Read, read, read that contract. Make sure you understand it. Make sure it is reasonable. Make sure you can live with the worst consequences. Be prepared to negotiate, if needed.
This is my favorite resource when I'm checking out a contract: The Writer's Book of Checklists: The Quick-Reference Guide to Essential Information Every Writer Needs by Scott Edelstein. It has sections on:
- 8 Key Points of a Magazine, Newspaper, Newsletter or Anthology Contract
- 25 Key Points of a Book Contract
But there are other good resources online, too. Check out these three:
If you're more into physical books, here are some other book titles with links to info about the authors when I could find them.
Getting To Yes by William Ury
Kirsch's Guide to the Book Contract: For Authors, Publishers, Editors and Agents by Jonathan Kirsch
Literary Law Guide for Authors: Copyrights, Trademarks and Contracts in Plain Language by Tonya Marie Evans, Susan Borden Evans, Dan Poynter
The Writer's Legal Guide: An Authors Guild Desk Reference by Tad Crawford, Kay Murray
You Can Negotiate Anything by Herb Cohen
Author Kay Murray also has a downloadable pdf on copyrights.
And then there's The Authors Guild. http://www.authorsguild.org/ Their website says, "The Authors Guild has been the published writer's advocate for effective copyright, fair contracts, and free expression since 1912."
Previously, I wrote about contracts on my blog in this entry.