The company I work for requires me to submit my final manuscript to its legal department before the manuscript is published (contractually my company owns everything I create). The legal department just wants to ensure I’m not sharing anything proprietary or anything else that would make the company look bad (i.e., racist views, etc.). If they are okay with my novel, they will forfeit their ownership. When is the right time to share this with an agent? When the agent requests a full or when they give me an offer or after I sign with them? I want to make sure I’m doing the right thing.
When the agent requests the full. Tell her exactly what you told me.(see below)
This is a pretty big hurdle though. It doesn't sound as though your company is required to relinquish ownership, and their standards sound pretty subjective. What's racist to one person isn't to another.
I'd be pretty ticked off if I signed someone, worked on revisions, and was ready to go on sub only to find a third party had ownership.
I know that the government requires their employees of a certain pay grade to submit books for review but they don't claim ownership of the book. They just don't want secrets getting out.
I hope this company is paying you a lot of dough for this kind of craziness.
As usual, the comment column brings forth some pretty smart stuff. From Meg Leader this morning:
Sorry Meg, travel to Carkoon is fully booked for the upcoming holiday.
You know I have to disagree with the QOTKU on this one. (Yes, I do have my one-way ticket to Carkoon and am planning an extended stay there.) I used to work for one of those weird companies and had similar requirements. Because I had already published both in novels and nonfiction, I was able to write in an exclusion in my agreement that the attorneys accepted without a hitch. BUT...if you didn't do that up front (not being able to foresee the future and all), then...
Once you have your novel complete, IMMEDIATELY submit it for your attorneys to review. They don't care diddly about quality--it can even be a fairly early draft. They just care that it's not going to damage the company. Get that clearance from them as soon as you can, and THEN go out to agents with queries. Any changes between when the attorneys saw it and when it finally gets published are marked down to "editorial input from the publishers." As long as you don't add anything derogatory to the company or reveal any secrets in revisions you'll be good.
And...think seriously about using a pen name for your published work. If you don't reveal your company's name or your name, and you don't give away any company secrets or include anything derogatory to the company, then the attorneys have nothing to worry about.
Packing my bags to Carkoon even as I finish this comment...
I think what you said is pretty savvy.
I was thinking alongs the lines of having the sign off on the most final version, but if that's not the issue I thought it was, I'd do what Meg suggests.