From Publishing for Humans:
I’m just going to say it: I love contracts. But that’s not enough. I want you to love them too.
Contracts are not a dull, essential adjunct to our activity. They are the sure ground on which our business is built, the tracks along which the publishing train steams. All the creative, innovative work you do: you work to contract. All of your exciting collaborations: set out by contract. Why you aren’t an amateur: you have a contract. How you are protected: by your contract. Your friend in times of need: your contract. Your road to profit in good times: your contract. The most important thing you’ll ever write: your signature, at the bottom of your contract. If you love your contract – give it attention, understand it, read it carefully, talk about it, do your best to improve it – it will love you back. Don’t be frightened of your contract. Do you know what frightens me? How frequently fear stops authors from reading and understanding and querying their contracts with their agents and publishers. Don’t be scared, join my love-in.
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Badly drafted contracts are as distressing to me as badly written novels: just as I audibly tut and sigh when struggling impatiently through narcissistic prose, so can I be physically unsettled by the clouded meanings, lost intentions, clunky sentences and incomprehensible jargon of a badly written agreement. A good contract has a pleasing geometry to it. At DHA, we draft all our UK and translation rights contracts – as opposed to using publishers’ templates – and they are written in a style I have named DHA Simple – short, plain, minimal.
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Why should you love contracts? A good contract offers us a second beautiful thing: Stability. Even though author and publisher are interdependent, often sharing mutual interests, the balance of power between parties shifts constantly due to multiple factors: the success of the author’s last book, the strong advocacy of individuals within publishing houses, market appetite, luck, how long it is until the next book is due to be delivered, or published. The role of the contract is to ensure that, even as the wind changes direction on the landscape of publishing, the author and publisher do not move position – what was agreed, stands.
Why should you love contracts? Here is a third beautiful gift a contract can bring you: Protection. When I read contracts, I always ask myself: How will I like this contract in the worst case scenario?
Link to the rest at Publishing for Humans and thanks to Ashe for the tip.