Julie's Quest

Hello, and welcome to my blog. My blog is about the trials and tribulations of writing, where we celebrate successes and commiserate our near misses. We tell it like it is here and will do our very best to help you on the road to being published and pick you up after the rejections (they will come!) Whether you are a professional or amateur writer you will find something useful here.

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Happy Writing

Julie Phillips - freelance writer - member of the Association of Freelance Writers - member of the Society of Authors

Monday, 27 May 2013

Thoughts on contracts



I just wanted to say this re the DCT contract hoo har that's been going on recently and particularly the silent, peaceful protest. I know the new contract is not the best news for writers at the moment. And although I agree with the ethos behind the protest I have to say that my feeling is that by not submitting to DCT publications until July, writers may be scoring a home goal somewhat. I say this because if lots of writers don't submit to DCT for that period there are many more writers who will submit and it is their stories that will be published - not the protesters'.

If DCT don't get the right quality and balance of stories they need they may well stop their fiction sections altogether. I don't need to tell you the consequences for all writers of that. Some writers have even gone so far as vowing never to buy DCT publications again. If a sufficient enough of writers do this then, again, the publications may fold and where does that leave writers? Without a few more outlets for their stories that is where.

Of course writers are quite entitled to submit their work to who they like and to vote with their feet when they don't much like the pay and conditions offered. That is, of course their choice, just as it is for those writers who choose not to join in the protest. We all have different needs and circumstances and should not pass judgement on the decisions people make or make them feel bad about their decisions.

I'd just like all writers to consider their actions and motives for taking part in this peaceful protest and to consider the consequences of that to all writers, not just themselves. What will they do if other publications follow suit and amend their contracts? Will they then stop submitting to these publications as well?

For short story writers, the publishing world is changing. It's certainly become smaller and harder to get into over the past few years. But that shouldn't put us off writing and subbing short stories or implore us to take drastic action against the publishers and editors who are in an impossible position themselves. They either make the changes or they fold or use in house writers to write the story - that's a lose - lose situation for all of us.

It will be interesting to see what happens if the Society of Authors and other such bodies get involved and take DCT to task over the new contracts. Also it will be interesting to see which of those posting and asking writers to join the protest actually will do it themselves. Will DCT amend the contracts? That remains to be seen. Yes writers have a right to be irked by low pay and what is seen by some as a 'rights grab,' but we have to be sensible, calm and professional about this and take each step as it comes. Writers have to make their own decisions about whether to sign or not - personally speaking I would be only too happy to have a story accepted by DCT and to have a chance to see this contract that has so angered many writers!

So all I'm saying really, as a passionate short story writer, is to think very carefully about what has been said about the contracts and what you feel is the best thing for you to do for your own writing and the fate of other writers and the short story magazines.

It would be a great shame to see any more magazines lose their fiction slots.

Julie xx

6 comments:

sallyjenkins said...

Good point, Julie. I hadn't thought of it that way.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure writers should have to consider the consequences of taking part in the protest 'for all writers, not just themselves'. Surely those taking part in the protest could say the same to those people who are willing to accept the new contracts? They might feel it's those writers who are letting the side down. I don't think this is a situation where anyone of either persuasion should be resorting to what sounds like emotional blackmail.

womagwriter said...

Well said, Julie, especially the bit about each writer needing to make their own decisions. Between us we've brought the issues to the forefront, had some good discussion and helpful clarification from SOA (thanks Simon) and a DCT editor, and now it's up to individual writers to do what they think is best.
No one should feel pressurised into signing or not signing.

Julie P said...

Hi, Sally and thank you. I just wanted to put both sides of the issue to the forefront - there really are no 'wrong' or 'right' answers here and people need to read the information out there about the contracts and come to their own conclusions really. It's a difficult situation for both editors/publishers and writers.

Julie P said...

Hi, Womag,

Thank you for taking the time and trouble to contact the editors concerned (and thanks to Simon too!) I think we all have a far better idea of what the new contracts are about and whether we will or won't be signing them. The discussions have been all about finding out the true facts of the contracts and giving writers the opportunity to explore what the new contracts mean to them and other writers. And you're right no-one should feel pressured to sign or not to sign or to protest or not to protest - you have to do what you feel is right for you. But you also have to consider the impact it has on the wider publishing/writer community as well.

Julie P said...

Hi, Anonymous,

And thank you for your valid and much appreciate comment, although I do wish you didn't feel the need to hide behind anonymity to make your points.

As I have made very clear, the decision rest with each individual writer - I have merely presented the issues from both sides of the coin so to speak.

There have been plenty of writers who have posted the original post asking people to consider taking part in the protest but none promoting the other side of the issue - are you then saying that it is perfectly okay for people to ask writers to consider taking part in the protest but it is not acceptable to ask writers to consider all the facts and potential consequences of protesting? Are you saying that one action is 'wrong' but the other is 'right?'

In this issue of whether writers decide to sign the contract or not sign the contract there can be no 'right' or 'wrong' answers. People have to decide for themselves what it right for them whilst being aware or all the pros and cons of their decisions.

In no way is it emotional blackmail - it's a presentation of the facts both in signing the contract or not and in protesting or not. I think people are quite capable of reading the facts and making up their own minds on what is right for them and their writing career - I haven't said don't sign this contract or sign this contract - or asked people not to protest or protest - that's non of my business! But presenting all the facts with Simon Whaley and Womag Writer is what we have done. And I hope writers will now feel a whole lot better placed to make their own decisions. That was all we wanted to do - to enable people to decide for themselves - whatever that decision is.