Tag Archives: epublishing

10 things all writers should know before signing a contract.

author, writing, screenwriter, screenwriting, amazon, ebooks, epublishing, publishing For some reason I’ve never been able to fathom, I receive a lot of mails asking me for advice about contracts, both publishing and screen.

Now to be clear, whilst I have done a lot of deals during my agent free days, I am certainly no expert in this field and should not be considered as such. In fact, what knowledge I have accrued is generally a result of my own mistakes and trust me, I have made some corkers over the years. However, as someone who’s always happy to help if I can (and as long as you don’t hold me accountable in any way should you choose to follow my advice and it all goes wrong) here are my top 10 tips. Take ’em or leave ’em.

1.  Arguing with editors or producers over terms can cause some serious rifts in a working relationship which is obviously best avoided. Therefore, if you have an agent you should leave everything, and I mean everything, to them.

It stands to reason that their job is to get you a great deal because whilst they might be fabulous people who you adore with a passion, the stark reality is that the more you earn, the more they earn. So if they are happy with the deal they put in front of you, you certainly should be.

2.  If you don’t have an agent, then you are in a weakened position because the people you are negotiating with will inevitably assume that you are either naive and/or desperate which gives them the upper hand. Therefore, you should write the following three words down and stick them somewhere which places them in your eye line at all times: TRUST NO ONE.

Believe me, no matter what anyone else might tell you, when it comes to deals there is only one person who has your interests at heart and if you don’t have an agent, that person is you.

Remember, it’s not personal, it’s business. The film BUSINESS, the publishing BUSINESS. As such, everyone you negotiate with might well come across as your best mate but the truth is that they are desperate to give you as little as possible or better still, strike a deal which means they don’t actually have to give you anything at all. This is because the less they give you, the more they keep for themselves or their employer. So read everything as many times as you have to and question anything you are unsure of. When it comes to contracts, there is no such thing as a stupid question, there are however, plenty of stupid writers who didn’t ask the questions they should have.

3.  It’s human nature to avoid asking for what we think we are worth and since most negotiators know this, their first words will be ‘so what do you want?’ thus putting you on the back foot from the off. Therefore to avoid this, it is vital that before a deal is even discussed, you take the time to work out what you have and how much will get it from you.

Remember, everything has a value be it your finished manuscript, your experience, your time, your backlist or even ‘From the writer of Green Street’. So be professional, quantify everything and work out both a starting point and a bottom line because pound to a pinch, the person asking you the question you will have.

4.  Publishing royalties should be on a sliding scale. For example, 7.5% for the first 10 thousand sales, 10% for the following 40 thousand and anything over 50 thousand should earn you 12.5%. All publishers will baulk at that but the reality is that most novels won’t get anywhere near sales of 10 thousand anyway so what have they got to lose? 

Should your novel be a success however, you’ll be quids in. As of course, will they.

5.  Unless you are knowingly going into an agreement for a film which is designed to kick start a career or you are willing to work on some kind of profit share, a contract for a screenplay with a production company should always include a fee on signature for one very specific reason; commitment.

If someone is prepared to put their money where their mouth is, it’s fairly obvious that they will be a lot more enthusiastic about taking your script through to the day the camera’s roll than someone who has nothing invested save a couple of lunches (if you’re lucky). Indeed, if someone is asking you to sign something but are not prepared to invest in you, you should be asking them (or yourself) why.

The remainder of the total fee will be staggered anyway so make sure you know what will be due to you and when.

6.  Unless a major star or studio is involved, back end payments are generally worthless so take whatever is offered with a pinch of salt and laugh at any offers of increased back end payments in lieu of a smaller front end fee. This is generally a simple tactic to save money so you should always squeeze every penny you can from the front end.

However, always make sure that a back end payment is included just in case it’s a smash and the creative accountants can’t cover it up.

7.  Watch the clauses! You want invites to premieres, involvement in promotions (at their expense), a cut of any soundtrack profits and if there’s a sequel, you want to be the one to write it. If not, you want a slice of the action including payment for the use of any characters you have created.

If there’s a chance of a novelisation, you want to write it but if you don’t, you want a cut of any profits, etc, etc.

If it’s for a book, you want details of the marketing publicity budget as well as an approximate publication date if at all possible.

Seriously, if you don’t ask, you don’t get.

8. If the deal is for a screenplay, always ensure that there is a clause in the contract whereby if the film isn’t made, the rights to your work revert to you (for free) after a reasonable period. That way, if nothing comes of it, you will at least have a script you can try to sell somewhere else.

