Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Book Questions III

Today is Larry's last day at work. He's down, of course, not because he'll miss the job so much, but because he'll miss the people at the job. He's been driving to this same building and working on this same magazine with these same people for just under ten years. He spends more hours per week with them than he does with me. This morning, I saw him tuck a couple of bottles of red wine under his arm on the way out the door. Top shelf stuff, too. There may be an impromptu celebration before the lights dim forever in that editorial department. Tonight, he wants us to go out to dinner, which probably means the restaurant with the talking moose on the wall. Minor thrill for the kids.

Today was also the day set aside for me to drive in to Boston to sign the book contract, a coincidence that pleased Larry to no end. On the way out the door, Larry asked if I was taking a special pen. No. He asked if I was sure. After heaving a sigh, I went to my bedside table and pawed through it to find the Parker pen Larry gave me a couple of years ago. At the fancy pants magazine where he works until mid afternoon today, pens are a seriously big deal. Some of the pens they've written about have jewels in them. They are handcrafted by artisans who draw inspiration from nature and wood nymphs and all manner of nonsense. These pens don't get stored in a shirt pocket. Oh, no. Instead, they rest inside a little sleeping bag that sits on top of a pedestal inside a jewelry box. No joke. The one he gave me is grey with no jewels or anything. But it does have a little sleeping bag and a plastic box that feels like leather. I think of it as a low grade luxury. 

So, the trusty co-authors sat down in a conference room to have the 20+ page document explained aloud paragraph by paragraph. These are the circumstances under which the publisher can terminate the agreement. These are the circumstances under which the publisher can hold you liable. These are the circumstances under which you can end up owing the publisher money. It's all very scary and depressing, and exciting and important, all at once.

And...we didn't sign it. 

We found a clause that wasn't right. In fact, it was really, really wrong. And no one knew what to do. Clearly, it had to be renegotiated. But how? So, we got in our cars and drove home. Or, I did. The agent figured it out. Typo. Clarifying language had been deleted by mistake. She got hold of the publisher who okayed changes over the phone, then she got hold of my co-author who circled the block and went back to the office and signed it. By the time she got hold of me, I was home and on the phone with a custom designer of helicopter interiors and wrapping up a discussion of carbon fiber headliners. (Don't ask.)

The pen now sits on the kitchen counter, waiting for the contract to come to suburbia.

1 comment:

Grace T said...

Congratulations! Nice running into you last night.