What does a contract do for us writers? With DC Thomson, it seems to be an acceptance of the book followed by a remittance advice. With large print buyers, there is a contract that spells out the payment, the length of licence to publish and the number of copies they plan to publish. As they are a charity, Ulverscroft also state their plan for publication in large print and details of the writers name and where it will appear.
With other companies, contracts can be extremely long and detailed, running into numerous pages. The details include such things as guarantee that the work does not contain anything that can cause problems to anyone ... nothing libellous or obscene and a whole lot more besides. Reading through the fine print is important before signing but I must admit, reading it once was enough for me! With this company, I now give it a quick glance and then sign. One important detail however was a list of countries in which they intend to publish. As I wanted to publish in USA, it was important not to sign away those rights.
Some companies are happy with electronic contracts, with the facility to sign digitally. It certainly is very easy but once more, these contracts may hide something you don’t want to sign away.
There is a great deal of discussion about changes that may be made in our contract by DC Thomson. It may be just rumour but it is now looking more certain. They are forbidding us to sell our actual pocket novels on for large print. As the large print publishers don’t seem to have editors on their staff, it looks a bit like the end for us. I can sort of understand DCT not wanting their work to be sold on but it puts us in a difficult position for the future. They do not pay enough for this to be the only income we get from our sales and large print and subsequent PLR make it much more worthwhile. It may well be that large print companies will take manuscripts directly but we shall have to wait and see.
Watch this space!