9.  Always, always, always get everything read by either a lawyer, the Writers Guild or the Society of Authors before you sign it. That’s what they are there for so use them.

If a lawyer comes back with some concerns about a contract, act on their advice and fight your corner. Producers are used to brinkmanship so take them all the way if need be and always be prepared to walk away if need be.

You might well come under pressure to avoid this step and just sign on trust or good faith and this will come in many forms from threats that the financiers are about to pull out if you don’t sign to female directors sobbing on the phone in the middle of the night. You should treat all such tactics as bullshit.

If someone doesn’t want a lawyer to see a contract they’ve put in front of you it’s almost certainly because they have something to hide (see point 2 above). Therefore, resist this pressure, stay cool and make them wait until you are ready to sign on the line. It’s your time, your money and your future income.

10.  Believe me, signing a dodgy deal is an awful experience so only sign on the line when you are sure that it’s as good as it can be for all sides, but especially you!

And finally, always trust your gut because if something feels wrong, it usually is.

@dougiebrimson

football, comedy, humour, rivals, derby, soccer, premier league, championship, manchester united, chelsea, liverpoolMy numerous books including the football comedy Wings of a Sparrow and the #1 thrillers,The Crew and Top Dog are available from both Amazon and iTunes.  

Please click on the relevant link for more information.

author, writing, writer, screenwriting, screenwriter, publishing, indiefilm, low-budget, self-publishing, brimson, hooligan,veteran 

Why writers should embrace the blank page.

writer, writing, author, screenwriting, film, movie, hollywood, football, soccer
Ever since I have been writing, two things have been regularly thrown in my direction.

The first is that at some point all writers get writers block, the second is that a blank page is a scary thing.

I’ve written about writers block numerous times before so I won’t go over that again (however, to paraphrase it for any newbies, in essence I believe it’s a myth designed to excuse one of any number of basic failings) but the issue of the blank page is something I’ve rarely discussed. As I sit here facing a new one today, now seems as good a time as any.

Now, however unlikely it might be, all writers have to believe that somewhere deep inside us is the ability to pen a booker prize winning novel, a ‘Harry Potter’ style literary phenomenon or an Oscar winning screenplay.

The blank page signifies what is possibly the beginning of the journey toward the creation of that very book or script and like the start of any journey, there are two ways of looking at it. You can either be pessimistic or optimistic. Which one you choose, or rather which one chooses you, is wholly dependent on the type of person you are.

The pessimist of course, will suspect that it is highly likely that within a first few pages, they will realise that this new project won’t be the big break they are dreaming of and instead, even as they sit there hammering away, they are going to be accompanied by that awful sense of hope evaporating.

And as hope rolls away, it will be replaced by the standard writers fears of exposure, of failure, of making yourself look stupid and possibly worst of all, of being boring. Who on earth would want to risk any of that let alone willingly put themselves through it?

Yes, all of that and more lurks on that single A4 page or a blank screen filled with nothing but white. Having written 15 books and numerous screenplays, I can state that with authority.

Thankfully, these days I tend to be a bit more confident and far from fearing the blank page, I love it! And for one very specific reason: it signifies power. Power to create anything I want to create be it non-fiction, fiction, thriller, comedy, male, female, sex, crime, football… anything.

A blank page gives me freedom to develop characters from my own imagination and make them do whatever I want them to do be it good, bad or even evil. I can make them love, hate or even kill them off, horribly if I want. And all of that comes from nothing other than my imagination. That’s what I call power! Real power!

That, in essence, is exactly what I’m facing at the moment. For today I start work on a new novel based on a recently completed screenplay.

It’s very different from my previous novels in that it’s about the military but in many ways, that makes it even more exciting as I can call on my own experiences in uniform. However, if the novel proves half as enjoyable to write as the movie version was, it’s going to be brilliant fun and since I write primarily for me, that’s all that matters.

Blank page… don’t be frightened of it, love it. It’s everything any writer could ever want.

violence, racism, racist, anal sex, oral sex, burlesque

Despite being over 14 years old, The Crew and Top Dog continue to sell well with an audio version of Top Dog now available to download via here!

Wings of a Sparrow also continues to do well in both paperback and eBook formats and I’m hoping that like the movie version of Top Dog, this will also make the leap to the screen at some point very soon.

All being well, I’ll also be able to pass on news of another movie project in the very near future.

