FAQ: What’s in your contract and how does it protect me?

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Handing your manuscript over to a stranger is scary, I absolutely get it. That’s why I have a really detailed but easy to read, jargon-free contract that I’ll ask you to sign before we work together. That way, you know exactly what you’re getting out of our work together and you’ll know you’re protected.

Here is my contract template for you to read through now, with an imaginary client and manuscript slotted in. This is a contract for The Monster; contracts for other services will look a little different.

What do you use to send contracts?

A while ago I posted about how payment works at Writer and the Wolf and I mentioned the online project management platform I use, called Dubsado. This is where I store my contract templates and it means you’ll sometimes receive documents from me that have Dubsado in the URL.

How and when will I receive a contract?

When you book an editing service with me, I’ll send you a digital proposal via Dubsado which outlines all the details of that service and what to expect. Once you’ve confirmed you’re happy with all that, click ‘next’ and you’ll be taken through to a digital contract.

Where did you get your contract template from?

I created my contract using a combination of recommendations and templates from CIEP (Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading) and The Paper It’s Written On: Defining your relationship with an editing client by Dick Margulis and Karin Cather. I took the points that were relevant to me and added some of my own. 

What does the contract look like?

It’s not super long – it comes in at about four sides of A4 and it’s pretty nicely spaced out and neatly formatted so you’re not staring at a huge, impenetrable block of text! Here are some shots of the first three pages of my contract template. You can click them to see them in full:

What’s in the contract?

After including all the details of your manuscript including the name and word count, I list lots of information about the project and what you can (and shouldn’t) expect:

1. Scope of work

This is where I outline the service I’m providing and what you can expect.

2. Planned communications

I list all the points at which can expect to receive an email from me throughout the project.

3. Fees and payment

I tell you how much the service costs and how you can pay. I also cover cancellations and refunds.

4. Deliverables

I list exactly what you can expect to receive when I deliver your project, including files and follow-up support.

5. Further terms and conditions

This is where I include all those terms that keep us both protected during our work together. The headlines are:

  • The Editor confirms that she/he is self-employed, is responsible for her/his own income tax and National Insurance contributions, and for paying VAT (where applicable) and will not claim benefits granted to the Client’s employees.
  • Any content created by the Editor as part of the editing process will become the copyright of the Client once full payment is complete, unless otherwise agreed.
  • The nature and content of the work will be kept confidential and not made known to anyone other than the Client without prior written permission. Nothing the Client supplies the Editor, including the manuscript, will be shared or used externally.
  • The Client agrees that all material submitted to the Editor is their original work.
  • Editing is a process of offering advice and suggestions to the Client. While the Editor will make every effort to identify and bring questionable material to the Client’s attention, it is not possible to guarantee error-free content.
  • The Editor’s responsibility is limited to notifying the Client of any suspected or unresolved issues within the edited work. The Client is responsible for accepting (or rejecting) the Editor’s suggestions and resolving any issues identified by the Editor (e.g., suspected plagiarism).
  • Rejecting or disliking the Editor’s suggestions is not a basis for refusing to pay the fees outlined in this contract.
  • The Editor will add the Client to her email newsletter subscription list. This newsletter is sent out no more than once a month and will contain content that the Editor believes the Client will find useful. The Client may unsubscribe from the email list at any time.

How do I sign?

You just need to type your name in the field at the bottom of the contract and click ‘agree and next’ and you’re done! Then I’ll sign it myself in the same way.

How do I access my contract?

You can access your contract any time in your client portal (or email me for a link if you’re having trouble finding it). You can also download it as a PDF.


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Siobhan O'Brien Holmes

Siobhan O'Brien Holmes is a developmental editor working with middle grade and YA authors. She specialises in speculative and genre fiction, particularly horror, fantasy, mystery, sci-fi and anything with a dash of magic or macabre. She is a member of the SfEP, EFA, ACES, British Fantasy Society, Horror Writers Association and SCBWI. She has an MA in Novel Writing and an MA in Children's Literature.

All stories by: Siobhan O'Brien Holmes