Contracts

Deadlines Are Friends, Not Nemeses

When is your next deadline? What? You don’t have one? Why not? Aren’t you a writer?

I know some writers create fine prose or poetry without deadlines—I just don’t know how they do it.

“But,” you may protest, “I don’t have a contract yet. How can I have a deadline?”

I suggest you always have a deadline, whether a publisher imposes it or not. No one is preventing you from making—and meeting—your own deadlines.

Many years ago, after years of high-intensity pastoral ministry (is there any other kind?), I found myself in a desk job as a magazine editor. Having been a pastor, I was accustomed to juggling multiple deadlines, so that was nothing new, but this was also the first time in my adult life when my job wasn’t 24/7, so to speak. So, I thought this would be a fine time to try to fulfill my dream of writing a book.

It wouldn’t have been kosher to work on my book project during office hours, so I decided to work on it for a couple hours each workday evening after my two school-age children were in bed. I planned for the book to be fourteen chapters long, so I broke the work into fourteen weekly deadlines. I promised myself (and told my wife) that if each week’s chapter wasn’t written by bedtime Saturday evening, I would not go to bed until it was done. I don’t think I pulled any “all-nighters,” but I did work well into the night several times to meet that week’s deadline (and, since I wasn’t a pastor at the time, I calculated that I could catch up on sleep a little during the sermon the next morning—hey, don’t pretend you’ve never done it!).  But after fourteen weeks of typing each chapter on a manual typewriter (those were the days) and then scanning the pages into a prehistoric word processing program each Monday morning at the office, I had a completed first draft.

I realize that not everyone is as obsessive-compulsive as I am. But I still think deadlines are your friends, not your nemeses. A deadline can help you to focus and sort out what is most important to you. A self-made deadline can help you to practice for the day when you must fulfill a contractual. A deadline can keep your eyes on the prize, measure your progress, and impart a sense of accomplishment when you reach your finish line. A deadline can shape your future and breathe life into your dreams.

So, don’t wait to be assigned an article or offered a book contract to start working toward a deadline. Setting your own deadlines may actually help to bring such things to pass.

 

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A Ghostwriting Masterpiece

The Christian Writers Institute has just released a marvelous book by Cec Murphey, Ghostwriting: the Murphey Method. It is a wonderful look behind the scenes in how so many bestselling books are created. Cec is the writer who helped craft many bestselling books including Gifted Hands by Ben Carson and 90 Minutes in …

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Writers Learn to Wait

Ours is a process industry. Good publishing takes time. Unfortunately time is another word for “waiting.” No one really likes to wait for anything. Our instant society (everything from Twitter to a drive-thru burger) is training us to want things to happen faster. Awhile ago I wrote about how long it takes to get published which gave an honest appraisal of the time involved. Below are some of the things for which a writer must learn to wait.

Waiting for the Agent

We try our best to reply to submissions within 6-8 weeks and are relatively good about that. But if your project passes the first review stage and we are now reviewing your entire manuscript remember that reading a full manuscript is much more demanding than reading a few short proposals.

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Deadlines…A Date With Destiny

We need to create some new English words to describe certain things. For instance, I do not like the fact that people who handle money for others are called “brokers.” I also dislike the term “deadline” as it indicates something negative will occur at a certain date or time. Maybe …

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Is Book Publishing Fair?

Anyone who has been around young children has heard their cry of protest, “That’s not fair,” when some sort of consequence is meted out for misbehavior. In reality, what is being objected to is fairness, as consequences were spelled out ahead of time and known to all. Parent: “One more …

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Publishing Acronyms

After being in an industry for a while there is a natural tendency to speak in code. Acronyms flow freely and can be a foreign language to those new to the conversation. Below is an attempt to spell out some of the more common acronyms in the publishing industry and …

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Zip It Mr. Galilei

Did you ever tell someone, “Don’t feel that way” and not get the best reaction? In the same vein is “Don’t be that way.” Honestly, I could never figure that one out. Feels like a philosophical conundrum of the highest order. Telling someone not to be. Four hundred years ago …

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Defusing Contract Landmines

by Steve Laube

During the last six months we have run into some landmines buried within some small press contracts. In each case it was the author’s relationship with the publisher that helped land the offer, and so we proceeded to review the paperwork in order to protect the author’s interests.

In one case the small publisher was very grateful for our negotiations and contract changes. They plan to change their contract for all authors in the future. We were glad to help our client form that new partnership.

In two cases the publisher said they could not afford to hire a lawyer to review our requested changes to the contract and thus were unwilling to negotiate. We recommended the author walk away both times.

In yet another case the publisher wouldn’t negotiate and said, in essence, “take it or leave it.” We walked away. Our client terminated their relationship with us and signed the deal on their own.

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L is for Libel

by Steve Laube

 To libel someone is to injure a person’s reputation via the written word (slander is for the spoken word). I wrote recently about Indemnification but only touched on this topic. Let’s try to unpack it a little further today.

First, be aware that the laws that define defamation vary from state to state, however there are some commonly accepted guidelines. Anyone can claim to have been “defamed,” but to prove it they usually have to show that the written statement is all four of the following: 1) published 2) false 3) injurious 4) unprivileged.

The first is obvious. Posting something on Twitter or Facebook is “published.” And yet two weeks ago a Federal judge ruled that a blogger has the same defamation protection as a journalist. (Read the article here.)

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