Proposal to Publication – Part 2 of 5
The Contract Stage
4 So, you’ve heard that your book has been accepted for publication. Yipee!
4 Your biggest question will probably be: How much MONEY do I get? You’ll be offered an advance which might be lower than your lifelong dream, but more than you have in your checking account right now (if you’re lucky). The publisher will pay your advance either in halves or in thirds. Half upon signing the contract, the other half on acceptance of the manuscript. OR, a third on signing, a third on acceptance, and a third on publication.
4 What does acceptance mean? It means your book has gone through the in-house editorial process and is officially deemed acceptable, meaning you delivered what you promised in your proposal, and according to any terms defined in the contract. The book must be acceptable both in form and content.
4 Other terms will be discussed including: the royalty rate, manuscript due date, release date, manuscript length, and whether or not the publisher is going to ask for significant revisions from what you wrote in the proposal. There are other issues such as author copies, buy-back discount, sub-rights, foreign rights, additional books (if it’s a series), acceptance standards, cover approvals (whether or not you get them) and other issues that your agent will discuss with you and negotiate for you. There are clauses defining what happens if either party fails to meet their obligations. If you don’t have an agent, make sure you understand all this stuff.
4 This whole process of negotiating and agreeing on terms could be quick, or it could take a couple of weeks. Once terms are agreed upon, publisher will generate a contract. Some publishers are notoriously slow at this, others work faster. Either way, expect to wait anywhere from a week to two months for the contract to arrive at your front door in hardcopy.
4 It’s your responsibility to make sure you read and understand all terms of the contract. Ask your agent about anything that’s confusing to you.
4 Sign and send the contract back to the publisher. They’ll sign it, and send you your own executed copy. It’s officially a “done deal.”
4 Go out to dinner! But try not to spend your whole advance. At least not until you get a check, which should be in about a month.
Tomorrow: The Writing and Editing Stage.
Rachelle Gardner, Colorado Literary Agent