You’ve worked hard and now a contract offer looms before you. The first book contract is the most exciting. So much so you might even sign it for free. But please, don’t.
I’ve signed two so far and I did my research first. Both contracts were with reputable small publishing houses. That helped me feel more comfortable. Before the first contract was offered I got to know the editors from the house through conferences and became a fan of authors they published. I was confident when I signed with them and pleased with their author care. The second one I got through my agent and he negotiated the contract. But I still did some homework myself.
Below are ten things I feel are important before you sign not only the first but any contract. Especially with small publishing companies because they come and go. But traditional house should still get the same scrutiny. Small publishers are a great way to start your author career. They are usually more open to debut authors. And new authors can get so excited and in a hurry to see their name on a cover. Here are some things to consider before signing on the dotted line.
- What percentage do you receive as the author for each sale? (royalties) Those percentages can range from 10% to 50%. Most small publishers don’t give advances and often the first royalty check doesn’t come for 90 days. Any paperbacks you wish to sell you purchase for an author’s discount. If your goal is to get your first book out there, the royalty amount may not matter. The smaller the company the smaller the royalty. (There may be exceptions.)
- Number of titles the publisher has? Go to their website and check out their volume. A brand- new publisher may have ten. A more established will have hundreds.
While you’re on the website check out a few other things.
- Cover designs Are the covers appealing. Are you drawn to the covers? The first thing a potential reader notices is the cover.
- Do they have any best-selling or award-winning authors under contract? This is not a red flag, merely a hopeful consideration. They look for quality and if they are offering you a contract, you can feel comfortable they consider your work quality.
- Sales ranking Choose a book in your genre and search for them on Amazon. What do the sales rankings look like? Do this with a few or all the books in your genre. There are millions of books on Amazon so if their numbers are over 500 in specific categories or over 50,000 in the whole pool of books that is a good thing. These numbers give you a good idea of sales. However, some some authors refuse to market and their numbers reflect that.
Next week I’ll share the second half of my list. If you have any questions I’ll do my best to answer them. These tips are things I find helpful. You may have some other ideas.