Re: Contract writing

Subject: Re: Contract writing
From: "Robert L. Gidley" <WizDino -at- AOL -dot- COM>
Date: Fri, 5 May 1995 11:17:53 -0400

RoMay,

> I've a question for all you experienced contract writers. Do you have
> any advice on what to include when preparing a contract? Are there any
> guidelines or checklists to follow? The tax thread and other comments
>related to how to deal with setting rates have been valuable, so far.

I've been doing freelance contract writing for some 10 years now, and my
attitude about contracts is to keep it simple. After all, the contract is
only as good as your relationship with the client!

If you go to a lot of effort (and expense) and get a nice, legal contract and
the client breaks the contact, you can't call the Contract Police and have
them arrested. You have to go to court (which can take years) and (maybe) get
a judgement against them (assuming they are still in business!).

So, I view a contract as a way to make it clear to both the client and myself
what our obligations and rights are.

Among the things I try to cover are:

o This is a "work for hire" (magic phrase!). As soon as the client PAYS
THEIR FINAL BILL, copyright transfers to them. (This way, if you don't get
paid and you still want to go to court, you can sue them for copyright
violation.)

o Hourly rate (or amount of bid if flat rate), and billing details, like
how soon I expect to get paid (usually Net 15 days), what I bill for (I bill h
alf-rate for travel time). For new clients, I might have a "1/3 up-front; 1/3
before you get the stuff" clause.

o What, exactly, I will deliver (hard copy? how many copies? files? what
format?).

o When, exactly, that will be delivered.

o I usually state that the client will be responsible for the accuracy of
the technical content (hey--I'm just the writer!).

A lot of it depends on the client. With some clients, I'll include the Scope
of Work as part of the contract, going into excrutiating detail about what
gets done when. (This is extra useful for Flat Rate work, because when the
scope changes [as it always does], you have a basis for charging more.)

With other clients, I'll just shoot them an e-mail that covers the basic
points.

For me, contracts are mostly for new clients. They're nervous about whether
they're going to get anything for their money. I'm nervous about getting
their money. Once I've done a job or two for them, I usually end up on a
"I'll send you bills, you pay them" basis.

Hope this long-winded explanation helps!

Robert Gidley
Wizard Textware


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