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WWW #70 Writing and Contracts

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Wednesday Writing Weekly #70

Writing and Contracts

When I first started my writing business in 2019, I was terrified of contracts. Not because I didn’t want to follow any rules but more so because I didn’t understand exactly what they did for both me, the writer, or the client. Contracts are here to help outline what is being worked on, what is expected, when it will be done, and when it will be sent to the client. Documenting the agreed upon work is just as important as a receipt! Invoices, contracts, or terms of service documents are essential in a business. They’ve both helped me, and I’ve been scammed by them so to help you all wrap your heads around these ideas, let’s talk about some documents you might find in the writing world.


What is a Contract?

A contract is an agreement between two parties. The essential information you may find on a contract is the information of those two parties, a list of services or products being created or delivered within this project, the expected price or estimate, and a deadline. This can be customized depending on your project.


I may use contracts for large multi-part projects or if a client asks for one on any kind of project. Usually, to make sure all this information is agreed upon and is documented for every project, I always have at least a terms of service agreement and an invoice.


Types of Contracts or Documentations

While not all these documents are contracts, they are important ways to document different parts of your work process, product, and services. I think these are good to be aware of.

  • Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA): An agreement for a confidential relationship and information.

  • Contract: A written agreement outlining what is expected from both parties i.e. the services being bought or sold, deadlines, mutual obligations, and more.

  • Terms of Services: Agreement between a service provider (the writer) and someone who wants to hire that service (the client.) This document usually outlines the writers’ process, rules, and more.

  • Invoices: A list of goods or services provided alongside a sum. In short, this is the bill!


These documents are IMPORTANT! They each can be legally binding as an agreement between two parties. This is essential as the seller to protect yourself and make sure you are getting paid. It also protects the buyer or client to make sure they are receiving the product they asked for.


Contract Red Flags

When I was in college, I worked as an editor and reader for a poetry journal. We often used contracts and communicated the proper rights to our writers every step of the way. After graduation, I was amazed (but not surprised) to see how many ways a contract isn’t used to protect both parties but to take advantage of one or the other.


A couple of years after graduation, I was writing on the side for a small local newspaper. The contract said all pieces published by “the newspaper” was what I was getting paid for. Fast forward a few months later, they published a bunch of my pieces on their website, unpaid. I reached out and provided a copy of my signed contract and a set of invoices for the unpaid work to see what had happened and do you know what they said in response? The owner of the paper sent me an email defining the word “newspaper” and then promptly fired me. I realized this con artist was sure to say only “newspaper” rather than the company’s name on the contract in order to argue that any work they published on the website but not in print, they didn’t have to pay me for. Even though I had specifically asked about online VS in print publishing on the phone when I was initially hired, they lied and did this instead. (This is why you should get everything on paper!)


Did that make you cringe? That made me cringe too! Don’t work for gross places like that!


Conclusion

Do you ever read a contract and think, “what does that word mean?” I’ve been there. Today’s information is just getting us started. Next week, I’m going to share definitions of the different rights you may have for your own work, when publishing, and more!



Note: This is NOT legal advice! This article is to be taken for informational purposes only.

These contracts and forms are really important for writers. What are some other ones you know of? There are many out there!

This piece was uploaded EARLY for my patrons over on Patreon.com !


New early access articles on Patreon:

Bookstores & Libraries

Planning Stories by Hand

Bad Punctuation

Bad Writing Habits

Writers’ Rights

Commissions & Shop Information


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MirrorKhaos's avatar

Another fine article.