Saturday, May 11, 2013

Contingency Plan or Succession Plan for Your Author Career

No one likes to think about death.  Its sad, unpleasant, and simply not something you try to think about on a regular basis.  However, the reality is it could happen. To you.  At any time.  Do you have a plan in place for your books - both published and unpublished if you should suddenly not be here?

I've lost a handful of authors since our company opened its doors seven years ago.  Each time it is sad and heartbreaking both to me and to their family.  Harder still are the ones who come to me years after the author's death and say they finally made it through their loved one's paperwork and found out they were published with us.  How sad.  Both that the family member had no idea who the author's publisher was and that they had to dig to find us.

Take some time this year to plan for "what if".  Make a list of all your published books.  Write down the publisher, when they were published, when the contract expires, and the contact information for the company. Not just your editor as jobs change, but the main company email, website and phone if you have it.

Now list your unpublished work and indicate if it is finished or not.  If its out for consideration, indicate who has it.  Indicate your wishes for what to do with everything.  Most contracts, ours included, expire upon the death of the author.  However, we have kept contracts open for family members and kept books for sale for years if that is what the family has requested. Indicate your wishes for your unpublished work as well.  Should it be destroyed?  Do you want someone else to work with it?  For example, I've told my family that any of my manuscripts that are unpublished should be given to my sister to deal with.  As she is also an author, I know she will make the correct decisions as to what to do with them.

Don't put this off.  Your writing career is a business and your manuscripts are your assets.  Maybe not worth anything except to you and your loved ones but make sure they know what to do with them if you aren't here anymore.

In any business, the death of the owner is something that has to be planned for.  You are the owner of your writing business. Make sure you have a contingency plan in place.


Karyn Good said...

Excellent post and advice. I have no contingency plan for the writing part of my life and I should have one. For my own peace of mind but more importantly to make things easier for the loved ones left behind. I'm printing this off as a reminder to get things in writing!

Unknown said...

Very good information. No one wants to think about the what-if, but it happens. Thanks for posting this.