|The Clause for Alarm|
(c) copyright 1998
by Syneca Featherstone
The wording may be different from one contract to another, but most publishing contracts will have some clause that basically states that if the manuscript as delivered, is not acceptable to the Publisher in style, length, content and form, the Publisher, at its discretion, shall have the option either to notify the Author in writing to what extent the manuscript is unacceptable, in which event the Author shall have ____days (30/45/60) following the receipt of the notice, to submit a manuscript that is satisfactory to the Publisher, or to terminate the Agreement without further claim to compensation or payment, except that the Author shall be entitled to retain any sums received prior to the publisher's decision that the work is not satisfactory.
If the publisher is reputable, then I would not find cause for alarm. However, if you have doubts, I do encourage you to clear them up to your satisfaction before your client signs the contract.
Additionally, one last comment. If the publisher is not really established then I'd make sure to ask about the editing process of the manuscript and whether the writer has final approval. Often less established presses will try and skip a stage of the editing process and that isn't good for anyone. A writer's career begins with his or her first publication and a publisher can either help or harm that beginning.
Just in case you haven't been through the process, once a manuscript is accepted and turned over to an editor, it goes through several editorial phases. First an editor reads the manuscript and sends the author an editorial letter, outlining all of the problems the editor sees and the changes that would need to be made. This is not problems with punctuation and the like, but things like plot continuity, characterization, content, things that should be deleted, shortened, expanded, and so on. Normally, a writer will have a month or two to make these changes and send the revised version back in.
Then the manuscript is assigned to a copy editor, who goes through it and does a line-by-line edit - checking spacing, punctuation, spelling, grammar, etc, along with making typesetting notations such as the type face, position of headings, where italics are to be used, etc. The manuscript is sent back to the author so that he/she can go through all of the corrections and make any last minute changes that need to be made.
Once this copy is returned to the publisher it is typeset and a galley, or page proofs are printed. This can be 8, 1/2 x 11 pages with the type laid out so that the pages appear exactly as they will in the finished book, or bound galleys with the words Uncorrected Proof - for limited distribution, or something to that effect printed on the cover. The galley proofs are usually sent to reviewers, critics, book buyers, etc. The author has the opportunity to go through the galley and if he/she sees any mistakes, circle or note them in the galley and return it to the publisher, who will see that the mistakes are corrected before final publication.
Sometimes if the book is a technical publication or something of that nature, the author will be sent a second galley copy, but normally once the first galley is sent and returned, the book goes to press. May all your stories be winners. I Hope you have tremendous success and place all of your properties very quickly.
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Don't wait to be a writer.
start with fillers.
start with jokes.
start with vignettes.
Remember, there are some people making a good living who don't do a thing but come up with IDEAS other writers can develop.
The key is to begin scribbling and don't look back.
If nothing else, start yourself a blog. When positive feedback begins to trickle in you'll gain confidence to stretch out to bigger and better things.
Are you a REAL writer?
The heroes of Homer still romp through the Trojan plains. The wisdom of Confucius still rings with truth. The last minutes in the life of Socrates shall never die. Christ rises triumphant from the tomb. The immortal works of Shakespeare shall yet claim the thespian boards of deepest space. Gulliver shall travel on forever.
Maybe none of the writers you see working here at Tale Wins will ever be that good, but we intend to give them every chance to make it into the Literary Hall of Fame. Remember too, you don't have to be THE best to be proud of doing your best.
It is said you never get a second chance to make a good first impression.
On the web that is very definitely NOT TRUE. Writers on the web can change the ending of each story twice a day, or even change it every time a new visitor comes, according to whether it is a man, woman, or child visiting, or some other criteria entirely.
On the web you can go on improving your story any time and every time you feel like it. You can have your own web site and rearrange each page in it as often as you like. You can change the links and the navigation system as often as you like. If you aren't getting paid enough you can find better advertisers.
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Earl H. Roberts