No legal advice here! But just to get you on the track of dealing with getting your (grubby? greedy?) hands on the contract . Every writer covets a contract. But when one gets it (take it from me) one is often floored at the hefty sheaf of print outs. So how do you seat belt yourself up and take the ride? Here are some tips from yours truly ;) Here goes :
My first tip : Before even glancing at the pages, buy - and strap on - a safety helmet. Why, you ask? But mon ami, it's paramount! The first thing every writer fixes their beady eyes on is the advance (what else?). And that maybe either too high for your expectations or too low. So either case, when you hit the roof, you'll still save your head! So it's C.S. In the rare case you expect the amount you can always go back and get a refund on the said helmet :)
My second tip : Eat almonds. You'll get a headache trying to decipher where did the beginning of sentence go, which gets lost as you plough your way through the innumerable phrases. For the unbroken, it goes something like "during the term of agreement, abcd will have the right to cdef, and ghij, according to zyxw and tuvw unless abcd have already ijkl in which case pqrs will have the mnop to cdef and abcd will then pqrs or qrst failng which pqrs can....and thus on and on. So must advise the traditional Indian remedy for this is : Grow more brain. Eat almonds. Preferably after overnight soaking.
My third should-do : Meditate. After the effects of struggling through understanding all that, in case you are extremely brave and forego hiring a lawyer,chances are you'll be snapping at everyone and everything in sight. Even the dog is going to hide under the bed at sight of you. So keep calm and count prayer beads.
What else can you do : Keep two copies handy. Useful for those "as mentioned before in page x section y" clauses. By the time you go back and find the page you want, you lose the one you were reading originally. So another copy handy will keep you on your page and yourself oriented.
Aping a rubber bath duck won't hurt. No matter what gets you down, whether you're affronted, jumping up high, grinning with relief, aghast or head-achy, bounce back and get normal - or whatever passes as normal for you. Are writers anywhere near other people 'normal'? Umm debatable.
A word about queries being like Hydra: By the time you get clarification back on some point that puzzled you, you have another question. Then another. Like a mythical hydra one question cut off has another two sprouting in its place. Keep calm and be the hydra killer. Have a figurative Taser of brainpower to stun them.
Finally, the momentous occasion when you scribble your unsightly (at least mine are unsightly, yours maybe like Cleo's. Wait, did she have beautiful signature?) Anyway, nothing more satisfactory for an aspiring/debut author that the sight of that crawling-ant-like scrawl inked at the dotted line. Go burst into a song. Dance. Celebrate. Go mad. You earned it!
So, peeps, what are you tips/preventive measures while contract perusal to not freak out?
Do share :)