 

screenwriter, screenwriting, author, self-publishing, green street, top dog, british film, gangsters, the krays, hooligans, collymore, troll, trolling

 

Hello 2014: Time to start growing old disgracefully.

fuck, football, growing old, men, women, sex, loveIn a little over a week, I will be 55 years old. Fifty bloody five!

To some reading this, such an age will be considered not just old, but ancient. However to me, as someone who has always had problems showing any kind of maturity, it’s far from it. I certainly don’t feel old nor do I act it as most people who know me well will be only to happy to testify.

Yet amazed though I am to have made it this far along my own particular rocky road, the truth is that fifty five is a significant milestone for one very specific reason. For had I stayed in the RAF and completed my full service, January the 7th would be the age at which my time in uniform would have come to an end and I’d have retired. And by retired, I mean just that. I would never have worked again.

Now even though I left the RAF many moons ago, I recently realised that I’ve continued, albeit subconsciously, to work toward this point and in doing so, I also realised that with an increasingly full diary for 2014 and beyond, I’m not only going to be working longer than I had been planning, I’m also going to be busier than I ever really expected to be. Not just now, but at any point!

As a naturally lazy sort this was, as you can imagine, something of a shock. But as I reflected on it, it suddenly struck me that it might actually be a good thing. After all, I’m way past the point where I care what anyone says or thinks about me and since most people expect me to be a certain type of person on account of my favoured subject matter, this could be the ideal time to start playing up to that particular persona. Or to put it another way, I’m going to start having some proper fun with this career I’ve somehow forged for myself.

Therefore, on this day where resolutions are made, here is mine; from this day forth I will be both living and writing armed with a new sense of purpose and freedom. If that doesn’t sit comfortably with some people, guess what?

So happy new year folks. I hope 2014 turns out to be as epic for each of you as I plan it to be for me!

Bring it on.

Boycott Russia? F**k that.

homophobia, russia, football, sex, epublishing, self-publishing, protest, gay

I am off to Russia next month. This is a statement of fact.

I’ve been invited by the organising committee of the St. Petersburg International Film Festival to talk at the inaugural programme of football films and will at the same time be doing some PR for the launch of the Russian language edition of Wings of a Sparrow. If you didn’t know, I sell more books in that great nation than I do in any other country bar the UK.

This will actually be my third visit and as someone who spent many of their formative years serving in a military which was totally focussed on the threat posed by the former Soviet Union, as a country it has a special and obvious significance. But it is I have to say, an amazing place primarily because of the wonderful Russian people.

However, back in my home country news of my impending visit has attracted some flak. Now the receipt of grief is not an unusual occurrence for me and usually, as someone who sits firmly in the ‘if they’re slagging you, at least they’re aware of you’ camp, negative comments are generally warmly welcomed but this time it’s different. This time it’s irritated me.

The reason for this most recent bout is because, according to some, I should have refused my invitation as a protest against the recently introduced laws banning the promotion of homosexuality in Russia. The fact that I didn’t apparently makes me a traitor to the industry I have somehow found myself working in and has even attracted inferences that I am homophobic.

I have no intention of defending myself against that accusation because I don’t have to. But what really grips me is the hypocrisy of some of those people throwing this bullshit in my direction. The bulk of whom are only throwing it because they know they’d never receive such an invitation in the first place and if they did, no doubt they’d bite off the hand which offered it and wouldn’t hesitate to do so.

And let’s take that a bit further. For if these people are so anti-Russia, can we expect them to protest outside the Bolshoi Ballet when it visits London or the Moscow State Circus when it next tours the UK? Similarly, will any of those struggling to make a living in the acting profession turn down a role in a movie which would involve filming in Russia or for that matter, a part in a movie written by the traitor Brimson? Would they bollocks.

And since they are so apparently keen on homosexual rights, why are they not encamped outside the Saudi embassy? Or for that matter, any of the many which represent nations which all but encourage the very worst kind of homophobia?

The fact they’re not kind of proves my point. If you want to talk the talk, walk the fucking walk.

I certainly have my opinions about what the Russian government have done and if I’m asked during my stay there, I will respond accordingly. But the bottom line for me is that it’s their country, not mine just as it is someone else’s fight, not mine.

And I’m certainly not going to miss out on a trip to a country I have come to love simply to appease people who in some cases have simply jumped on the back of Stephen Fry’s latest trendy cause.

