Contracts & Handshakes

We at The Pyrateheart Press like contracts. It makes things so much easier between us and our authors. Having said that, I must inform you several of our authors operate under a handshake deal. Those authors in my original writing circle have been offered a written contract but most have opted to maintain our agreements with a handshake.

Is this a mistake? I think everyone who runs a creative business will think I am nuts to continue to operate without hard contracts on these writers. Anyone who has dealt in intellectual rights would inform my authors they are crazy to trust me. In fact, I tell those who have chosen to use us as consultants that to not have a firm and binding contract, reviewed by a lawyer, is lunacy.

I ask again: is this a mistake? I am certain it is for those writers I do not know. The ones in my writing circle helped form The Pyrateheart Press. Helped get it up and running and often have helped keep it funded.

I have used these people, who choose to write anonymously, as editors, proofreaders, idea creators, plot analyzers, etc. If it needs to be done in the writing world, I have asked them all at one point of time or another to help me with it. Something they have done without payment I might add.  

We, my Wifesty and business partner Yvonne, have offered them hard contracts for their work as well as a part of the business for their help. All have refused. As a consequence, we give them an extra ten percent on their take of the profits derived from their books. We also give ten percent of all profits to the charity of their choice as part of the handshake agreement.

As of this date none want a contract, nor do they want their real names published. I appreciate these people more than I can express. However, is appreciation worth the legal exposure of not having these authors under contract?

Anyone in the business would call me an idiot for not ensuring these authors are under a binding contract which gives me, the publisher, the lion’s share of everything. I often tell those who ask me about royalties that most publishers take the lion’s share regardless of where you go.

Which is true but, yes there is a but here, I do not believe the original writers in my writing circle would do anything against myself and my wife as far as legalities are concerned. This is one of those times when being a businessman is not outweighed by being a friend.

Will it cost me? Any person running a business will tell me it will, sooner or later. Most cite the fact that when one of my books blows up and hits a million copies sold the writer will want to stop being anonymous and lawyer up. Will use their new lawyer to take me to the cleaners.

This could possibly happen. I doubt it will, but if it does, I have two things to look forward to. One, we will have sold a million-copy seller! God how I wish I had the issue of dealing with such a thing. And secondly, I will have a lawyer by then so we will let the lawyers duke it out. Again, I somehow doubt it but who knows. It’s worth it for us to take the chance with our writers and author’s inside the circle.

Outside the circle? Here is where I get all businessman on anyone. I don’t even start work unless I have a signed contract in my hands. Whether you are a writer, an author, an editor; if you do work for hire then it is essential to have a contract. One you take to a lawyer to review.

Here is where I become the hypocrite. Do not under any circumstance do work without a contract. I don’t care if it’s a three-hundred-word blogpost. If you intend to be paid for your work, then take the time to ensure every detail of the job and payment are listed on a piece of paper signed by both you and the person who wants it. There are just too many scam artists out there willing to prey on anyone who will let them. Do Not Let Them. Be a hard ass. Be an asshole if necessary but whatever you do don’t do the job without some form of written agreement.

Having said all that, I wish to thank those who are in my writing circle. The names are pen names, which they prefer to use at the present, but I still wanted to thank them publicly. Thanks to those below who have been with us since the very beginning:

1. Miranda Cummings

2. Lavender Mills

3. Lillian St. Chyr

4. Wendy Folsom

5. Allison Grendel

6. Peter O’Toole

7. Anna Smythe

8. Geo T. Andersen

I thank you all.

I’m Ross, Editor-in-Chief at The Pyrateheart Press and I’m out.

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