February 28, 2014

Quick Update

Well, by ignoring pretty much everything else I needed to get done today, I managed to do it: the first draft of G & H is officially complete!

Pitch Madness!

I am trying desperately to finish the first draft of G&H before the end of February, which is tonight in case you forgot, so I've decided to forego my usual Flash! Friday entry.  So, I'm taking this opportunity to remind you all that this spring's Pitch Madness is almost here!  Many of you may know that my own deal with Swoon Romance started as a Twitter pitch, and the combination of Pitch Madness and its pair event, #PitMad, could lead to some great new agent + writer matches – and of course some invaluable experience.

Pitch Madness is a twice yearly online pitch contest, hosted by Brenda Drake. Each round works with a special theme or game, and this time around it's the murder mystery game, Clue.  Submissions include a 35-word (max) pitch and the first 250 words of your manuscript. 

The schedule, from Brenda's website:
  • Hosts and their teams Introduction on March 3
  • Agent Introduction on March 4
  • Rules of the Game on March 6
  • Formatting Instructions March 7
  • Submission window will be on March 10 and will be open for 24 hours
  • The top 60 picks for the agent round will go up on the blogs on March 18 at 12:01AM EST (NY time)
  • March 20 at 12PM EDT (Noon) the agents requests are revealed, and right afterward is the tying agents challenge round
  • There will be a #PitMad Twitter Pitch Party on March 25 from 8AM to 8PM EST. 
Remember to only submit if your manuscript is polished and ready to be seen by an agent, but otherwise, get those pitches ready.  And if you're working on a pitch and would like to give & get some feedback, feel free to use the comments section! (Please make sure any comments on others' pitches are constructive).

February 24, 2014

Contract Basics: Option Clause

The Option Clause in a contract is all about the future of your career. Basically, in this clause, you promise your current publisher the first chance to negotiate an offer for your next book. Many people advise against having this contractual obligation at all, but as long as it's written fairly, all it means is that you will either have another contract coming your way without having to send out multiple queries, or you may have to wait a little longer before querying your next project. That being said, a poorly negotiated option clause can severely limit the future of your writing career, so pay attention!

What you should watch out for: 
  • Definition of "next work"—this should be as specific as possible. For instance, the contract may actually say "Author's next work," but it is in your interest to narrow that down as much as possible, e.g. to next novel-length work, in a specific genre and a specific age category. If you're writing under a pseudonym for one genre but not for another, you could also add "written under the pseudonym ____" or "written as _____." If you are planning on writing more books with characters from the first, or in the same world, you can even limit this clause to a future novel-length work featuring characters from this book, or to the next book in this series, etc.

February 21, 2014

Flash! Friday: Prompt #2-11

I have to admit, this week's prompt – a combination of the photo below and the concept of "aging" – stumped me at first.  Reconciling the serenity of that suspended flight with the idea of un-haltingly passing time was tough.  But, here goes:

February 17, 2014

Contract Basics: Finances (part 2)

In part one, I discussed advances and royalties, but the financial aspects of your contract do not end there.  Here goes part two!


  • Bonuses may be set to commemorate certain achievements, such as 5000 copies sold in the first month or making it onto the NYT Bestseller List within 60 days of publication, etc.
  • This money is not paid as an advance, so it does not have to be earned out.  It is paid in addition to royalties earned from the sales that help you reach that goal.

February 14, 2014

Flash! Friday: Prompt #2-10

Happy Valentine's Day! I hope you took the time today to remind yourself and your loved ones of the value of romance – whether virtually, personally, or with the pages of a beloved book.  

Valentine's or not, it's time for this week's Flash! Friday entry!  This week's required element is "patience," in a 150-word (+/-10) story based on this photo:

February 10, 2014

Contract Basics: Finances (part 1)

Let's discuss the part of the contract I know many of you are most interested in: finances. Exciting as this topic is, it includes many different pieces, and therefore can become quite complicated, so I'll be splitting this topic into two posts. Remember that you can bookmark them for future reference!

The Advance:

  • Your advance is money that will be paid to you before your book begins earning royalties (i.e. "in advance"). It will need to be earned out by royalties before you earn anything further from book sales.
    • For instance, if your advance is $300, and you earn $0.30 per copy, you would need to sell 1000 copies to earn out your advance. From your 1001st copy on, you will receive further royalties beyond those $300.
    • If your book fails to sell 1000 copies, however, you get to keep the $300 (unless there's something really fishy in your contract, so as always, read carefully!).

