Independent Authors SIG, spring 2007

Legal contracts

For the first time in her contracting career, Jean Rollinson (www.authoring-services.co.uk) was asked to provide a contract, which her client would sign. She had already signed a confidentiality agreement with the company. Jean asked where she could obtain a basic contract that she could modify, and she wanted to know if she should always ask a client to sign a contract.

Adrian Young replied that a few years ago he bought a 'Contract for scientific and technical writing' from Net Lawman (www.netlawman.co.uk). The document seemed comprehensive, but he would have liked something a little shorter.

The Professional Contractors Group (www.ipse.co.uk) has put much effort into developing draft contracts, noted Steve Rickaby (www.wordmongers.com). Some are freely available, some only to members. Follow the navigation: Home>Library>Draft contracts.

On the matter of asking clients to sign contracts, Steve thought that some clients might object. If you want legal protection for the terms under which you work, it's best to get the client to sign. He thought that at law there is always an implied contract for services, whether a written one exists or not. He told me that he paid a legal person to compile a set of standard terms and conditions for engagements directly with clients, but sometimes varies them if a client objects to specific clauses.

For my thoughts on how to write a contract, see 'Tender Loving Care', Communicator 7:1, spring 2001, available in revised form on www.techscribe.co.uk/ta/HowToWriteATender.pdf.

Passing on work

This quarter saw more than the usual number of job postings. The ones that I value most are those from members who are passing on work. In these cases, there is often a warm lead, and it's possible to obtain much background information about the work before spending time making a formal offer to the potential client.

One of Peter Finch's (www.opensecret.co.uk) clients often has more work than Peter can handle alone. To overcome this problem, the company recently took on an additional IASIG author, and now it is seeking a third freelance author close to Colchester (Suffolk or Essex is close enough) to write technical manuals for engineering systems. Peter's client uses many outside contractors and is familiar with the direct business-to-business contracting model, rather than just the agency-contractor model. It usually pays invoices promptly, typically within the standard 30 days.

To find out more about the work, contact Peter (peter@opensecret.co.uk).

Quality Authors website

QA webmistress, Jillian Hinds, informed us that over Christmas the website (www.qualityauthors.co.uk) was broken.

The host did bad things to their server, which broke the QA database and corrupted the files. Unfortunately, they also overwrote their backup, which meant that they could not restore the database. The last local backup was old, so although the database was restored to working condition, much data was lost. Consequently, all members of QA had to review their profiles and update the information in the database.

Funding for the QA website comes from those ISTC members who have an entry. The current pot of money is running out, and costs will increase. Historically, Jillian's software development team gave their time for free to maintain and develop the QA website. However, they no longer have the time to do free development work, so either we need to find a QA member who can do this, or we need additional funding to pay the developers for their time.

Tony Kershaw (www.tkershaw.co.uk) offered a vote of thanks to Jillian (and her husband and the development team) for looking after the QA site so well. He noted that the IASIG tradition has always been to pass the hat around occasionally rather than do things in a formal manner. He suggested that it was time for us once again to put some money into the pot to keep the show on the road for a few years. Many people added their voice to the vote of thanks, and offered contributions to keep the QA website running.

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