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Deadlines in Book Publishing  

Perhaps the most important part of any contract is setting out when things will happen. 

This means authors' deadlines, of course, but it also has to do with payments, approvals, etc.

It's not enough that the contract set out what you will be paid, it must say very exactly when you will be paid.

If your work is subject to approval by the publisher, and, more importantly, if payment is contingent upon approval, the "when" becomes critical.

An example: You submit your manuscript right on deadline (party time!) You're supposed to receive the second half of your advance or fee upon approval. You're sure your work will be approved because you're a good writer and the editors have worked closely with you the whole way. So. They don't reject it; but neither do they approve it. Where's your money?

Read a contract carefully, and whenever you read "if" and "then," make sure that the "then" is not open-ended.

For example, payment upon approval should read, "Payment will be made upon acceptance and approval of the manuscript, or X days/weeks after receipt of the manuscript by the publisher, whichever comes first."

You can prove date of receipt by registered mail, so you'll know when you should be getting your money.

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Tom Brosnahan