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Contract Terms Series (IANAL)

There’s a bunch of contract terms for writers that can be difficult to parse for newcomers to the genre, so I want to go over a few in a short, easy contract terms series.

(Note: I am not a lawyer. I am merely speaking from experience on the author side.)


You know the story where super famous people don’t get paid despite the movies they star in, the songs they wrote, etc., bringing in millions? This is often a net vs. gross issue. (Hollywood bastards)

Gross is your total amount that something makes. It really shouldn’t ever be negative. Why? Because even if you only sold one copy/one ticket/one anything, well, you got a positive amount for that. (Extreme couponing aside XD)

Net, on the other hand, is your final income number. The gross number minus all expenses. So, the costs of overhead, the costs of production, marketing, etc., etc., etc.,

The way you get screwed is by having your contract be written in NET instead of GROSS. This means that the company can subtract whatever bills they want from the gross, until they’re negative perhaps… Thereby leaving them not having to pay anyone with contracts dealing with royalties based off net.

Yeah. Messed up, right? Well, big companies are sometimes greedy little buggers.

So, when looking over payment on your contracts, make DAMN SURE that it says GROSS and that the word net doesn’t appear anywhere. Publishers can pay their expenses out of their share. Not yours.

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This is my final post in my contract series for now. I’m not an expert on the subject. Just sharing what I do know in the hopes that it helps someone out there. If I think of something else, or if someone has a question I can answer concerning contracts in the publishing sphere, I might do a few more.

Just be aware that I’m not a lawyer, I don’t play one on TV, and if you’re ever in a situation where you’ve got a big contract with a big name publisher, you probably want to get a lawyer who specializes in such things to look it over because they will certainly catch far more than you can alone. I mean, unless you are a lawyer specializing in publisher contracts ;)