A Continuing Education in Drawing Up Contracts

iStock_000004854876_ExtraSmallThings I Am Good At:

Writing about sex.

Banging out listicles.

Line editing.

Connecting with other writers and editors.

Making lemon pound cake.

Singing in the shower.

Mimicking the sounds my cats make.

Things I Am Not Good At:

Covering my ass when I draw up and/or sign a contract.

I’ve been a full-time freelancer for about five and a half years now, yet with every new client I take on, I learn of yet another new clause I should have included in our contract.

For example, in drawing up a description of the project scope, I’ve learned to include hard-and-fast dates for when things are due — on both ends. I’ve learned to ask for a portion of my project fee up-front, and also to lay out a payment plan that gets me moolah at different stages of a project. I’ve learned to start including mention of a late fee in my contract… and to also reiterate this on my invoices (because invoices often go through an accounting department that may not be familiar with all the terms of the initial contract). I’ve learned to add in wording that wards off scope creep without an addendum to the original contract. I’ve learned to include a section that allows either myself or my client to terminate the contract if the other side doesn’t deliver (and, in one case, was relieved to be able to use it).

In fact, I thought I’d covered everything I possibly could until this past week, when a delinquent client tried to convince me that he shouldn’t have to pay me the full fee we’d agreed upon. [Read more…]

Resource Roundup: Sample Contracts

A week ago, I posted here about an invoicing error I had made, mentioning that I was lucky to have covered my ass in the service agreement I had drawn up.

Because I hate to bring up a problem without providing a concrete solution (and because my contract advice probably leaves much to be desired), here is a roundup of sites that offer sample contracts and contract-related advice:

My Invoicing Error


The other week, I agreed to copy edit a manuscript for someone.

When asked for a cost estimate, I used my past experience proofing book manuscripts to figure out how long it would take me to get through a 90-page manuscript. Then, I took that number and multiplied it by my hourly rate.

Three and a half hours into the project, it became clear to me that I had drastically miscalculated. The project could actually cost up to three times more than I had previously projected.

I was mortified.

[Read more…]

Flip That Pitch


While I’m always going on and on about this one class I took at New School, there’s another one I took before that — From Pitch to Publish, taught by Cris Beam — at which I learned a very important lesson: You must keep the momentum going.

So as I started receiving my very first rejection letters, I didn’t sulk. Instead, I became a master at not taking it personally, and quickly flipped the pitch.

[Read more…]