Last week I shared the first half. Click here if you missed it.
Today we will finish the second half. A brief recap. Before signing a book contract there are ten things I like to do before I sign. The first five points which you can review from the previous post are : What is the royalty percentage, the number of titles in the publishing house, how attractive are the book covers, are there best-selling authors on board, what are the sales rankings of books in your genre.
Now on to the final five.
- Reviews What is the average number of reviews for the same books you investigated for sales rankings? I’ve read some wonderful book that had less than ten reviews. Their ranking wasn’t where I felt it deserved to be. (side note: write a review for books you enjoy it helps the author.) Some publishers have a network of bloggers and authors who do reviews. If you have your own network of followers who are waiting for your book and willing to review it ,this may not be an issue.
- Marketing Another important thing to understand is the publisher’s marketing strategy. All authors must market their books—no exceptions. Whether a large or small publishing company you must invest in your marketing. The question you need to ask is what part does the publisher take on and are you good with it.
I’d ask seasoned authors about their marketing and knew going it I would need to invest money. Writing is a business not an employer/employee relationship. It’ss helpful to figure out what your marketing budget might be out the gate. Yes, you can market for free. But free cost time. So, consider all your marketing investments. This way you have a realistic view before you sign.
- Rights- What rights are you surrendering to the publisher? This is where you need a contract lawyer or an agent to read the contract. Publishers may keep rights you are not aware of. For example: audio books, international rights or movie rights. Professionals can check the wording and advise you on what you are giving up or might consider negotiating. If you are afraid the publisher will take back the contract if you don’t sign it as is, don’t be. They are in the business of negotiating. Be sure to ask questions. Know whether you will regain the rights to your book if the company folds. Consult your agent, a lawyer or at least contact other established authors for what questions to ask. Again, this is a business, treat it as such. Before I had an agent, I ask lots of questions before signing. After I got an agent, he asked questions I never even considered.
- Ethics of the company. Research the company. Have there been lawsuits filed for breach of contract? This often comes up when you confuse a vanity press with a small publisher. A vanity press wants money up front for cover design, editing and marketing. Best practice is for publishers to pay for cover design, printing and editing and give you a clear vision of their part in marketing. As you check this out trust authors you know who have worked with the publisher to be honest. Some things you find on the internet are disgruntled authors complaining. Fro example: the mission statement of the company doesn’t match your own this could be red flag for you. If you write Christian fiction and the publisher has an erotica line because they market to the general public you may be conflicted. This association makes you uncomfortable, it might be best to decline the contract.
This last one is an after I sign the contract tip. It helps you build relationships and networking possibilities as you become a part of that publisher’s family.
10. Familiarize yourself with the authors. Friend them on Facebook and other social media. Join the publisher’s author pages on FB or through their website.(if neither exists I’d declare it a red flag.) Keep yourself informed and engaged. It takes months after the initial contract to get your book released. This interaction helps you plan your strategy for your debut and gives you an opportunity to reach out to other authors.
This list is merely my own method. Others may see things differently. The bottom line: don’t put your name on a contract blindly. Be comfortable and understand what the agreement you are entering entails. It can make or break your career.
This is my method. You may have other ideas. I’d love to hear them. I love learning new things from my readers.
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