd add that along with providing the forms and the checklists, it does a good job explaining in lay terms the whats, whys, and hows for each of the forms.

Even with an agent or lawyer, it's nice to have some idea of what they're saying (if only to have an idea how large a bottle of single malt to buy them at Christmas).

I didn't know there were updated editions with CDs. Yay!


At 5:25 PM, Blogger Steph Left a note...

I see your site is really informative. I'm glad i popped by. I just saw your link on What Would Jesus Blog, and thought I'd pop over and wish you a Happy Birthday.

May God bless you over the coming year.


At 6:24 PM, Blogger ESM Left a note...

Just saw your link on What Would Jesus Blog and would like to say happy birthday.

At 8:05 PM, Blogger Joe Left a note...

Darlene, at What Would Jesus Blog sent me over here to wish you a happy birthday, so Happy Birthday!

At 8:40 PM, Blogger Tracy Ruckman Left a note...

Happy Birthday Terry! May God bless you abundantly!

At 8:46 PM, Anonymous Anonymous Left a note...

Happy Birthday to you! Wishing you many more birthday blessings!

At 9:18 PM, Blogger Pam Left a note...

Happy Happy Birthday to you...

At 10:16 PM, Blogger Terry Whalin Left a note...

Thank you, everyone for the kind birthday greetings. It has been a great day.

At 7:00 AM, Blogger C.J. Darlington Left a note...

Hope you had a great birthday!

At 3:29 PM, Blogger Sara Horn Left a note...

Hey Terry! Didn't know it was your birthday - hope it was wonderful!

I just received my copy of Business and Legal Forms, with the CD-Rom - it's fantastic! I'm customizing my contract today... thanks again for the tip!


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