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Keeping Up with Contract Expirations and Other Important Dates

 

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Marilynn Byerly

 

Years ago, at my local sf convention, a writer who had been selling for over 50 years told about his system to keep up with rights and royalty dates. He used index cards and a small index card file box. He put year dates on the separator cards and also had a section labeled for each month.

When he sold the rights to a story, he put that date on an index card labeled with the story's name and other pertinent information then the date of expiration of those rights. He'd file it under its expiration date.

Under the months, he'd put file cards for each royalty period and each book so he'd know each month what checks to expect.

On the first day of each year, he'd pull out all the index cards he'd filed for that year and put them in the proper month's slot so he'd know exactly when he had his rights back so he could remarket them.

With four books and several short stories out, I've found that the system works pretty well, and all three of my publishers pay royalties on a different schedule so it keeps me from being totally confused. The real trick is to remember to put the index card into the system in the first place. I always try to do it at the time I sign each contract.

If an expiration date is connected to when a book appears on the web site for sale, and that hasn't happened yet, I put a prepared card in the front of the index box until I can fill in the correct dates. I also take a screen shot of the web site and save it so there's no question about the date I picked.

Setting up the same information in a computer database would be easy enough, but I like the permanence of the index cards, and I don't have to worry about having to transfer the data as I move from one system and software update to the next.

 

Copyright 2003 by Marilynn Byerly

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