February 7, 2014

Flash! Friday: Prompt #2-9

Flash! Friday fiction, written in a flash - so don't be too hard on me!  This week's required element is "envy," in a 150-word (+/- 10) story based on this photo:

A Writer’s Lament

It’s hard, they say. The training, the restrictions, the keenly scrutinized diet and the woeful lack of social life. The years of absolute focus and determination, all underscored by an unsatisfiable, ruthless ambition that drives them through the pain. 

But all the sweat and tears, those injuries and sacrifices, they could lead here: the Olympics.  Only the best of the best, if you discount all the loopholes limiting entries from the same country, could compete for the ultimate athletic honor, claiming their time in the public eye.

The pinnacle of mastery, with an unquestionable marker of success – that’s what awaits them: a resounding cry, declaring virtuosity or denouncing nerve-pressured failure.  Definitive, quantifiable, and unassailable.  

Theirs isn’t a world of gray-scale insecurity, languishing in indeterminate obscurity, at the mercy of public subjectivity.  

If only our world was as black and white.

(140 words)

February 4, 2014

Unbelievably Excited!

I've been making every effort to stick to my Monday / Friday schedule, but this has been a long time in the making, and it's too exciting not to share!  Plus, what better day for major news than the 1-year anniversary of my blog?! Ready? Okay:
I officially have a deal with Swoon Romance for my first book! 
I have written before about the importance of Twitter for authors, but now I have concrete proof to offer you, as this deal first started as a pitch for #AdPit! (The next #AdPit event is actually tomorrow!) To be honest, at the time I had intended to continue seeking an agent, not approach publishing houses yet, but all of the requests I received that day were from publishers, not agents, and I decided to see them through – and I'm glad I did!

February 3, 2014

Contract Basics: Warranty & Copyright

The Warranty and Copyright clauses are fairly straightforward, so this may very well be the shortest post in the entire series!

Warranty Clause: This states, basically, that you didn't plagiarize the work, that no one else has a claim to the work, that the work doesn't violate copyright and isn't libelous, and that you still have all the rights you're about to sign over to the publisher.  It will also go into financial concerns, for instance that the publisher isn't responsible for damages won in case you did plagiarize the book and someone successfully sues you for it.  
  • You should ensure this clauses states that you do guarantee that all those things are true to the best of your knowledge. While you should know which rights you have, we're fallible, and that phrase protects you just in case you in fact didn't know that you were in violation of one of those pieces (or if that knowledge is impossible to prove).  
  • You should also ensure that if there are any financial ramifications specified (e.g. you owing your publisher legal fees), that you only have to pay those if you were in fact proven guilty of a violation, not just because, for instance, someone claims that you stole their work and money has to be spent to fight the charge.
In general, however, if your work is yours and you didn't falsely trash anyone in it (libel) or use copyrighted material (like song lyrics), you should feel fairly confident signing this clause with no worries.

Copyright Clause: This states who is responsible for registering (and renewing) the copyright for your work.  Virtually every source I have seen recommends setting a specific time frame, in the case that the publisher is the one to register the copyright, and most recommend that time frame to be within 90 days of publication.  This also states that the publisher has to include copyright information in every edition of the work.

This clause could also specify in whose name the copyright will be registered.  As far as I have seen, this should be in your name (not the publisher's), however, if you're writing under a pseudonym, you may want to consider how this will affect your copyright registration:
  • A copyright registered under a pseudonym is good for a specific number of years (95 years from the publication date, or 120 years from the creation date, whichever is earlier).
  • A copyright registered under a real name is good for 70 years past the author's death.
    • If the true identity behind a pseudonym becomes known to the copyright office before the author's death, this term also applies.
  • If I understand this page correctly, it is possible to register the copyright under your pseudonym, while informing the copyright office of your real name, however your real name will become part of online public record in connection with that work, so that decision would depend on why you chose to use a pseudonym in the first place.

Questions? Thoughts? Corrections? Please leave them in the comments!

This post is a part of my Publishing Contracts sequence. Please click here to learn more about it and view the very important disclaimer.