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Keep Your Contracts

I've been sorting through my past publications with an eye to putting some of them up on AnthologyBuilder, and let me tell you, trying to chase down electronic contracts in a mail archive that is tens of thousands of messages long is NOT FUN. (Yes, I can search on the title of the story, but given the number of different markets some of these stories were submitted to, that is only marginally helpful.)

So. A word of advice. If you intend to ever be moderately prolific as a writer, SAVE YOUR CONTRACTS. Not only that, but you should create a special mail folder for them and dutifully transfer messages there as soon as they arrive.

You may also want to set up a quick-reference sheet so that when an editor contacts you about reprint rights (and they do start doing that, eventually) you can easily tell whether a story's exclusivity period has expired. An Excel sheet is also helpful for tracking whether you've received payment for published stories. (Yes, you should keep track. Publishers are generally honest, but they are also occasionally disorganized.)

My sales log includes the following information:

Story Title
Format (Text, Audio, etc.)
Date of Sale
Payment Amount
Contract Received?
Payment Received?
Expected pay date (on acceptance, on publication, etc.)
Publication Date
Exclusivity expiration date
Word Count

I know it sounds unbelievable if you're just starting out, but after you have about ten published stories, it's hard to keep track of who bought what when, and how long it was. The Excel file is a lifesaver when it's time to start talking about reprints.



( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 16th, 2011 09:21 pm (UTC)

I'm just running into that problem itself. Worse, some of my contracts are hardcopy only -- and which pile of papers did they get tossed into? Are they still in their envelopes or not?

Sigh. My bad.

Dr. Phil
Feb. 16th, 2011 11:15 pm (UTC)
Oh, don't even talk to me about dead-tree contracts. I swear, I'm going to start scanning them just so I can find them again. Grr.
Feb. 16th, 2011 10:54 pm (UTC)
Good advice. Thanks.
Feb. 17th, 2011 01:16 am (UTC)
This is such good advice. The email folder seems obvious, but I hadn't thought of that!
Feb. 17th, 2011 02:02 am (UTC)
I have a file cabinet where I keep all the contracts and the reviews, too. Will stop that eventually, I suspect.
Feb. 17th, 2011 09:08 am (UTC)
Ooh -- cataloguing reviews is a good idea. I think I'm going to start doing that.

I've started a separate mail folder for fan letters, too. Mostly to stoke my ego, I guess, but I also figure that if I ever finish That Dang Novel, some of those people might appreciate a personal note about it.
Feb. 17th, 2011 01:21 pm (UTC)
Yes...those are nice to have when you have a multi-rejection day!
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )




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