Sometimes, not just in this industry, but everywhere, what you know is because of who you know. I learned a lot about reading contracts and understanding trademarks when we worked with a team of trademark attorneys in West Los Angeles on domains and branding and trademarks for a company. The jargon isn’t hard to get if you break it down into bits instead of reading and trying to get it all at once.
As an author, you do yourself a mighty disservice if you get excited to receive a contract and don’t read AND understand what you signed. There are a lot of authors in this industry who have been ripped off and hurt when a publisher closed it’s doors. There are lots of authors hurt every royalty payout day because they signed a contract that gave the publisher the right to basically charge that author for the cost of doing business.
What you know – or rather what you don’t know – about your publisher and their business practices and their contract clauses can hurt you. Maybe not today, but at some time it could. If you get a contract, and you don’t know what those clauses mean, you need to ask someone who does. Not someone at that house, but an independent someone. Find out the truth. Know who and what you are dealing with before you give your baby – your manuscript – into their keeping. Make sure you know how much of that cover price you are entitled to or whether most of it will go to the publisher for things like their credit card fees and shipping costs.
Take a run over here to Mary Winter’s blog where she shows you what kinds of clauses in a contract are huge red flags for an author. This blog post could save you money and heartache. I advise you to read it, bookmark it, and use it as a guide to helping you discover what you should know.