Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Negotiating your own publishing contract

Negotiating your own publishing contract doesn’t sound intelligent, does it? Don’t worry, it doesn’t sound all that brilliant to me either, but I’m doing it anyhow. For the most part, I gave up on finding an agent for the first book. Believe me I tried. I have approximately 32 different queries saved to this computer. Crazy huh? As I am entirely too impatient, I decided to take matters into my own hands and try to sell this novel on my own.

Here’s what I discovered after I gave up:

1. Queries that do not interest agents can interest publishers.

2. It is easier to get a small publisher to read your full manuscript than to get an agent to read a partial. (Especially if you write about vampires and werewolves.) The majority of publishers I queried requested fulls. Some even before requesting partials. Every publisher I queried requested at least a partial. (That’s great if writing queries is not your cup of tea!)

Although I’ve received rejections from some of those publishers, I’ve also received invaluable insight. With the exception of one, every rejection letter received has offered advice on plot development, character development, even genre issues.

One editor told me she enjoyed my story, and that it was well written, BUT it was not a paranormal romance, instead she‘d classify it as more mainstream horror or straight urban fantasy. According to online definitions, my book is a paranormal romance. Now I didn’t agree with that definition because there really isn’t all that much romance in it. That little tidbit she gave me has helped tremendously! (It’s always best to send your work to someone who actually publishes your genre. Lol)

I am not in any way shape or form advising you to be your own agent or attorney! Believe me; I’d be happier if I’d acquired an agent. However, should you find yourself in the same predicament there are some extremely helpful articles on the internet you can utilize. This link is from Publishing Central. Although it isn’t intended to take the place of an actual attorney, there are a plethora of listed things you should know before signing a contract. This link from absolute write has also been exceedingly helpful. There are many more you can look up simply by searching publishing contract negotiation.

If you find yourself in a situation where you must do your own negotiation, do your homework. Research every aspect of the offered contract. Do not under any circumstances arrive at this knife fight with a spoon! And it is a knife fight; make no mistake about that.

Publishers, like writers, want to make money. You have the right to ask for things they don’t offer, and they have the right to tell you NO!

Read through the offered contract carefully. Small clauses that do not make sense to the average person and seem of little consequence can cause you big trouble later.

Keep a realistic perspective on what you will receive. Remember, although we all think we’ve written the next big thing, it hasn’t been proven. Don’t expect a publisher to bend over backwards for a debut author. Most don’t.

By the way, if you haven’t visited P&E, or writer beware, you should. Whether you are trying to find an agent or a publisher, it is important to know you are dealing with a reputable business.

Good luck and happy writing! I’ll let you know how this plays out!