Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Publisher/Agent Contracts: Eight Tips

I'm sorting contracts today. Hopefully, I've learned a few things since the start of my career. Here's a few tips from many years of various major publishers and agents. They are from a writers POV.

Disclaimer: All situations as different as individual writers. Most of us do the best we can, given the situation. Keep in mind that if you are just getting a look from a publisher or an agent, that you may have to take what is offered. Or not. :) Some publishers use a boilerplate. That means it is set in concrete.

Rule Number One:
Prepare for the divorce, prior to the marriage--or check the exit policy. This exit policy can be extensive on BOTH sides.
Be concerned about rights and payments. Now, with indie publishing, reversal rights are extremely important. Here's a good clause: If payments to the writer do not meet X-amount (be reasonable here) within 2 pay periods (Using May and Nov in traditional publishing), then all rights revert to the writer.

The writer may have to go after that, i.e. send a formal request letter. Use certified. In many cases, the publisher obliges with just an e-mail request. When terminating with Agents, put it in writing.

Number Two: Try to retain control of the next option book. You may want to sub somewhere else and if the publisher holds the next option book, which is pretty usual, but then does not want it, the writer could lose a good sale. Do not give an agent the next option book privilege.

Number Three: Try to get Bonus Clauses. That is, if the book sells over X amount, your percentage goes up.

Number Four: Try to get graduated advances per multiple book contract.

Number Five: Input to covers. Try to get some cover input.

Number Six: Some publishers/agents want exclusive submission. If they do, limit the time. Three months is a good average time, no more.

Number Seven: Watch the e-book splits. For example: If a publisher has a 50/50 split, then submits a book to Amazon, Amazon takes their percentage from the writer's 50%. If you have an agent, their take is in there somewhere.

Number Eight: Try to get as many free ad copies as possible in your contract. If those ad copies are deficient, or if you buy your own from the publisher, make certain that they are in good format. Or they will be replaced.

Additional Tips:
1. Scan all reverted right letters. Scan into special folders for easy finds. Scanning is good.
2. When contracts use Book #1, 2, etc., as soon as the book is titled, write the title on the contract.
3, If you are an established author with a lengthy reverted backlist, do not offer all of them at once. Test the waters with a few. If you're not happy with the publisher, you can move on with the rest.
4. Keep your pertinent business mail/e-mail. CC: yourself on replies. Or keep in a special mailbox that can be easily saved for reference.

Let's go back to Rule Number One. Clarify that exit policy with both publisher and agent.

Do you have any tips you'd like to share?

Sunday, August 11, 2013

Shark Week in Review

I think Sharknado caused one of my strangest weeks yet. We all have these times, when the usual is flipped, like seeing sharks hurling through the air, biting helicopters.

As a story writer, the unusual week is not good. We like our little safe worlds, where we can sit in our favorite spot(s) and create away, rolling in our stories, living our characters' lives.

With a computer going down and a new one purchased on Monday, this week was like those weird Sharknado scenes. The choice between a laptop and a desktop was difficult, but I settled for the desktop, a Mac. Uh-huh, decided to change from 20+ years of PC to Apple, an entire change, which hasn't been too bad. While I can't compare, I don't think it was any more difficult to learn than Windows 8.

The store tech moved my files into the new computer. Some couldn't be moved, and the old PC had just enough juice to be able to send the files e-mail. I still have to transfer the command keys to my ergonomic keyboard. Yes, the keyboards are different, but this old keyboard has really helped and I'm keeping it.

SW Missouri flooded in that same week. One day the road to town was blocked off. It's a mess down there and people had to be evacuated. My rain gutters clogged, and getting the ladder out and cleaning them wasn't fun.

Because thunderstorms were frequent, I would just bring up my new computer and have to bring it down and unplug. I unplug. This after seeing stuff fried elsewhere with surge protectors installed. I unplug. So all week, plug/unplug, work awhile, hear thunder, bring down. (We had sunshine on Saturday, our first.)

My story waiteth for its world to be set right and to begin wherever I left off. Okay, one of my favorite programs isn't going to work on this new baby. I'm hoping that Bad Wolf Software will come through with the programs I love. Then my website program won't work either, so that has to be resolved, and a Bluehost tech helped me with plans for that.

