Home > For Writers > SFWA Committees > Contracts Committee

Contracts Committee

As directed by the SFWA Board, the purpose of the Contracts Committee is to:

  1. Update and maintain the existing SFWA contract templates;
  2. Work to develop and maintain a repository of sample contracts and contract-related information;
  3. Work to educate members about contract language and recommendations;
  4. Work to help SFWA and its members answer contract related questions and issues.

Please direct any questions or issues to contracts@sfwa.org.

Model Contracts and Contract Information

SFWA has produced model contracts since it was created in 1965. The first, a Model Author-Agent Agreement written by SFWA founder Damon Knight, appeared in the first issue of the SFWA Bulletin in July, 1965. The model contracts are intended to help writers understand publishing contracts and to help them negotiate better contracts.

Versions and Formatting of Model Contracts

SFWA’s model contract are arranged with the text of the contract on the left with the Contracts Committee’s notes explaining the contract on the right. By including detailed notes, the Committee is working to increase the educational value of the model contracts.

The contracts will be modified from time to time, with most changes being minor changes in wording as work on later contracts leads to language that will improve earlier contacts.  Minor changes will be identified by the version number following the decimal point.  (e.g. 3.0 followed by 3.1 and then by 3.2)

Model Reversion Clause, Version 1.1

As part of its ongoing efforts to educate writers about publishing contracts, the Contracts Committee periodically writes new model contracts and contract clauses.   We have now done so for book reversion clauses.  Address comments or suggestions to the Chair, SFWA Contracts Committee at: contracts@sfwa.org

The model reversion clause is based on work done by SFWA’s Contracts Committee and Writer Beware over a number of years.  The members of the Contracts Committee who worked on this model clause were: Jim Fiscus, (Chair), Michael Capobianco, Rosemary Claire Smith, Ginjer Buchanan, Jeff Hecht, Anne Leonard, Ken Liu, advisor and, Victoria Strauss, advisor.  James Beamon is SFWA Board liaison to the Committee. 

The model clause was written as a generic guide to writers, and it is not intended to be and should not be used as boilerplate in contracts by publishers, writers, or agents, and any such use is not approved by SFWA.  Further, any such use be should not be cited as being approved by SFWA.  Use of this model clause by a publisher does not automatically make sales to that market eligible to be used as credentials for SFWA membership.

Legal Disclaimer: Neither the model reversion clause nor the comments thereto are intended to be or should be understood to be legal advice.  The issues presented in the model clause are not an exhaustive list of the issues that may arise, and other important issues may need to be addressed depending on the nature of the relationship of the parties, the jurisdiction that you are contracting in and other factors.  As with any legal document, you should consult a competent attorney familiar, in this case, with the business of publishing as well as the law of the applicable jurisdiction for legal advice.

Download Agreement Version 1.1 DOC | PDF

Model Agent-Author Agreement, Version 3.1

Traditionally, writers have worked with agents on the basis of a handshake.  SFWA has, however, long believed that writers need the protection of a written agreement.  The latest re-working of SFWA’s model agent agreement is more detailed than the previous version so it can address specific problems writers have had in recent years.

Download Agreement Version 3.1 RTF | PDF

Download Previous Agreement Version RTF | PDF

Model Author Collaboration Agreement, Version 1.0

The following is SFWA’s model Author Collaboration Agreement.

As part of its continuing effort to educate writers about publishing contracts, the Contracts Committee periodically writes new sample contracts and updates old sample contracts. Address comments or suggestions to the Chair, SFWA Contracts Committee at contracts@sfwa.org

The model agreement is based on a collaboration agreement written by writer and filmmaker James A. Conrad. The members of the Contracts Committee who worked on the 2017 revision of the contract were: Michael Capobianco, Jim Fiscus (chair), Ginjer Buchanan, Jeff Hecht, Ken Liu, Rosemary Smith, and Anne Leonard.  SFWA Director-at-Large Lawrence Schoen served as an ex-officio member of the Committee.


Model Magazine Contract, Version 3.1

The latest version of the Model Magazine Contract is an update of the 1997 version of the contract, revised to reflect changes in the industry, including the growth of electronic publications.


Intro to Publishing Contracts

This 34 page .pdf document by Sean P. Fodera and C. E. Petit  provides an overview to publishing contracts.

Publishing contracts are, as a rule, neither well organized nor well written. Related, but critical, provisions are often scattered in provisions from the front to the back, and a provision on page six will often negate or vastly modify a provision on page two. Further, there is no such thing as a “standard” contract that cuts across publishers, across types of books, or across much of anything.
We have organized this presentation thematically, rather than trying to perform a paragraph-by-paragraph dissection of a contract that may bear little resemblance to either a preexisting contract you might encounter or your (or your clients’) particular needs. In the appendices, you’ll find two representative publishing contracts. Materials from the morning session include more publishing contracts and clauses, and comparing all of the materials should be educational—if all too often frustrating.


Voice Actor Model Contracts

Contract Committee Note Regarding Voice Actors—

Some months ago, a SFWA member was hiring a voice actor to produce an audio book, but could not find contracting advice. The actor was a member of the Screen Actors Guild-American Federation of Television and Radio Artists (SAG-AFTRA,) but even the Union did not have a model contract for the situation. SFWA’s Legal Fund made a grant to the member so she could obtain legal advice.

The contract and letter of agreement posted here were worked out by her lawyer with the actor and SAG-AFTRA. The SFWA Contracts Committee is posting both the contract and the letter of agreement with SAG-AFTRA here as a guide for writers.

If the actor you are hiring is not a member of SAG-AFTRA, then the letter of agreement would not apply. Also, the sections of the contract that deal with SAG-AFTRA — in blue italics — would not be part of a contract.

Download Agreement Letter  PDFRTF
Download Voice Talent Services Contract  PDF | DOC