Freelance Tip: Why a Contract Is Necessary
Now that I am revving up on freelance work, I’m starting to understand the importance of contracts. I’ve never liked contracts, believe me, and I always feel uncomfortable perusing one in front of a client or an employer, as though I didn’t trust him, that he’d insert a clause for his own convenience while I wasn’t looking.But recently something happened that made me realize how important contracts are and why one should study them very well before signing.
One client I used to edit a manuscript for recently terminated our contract after a year’s work. No explanation was offered, although I had an inkling why they decided to end it.
I don’t want to go into details, but let’s just say I was doing editing work for a client who is related to someone whom I once considered family. I gave this client a good “family” price, which was almost 50 percent less than what I would normally charge an author seeking my editing services. The contract included many freebies, including free encoding of the manuscript, which I don’t normally do.
Basically, I thought I was doing business with “family,” and thus, I left out that clause that stipulates what the client should pay should he decide to end the contract because I honestly wanted to see this manuscript through, you know? I always have this special attachment to every manuscript I edit (I usually check how they do at the best-sellers’ list; more on this next week).
I must admit I didn’t see it coming, so I was shocked. I panicked, worried that they would not pay me, and that is the lesson of this story: Treat everyone the same. In business, there are no friends or family.
And yes, don’t forget that termination clause.
Kristen Fischer has a more concise article about contracts here.
Photo credit: Vjik86