Top 10 Questions To Ask After You’ve Got a Contract

  1. Is it better to get a lot of money up front as an advance or to make sure that I earn out? Earning out means that you sell enough books to pay back your publisher for how much money they paid you up front. Some books earn out; most do not. This doesn’t mean your publisher is losing money. They aren’t. I hate the pressure of getting a big advance, but it’s one of the best ways to make sure your publisher puts in marketing money behind your book.
  2. What are big red flags in a contract? I don’t like to sign away audio or film rights, and I don’t like to promise to sell a publisher my next book, though they can look at it. A good agent will walk you through every part of a contract. Do not sign a contract without reading it even if you have an agent.
  3. How do I know if things are going well with an agent? An agent should respond to emails within a couple of days. They should read a manuscript within a couple of months. Unless there are, you know, reasons.
  4. How do I know if things are going well with my editor? Your editor should get you editorial letters within a few months after receiving your latest version. But this can vary greatly depending on how much else is on her plate and how far off your publication date is.
  5. What should I do to help promote my book? Do what your publisher asks you to do. Blog posts, panels at conferences, book signings. But if you have your own social media presence, use that. Have a visually appealing website (you will have to pay for this on your own). And as always, don’t be a jerk.
  6. What do I do if I hate my cover? Your cover may still be a great advertisement for your book even if you don’t personally love it. Talk over the problems with your agent and carefully craft an email asking about revisions if you think it’s worth it.
  7. What if my publisher cancels my contract? This happens sometimes. You should be able to keep your advance.  You should also be able to move immediately to resell your book. Again, this is why you have an agent.
  8. What if my editor or agent leaves the business? This happens all the time. Just move forward. If your agent is with an agency, they may pass you to someone else. But it’s up to you if you fit with the new agent. You may be out looking again. If it’s an editor who is leaving, you will be assigned to a new editor. If that’s not a fit, talk to your agent and see if there’s any other choice.
  9. What if my book publication date gets delayed? This happens all the time, too. Don’t take it personally. It may just be a timing thing and nothing to do with your book or it may be that your book has taken longer to edit than expected. Keep your eye on the prize: publishing the best book possible.
  10. How do I get blurbs from other authors for my book? Generally, this should be done by your agent, so that “no’s” don’t hurt so much and aren’t so painful for authors already hard-pressed in the business. But if you really do know a big-name author personally, you can send an email to ask—just be sure you don’t insist and give them an easy out.
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