Sometimes I get asked what’s the first thing a writer should do when they get offered a contract.
Besides dance. I mean, c’mon…you got offered a contract. That’s cool, right?
Of course it is.
But after you get done dancing, if you don’t have an agent and have no desire to get one, find an attorney who specializes in contracts, preferably publishing contracts. They exist. Contracts are getting more and more convuluted and they were never simple to begin with.
Typically, you can get a contract reviewed for about $250 and while that sounds painful, you’d rather spend that $250 than spend years wishing you hadn’t gotten it reviewed.
Once you get it reviewed, talk to the pubs about whatever suggested changes the lawyer suggested and there should be be some things. The contract is a business agreement between you and the pub and while most of them are fair enough, the contract is going to be written to benefit the publisher more than you. The lawyer (or your agent) is there to make sure you get it to where it benefits you as much as possible.
And you might end up having the lawyer tell you to run like hell. If you do…run like hell. There are other publishers. There is self-publishing. Don’t get screwed over in your determination to get published. The internet is full of stories of authors who wished they’d paid better attention to those contracts.
One place to consider checking out for possibly sketchy publishers… Writer Beware.