Originally posted by EricS:
My question is very basic. I am looking for contract templates (preferably in MS Word) that I can modify for my particular bookings. Is there such a beast available on the web? After 10 years of this being a serious hobby I am in a postion to actually make some money and am concerned that I handle the business end well.
First, you'd do well to substitute the word "agreement" for "contract". For many people, the involutary response to hearing the word "contract" is to suppose a boa constrictor the size of a telephone pole has become wrapped around their chest and throat.
"Agreement" is so...I don't know...agreeable.
Second, what, precisely, did you have in mind as the purpose of the contr...er, agreement?
Depending upon whom you ask, an agreement serves two, primary purposes: to mitigate my exposure to responsibility should things go south, and provide the swiftest path to victory should I prevail upon the court system for satisfaction. (That's what my lawyer told me.)
But what I've found and in layman's terms, an agreement helps define who does what, when, for how much paid when, and what happens should the "what" the "when" the "how much" or the "paid when" not go the way we agree they should.
Back here in the real world, an agreement isn't worth much if the client decides to flake out on you and we're talking an $250 or $300 birthday party. Sure, you could pursue that and win the battle, but I can almost assure you will lose the war.
This position changes considerably on a $2,250 a day trade show gig. For those I like to see a blood oath. (Kidding. Sort of.)
If your deal is birthday or private parties, an agreement helps make sure all parties (so to speak) are on the same page. You'll most often be told (in the world of magic) that the best agreement looks like an informal letter you have the client sign and send back to you.
This is the technique I used for many years when I did birthday parties and I've only been bitten once. And that's when I didn't use the letter/agreement.
In final answer to your question, you can do one of two things: pay an attorney (who actually knows what he's doing) to design a contract -- in which case you're likely to end up with the same document I did, a missive that would fit comfortably somewhere between Exodus and Deuteronomy. And for a price I'd rather not discuss.
Or you could simply order a book you should own anyway: "The Complete Guide to Restaurant and Walk-Around Magic" by Kirk Charles. It will cost you about one-twentieth the cost of a good attorney designed contract set, and you'll not only have several excellent, workable examples, but you'll also have a ton of accurate, real-world advice you should ignore only at your peril.