Thoughts on Contracts from your friend Sam Knight


When I send out contracts, I tend to include warnings in my emails like this:
Make  sure you read and understand ANY contract you get from ANYONE! Get a dis-interested third party to explain anything you do not understand. Make sure you are happy with what you understand before signing it!
Historically, people who have signed contracts that they did not read and/or understand have very much regretted it. You shouldn’t inherently trust a contract. With anyone. EVER!  I mean it! Learn from other people’s mistakes.
If there is anything in a contract you don’t understand:
1) ask
2) don’t trust the person(s) who wrote the contract or who stand to benefit to be honest. Ask someone else too. Preferably someone who has your best interest at heart.
3) verify this with a disinterested 3rd party. Like a lawyer. (You are MUCH better off with a lawyer familiar with the industry. Other lawyers not as experienced will miss the hidden “gotchas!”)
While there is a lot of standard “that’s just the way it is” BS in boilerplate contracts, that doesn’t mean you have to sign a contract . YOU NEVER HAVE TO SIGN A CONTRACT. If someone is pressuring you to sign a contract right now! or the offer goes away! you can bet there is a reason that is not good for you.
In most situations, most things are negotiable.
Check for errors. Sometimes there are cut and paste errors with names and titles on forms like these. Make sure your name is correct and spelled correctly. If you are using a pen name, make sure it shows the pen name correctly and your real name correctly. (NEVER do business under your pen name without disclosing your real name. You could end up in trouble for fraud.)
Always heed the rule of getting a disinterested 3rd party’s opinion if you aren’t sure about contract stuff. Your editor or your agent is NOT a disinterested 3rd party. Yes, your agent wants you to make money so they can make money, but the best way for them to make money is not always the best way for you to make money.
Also, be aware that EULAs (Terms of Service) on websites are contracts. Take warning and read this as well: