Ten Things You Probably Shouldn't Ask for During Contract Negotiations
Advance Check -- you're not going to see this until after the contract is signed, sent to legal to be checked, lost for a week, reviewed by the senior editor, lost for three weeks, signed by the executive editor, shuffled into the wrong pile, accidentally filed by an intern, found after seven phone calls from your agent, sent to accounting, used as a coffee coaster for another four weeks and then flagged for a notation error, in which case a new copy of the contract has to be drawn up and sent to you for resigning, or your book has been published, remaindered and goes out of print, or your estate comes out of probate, whichever is the most financially convenient for the publisher.
Apologies -- So the editor who is making the offer rejected your last manuscript by sending you a post card with This SUCKS scrawled on it in pink ink. Say nothing. Wait. Think of that day in the future when you deem it time to send the editor a parting gift. I recommend a box of brand new pink ink pens and a how-to book on improving penmanship. Plus you can recycle the rejection postcard and make it into a gift tag, crossing out This and replacing it with your handwriting, or perhaps offer advice on other, southern, insertable uses for the pens.
Champagne -- you don't want to get the other parties involved plastered; they might start telling you and your agent the absolute truth -- and giggle while they do it.
Diamonds -- okay, for all your hard work you definitely deserve that tiara from Tiffany's, but you know they're just going to slip you cubic zirconium and later swear they thought it was real, or word the contract so that a gift of a tiara is implied but one with real diamonds is never actually offered.
Facelift -- sure, your sagging jowls and the carry-ons under your eyes aren't going to get you last place in the Prettiest Author of the Year contest, but remember, they still think that biophoto you sent them of your granddaughter is you.
Parties -- the only time your editor will actually party is when your novel hits #1 on the Times list, and then the partying won't be with you. Before your editor leaves work early to start drinking, though, you'll get a nice phone call.
Quote From Big Name -- this is how big name quote demands work: you ask for Charlaine Harris, you'll get Harriet Klausner; you ask for John Grisham, you'll get Harriet Klausner, you ask for Stephenie Meyer, your editor will ask me, I'll say I don't do quotes anymore, and then you'll get Harriet Klausner.
Revenge -- baby, what do you think signing that contract is?
Stephen King's Home Phone Number -- he never answers it, and Tabitha gets tired of everyone saying, "But you know, Mrs. King, I thought your books were really cute, too."
Tranquilizers -- you don't have your own supply stocked yet? Okay, come to the next cover art-traumatized authors' meeting, and we'll front you some freebies.