JOURNAL OF A DEBUT AUTHOR - CHAPTER TWO: Receiving an actual contract! Um... what do I do with this?
I went home and, heeding EVERYONE’S ADVICE EVER, decided to get a professional to assess my contract to ensure it was all fine.
This is a very normal approach, and is a good idea for all authors. It’s not about suspecting that publishers are trying to pull one over on you, I’m pretty sure they generally aren’t trying to do that at all, but it is about figuring out the best version of your contract to sign (and also just making sure you actually understand what you do sign).
I wasn’t sure what a lot of the clauses in my contract meant exactly, so that is why I decided to get someone knowledgeable to look it over for me.
Which is a great approach.
Except what they don’t tell you is this service is EXPENSIVE!!
I’m a member of my local writers centre, but they don’t actually offer this service unfortunately, so I looked up other avenues.
This lead to the Australian Society of Authors (ASA) where they do offer the service but again.... money.
Another option is the Alex Adsett agency, who can look over your contract for a fee.
So basically, unless you have an agent already, who will negotiate your contract on your behalf, you kind of need to pay for this service.
I don’t have much knowledge about the business or contract side of things, and I felt much safer to have a professional look over my contract, so basically I was just going to have to bite the bullet and pay the money.
The thing was, I didn't really have any. Due to pay checks and timing and bills and my husband being a full time student... the timing wasn't great, and my precious contract was going to have to wait multiple weeks to get reviewed.
Luckily for me, Wakefield Press were cool with this.
(I'm not gonna lie, I kept having fears they'd change their mind during those weeks but that totally didn't happen!!)
Except, by a total miracle, a lovely South Australian YA author, Allayne Webster (check out her website and amazing work), who I had met a couple of times at book events / launches etc around the city, offered to put me in touch with her agent to see if she would review my contract for me and also look at my other work.
Why did Allayne do that?
Cos she is a truly thoughtful person who is trying to help newbie authors getting started in the industry.
It kind of made my day, and it made all the difference for me as money is certainly not something I am rolling in.
Sometimes.... people are just so utterly nice.
It is amazing!
So basically, through networking with my local community of writers, I managed to solve this issue (or rather, Allayne did for me!).
I got feedback on what I should ask to have changed in my contract and, lucky for me, my publishers were totally happy with that, so I didn’t have to try and negotiate on anything (which I doubt I’d be very good at) and things went very smoothly.
But.... obviously, the fact that this scenario worked out so well was a total fluke, and super lucky for me. Literary Agents don't normally help you with your contract for no fee and with no strings attached, but again, this agent was really lovely and because she wanted to take longer to review my other work but she knew I was on limited time with that particular contract, she just went ahead and did it.
People are sometimes just so nice!
My main takeaway from this experience is.... contracts frighten me. I think a lot of writers will totally have the right mindset and business smarts to handle their contract negotiations themselves, but I realised that I was not one of them.
I am the kind of writer who wanted a literary agent.
But I’ll get into that story in a future post. :)