All of my writing and ghostwriting contracts contain language that let’s either party cancel or change the contract. I usually do it more or less like this:
It is recognized that this is a personal service contract and that although this represents our mutual intention on this date, things can change. Therefore, this Agreement can be modified by either party in writing with 14 days notice and is terminable by either party in writing with 14 days notice.
I do this because, particularly in big writing projects like books, things are bound to change. In fact, sometimes there are big enough changes to warrant a renegotiation.
For example, I’m about 7/8th of the way through a book that, at the author’s direction, has an almost academic tone. The author has finally realized the tone is too dour and together we’ve worked out a whole new, almost light-hearted approach.
Everything needs to be rewritten except the title! But not everything that’s been written will be wasted. Instead I’ll take that 7/8th or so of material and reshape it so the information, which is solid, is the same, just presented in the new, fun, much more accessible way. (I told you I was good – keep your fingers crossed.)
I told them I’d send them an amended contract. I’m going through the original, doing some rewriting, particularly about pay and deadlines since this client has been, well, not prompt.
The biggest issue in my mind is how much to charge for what is almost a totally new book. It’s tempting to say it will cost as much as the original book, but that’s not right. Fortunately I have a couple of business and writer friends to consult with and they have encouraged me not to sell my self short by charging only 50% of the original fee. Three quarters seems to be the number I’m comfortable with. So that’s what I’m proposing.
I think it will fly, and if it doesn’t I know we both want the book badly enough to make any compromise pretty smooth.
I’ll keep you posted.
You may also want to read Ghostwriting – 9 Elements Of My Contracts or Letters of Agreement.
How do you renegotiate writing contracts?
Photo by Evan Earwicker, http://www.northwestgraphic.com/ from http://www.sxc.hu