View Full Version : Help! Do I need a contract?

07-17-2006, 07:05 PM
Hi. I recently submitted a story to an anthology series with a new publisher. They tell me they will give me x copies of the book when it's printed and that I will retain all rights to the property I've created. I asked if there is a contract and they told me that the industry norm is not to necessarily need a contract and that it's done all the time without contract. Is this true? Could submitting my files come back to bite me in the ass somehow? (I'm not expecting any payment other than the free copies of the book anyway.)
Thank you for any advice you can give me.

07-17-2006, 07:07 PM
if they don't hve one, make one. they could try to steal your concepts and you'd have no recourse.

07-17-2006, 07:08 PM

07-17-2006, 07:09 PM
Everything is done via contract. Don't work without one.
We're very small and always send a contract. I don't think that sounds like "industry norm".

07-17-2006, 07:11 PM
This is sort of a big break for me. I don't want to dawdle and then lose the opportunity to be published. The question is- Is it normal to do this sort of thing without a contract? (And how would I go about writing up my own contract?)

Paul Sanderson
07-17-2006, 07:13 PM
I think sometimes work between friends is done without a contract, but that's only if you know the other person well and you totally trust them and vice versa. Even in those situations a contract is best, but in every other situation, a contract is a must.

07-17-2006, 08:33 PM
All the paying jobs I get are contracted agreements. Whether it is written in an email or signed on the dotted line, it is an agreement. In this situation, I might suggest a simple paragraph stating you retain all copyrights to said characters and that you'll be able to publish this material at anytime in the future. That sort of thing would do. Then, just have them reply saying that is their understanding and that's the end of it.


07-17-2006, 11:06 PM
(And how would I go about writing up my own contract?)

Just write it. You only need a paper stating what the deal is, and signed. Hell, many Hollywood deals are signed on restaurant napkins (they type up a more elaborate contract later, of course).

07-17-2006, 11:10 PM
An oral agreement is a contract. It's just a question of proof; what you say the deal was versus what the other side says. Certain subject matter must be in a written agreement to be valid, like real estate deals, leases for more than a year, and sometimes deals involving dollar amounts over a certain threshold (depends on your state law).

Regardless of whether you're doing this just for free copies, however, and at the risk that your story and character could turn out to be worth a lot, a written agreement as to who retains the rights would be a good idea. Eliminates the issue as to who the judge (or jury) is going to believe.

Something simple like joshm suggested should work. Do up a paragraph that says you're granting the publisher the right to print your story once in this particular publication (and include a copy of the piece as Exhibit "A"), and that you reserve the right to approve of any future use of your story or other intellectual property contained therein, and you retain all other applicable intellectual property rights associated with the story and characters.

Jason Powell
07-17-2006, 11:30 PM
I have dealt with DWP 4 times and never needed a contract. However a contract is a smart thing, more so for a publisher's sake then the creator (really). I say, if nothing else, keep electronic copies of everything (e-mails and chats) cause, if there is ever an issue, they may come in handy.


07-18-2006, 07:46 AM
I think it depends. With Western Tales of Terror everyone involved realized that no-one will be making money so it was all handshakes and emails. We can't print a trade, of course, but we don't want to, anyway.

Postcards, on the other hand, has thirty contracts for everyone contributing. It's designed for bookstores with multiple printings and editions. People who were in WToT wanted a contract for Postcards.