Yup, I'm still over the moon about selling a story to Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine. WOOO!
But my agent is checking out the contract.
Cool as it is to be accepted into an elite crew of awesome writers, the bottom line is making the best deal.
In this case the money is what it is, and I won't get paid more than they're offering, so that's a non-issue. I wrote the story because I HAD to write it. Getting paid is having cake to go with the yummy sweet frosting.
There are a couple clauses in the contract that bother me, so getting my agent's opinion is just being sensible.
Being a professional writer is more than just selling words--one is self-employed and running a business. It's a damned good idea to give yourself a 101 course in how the business works.
Unless you're willing to put in the time to understand every facet of literary contract law (I'm not), then your agent is your best friend for that kind of thing. Mine is way smarter than I am and spots stuff I miss, but I did bother to read books about contracts to understand the basics. That's how I can spot something bothersome in the first place.
The main point here is that ALL CONTRACTS ARE NEGOTIABLE. I see new writers, so overjoyed at getting the validation that someone else likes their hard work enough to pay for it, sign without fully understanding the details. Some have signed away their copyright or get locked into a hostile 7-year contract or discover they have to submit all their future books to that house first for the rest of their professional life, and other disasters large and small.
There are NO such problems with the EQMM contract, but it wants a minor tweaking, and then I'll be delighted to sign!
My agent will make changes, get back with the EQMM people, and submit our version. EQMM is free to agree, make a counter-version, or turn us down flat. It's all negotiable!
I'm sure the deal will go through, as the changes we want are minor. BUT--just like buying a car, you have to be prepared to walk away from a deal if you don't like something.
How to be Your Own Literary Agent by Richard Curtis, I read this one in 1983 and they update it often. It gave me the basics. I don't agree with everything in it, but was glad to use the stuff that worked fine for my situation.
I'm not linking to websites.
If you want to be a pro, then make the library your second home, especially the 808 section.
The Internet is full of strangers with candy and their own agendas. Until you give yourself a good grounding in the basics so you can tell the diff between good advice and eyewash, log off the machine and get to that big building with all the books!