This is a call for help and contributions for a project that (if I get some collaborators) might be part of the maker challenge or might be something that lays the groundwork for a future project.
One of the tricky things about agreeing to and negotiating contracts for publishing something is an unfamiliarity with the options available. Unless you’ve done a lot of publishing, you might not have a sense even of what an author’s contract looks like. Even if you have published a lot, you might not know what a specific publisher offers—are you going to agree to write a contribution to a book only to discover that the publisher demands that you sign over your copyright and isn’t willing to negotiate? (That’s not a hypothetical example, by the way.) I’ve written about negotiating a new contributor’s contract; my experience of doing that and sharing the process suggests there’s a real hunger for advice on what contracts look like and what our options are for publishing.
What I’d like to see is a site where people can upload and share their contracts. There are possibly legal issues to sort through—I’m pretty sure that most contracts aren’t proprietary and therefore we can share them publicly, but I’m also pretty sure that most publishers might not like that. There are technical issues to sort through—what sort of platform is best for a project like this, allowing for public uploads of documents and controlled options for tagging and searching? And there are sustainability issues—this might be a project that is best run by an organization rather than an individual.
I’d love it if there were some THATCampers who wanted to think through these issues with me and to build a prototype of what it might look like. And I’d really love it if there were THATCampers who would be willing to contribute their contracts to it. (If you do contribute your contract, you probably want to black out your name and your publication’s name, but you’ll need to leave the publisher’s name visible.) If you want to contribute your contract, you can leave a link to it below or email it to me (<a href=”“>sarah.werner at gmail.com</a>)