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Digital Subscriptions > Writing Magazine > May 2016 > Understand your... contract

Understand your... contract

Secured a publishing deal? Make sure you understand its terminology and implications, with guidance from Simon Whaley

On 30 April 2003 I received my first author contract. Hodder & Stoughton wanted to publish my One Hundred Ways For A Dog To Train Its Human. It was a day of mixed emotions. There was uncontainable excitement that I was having a book published. And then, as I flicked through all fourteen pages of the contract, a sense of horror overwhelmed me as I appreciated what was at stake.

No matter how tempting it might be, especially if it’s a project you’ve been working on for several years, never sign anything you don’t fully understand. Even if you think you understand it, double check, because you must be sure. I’m stating the obvious here, but it’s important: an author contract is a legally-binding business contract. Consider it with a business head on, not a writer’s head, because once you’ve signed it you have to live with the consequences. And that could be for a considerable time.

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Got a five year plan? You set the targets, we'll help you hit them Everything you need to know before you write your novel New series: Shelf life - Top authors pick their favourite reads Reinventing Shakespeare: Be inspired by the Bard Publishing: Behind the scenes - Follow a book from manuscript to publication Star interview: Reader success - Costa Book of the Year winner Frances Hardinge Writers' News: 20 packed pages of publishing opportunities and £80,608 in writing prizes

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