Tired of Being in Limbo, Seeking Contract Closure

Flickr/Pierre Galin

This post was about a problem that seemed serious at the time but has since been solved. It is no longer relevant. 

OK, I’m naive, stupid and ignorant. But I’ve learned a lot.

The most important being  a recent installment in conversation with an experienced illustrator whom will remain nameless.  I owe a lot to her. To start with I told this illustrator that the illustrator I had a contract with hadn’t replied to my emails in ten days and her portfolio for my children’s book was due in two weeks. My nerves had been on edge from previous laxness in communication with this teen illustrator. I have feared the worst, from a computer breakdown to her having a nervous breakdown. But why wouldn’t her mother call me or why wouldn’t she reply to my email when I shared my fears? After all, the mother co signed the contract since my illustrator was a minor. Thankfully no money has exchanged hands. I only have my disappointment.

So in making this long story short, I’ll tell what I learned from the experienced  illustrator I found when I  went looking after  it became clear to me that I didn’t have a contract with my teen  illustrator for “Annie’s Special Day”. When my calls to her cell phone came back with “voice mail box full”, I started getting really  nervous.

With this experienced illustrator we started talking about payment installments and it came about that I read her my contract with my publishing house. We got to the part about my royalties and I realized I may be disclosing too much.

Yep, I had.And this is when it began to be really strange.

As it turned out it was lucky that I had because she had experience in contracts and knew my royalties weren’t  adding up; that the percentages were too large.  And not only that, I also haven’t heard from my publishing house in a month. I never got my signed contract back. So I don’t think we even have a contract. (Yes, I’ve looked in my scam folder). I sent my contract to them June 11 and haven’t heard back about it with their signatures or an answer to my question about what the dimensions were going to be on the children’s book. I needed to know that to give it to my illustrator so she’d know how large to do the art. And here it is July 17th. My more experienced illustrator told my she needed to know book dimensions before she could even start on the art for my book. What if my teen illustrator had insisted on that, too. For all I know that’s why she broke communication with me. Though I think other wise.

What are your experiences with emails for professional writers and illustrators? What are your experiences with friends and family? What do you do when you don’t want to do business with someone, not reply at all or reply saying your business relationship is over?

About ClaraBowmanJahn

Journal writer. Author of "Annie's Special Day" And coauthor of Edmund Pickle Chin, A Donkey Rescue Story." Proud mother and grandmother of wonderful kids. Wife of brilliant husband. Servant of two cats. Member of Pennwriters and SCBWI.
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7 Responses to Tired of Being in Limbo, Seeking Contract Closure

  1. Widdershins says:

    Oh Clar, that really sucks. But I’m glad you’ve reached your ‘line in the sand’.

    In any kind of business dealings NEVER assume anything. Especially when dealing with douchebags. They’re usually the first to scream ‘fire’ if they think their prerogatives are being trodden on.

    If you can afford it get some advice from a lawyer who specialises in literary contracts to see exactly where you stand. (an ordinary/business contract lawyer won’t know the ins and outs of literary contracts) If not then send them a letter/email stating clearly why you feel the contract is null and void. Maybe saying that if you don’t hear from them within a specified time then you’re outta there.

    Check your contract for the clause that should be in there about the circumstances whereby either party can opt out.

    Keep copies of EVERYTHING, both digital and hardcopy, and date them.

    Make a timeline for yourself tracing everything you can remember, right from the beginning.

    You might not need all this stuff, but sure as eggs are eggses, if you don’t have it, that’s when you’ll need it.


    • clarbojahn says:

      Husb and I think we don’t have a contract because they didn’t sign it. I haven’t gotten a copy of the signed contract so I think it’s void anyway. I have sent them a dated copy with me saying “I’m outa there” by the end of the month, giving them two weeks notice. I know they’re probably real busy or on vacation so I hope I’ve given them enough time. it’s the original email that I’ve waited an eternity for.

      Thanks for all the good advice, I need it. Do you really think I need a lawyer?


  2. nrhatch says:

    The road to publication is riddled with potholes. Good luck ironing the situation out.


    • clarbojahn says:

      Thanks Nancy, I need some luck. I knew publication was hard but this waiting is for the birds. Thanks for stopping by and offering me some solace.


  3. clarbojahn says:

    Good new’s. I have a contract! the email came in to my inbox this afternoon and says apologies and if I have more questions to ask them. Questions about the book dimension and what printer they use and if the illustrator embeds the text or if they do are the main three that I have at this time. Can anyone else think of any others?


  4. Joni Cole says:

    Phew, Clar, glad the contract arrived. It seems every step of the business of getting published is fraught with loopholes, missteps, insanity, criminal behavior…and sometimes true good will and teamwork and appreciation for all your hard work as a writer. Here’s wishing you only these last three from here on out!


    • clarbojahn says:

      Thank you, Joni. It was due to an honest mistake that I had to wait so long to hear anything. The publisher put my contract in my file and it didn’t show up her computer. I’m glad I followed up. Thanks for stopping by and commenting. 🙂


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