As someone who makes a living off writing, it’s always worth paying attention to the professional side of a convention schedule. At FantasyCon 2017, that meant attending a panel on “The Author as a Business”.
The panellists were lawyer and podcaster Marguerite Kenner, agent Juliet Mushens, author Heide Goody, and publisher Francesca T. Barbini. That’s a good mix of expertise and perspectives, which is exactly what you want on a panel like this. After all, there are a lot of different ways to operate these days and understanding that is part of making writing work for you.
For me, much of this panel was a useful revision of things I’ve heard on podcasts or read in articles before. There’s a lot of information out there, it’s hard to make it all stick, and hearing an interesting discussion on it reminded me of things I’d neglected, as well as shining new light on them. But there was one over-arching theme that came up and that’s worth sharing:
Know exactly what the rules are that you’re working by.
This can mean getting a lawyer to look over your contract. It can mean sweating the details of what rights you’re giving someone to your work. When writing with a partner, it can mean setting out clear rules for how you’ll work together and how the profits will be split.
These details aren’t always exciting. They’re not always comfortable topics of conversation. But if you’re going to be a professional, they’ll affect your livelihood, and that means they’re things you need to know.