Greetings Miss Snark
I am a newbie, alone and friendless in the world of publishing (I can see from your blog that you enjoy the occasional sycophant, but alas the nearest I can come is being pathetically pitiful). I began to write in April last year and to my amazement sold my first ms in early March.
The thing is, having sent my contract back I still have heard nothing from the publisher. I don't even know what is supposed to happen next in the process of publishing and the only place I have been able to find any sort of information is Romance Writing for Dummies, which is rather focussed on Mills&Boon.
Should I be pestering the publisher at least for a release date or something? Is my ms going to suddenly appear needing to be rewritten in the space of three weeks?
Should I just relax and continue to spend my evenings sipping lemon ruskis and working on my next ms (possibly titled Diary of a Drunken Housewife - not so glamorous now is it Brigit Jones? stuck at home with two screaming children whilst Mr Darcy spends every waking hour at work avoiding your slow festering resentment). Any guideance would be gratefully (ok, AND sycophantically) received.
In an email, I asked you for the name of the publisher and scooted over to their website for a quick look around. They publish e-books as far as I can tell, which means that turn around time is pretty fast. No messy printing stuff to slow you down.
What should happen is you get a contract back with the publisher's signature. You should get something telling you when the book is going to be for sale. This should happen pretty quickly after you sign contracts. Certainly within a month. So:
You need to get a copy of your contract back with their signatures.
You need to find out what the production schedule is.
You need to know how they plan to pay you.
The thing was, I couldn't find any of their ISBN numbers at the Library of Congress. I'm not sure if e-books need ISBNs, but the website showed them. LoC can take a while to register them (like a couple weeks) but I would have thought they'd be up there for earlier releases.
Ebooks are still pretty low-revenue companies and a lot of people are doing them who just want to publish things but are pretty clue free about business/money/accounting etc.
It's ok to stay on their case to get this stuff straightened out. A concise businesslike email asking when to expect the signed contrcts is a good first step.
I'm sure some of the regular readers of the blog will chime in with their experiences as well, which will be helpful.