What is a writing contract?
Congratulations! You have landed a client, so what is next?
A writers’ contract of course!
When you negotiate with a client it’s important you both understand the conditions of your business relationship. A writing contract sets out exactly what is expected of you and of your client. It protects you, the services you offer, your work and your client.
By having a writing contract you ensure you have a legally binding document to refer back to. It will aid in preventing any confusion or disagreements.
Why are writing contracts important?
It may sound like a hastle to write up a contract, especially as they can be time consuming. However, a solid writing contract is important because:
- A contract will protect you if the client reneges on your agreement.
- It helps to avoid any confusion or miscommunication.
- A contract aids in presenting a professional image to your client.
- It will help ensure payment for your work (but not all the time).
Clauses of a solid writers’ contract.
You can design your own contract to include anything you believe is important to your business relationship with your client. However there are a few clauses that are essential to a good writing contract to protect you and your client.
The scope of your work:
This is where you detail the services you will be undertaking for your client. I find it helpful to create an itemised list of each part of the writing project. A list makes it understandable and clear as to what you will be doing.
It is also a good idea to mention in this clause that all work you create is original, and that any stats or resources you cite are to the best of your knowledge accurate and truthful.
It is the general consensus that once you have been paid for your work the company or business will have complete ownership over your work.
I mean, it simply makes sense to give up ownership of your content once paid. You don’t expect a clothes designer to come and demand their clothes back years after you have bought them!
However, you obviously would like recognition for your work and to add to your portfolio so you can attract new clients. You cannot do this if you are not acknowledged in any way for the content you provided. You can approach your client and ask permission to have an author byline or name on the content. If your client agrees then make sure it is in the writing contract.
Payment Terms and Conditions:
In this clause it is essential to state your rate, how you wish to be paid and how often you wish to receive payment.
Other things you should list under payment terms and conditions are things like the turnaround time for payment once final work is submitted, whether or not you require a deposit and your policy for late payment.
This is an essential aspect of your writers contract. You don’t want any misunderstandings when it comes to the timeframe for submission of your final work.
You can also include a schedule here that incorporates timing for 1st draft, revisions, final draft etcetera if you are working on a complex project.
It is always a good idea to include a sentence or two about client confidentiality and how you will not reveal any information without express permission that you may be privy too as part of your business relationship.
It is a good idea to include an early termination clause in the case that your client changes their mind and terminates your services.
You should set a dollar amount a client will be charged if they terminate your contract early. Usually this dollar amount would be 20-50% of the agreed upon total for your original work.
If you find writing a contract intimidating, you can go down the simpler path of a “Letter of Agreement”. It is basically a letter that sets out your agreed upon terms and requires two signatures (obviously yours and your client).
I prefer to send out a letter as opposed to drafting a whole contract as it is easier, quicker and still protects you. Read here for more information about the “Letter of Agreement”.
A writing contract is still an important tool to know how to write and use. Click here to grab your FREE writers contract template.
Please remember that I am not a lawyer, and any advice contained within this post is not meant to be taken as professional legal advice. If you wish to have a lawyer draft a contract for you, then by all means, do so. This is meant as a guide and to provide some insight in to what is involved with contracts/LOA.
Have you written a writers’ contract before? Have you used a different template? Is there something you ALWAYS include?