When I first began writing I was young and clueless about the writing industry. As a result, I was taken advantage of. A publishing company contacted me telling me they were interested in my work. After months of talking back and forth we were ready to sign. It was then that I was told they wanted “first rights” to all my work for 2 years. In my mind, I translated that to mean that anything I created for this particular project was theirs for 2 years while I worked with them. After that it was mine again. NO! That’s not what that meant at all. It meant that anything I created within that 2-year timeframe was not mine. It belonged to them and it stayed with them even after I’d moved on.
If signing on with a publishing company is the direction you want to take in your writing career, make sure you thoroughly read everything they send you, especially the fine print. Make sure you understand in detail the language and terminology. If you don’t, make sure you ask plenty of questions. If you still do not understand, keep asking or have someone you know and trust look over your documents for you. Find someone who is familiar with the process to ensure you know exactly what you’re getting yourself into. Not everything that sounds good to you is good for you.
If you don’t know anyone who is familiar with the process or you are uncertain who to trust I would suggest that you contact The Law Offices of Dayna Thomas. They have a series of law services which include publishing agreements, book publishing agreements, copyright registrations, and trademark registrations. Here is the link to connect you to her site if you are interested in her services http://www.daynathomaslaw.com/entertainment.