A few weeks ago, I had the opporunity to meet with Katherine Carmody Holliday Esq. of Carmody Holliday Legal Service about a contract I had received for my paranormal romance novel. She gave me some wonderful insights and advice and after our meeting I asked her to write a letter explaining what paranormal romance authors should expect from a literary attorney.
I hope you find her letter helpful. And remember, paranormal romance contracts are two way streets. You must protect yourself, be educated about your options, and only sign after you have complete knowledge of what the fine print truly means.
(Shared with permission from Katherine Carmody Holliday)
CARMODY|HOLLIDAY L E G A L S E R V I C E S , P L L C 101 East Broadway · #503 · Missoula · Montana · 59802 PO Box 8124 · Missoula · Montana · 59807 tel 406.830.3327 · fax 406.830.3328 · firstname.lastname@example.org
[A paranormal romance] author may wonder why she needs an attorney when signing a publisher’s contract. Keep in mind that a contract is a legal document which means that each word has legal consequences. Typically, the publisher will present a contract that its attorney has drafted. The language of the proposed contract will likely favor the publisher.
[A paranormal romance] author should never feel pressure to sign the publisher’s contract as proposed. Contracts should be negotiated to ensure fairness.
[A paranormal romance] author’s attorney will review the contract, and make suggestions on how to change the contract so that it will fairly achieve the author’s goals and desired relationship with the publisher. A main goal of this contract review is to edit the contract in a way that allows the author to keep more rights to her work.
The attorney will provide the publisher with a copy of this edited contract, and the negotiation process will ensue. It is unlikely that the publisher will accept all proposed changes, and it is up to the author to decide which changes are necessary; a lawyer will help with that decision-making process. A publishing deal will occur if the publisher and the [paranormal romance] author can agree on the contractual terms. If the publisher demands terms that are unfair, then the [paranormal romance] author will likely want to walk away from the deal and not sign anything.
When meeting with an attorney, the [paranormal romance] author will want to come to the meeting with any items that the attorney will need to review a particular contract. Usually, these items include a copy of the publisher’s proposed contract and any emails that the [paranormal romance] author has had with the publisher relating to the contract and other aspects of the future relationship between [paranormal romance] author and publisher. Also, competing offers from other publishers for the Work can be helpful for the attorney to have, since that information may assist in the negotiation process.
Hiring an attorney, should make the contract negotiation process more comfortable, since, the [paranormal romance] author will have someone on her side answering questions, looking out for her interests, and handling the negotiation communications with the publisher. I hope this letter answers questions that people may have about using a literary attorney! Feel free to call me with questions.