A Sticky Contract Situation

Here’s a sticky publishing-contract situation you writers might want to be aware of:

A publisher just mailed us our agency and author copies of a fully executed contract. (The finalized contracts were first signed by our author, who then mailed them to the publisher for countersignatures, who then retained their copies and mailed the remaining copies to us. We then retain our copies and send the author copies to the author.)

I took the staples out of the contracts and was flipping through the pages before slipping them into the scanner when I saw that the publisher had made several handwritten changes…AFTER the author had signed.

UM. NOPE.

I called this to Agent K’s attention. Because Agent K keeps extremely detailed and meticulous notes at every stage of every contract negotiation she does (and plenty of these negotiations take weeks, if not months, to finalize), she was able to quickly reference that these changes had not been mutually agreed upon.

Now in the grand scheme, these were not egregious, earth-shattering changes and would in any way hurt the author. But on principle, this is super sketch on the publisher’s part, and we’re going to call them out on it.

Takeaways for you contract-signing authors out there:

1. If you’re the first signer, scan a copy of what you’re signing.

2. When you get your countersigned copies back, make sure all the pages match the copy you scanned.

Hopefully your agent is watching out for you on this stuff, but add your own eyeballs to the mix, and things like this will be a lot less likely to slip by you.

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