Got my contract for my article today, saying "Sign this here and we'll send you your check." Which made me feel dumb, because just yesterday I hassled my poor editor, saying, "Give me that big fat money!" Hit me with a brick.
But when I read the contract, I said, "Uh-oh." The first thing I ran across was the dreaded "hold harmless" clause. That's a clause that basically says that the author agrees to hold the Publisher harmless if a smackdown takes place because of something she's written. If the author agrees to such a clause, then it's the author who has to pay all legal expenses.
I mean, I can't imagine anyone's going to sue over this article. "OMG I hate legumes! I'm going to sue!" But when the world has gone mad, cover your ass.
And secondly I saw that the contract said I was selling all rights. Might this lead to trouble when I'm writing my soilbuilding book? Because I was going to discuss using alfalfa in the garden, and it's hard to know where the demarcation is between what is their article and their information and what would be mine. I'd just as soon not even go there.
So I called up the assistant editor in charge of contracts and said, "Hello! I got a contract today and wondered if I could strike a clause or two."
She said, "You can change anything you like."
"I'd really like to strike the 'hold harmless' clause." And then I got silly and said, "And also let's raise the payment to a million dollars, stat!"
She went off in gales of laughter. "I'd like to see legal when I send this contract over!"
"Okay, let's do it!"
But then we settled down, and she said she'd send me a new contract with the changes I'd requested. I'd get first rights, which revert back to me upon publication. (Note to legal: rights listed here are not actual rights until I sign said contract.)
This is going to slow my big fat money down by a few days, but I'll just have to put up with that.
Ha ha! The i-Pod is playing the theme from "Wonder Woman!" "In her satin tights, fighting for your rights!" That's so me! Except you'd never see me wearing satin tights, of course.