Monday, June 11, 2012

"Know Before You Sign" ~Tamara Hart Heiner

Happy Monday, all! Tamara Hart Heiner is here with me today!
She is the YA author of Perilous and she has book two of that series out now called Altercation!

I'm one of her stops on her fun blog tour that's going on right now.
So I asked her to come by and talk about writing and contracts.

Take it away, Tamara!

Know Before You Sign
With the release of ALTERCATION, my second book from the same company,
I've been reflecting a lot on publishing contracts. The first time I
signed one, I got lucky that the com
pany I signed with (WiDo) was an honest company and not about to do me dirty. That's good, because I knew nothing about contracts. I didn't know what to avoid, what to look out for, and what to make sure it included. I've learned a lot since then.

When you're a debut author and you get that contract offer, often it's so exciting that you sign without a second thought. STOP. Take a moment and think. This is a decision that will affect you forever. 
And there are things you need to do.

1) Make sure this is your best offer. If you have other submissions out, contact the other agents/companies and let them know you have an offer. Give them the chance to compete for you.

Now that you've chosen a company, look your contract over. Some things to look for:

2) An expected release date. Make sure the publisher specifies an expected time period for editing and revisions, and when you can expect to be done. You don't want them to sit on your book for years without doing anything, keeping the rights and not letting you do anything with it. If they don't hold up that time frame, you get your rights back.

3) Your responsibilities. The contract should outline quite clearly what is expected of you. Deadlines, revisions, editing, etc. You have to hold up your end of the bargain, also.

4) Assigned rights. Some publisher only wants print rights. Other want the whole shebang, from print to digital to film. Whatever it is, just make sure you're aware.

5) Author name. The contract should state what name will appear on your cover. Make sure this is the name you want. If you plan on using a pseudonym, now would be the moment to bring it up. While not likely, there's always the possibility your publisher won't approve it at press time otherwise.

6) Royalties. Hugely important! Royalties need to be specified for all forms of release, from ebook to mass trade paperback. The contract should also specify at what point, if any, royalties increase. It should tell you when payments are sent, as well.

7) Advance. If there is to be an advance, get it in writing. The contract should also state how many books (or how much money) you need to sell to hit your advance, or how many books before you start earning royalties.

8) Right to audit. Of course you have the right to check up on your publisher and make sure you are actually selling the number of books they are paying you for. I imagine that even if the contract didn't mention a right to audit, you would still have that right. But it's always better to get it in writing.

9) Free copies and ARCs. Know ahead of time how many books the publisher will give you and provide for advance readers. The contract should also state your author price for purchasing more books.

10) Breach of contract. Along with your responsibilities, the contract should also outline the consequences if you (or them) default on your part of the bargain.

11) Return of rights. The contract should state when, if ever, you get your rights back to your works. This could be after a few years with no sales or if the publishing company goes out of business or both. Whatever the terms, make sure you are comfortable with them.

With all of these contract terms, you have OPTIONS. Be happy with what you choose.

Oh, and one more note of caution. While most contracts don't specifically say that sharing details is a breach of contract, I have heard of authors being let go of for sharing details. So stay on the safe side. Keep your contract private.

Happy writing!

GREAT advice. I know from personal experience you can get swept up and excited from the very first offer. Authors have lots of options now, so don't settle. :)

Don't forget to check out Tamara's new book Altercation! Available thru Amazon in ebook and paperback.

The FBI promises Jacinta Rivera and her friends that they are
safe. Jaci wants desperately to believe them but weeks of hiding from their kidnapper, alias "The Hand", have left her wary. Hidden from the public eye in an FBI safe house, Jaci must reconcile both the mysterious disappearance of her father and the murder of her best friend.

A betrayal lands Jaci back in the grasp of The Hand, shattering her ability to trust and leaving her to wonder if she will ever piece together her broken life.

Lots of prizes going on now on her tour:

EVERY DAY she will randomly select one person who made a comment on that day's blog.
The winner will then get to decide if they would like an
ebook copy of PERILOUS or ALTERCATION. 

