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General Forge Forums => Independent Publishing => Topic started by: Jeremy Keller on March 02, 2009, 07:32:22 AM

Title: Contracts for editors?
Post by: Jeremy Keller on March 02, 2009, 07:32:22 AM
Hi everyone.  I've lurked around here for quite some time, but this is my first time posting.  I've just finished writing a manuscript for a game system and I'm starting down the road to self-publishing it.  While I like having my hands in every bit of the process, there is at least 1 person who is not me who I need to get involved in the process.  An editor.

I figure there are many people here who have been down this road ahead of me, and hopefully it's been so well tread that this is easy to answer:

What kind of contract do I need for an editor?  Do I need to protect their and my rights regarding IP the same way I would for an artist or writer?  I want to be creator-friendly as possible, but is an editor considered a creator in this sense?  If I wanted to re-purpose my own writing sometime down the road, I wouldn't want to be stuck needing the editor's permission.  How is this usually handled in the self-publishing biz?


Title: Re: Contracts for editors?
Post by: Luke on March 02, 2009, 11:04:59 AM
Hi Jeremy,

My editing contracts are very simple: "I will pay you X to edit this manuscript by Y."

There are three types of editing that I use: content editing, copy editing and proofreading.

Content editing is the heaviest work. That's where the editor helps you put all of your ideas in order and ensures that they all work together.

Copy editing is where the editor goes in and makes sure your writing makes sense. He suggests fixes for problems that he finds.

Proofreading is where the editor corrects your grammar and punctuation.

At BWHQ, each type of editing is a separate contract. We do at least three passes per book. Usually, many more.

That said, even the content editor is not a creator. The editor is the editor and should be credited as such. Editors are often overlooked and undervalued because they aren't creators.* However, editors are vital to the creative process. They help you take your fledgling idea and turn it into something that can be read and understood by your audience.

Hope that helps,

*Ironically, to call them creators is to undermine their substantial contributions to the process! It's an insult. Editors edit. It's hard!

Title: Re: Contracts for editors?
Post by: Jeremy Keller on March 02, 2009, 11:31:33 AM
Thanks Luke, that helps a lot.

It seems to me though, that the contributions of an editor might get into the realm of those protected by copyright.  Does anybody use a more detailed contract that gets into these rights?

Title: Re: Contracts for editors?
Post by: Adam Dray on March 02, 2009, 11:50:15 AM
You're pretty safe, but if you're worried, get a lawyer. Don't ask strangers on the Internet for legal advice, as a general rule.

When I edit someone's work, I work out the details in email. Like Luke said, it's basically just a summary of the work, the deadlines, and the price. I'm also concerned with how and when you will pay me, of course. I also like to clarify exactly what kind of edit you expect, how many passes I am signing on for, and so on.

In general, the work you create is yours. If I come along and add to it substantially, I have at best created a derivative work to which you have strong rights. Under U.S. law, work for hire is usually understood to confer copyright to the payer, unless alternative arrangements are made in advance. For example, I don't own any copyright on the software I write for the company that employs me at my day job.

If you are still concerned, you can work out a simple email agreement that says something like, "Editor agrees that all copyrights for the work edited, including any additions or enhancements to the work and any derivative works, belong solely to the Author." Really, the less legalese you write yourself, the better off you'll be if you actually need to fight this in court. Write it as plainly as you can.

The easiest solution is to get some references. Find out what the person has edited and ask his clients if there's anything you should know about working with this editor. The RPG "industry" -- especially the indie RPG diaspora -- is pretty small. People know each other.