Thursday, February 07, 2008


Freelance Writers' Contract

The current issue of ASJA Monthly (the publication of the American Society of Journalists and Authors, Inc.) contains the official new Freelance Writers' Contract for its members. It turns out, obviously, that it's a pretend contract ASJA President Russell Wild crafted as a discussion piece. Take a look:

1. The description of the article is as follows:

Name of article: ______________ Length ____________ Due date _________

2. Author will retain full ownership of copyright in the Article. In consideration of the sum of [minimum of $3.00/word], Author grants to [insert name of publication], first North American Serial Rights only. Any other usage in any other medium now known or developed in the future, will be subject to substantial additional payment, to be negotiated.

3. All edits or revisions of the article must be approved by the Author.

4. It is agreed that Publication’s rights shall be exclusive for only 30 days after first publication.

5. Author shall be paid in full within one week of submission of article. Late payments will incur interest charges of 5 percent per week.

6. If article is not published within 60 days of submission, all rights accruing to Publication under this contract shall be null and void, and all rights shall immediately revert to Author.

7. Publication agrees to name Author as an additional insured under all insurance policies carried by Publication, and further, Publication agrees to fully defend and indemnify Author for any and all claims that may be brought against the Author or Publication by any wackjob for any reason whatsoever. All legal fees shall be borne by Publication and no claim for contribution by Author shall be made by Publication.

8. Any dispute over this contract shall be adjudicated in the hometown of the Author, or may possibly be subject to arbitration by a panel of freelance writers handpicked by the Author.

Wild calls his contract version "a pipedream," although he advocates serious negotiation with publishers to get the best terms possible.

"Remember that everything within a contract is fair grounds for negotiation," author Jenna Glatzer says in a past Writer's Digest article. "Your goal should be to sell the fewest rights for the highest fee, payable quickly after submission. You can also strike better deals for the inclusion of a bio-note or advertisement for your business, extra payment for extra services (like photos and sidebars), and a high kill fee if such terms are necessary."

There is often room for bargaining with the editor, so give it a shot. It can't hurt to ask and you may get more of what you deserve.

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