(There must be AT LEAST ten comments on that day for her to do the giveaway)

But if that's not enough, leaving a comment also gets you entered into the PRIZE DRAWINGS. This won't be random; it's cumulative. Every comment you leave counts as 1 point. If you are a follower on my blog, you get 1
point. Every time you tweet or share on Facebook about the tour, it's one
point. She'll even add it up for you; just include her in on the tweet
@tamaraheiner or on Facebook @tamarahartheiner (unless you don't trust her
math, and then feel free to tally it up and send it to her). :)

THIRD PRIZE: 50-page critique of something of your choice (if you're not a
writer, a $5 gift card)
SECOND PRIZE: lot of five YA books
FIRST PRIZE: $20 gift card to

**For more info on her tour, check out her BLOG here.

Thanks so much, Tamara!


Laura Pauling said...

altercation sounds terrific! Congrats!

Hopefully today through all the blog posts like this one, authors are still aware and know what to look for in contracts but I'm sure it's hard not to get swept away!

Shelley Munro said...

Excellent advice! Getting your first contract is both exciting and scary. It's important to know what you're signing.

All the best with your release!

Tamara Hart Heiner said...

Thanks guys! I know I was swept away with the excitement!

Jessica R. Patch said...

I love that hand in the cover! Looks like a book I'd enjoy reading.

Great tips!

Thanks, ladies!

Rula Sinara said...

Great advice! Best wishes with your book!

Linda G. said...

Great advice! All writers should pay careful attention to it.

And ALTERCATION sounds like a fantastic read.

Creepy Query Girl said...

Wow. Thanks so much for laying these out for us- some things I wouldn't have thought of! And congrats!

Karen Baldwin said...

Great tips, and Altercation sounds like great story.

Karen Lange said...

Jennifer, thanks for the intro to Tamara! I appreciate this info on contracts, too. Best wishes, Tamera, with Altercation! :)

Carolyn V said...

This is such GREAT advice! Thanks for putting it out there! ;D

Your book sounds so interesting!

Liz Mays said...

This is really, really helpful. I'm going to share this with my BF who has two books being shopped now with his agent.

Southpaw said...

There is really good advice in there - even a couple of things I haven't seen mentioned before.

Linda Kage said...

Thanks for the great advice. It doesn't matter if it's my first book, I still get giddy when I get a contract offer and it's hard to step back and try to think logically about business at such an exciting time.

Carol Kilgore said...

So very true about those contracts. I've seen a bad one or two. It isn't easy to say 'no thank you.'

Laura S. said...

Very very good advice! I'll be tucking this away fro future reference. :)

Sherry Ellis said...

Great advice! I'm going to share this. Good luck with your new release!

Nancy said...

That's a lot to think about when you sign a contract. I can see that someone might get so excited that they don't read everything. Great advise. said...

Oh wow great advice. Something we all wonder/worry about at the back of our minds even before we have a completed MS.
Good luck with Altercation. Love those titles!

Gabrielle Meyer said...

Great tips! Thanks for sharing. I imagine it would be very exciting to see your first contract, but it's good to remember to take some time and know what you're signing.

Gabrielle Meyer said...

Great tips! Thanks for sharing. I imagine it would be very exciting to see your first contract, but it's good to remember to take some time and know what you're signing.

Caryn Caldwell said...

Wonderful tips! Timely, too, considering how many people have moved to negotiating their own contracts. Thanks for sharing!

Robyn Campbell said...

Hey Jennifer. Excellent advice, Tamara. Please writers, read this. Altercation looks positively wonderful! I cannot wait to get my hands on my copy. *Waves*

Anonymous said...


These sound like books I would enjoy reading.

kstewownsme at hotmail dot com

Mary Preston said...

It's wonderful that you share this excellent advice. I don't write, but I found it very interesting.

ALTERCATION looks amazing!!


Tamara Hart Heiner said...

Carol, you won the free ebook! Hop over to my blog or shoot me an email and let me know which book you want!

Carol Kilgore said...

Woo-hoo! Thanks, Tamara - I just sent you an email.

Connie Keller said...

Great information! Thanks for sharing. And your book sounds wonderful.

nutschell said...

Congrats on ALTERCATION!

Wow these are awesome, helpful tips! Thanks!

Sandra Cox said...

Good information! Altercation looks like a winner.