Do you always think about your rights when you write? Well, I mean especially when you write for publications. Whatever you put down on paper in your own words belongs to you. It is your copyright. Not only when you are writing, but also, and more importantly, when you are about to sign a contract. Very often the joy of a fresh writing position drives you crazy, especially if it’s your first contract. You just head for the signature line and there you are, you give your consent without even giving a thought to what’s in there that you are agreeing to.
Yes, a contract is an agreement; once you sign it you are bound to it. And when you realise it may be too late. You find yourself with all your rights on your writing lost or you end up at the courts. And you know what it means: shear wastage of months or even years of your time and energy.
Pay heed to every word. Sometimes the most important part of the contract may be written in small characters which make it difficult to go through attentively. You have the tendency to skip the never ending terms and conditions. That’s the worst mistake you make.
It can never be over-emphasized. Have the patience to read every word. It may take some time, but it’s important. It’s even more important when you write on the net. More often than not you land up on people you have never seen, never heard of and you may not know how credible they are. They may be stealing your rights with a contract.
In his article “Don’t Sign Away Your Rights” writer Jonathan Bailey from The Blog Herald hints us on what we should watch out for. He calls our attention to words like “Exclusive, Sub-licensable/Transferable, Perpetual/Irrevocable, Moral Rights (Outside US), Non-Compete Clause” making their way in the contract agreement. Those are the words that will tie your hands to the publisher.
Jonathan Bailey tells us also about what we can do in compromise if we are not comfortable with anything in a contract. Even what we don’t sign may put us in awkward posture. “Be Careful of What You Don’t Sign”, he warns us.
So the next time you have a contract in hand do pay attention. Make sure you understand every clause of the terms and conditions. What rights you offer and what you keep for yourself is as important as what is vital for your survival as a writer and what you can do away with without much worries.