Tuesday, June 21, 2011


It's a bit ironic that I came across Katheyrn Rusch's articles on negotiation last night since I finally concluded negotiations with Michael's big-six contract about a week ago. The process was an excruciating one which had me in moments of great despair on several occasions because I saw tremendous potential but was pretty sure all my efforts were an exercise in futility.

At the heart of the matter was "industry standard" clauses that most authors don't blink at but scared me to death as they could have substantial impact on Michael's income and potentially destroy his writing career as a whole. Let me make it perfectly clear that I don't think Michael's publisher is evil or trying to destroy him. They are doing is trying to protect their interests. After all they are making a HUGE investment in Michael's writing and they want to provide safeguards that they have as much control as possible. Control = power = maximum flexibility.

The problem is that Michael abhors being controlled. Yes, I know you can say that of just about anyone but Michael takes it to an extreme. When you combine that fact with a large corporate infrastructure that doesn't like changing standard language that hundreds of authors have agreed to...well you can see why I thought it was an exercise in futility.

The chasm between the two positions was monumental and after 3 months and I'm sure some significant hair loss from Michael's agent we've finally reached an agreement that can be signed. I feel bad for Michael's agent. She understood on an intellectual level our desires, but also knows "how the business works" and what was completely off the table.

So getting back to my point of today's post...Negotiation. I'm pretty happy with how it all came out in the end, but like making sausages, you really don't want to see what goes on behind the scenes as it is not very pretty. I found that when reading Kristine Kathryn Rusch's advice I did exactly what she mentioned, although I didn't know that at the time. So the interest of not having others having to stumble their way through it here is what she said that I found to be sage words of wisdom. You can read the whole post here. But in summary the six important things to remember are:
  1. Know What You Want.
  2. Ask
  3. Be Prepared to Walk Away.
  4. Stay Calm.
  5. Never Reveal Your Entire Hand.
  6. Don’t Flip-Flop.
Kathryn has five more posts on negotiation which I have not read but if any of them are half as good as the first one then they should be highly recommended. I'll be reading and commenting on them in a future post.


Unknown said...

Number three is my favorite, and the hardest ones to teach to my 20-something 'adult' children.

But all six are excellent points. Thanks for sharing.

David Gaughran said...

I missed this last week.

Congratulations to you and Michael on holding your nerve, closing the deal, and getting the terms you wanted.