Blogger: Rachel Kent
Location: Books & Such main office, Santa Rosa, Calif.
It’s sometimes easy to lose track of the real reason we’re doing this work of writing books, publishing books, and publicizing what’s been published. I’ve seen a number of instances lately that caused me to realize I need to be reminded just why I do what I do.
This series might not be for everybody. If you write for the general market, you probably don’t have much to do with the CBA market (Christian Booksellers Association). If you do write for or work in the CBA market, you might be doing just fine in all of these areas, but here’s a reminder to myself as much as to anyone else.
Day One: Honoring Contracts
“God is not a man, so he does not lie. He is not human, so he does not change his mind.
Has he ever spoken and failed to act?
Has he ever promised and not carried it through?” Numbers 23:19 (NLT).
Let’s all remember to try to be like God when it comes to contracts. His word is good. You never have to doubt his promises. That’s how we as Christians should strive to act as well. Yes, we are human and will make mistakes and will fail due to life circumstances, but let’s stop using our humanity to excuse our actions.
I have heard recently of a few Christian authors who have paid very little attention to what they’ve agreed to in their contracts. Failing to turn in books by deadline. Failing to do the promised publicity that helped get them contracted in the first place. Failing to write a quality project. And so many other scenarios. In doing this they have created a lot of strife for the publishing houses they’re contracted with and their agents as well. Their actions have damaged reputations and relationships.
I’ve also heard stories about some Christian publishing houses that ignored contracts and went ahead with publishing ebooks they didn’t have rights to. And some Christian publishing houses have refused to honor the return of rights paragraphs in the contracts creating huge ordeals over something that should be very simple.
I’ve heard of Christian agents who pretend that multiple publishers are interested in a project to ratchet up the price. Or who advise clients to break previous commitments when they receive contract offers that conflict with previous agreements that won’t pay as much money.
Situations like these should not exist in Christian publishing. We can’t change the way other people work, and we can’t change that we are human, but I hope all of you will join me in working hard to honor our contracts and promises.
Are you with me? 🙂
D. Ann Graham
Definitely with you on this one, Rachel. I am amazed at how David had people in his life who actually betrayed him (one might say “broke their original contract”), and he still would not take back any of the promises he had made to them, because he had already given his word. I am also reminded of Isaac, who accidentally (through deception) blessed the wrong son, but could not take it back, because he had already spoken it.
These sort of things lead me to believe that our words are tangible things that effect others like ripples moving out from throwing a stone in a pond. And if that is so, maybe our own lives would be more brilliant and generate more respect, simply by actually doing what we SAY we will do.
Even if it’s hard.
Yes. Integrity is so important in every aspect of life. Including work (writing might be fun work, but it’s work). 🙂
I’m behind you 100% Rachel. We have a responsibility when we work within this market. For many, this is a ministry they have been called to perform by their Creator. Our responsibility should be taken seriously. Just as we would expect others to keep the promises they made to us, we must keep ours to them. This extends to oustide the publishing realm too. This is a good reminder for all of us.
I look forward to this week’s posts.
Unfortunately, some Christian writers in their desire to be published (or make money) and some Christian publishers trying to keep their business afloat (and make money) lose sight of the God-honoring principles that they once upheld and promoted.
We need to heed Jesus’ warning, “What good will it be for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul?”
Janet Ann Collins
Who could not agree with you? Honesty is the best policy even for non-Christians and it’s a shame there is so much dishonesty in the world.
Yes, I whole-heartedly agreed. I once chose a real-estate agent simply because she attended the same church. I assumed since she was a Christian, she must be honest. That unfortunately was not the case. I would not have felt nearly so betrayed had I chosen a name from the phone book. As Christians, our promises should be good. Yes, we’re human and we sometimes fail, but we must also keep in mind that the eyes of the world are on us.
I’m sure the Christians who break their contracts do so with the very best justification, but I wonder if it all comes back to faith–or a lack thereof. Do we believe God will reward us for our obedience, even if it means, in the short run, giving up something important to us–time, money, perceived opportunity. If God is God, then He can handle it, and I believe He always rewards obedience.
One should also adhere to the spirit of the contract in addition to the letter of it. I hate it when I see folks trying to wiggle through loopholes to avoid doing what is expected of them.
Do what’s expected of you, and then some.
Matthew 5:41 And whosoever shall compel you to go a mile, go with him two.
Too often I forget to simply “let my ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and my ‘No,’ ‘No.'” Jesus is the inspiration for my writing; surely his wisdom applies to any future book contracts.
I didn’t realize that this was a problem in the CBA. It’s pretty disheartening. Thanks for letting us know about this situation. I appreciate your insight.
Christian Fiction Author
I’m with you Rachel. Thanks for sharing truth – although, some people can’t handle the truth. I’m one of those authors who was terminated immediately (without the contractual 30-day written notice) via email by my literary agency.