.

readers, film, ebooks, itunes, amazon, blog, publishing, author, writing, top dog, brimson, screenwriting, the crew, green street, elijah wood, leo gregory, charlie hunnam, essex boysA couple of snippets to pass on: Aside from the aforementioned publication of Wings of a Sparrow in Russia, I’m thrilled to tell you that thanks to publishers Caffeine Nights, October will also see it published in print here in the UK. They will also be re-releasing The Crew and early next year, a very special movie-tie in edition of Top Dog.

I will release more details on that closer the time but you can pre-order Wings of a Sparrow here.

I’m also quite excited to let you know that within the next couple of weeks, details should be released regarding a new movie project I’ve been working on. This one is literally going to be old school and is going to take things in an entirely different direction. Filming is scheduled for Feb 2014 and if we can secure anywhere near our proposed cast, it’s going to be a genuine British epic!

As Top Dog rolls ever closer toward filming, could I please remind everyone that details regarding casting will be announced on both Facebook and Twitter when the time is right so please don’t mail me or anyone else involved with the project as we simply have nothing to tell you at the moment.

In addition, and without wishing to cause offence, with so many things on the go that my meagre brain is struggling to cope, I for one have no time to record details of anyone wanting to be considered and I’m certainly not going to remember you. Please… just keep your eye out!

Boycott Russia? F**k that.

homophobia, russia, football, sex, epublishing, self-publishing, protest, gay

I am off to Russia next month. This is a statement of fact.

I’ve been invited by the organising committee of the St. Petersburg International Film Festival to talk at the inaugural programme of football films and will at the same time be doing some PR for the launch of the Russian language edition of Wings of a Sparrow. If you didn’t know, I sell more books in that great nation than I do in any other country bar the UK.

This will actually be my third visit and as someone who spent many of their formative years serving in a military which was totally focussed on the threat posed by the former Soviet Union, as a country it has a special and obvious significance. But it is I have to say, an amazing place primarily because of the wonderful Russian people.

However, back in my home country news of my impending visit has attracted some flak. Now the receipt of grief is not an unusual occurrence for me and usually, as someone who sits firmly in the ‘if they’re slagging you, at least they’re aware of you’ camp, negative comments are generally warmly welcomed but this time it’s different. This time it’s irritated me.

The reason for this most recent bout is because, according to some, I should have refused my invitation as a protest against the recently introduced laws banning the promotion of homosexuality in Russia. The fact that I didn’t apparently makes me a traitor to the industry I have somehow found myself working in and has even attracted inferences that I am homophobic.

I have no intention of defending myself against that accusation because I don’t have to. But what really grips me is the hypocrisy of some of those people throwing this bullshit in my direction. The bulk of whom are only throwing it because they know they’d never receive such an invitation in the first place and if they did, no doubt they’d bite off the hand which offered it and wouldn’t hesitate to do so.

And let’s take that a bit further. For if these people are so anti-Russia, can we expect them to protest outside the Bolshoi Ballet when it visits London or the Moscow State Circus when it next tours the UK? Similarly, will any of those struggling to make a living in the acting profession turn down a role in a movie which would involve filming in Russia or for that matter, a part in a movie written by the traitor Brimson? Would they bollocks.

And since they are so apparently keen on homosexual rights, why are they not encamped outside the Saudi embassy? Or for that matter, any of the many which represent nations which all but encourage the very worst kind of homophobia?

The fact they’re not kind of proves my point. If you want to talk the talk, walk the fucking walk.

I certainly have my opinions about what the Russian government have done and if I’m asked during my stay there, I will respond accordingly. But the bottom line for me is that it’s their country, not mine just as it is someone else’s fight, not mine.

And I’m certainly not going to miss out on a trip to a country I have come to love simply to appease people who in some cases have simply jumped on the back of Stephen Fry’s latest trendy cause.

.

readers, film, ebooks, itunes, amazon, blog, publishing, author, writing, top dog, brimson, screenwriting, the crew, green street, elijah wood, leo gregory, charlie hunnam, essex boysA couple of snippets to pass on: Aside from the aforementioned publication of Wings of a Sparrow in Russia, I’m thrilled to tell you that thanks to publishers Caffeine Nights, October will also see it published in print here in the UK. They will also be re-releasing The Crew and early next year, a very special movie-tie in edition of Top Dog.

I will release more details on that closer the time but you can pre-order Wings of a Sparrow here.

I’m also quite excited to let you know that within the next couple of weeks, details should be released regarding a new movie project I’ve been working on. This one is literally going to be old school and is going to take things in an entirely different direction. Filming is scheduled for Feb 2014 and if we can secure anywhere near our proposed cast, it’s going to be a genuine British epic!

