I thought the contract would come first. Wrong. (Again.)
Instead, what I received first (attached to my congratulations email) was the DEAL MEMO. It’s one page, from Walker Books, and I have to admit I thought it was the contract at first. I should know better — what lawyer could stop at only 1 page? (Fortunately, my agent said something that clued me in before I could say anything to humiliate myself.)
Anyway, back to the DEAL MEMO. Here’s what it says: •Release date: Summer 2011 (that’s 21 months away, give or take!) • Final Rewrites Due: Nov 2009 • Advance to be paid upon contract signing and final revisions • It also has a few lines about foreign sales and royalty splits (which is all foreign to me.)
Fortunately, my agent understands what’s here and what isn’t. And what should be. Yes, contracts for first-time writers are fairly standard but there are a few gray areas like the amount of advance, options on new books, rights the author retains — and other stuff I don’t even know about. One of my first thoughts: a flashback to the Seinfeld episode when George finds out how much money Ted Danson makes and doesn’t want to sign his contract until he gets more money. I decide not to pull a Costanza. My husband would shoot me, for one thing.
The part that still worries me: REVISIONS. What kind of revisions? How many revisions? I still don’t know. A month has past since the Deal Memo and I’m waiting on an editorial letter. Is my editor just busy (which is good) or are there so many revisions it’s taking her a month to put it all together (which is oh-so-bad). In the meantime, the contract arrived via email this week from my agent. It’s 12 pages. Ahh, those lawyers….