One of the most vital things the GCD (NWU Grievance and Contract Division) does is review contracts and advise members on terms. But we don’t tell members what to do. We expect members to become proactive after reading the NWU Guide to Book Contracts and learning why terms are good or bad. For instance, a writer should never, ever assign his or her copyright to a publisher! Negotiating changes in contract language in the writer’s favor is challenging, but it’s also essential if writers want to protect their rights and make more money.
Members of the GCD give contract workshops at the NWU offices, and other writer or academic conferences. We’d like to make them available to all members via webinars, and we’re rolling out our first one on e-books in early 2015. A chapter can also sponsor a contract workshop for its members via Skype. While we can give all-day or half-day workshops in person, 60-to-90-minute sessions are best via video conference.
First we need to know what topics interest members. For instance, I’ve given an hour-long workshop on copyrights, and how to prevent digital piracy for our New York chapter. Other potential topics might be academic contracts; why warranties and indemnification are important; and/or strategies for negotiating better contract terms.