As Top Dog rolls ever closer toward filming, could I please remind everyone that details regarding casting will be announced on both Facebook and Twitter when the time is right so please don’t mail me or anyone else involved with the project as we simply have nothing to tell you at the moment.

In addition, and without wishing to cause offence, with so many things on the go that my meagre brain is struggling to cope, I for one have no time to record details of anyone wanting to be considered and I’m certainly not going to remember you. Please… just keep your eye out!

Writing? It’s money for old rope.

writer, author, brimson, lazy, ebooks, amazon, itunesAs I have previously mentioned, I receive a lot of emails asking for advice about writing. Primarily, these are of the ‘where do I start?’ variety as opposed to the ‘how do I enrich my novel with deep and meaningful subtext?’ sort but that’s fine with me. After all, I’m not exactly DH Lawrence or Dickens and to be fair, most of the time a large portion of my brain is actively tied up with trying to comprehend how I’m able to get away with earning a living as a writer. Although thinking about it, this is possibly why so many people do ask me. ‘If that talentless tosser can do it….’ etc, etc.

So let’s get this clear, writing a novel is easy. You simply sit at a keyboard, tap away at the keys until you have around 75 thousand words and there you go. It’s a novel. Anyone, and I mean anyone, can do that.

Screenplays are even easier. General thinking is that a page equals a minute of action so you’re only looking at about a hundred sheets of A4 which equates to around 20 thousand words. That’s a little over a quarter of the words required for a novel. Absolute piece of piss.

So what are you waiting for?

I am of course being flippant (I know it’s hard to tell sometimes) but trust me, there are people who really do think it’s that simple and in a certain sense it actually is. What they fail to recognise is the hard bit. And that’s the process of gathering together those 75 thousand words and putting them in some kind of coherent order.  That takes time, effort, blood, sweat and tears.

Don’t get me wrong, I am one of those who subscribes to the theory that everyone has a book in them and I would most definitely urge everyone to have a go at writing for all kinds of reasons. As someone who is lucky enough to be able to do it all day every day, I can tell you with hand on heart that it can be hilarious fun, massively therapeutic, hugely exhilarating and even bloody exciting. But it can also be lonely, frustrating, heart breaking and even soul destroying.

Yet I wouldn’t have it any other way nor I suspect, would any other writer. Because that’s why we do it.

Why adapting my own novel for the screen is so traumatic!

top dog, brimson. hooligans, author, film, screenwriting, violence, crime, thriller

As you may have noticed, it’s been over a month since I last blogged which is, to say the least, somewhat tardy. I do however have an excuse as I have actually been working flat out on a screen adaptation of my novel, Top Dog.

I won’t go too deeply into the background of how this came about but suffice to say, the whole thing happened and progressed extremely quickly. Indeed, I actually mailed off the completed first draft yesterday so am now in that horrible no-man’s land where I am waiting for feedback from the producer and lead actor and hoping that not only will they like it but that this isn’t the script or book which finally exposes me as a talentless hack.

That said, it’s all very exciting stuff and if you would like further details, they can be found here in The Hollywood Reporter.

The interesting thing for me has been revisiting an old friend, the central character in both Top Dog and The Crew, Billy Evans. Although now he isn’t the slightly chubby dark haired bloke I had always imagined him to be, he is now… well, Bovver from Green Street. Or to be more precise, the awesome Leo Gregory.

This has actually been quite a difficult thing to get my head around. After all, Billy has been part of my life for a very long time now and whilst people you care about come in and out of your existence for all kinds of reasons, young Mr. Evans has not just featured in two novels, but is also in the third I’m currently working on.

So as someone who actually pictures scenes in my head as I’m writing them, whilst in essence his identity remains the same for him to suddenly take on a whole new form has been extremely confusing. Not least because many of the mannerisms and much of the banter I associate with him is no longer relevant.

But I think I’ve pulled it off and as it stands the script stays quite close to the plot of the book in most respects which is after all, the most important thing. It’ll certainly be interesting to see how much of it actually makes it to the screen. If not a little disconcerting.

football, self publishing, soccer, money, inheritanceAside from that, I’ve been busily doing media work to promote my latest comedy novel Wings of a Sparrow and, not to put too fine a point in it, sell books. On which note, thank you to everyone who has downloaded one of my books and my eternal gratitude to everyone who has taken the time to leave a review somewhere. I know I have said it a million times but they really do help in all kinds of ways.

If you would like to purchase any of my numerous books, links to all the various online sites can be found here.