Editors Wants Me to Sign a Backdated, Two-Year Non-Compete!

What do you think about contracts that contain non-compete agreements?

Basically, I’ve already done some work for this company, the beginning of what seems to be a long-term arrangement, and they’re just now asking me to sign a backdated contract. The contract restricts me from writing about the topic for anyone else while I am working with them AS WELL AS during the first two years after terminating the contract.

The topic is not one I specialize in or even normally write about, but I definitely don’t want to be prevented from widening my areas of expertise. I’m considering compromising and agreeing to restrictions that end when the agreement is terminated. However, I can’t help but wonder if I should refuse to sign a non-compete at all. After all, I AM a *freelance* writer, and I don’t work for any one company, so how is it fair to tell me I can’t write about an entire topic for anyone else just because I’m writing about it for them?

Please let me know what you think about my situation. Any advice you can give would be very much appreciated!


Forgive my bluntness…but I’d tell them to shove it. Writers (or anybody for that matter) should NEVER sign a retroactive contract. They’re greedy jerks and they obviously think you don’t know what you’re doing. Unfortunately, many publishers think writers don’t know any better and try to pull these unfair shenanigans all the time. Good for you for noticing this unprofessional behavior.

If you want to be a little more professional than I would be about it, simply tell them you’re a freelancer, not an employee, and that you don’t enter into non-compete agreements.