The Grievance and Contract Division’s semi-annual report for the second half of 2015 has just been posted here. We hope you’ll take the time to peruse it.

The GCD is made up of about twenty volunteers at any given time. A lot of people think that all we do is collect money for writers who don’t get paid. We definitely do that, and we have pretty good luck with it although we have no legal background, and refrain from giving legal advice or pursuing legal alternatives. You can learn more about us here.

A large part of our job is advising members on contracts they’re about to sign with publishers, websites, agents, collaborators, work-for-hire clients, and people whom they engage as editors or graphic artists for self-published works. Find out more about that by clicking here .

Circling back to our semi-annual report: It details issues that surfaced over the last six months of 2015, including grievances and contract advisements. For instance, while payment rates and terms are always top concerns of both grievants and contract advisees, the report shows that termination of contracts, indemnification clauses, and e-book terms also ranked high on the list of inquiries we received. That tells us—and should alert authors—to watch for those items in contracts. E-book royalty terms, especially, have been getting worse. That’s why we hope you’ll catch our forthcoming webinar on how to defend your e-book rights. Watch for the announcement.

We field a growing number of requests from self-published authors and those who used subsidy presses. Many writers think that contracts for self-publishing are sealed in stone, but that’s not so. Contracts can be negotiated, and getting the best deal can help you avoid grievances down the road.

Our latest report also details the many requests we receive from members and non-members about everything from defamation and plagiarism to information on certain publishers and agents, whom we can often look up in our database.

So read our report, and contact us with any questions you have. We’re always available at advice@nwu.org.

Barbara Mende is the Grievance and Contract Division Coordinator.