Friday, June 03, 2016

Writing: Evolution of Writing Contracts

As I mentioned briefly at the end of last week, I've officially signed a contract with Gilead Publishing Company for three more novels. I've known about this for quite a while, and frankly I was itching to let the world know about it. Why didn't I? Because, as the saying goes, "There's many a slip 'twixt the cup and the lip."

One of the first things I learned when I began writing for publication was not to announce anything like this until the actual contract was signed. So from the "memo of understanding" I received through my agent until the actual contract I signed about six weeks later, there was a lot of work to be done. Thankfully, that's behind us now.

Another thing authors learn not to discuss in public is the advance they get for their book (which is always a lot less than the reading public thinks it is). Remember that an advance against royalties is just that--an advance. Although royalties start with your first sale, the author doesn't get any money until the advance is "earned out." But that's a column for another day.

I looked at the first contract I signed for a novel with Abingdon Press. It was six pages long. Within a few years, another contract with the same publisher was nine. This one from Gilead is sixteen pages long. Why the change? Publishing has changed a lot in the intervening years. And publishers like to cover every eventuality with the contract. I don't blame them.

Although my latest novel, Medical Judgment, released less than a month ago, I'm already at work with the marketing folks at Gilead about my next, Cardiac Event. But that's how publishing goes nowadays. Stay tuned.

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3 comments:

Patricia Bradley said...

Advances surely are less than the public thinks. But, to be honest, I didn't care when I signed my first contract. I probably would have paid them. lol Not really.

Richard Mabry said...

Patricia, my first contract was for my non-fiction book, The Tender Scar. I was told, "We don't pay advances for non-fiction books." I replied that I wanted something to show that I was a real writer, so I got a very small advance. Times change.

Patricia Bradley said...

I was actually blown away by the advance I received as an unpublished writer. And I'll never forget how I felt when I earned my first royalty check. :-)