A publishing contract is freaking me out...

Pt
Ptz
Posts: 31
Joined: Tue Apr 01, 2008 1:54 pm

Wed Oct 07, 2009 10:34 am Post

...I think I made a very naive mistake. My (esteemed) London publisher sent me the publishing contract via ordinary mail (I don't live in the UK). I signed it. I sent it back. It was April. The book (a collection of edited texts) is due for publishing in March 2010. To this date (October) my publisher hasn't signed the contract yet. Of course I realize my mistake now: I signed first. I should have asked for a signed copy to be sent to me first. But I never imagined such a situation. Two years spent on a book, an enthusiast, well-known publisher, a contract in my mailbox... I've repeatedly asked my publisher to send me a signed copy of the contract to no avail. Am I being too nervous for nothing, or is this an anomaly, as I fear? I'm really having a bad time, living with the doubt that I spent a year dealing with the wrong publisher who is not going to publish me any longer. What's most depressing is the fact that I can't get an answer from the publisher about this issue, I can only talk to one editor, who told me they haven't started yet to work on the typescript... Have you ever been in a similar situation?
Pz

Ap
Apollo16
Posts: 198
Joined: Sun Dec 07, 2008 7:23 pm

Wed Oct 07, 2009 2:38 pm Post

This is a common dirty trick in the US. I don't know about the laws in the UK. They don't have to pay you until X days after they sign the contract so they hold off signing it. What you can do in the US is send a registered letter saying unless you get a signed contract back in X days the contract is null and void. If they still want the piece they will sign. If they are looking for a way out, you have given it to them and they simply don't sign and thereby ditch you. But... at least you will have your rights back. You caught one fish with that bait... you will catch another.

Apollo16

dr
druid
Posts: 1721
Joined: Fri Jun 22, 2007 2:29 pm
Platform: Mac, Win + Linux
Location: Princeton NJ, USA

Thu Oct 08, 2009 2:34 am Post

This situation is exactly why it's best to have a literary agent to handle all contractual matters. You might be able to contact one, explain your predicament, and have him/her go to bat for you. No publisher wants to have agents angry as well.