Hello. I’m going to talk about the collaborator’s agreement that is freely available and necessary for anyone who cowrites books with another author or a partner.
Hello. Welcome back, and this is an addendum to my existing post on collaborator’s agreements. First I want to emphasize I am not a lawyer, although this has been used for the last 20-plus years in my career as a songwriter. One of the things I want to emphasize is if you don’t understand something or you don’t think something will work for you, please talk to a lawyer, but as I said before, this has worked for many a year, and I actually received it from a lawyer, although I am not a lawyer.
What I’m going to do is basically talk about the section of this just so you understand. They’re pretty self-explanatory but just to make it easier I’ll go through it. What is a collaborator’s agreement? It’s basically a contract which says one, two, three, four people are working on a specific project, in this case a book, and you’re each getting a certain percentage of the share of the profits. One thing that that also entails is, if you look at the agreement, is you also agree to share that percentage of the expenses.
With that said, I’m going to talk about the basic sections. This won’t take very long. If you look here this agreement is entered into on blah. That’s just a date, no problem. We can’t put in a date. Let’s put in 2/10/2015. It will automatically change the date to long date for you and it will put you to the next one.
We’ll call this Our Great Book. There you go. You can always go back and change this, too. These are fillable Adobe forms. We the undersigned agree to collaborate in writing the aforementioned book with the following understand to which we agree. Basically you’re saying we’re going to write this book and we agree that no expenses shall be incurred within the preparation or presentation of this book without our unanimous consent. You can’t just go out and spend $1,000 with your best friend to create a cover just because that’s cool. No, you have to have unanimous consent to spend any money, whether it’s on advertising, on covers, on editing. Whatever it is, just know that that is your responsibility. If you don’t get unanimous consent, you will be liable for 100% of it.
We agree that if expenses are incurred, each of the writers shall be responsible for a percentage of the expense. That percentage shall be in the same proportion of net profits to which writer is entitled. As we get down here you can see we can change our percentages. Say you’ve got somebody that all they’re doing is adding a chapter, you could put maybe 5%. Somebody else did all the plotting, they get 10%. Maybe you wrote most of it so now you get 75, 80%, whatever it is. Most of the time it’s going to be two of you and it’s going to be 50/50.
We agree to divide any and all net profits we may receive from the sale or promotion of this book in the following proportions. Just talked about that. If the book makes $1,000 and you get 10%, after all the expenses are paid you get your hundred bucks. The first two are mandatory. The red boxes are mandatory because you can’t have a partnership with just one person; that would be ridiculous. You need at least two. This goes up to four. In the writing world you probably will never need more than four people.
Continuing on, we agree that this collaboration has no effect on any other collaborative effort other than this book. That means that we’re only collaborators on this book. If I write another book by myself and I have a partner, they don’t get any share of that unless they have a collaborator’s agreement on that book; that protects everybody. I want to emphasize the reason I use contracts is not because I distrust people. I have been burned before but that’s not the reason I use them now. I learned my lesson that this lays it out. There’s no conflict or very little conflict in the event of something happening in the future. Everybody knows here’s what we agreed to and that’s that. Makes life a lot easier. You don’t have to stress. “Oh my God, this guy only did one chapter. He gets 50%.” Nope, we agreed ahead of time that everybody gets 50/50, whatever it is. It doesn’t matter.
That little rant out of the way, all the writers further agree that all writers and their representatives … Say you die. Copyright lasts after you die now in 99.9% of the countries in the world that signed the Berne agreement … are granted full power of attorney to assign any and all rights, grant any licenses or any other unforeseen legal matter related to this collaboration in the event that one or more of the collaborators are unavailable to give approval for any period longer than x number of days.
All that blah blah means is say ten years from now a Hollywood agent comes up, your partner, you haven’t talked to him in 15 months, 100 months, whatever, in 12 years. Who cares. You wrote the book and you can’t get a hold of the person. You have due diligence you have to do obviously. I can’t see him. Let’s say it’s 90 days or 30 days or 120. You’ve tried for 30 days or whatever this number right here is to get a hold of that person, and of course you will be writing that down, documenting it saying, “I sent out this letter. Couldn’t get a hold of him. Sent emails this day. Called, the number was not in service or somebody else.”
After that number of days you’re allowed to enter the contract with another publisher or another person selling the book, whatever it is, as long as you don’t change these percentages here. You don’t need both people there if one is not available or their heirs or whoever they assigned the rights to is not available.
All disputes arising out of this are under the rules of arbitration of the International Chamber of Commerce. That basically just says that if later on somebody gets pissed off about something the arbitration, which is international, is normal arbitration set of rules.
That’s it. You sign it; they sign it; if you have three or four, you seen it. That’s the end of the agreement. It’s very simple but very, very powerful. Will this cover 100% of every situation? Probably not, but I’m not a lawyer as I said before. Personally, I don’t like spending $250 an hour for things that may or may not happen 55 years from now. Let the thing role. This is 99% air-tight. You’ve got your agreement. Most of the time you’re writing with somebody that you want to write with and these aren’t going to be issues. Just remember, if you spend money you need to get permission. If for some reason you’re in a well you should probably put in your will that this particular case you need to notify the other writer or writers, all these little things. Even if you don’t, there’s a contingency here again with the number of days.
I hope that helps, and please, please do me a favor and use this collaborator’s agreement. As a side note, I will tell you that I had a song that was being looked at by Kenny Rogers back in the 1980s when he was very hot, and I could not get a hold of my collaborator, the other person who wrote the lyrics. I wrote the music. I had to end up giving up that deal for who knows how much money I lost, thousands, hundreds of thousands, maybe even a million dollars, because no publisher was going to touch the song without a collaborator’s agreement or some other agreement giving me the right to speak for the other person.
That is another thing to think about. Don’t just think about today and tomorrow. Think about ten or 15 years from now. If you like this information please sign up for my email list, and you can download this contract right below the video.
Nothing more to say, if you have a cowriter, use it. You will probably thank me later.
© 2015-2016 Jon Griffin