Contracts and Copyrights and Money

6 Questions Writers Ask about Copyright and the Law

(Column by Chuck as well as WD co-editor Brian Klems. Please note that these guidelines below, while helpful, should not take the place of formal legal advice. We are editors, not attorneys.) Imagine you’re at a writers’ conference. You’re getting ready to pitch that great novel idea to a bunch of powerful agents. As...

The Value of Free: Writing For Non-Paying Markets

I've come to realize I'm in a unique position to provide perspective on one of the hottest hot-button writing issues of the internet age: namely, the edict that (cue echo effect) The Writer Must Be Paid. It’s such an obvious rule-of-thumb, only a fool would argue against it. Turns out, I am just that fool....

6 Things I Learned At The Frankfurt Book Fair

Editor's Note: Guest column by Kathleen O’Keefe-Kanavos, a two-time breast cancer survivor who penned Surviving Cancerland: The Psychic Aspects of Healing. When I landed in Frankfurt, Germany, my birthplace as an Army-brat, the same dreary weather greeted me that had left me in Boston, MA. However, when I walked through the doors to the...

Agent Paul S. Levine On: Copyright Basics

Copyright protects the expression of an idea, not the idea itself. For example, the idea of a play or movie where a boy meets a girl, but both sets of parents are against the boy and the girl “getting together” (think “Romeo and Juliet,” but also think “West Side Story”) is not protected by...

Be (Slightly) Afraid of Posting Your Work Online

My co-worker, Jane Friedman, recently wrote a column for Writer Unboxed titled "Stop Being Afraid of Posting Your Work Online." Her column lists reasons why writers should not be afraid of posting material on websites. The column is in response to my usual advice to writers, which is that posting work online is generally...

10 Questions to Ask an Agent Before You Sign

1. How long have you been an agent? Tell me about your path to becoming an agent. 2. Are you a writer yourself? (Writing experience can give an agent a better perspective. However, if they're immersed in numerous projects of their own, it can possibly mean that the agent isn't totally focused on getting your...

Demystifying Contracts: What Every Writer Should Know

At the SCBWI 2010 Winter Conference, agent Edward Necarsulmer IV (of McIntosh & Otis) gave a presentation called "The Real Deal about Contracts." At McIntosh & Otis, Necarsulmer handles his clients’ contracts with publishers. Other agencies have contracts departments. Either way, both agents and authors should understand the ins and outs of contracts and...

Tax Tips for Writers

Working for yourself as a freelance writer can be a nickel-and-dime business, but come tax time, reporting self-employment income means all sorts of things related to your business are eligible for deduction. Consider this: before self-employment deductions, I owed $266; after the deductions, my refund was $238. I consulted H&R Block tax specialist Sharon...

Why Do Agents Have 30- or 60-Day Cancel Clauses?

I’ve always wondered the answer to this question, and it was answered over the weekend by an agent at the Writer’s Digest Conference: The Business of Getting Published.  What I’m talking about are cancellation clauses in agent contracts – meaning, if you want to end the relationship, they ask for one last stretch of...

7 Reasons Why Your Work May Be Rejected, by Hallie Ephron

At Killer Nashville, a trio of extremely knowledgeable publishing pros held a panel on the most common reasons why a manuscript is rejected by an agent. Below you'll find part one of this post series. Keep in mind that the panelists were discussing why a manuscript will be rejected, not a novel synopsis or query...

How Royalties and Advances Work

This is a “Blast From the Past” post.  To celebrate the GLA Blog’s 2nd birthday, I am re-posting some of the best “older” content that writers likely missed. If you’re going to wheel and deal with agents and editors, you’ll end up spending more time than you’d like discussing rights, contracts, advances, royalties and a...

Leah's '12 Points of Contracts'

Look for an upcoming interview on this blog with Dorchester books editor Leah Hultenschmidt.  Typically, I interview agents only, yes, but I met Leah at a conference in Italy last year and you can just tell immediately that this editor knows her stuff inside and out.  Very smart lady, and I wanted to get...

Will Agents Try to Scam You With Small Costs?

Q. Any red flags to look for regarding cost reimbursements (mailings, etc.) in case they try to make money that way? A: As a refresher for everyone, you never want to pay agents money upfront to represent you.  The only money you should every pay an agent are small amounts so that they can...

You Have a Contract But No Literary Agent

Q. My friend (I write that and I feel like I’m trying to hide from a therapist or something!) had her first novel published by a smaller publishing house earlier this year. Now they would like to offer her a contract for five more books in the series. She negotiated the first sale without...

Around the WD Properties: 4-6-2009

Here are some cool thingsgoing on aond Writer’s Digest: Webinar: How to Deciper and Negotiate Your Contract               This is a very practical webinar for anyone out there flying solo without an agent.  Set for Thursday, April 23, it will focus on common contract red flags, the differences between a traditional publishing...

My Thoughts on Seth Godin's Piece Regarding Literary Agents

Seth Godin, best-selling author and all-around successful business guru, recently posted a column called “Where Have All the Agents Gone?”  In it, basically, he talks about how “middlemen” such as stock brokers, real estate agents and travel agents are either dying or dead.  Then he wonders if literary agents are next. The point he’s trying...