As I've written on this blog and said to people in talks and courses, you have to be able to walk away from a deal if you're going to negotiate with any integrity. Anything less and you are a psychological slave. The answer I've often heard is, "But I need the work. I need the money. I can't say no!"
I understand the pressure of having to bring in cash and feeling at a disadvantage when contractual issues come up. What you need to do at times like that is work like mad at marketing so you can diversify out of the danger areas. For example, I'm increasing the amount of corporate work I take on to raise my income and, as importantly, to make myself less vulnerable.
I don't expect to keep rights for corporate work. I also know that I'm not going to run anywhere close to the same risks under such things as libel and right of privacy. If it takes two months to get paid - well, it's not that much longer than publishers, and in some cases it can be shorter.
Now I'm sure some will say, "But I don't like doing corporate work!" Then find something else - teaching, maybe, or editing, or work for non-profits. But definitely start developing the attitude that if you're going to be in business, you can't guarantee that you'll be in love with everything you do. Not even great artists have that luxury. Think Michelangelo or Rembrandt or Bach never had to consider clients?
Sometimes you won't work with someone because you find it too distressing, but you have a duty to keep yourself financially sound enough to do the work that is important. The sooner you diversify enough to operate your business while minimizing your risk, the sooner you can be picky about the types of work that you want to do. You've undoubtedly heard of suffering for your art or craft. I think many in the creative fields don't really grasp the concept. They think they have to be miserable to produce good work. Not at all.
To suffer for art means that you undertake and solve difficult situations so you can stay on track with what is important. It doesn't mean living in an impoverished state. It means working hard enough, and bearing what seems unpleasant to you enough, so that you can do what is more important. If you can't manage that much for your duties to craft - let alone family and society - then you should get out of the business, because continuing is irresponsible and affects not just you, but everyone around you.
Labels: corporate, diversify, marketing, responsibility, risk, suffering