(This is a sample from my writing craft series; you can read more on Patreon. Please note that these first posts are about things that aren’t strictly about the craft of writing, but the craft of surviving as a writer, if you will, because I want to get them out of the way first.)


The specifics of negotiation (which include contracts and other legal matters I’m not qualified to talk about) are involved, tricky, and beyond the scope of this book. The generalities are pretty simple, though.

  • You want something, and can provide something else.
  • The other side wants what you can provide, and can provide you what you want.
  • Both sides should benefit, receiving fair recompense for what they provide.

Writers at all levels tend to get into situations where they provide something of great value (original creative work) for which they are then paid less than what it is worth, while giving more or less complete control to the other party, more or less for the life of the copyright of the piece, without an real legal protection.

I strongly recommend reading The Copyright Handbook from Nolo Press before you embark further on your publishing adventures. I probably won’t stop strongly recommending you do so, either.

You’ll have to consult other sources in order to get the specifics of what you should negotiate for, what constitute the situation’s specific red flags, and what you should absolutely, positively, never do.

But the essence of negotiation—a template, if you will—goes like this:

  • Don’t pre-negotiate. Don’t compromise before you even start.
  • State what you want.
  • Acknowledge the other party’s point of view.
  • State your point of view.
  • Re-state what you want.
  • Know, beforehand, what will make you walk away from the deal, and be prepared to walk.

That’s it.

(Click here for examples and more information on negotiation, and another section on apologies, including ones where you didn’t think you did anything wrong…)