Tuesday, January 08, 2008

i owe you one book

After my day on Monday, it was kind of a nice respite to be in a room doing anesthesia for eye surgery today. As I tell my patients, nothing in medicine is free of risk, but at least compared with yesterday, I was slightly less concerned about my patients trying to die on me.  Which is good.

In other news, I got a look today at a near-final draft of the book contract that I'll be signing with my publisher.   Ah yes, the book.  I know I haven't talked about it much, since Joe's fellowship match in Atlanta got me all stressed about having to move to a place where I have NO HOME and NO JOB and NO CHILDCARE and NO GOOD PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION, but yes, I am still making good progress on writing this book.  This is probably not much of a surprise to anyone, so I'm not afraid to tell you that...I don't really know much about the finer details of literary contract-speak. For instance, who even knew it would take so long to cobble together a contract? Who knew it wasn't just a single piece of paper reading "I owe you one book" that I would sign with an X? My understanding prior to this was: I write a book proposal. Some publisher decides they like the book proposal. I write the book. The book gets published. The end. Nowhere in this (admittedly simplistic) understanding of the process did I ever conceive of terminology like "foreign language rights" or "mass market editions." Also, there are stipulations in the contract with respect to audio versions of the book, and some part in there about large print and Braille editions. Ah so.

So anyway, I am reading through this contract, but I find that I am having to Google, like, every fifth word. It reminds me of that part in "Ramona the Brave" (I'm not sure if this is the exact "Ramona" book that I'm remembering, but whatever, the one I'm talking about is the one where she's scared of the gorilla in the nature book. And where there's a hole in the side of her house that she and Howie jump through. Remember? Yes.) where she's trying to show off to her babysitter that she can read, but she doesn't know all the words, so she just kind of makes a buzzing sound in her head and skips over those parts. "The Publisher shall be entitled to BZZZZZZZZZZ and BZZZZZZZZZZ the rights granted in this BZZZZZZZZZZ, in whole or in part, upon such terms as BZZZZZZZZZZ, and the Author shall earn a share of BZZZZZZZZZZ as set forth below (see section B subsection (ii)." Dammit, Jim, I'm a doctor, not a...contract...parsing...type-person.

Luckily, my agent seems quite expert and appears to know exactly what she's doing in these negotiations, so I will continue to let her do just that. And I will give anesthesia and continue to Google things, and hopefully, pretty soon, we will have a finished contract, which I will sign with an X. Huzzah.