Along the way, several other writers really helped this week with how-tos. Writers share/hand down. I hope to repay them for their time and effort. That's a little unspoken/written word, folks, and you're hearing it here: If another writer helps you individually, that's taking their time--and they're probably glad to give it--but if you can some day, try to repay them for that chunk of time and energy.

YouTube is super for how-tos. Anything you don't know how to do, like change these keyboard commands, YouTube has a video.

Moving along with installation of new programs, what is this thing, and eyestrain, the week has passed with decisions to change this blog mightily, this after years. (BTW, I sucked out writer how-tos and hope to make a free download.) It's time to refresh.

Saturday brought that sunshine and a beautiful writers program, presented by Toni Somers of Sleuths Ink (mystery group) in Springfield, MO. This may have been the most unusual and mind provoking program I've experienced in years of attending writerly stuff, including conferences. Her program: Three Elements in Bible Stories (And Throughout Literature).

Somers really stirred the audience into thinking about plots and what books used these plots. Her theme was that there isn't anything really new. As writers, we put our own spin on these plots, make our own characters. The program was thought provoking and stayed with me for hours. I hope Somers will share this program with other writers.

I refer to all of this unable to get back to my story as Novel Interruptus in another post. Since I've been dealing with office and home reorganization for some time, writing has slowed to a molasses flow. Last night, all souped up with Somers' talk, I dived back into my suspense, which is about halfway finished. If I can just get these keyboard commands switched, if I can just get my blog changed to another format, if...

And it's all due to Sharknado. Have you ever had a week like this, slogging through things that need to be done, while your story is hanging out there, waiting?

Friday, August 09, 2013

Films: Overused Love Scene

Since it's shark week, I've decided to post a gripe, which is....

Over-used, zip for romance or even compassion, and wish it never happened so-called love/sex scene...

One of my favorite TV shows just used it. I've seen it too many times and wish whatever producers, etc. are signing off on this stuff, would do a re-think. It's done so much that I wonder if they need ratings and pull a standard out of the bag.

By this time, after so much repetition, they should leave it in the bag.

You know the love/sex scene: Hurry up with sex. Scrape the dishes off the table. Man dives in for sex. Woman wraps her legs around him.

Before I tell you how this over used scene could be fixed, let's count the ways that this scene can cost women viewers. Be prepared :):

1. Generally foreplay hasn't happened. Tenderness is zip/nada. Most women like some anticipation, some appreciation for who they are.

2. Ok, unless the couple is younger, middle-age people are likely to have back problems, etc. Yes, there are realities in body movement. What could be worse that a guy's back out of whack, after quickie lovemaking? So then the woman--if she is able--has to help/tend him. It's ye old, you play, you pay.

3.  OR: The very weight of the top player, if a man, could really hurt a woman's lighter physique.

4. Who's ever on the table, especially after a meal, is going to get salad in their hair and dressing, etc. on their clothes. The ground zero player is usually a woman, and probably won't like that very much.

5. The top player could be stepping in garbage or broken glass. If salad dressing, etc. has been spilled, his shoes could slip and both players could end up rolling in whatever.

6. At any rate, the table must be sturdy.

7. After play. Good golly. Where's any brush of romance in the table clearing sex scene?

The simple fix:
Depending on how sensual film makers what to go, leaning in close, hands on face, lifting for a kiss gives a lot to said romance--even if there is no romance, but some measure of tenderness. The man picks up the woman and carries her out of viewers sight--presumably to bed, where they can linger in the after glow.

!!!The plus to the man carrying the woman--if he can--is this: It presents a romantic picture. If she snuggles in close, etc. she can be very feminine. It presents him as a warrior, and here's where the old Captive Bride theme appeals to women.

OR: She tantalizes or pulls him slowly out of viewer's sight. This gives her a lot of presence, the power of attraction, because the stronger male lets her.

Yep. There's a lot more to filling film/viewer minutes space than drawing that table scene off the shelf--the dusty shelf.

What do you think? Any un-favorite scenes that are too often repeated?