Now What!

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.


Feisty said...

Clue free?


mtz322 said...

Bowker would like all ebooks to have ISBNs, in fact one for each format (Microsoft Reader, Mobipocket, Adobe pdf, etc.) but they aren't required.
The main point, for most, of registering an ISBN with Bowker is to get the book in Books-in=Print and available for ordering.
Oh, bookstores aren't rushing to order ebooks, are they? So why pay for ISBNs?

As for showing up at the Library of Congress, some epublishers do go through all the rigamarol to get in but not all.

Pepper Smith said...

Not knowing who your publisher is, all I can offer is that this takes time. Your contract should spell out what your royalties are and what their payment schedule is. Some publishers send back a signed contract, and others assume that you kept a printed copy of the contract with their signature already on it, if they sent it via email.

Best thing to do while you're waiting is to keep writing, though I know it's hard to keep your mind on what your working on when you're wondering about the one you've just contracted. Since you haven't been assigned an editor at this stage, asking your publisher what to expect is probably your best option. If your publisher has an author email loop, that's also a wonderful resource for finding out what's expected.

Congratulations, and happy future sales!

Deb said...

I feel yoah pain. On my last book, my small press took 30 months from contract to release. Just because they're an e-pub doesn't mean everything goes like lightning. Like any other pub, it all depends on whether they're actively acquiring, the availability of hands to do the work, etc., etc.

At a month, however, a polite "status of the project" e-mail is appropriate, because the contract could've got lost in snail mail. This will make neither of you happy, so it doesn't hurt to ask. Doesn't make you a high maintenance author, either, so no fear.

My congrats along with the others' -- in small press, you've embarked on a thrilling, disconcerting roller coaster ride, but oh-boy-will-you-learn-stuff.


Ballpoint Wren said...

I can see from your blog that you enjoy the occasional sycophant

Somebody make a Hannibal Lecter joke, quick!

none said...

Sorry, wren, but I have no clue what wine to serve with sycophant.

Deb said...

Sycophants en brochette, anyone? I like mine medium-well.


Bernita said...

The wine?
Nasti spumanti, of course!

Sarah said...

Congrats on the sale!

I am epubbed. I recieved my contract within a week of accepting an offer. My welcome letter came from my editor after my acceptance and addressed most of your questions.

My ebooks do have ISBN's for a couple formats (you want this so you have the most available formats for your audience.) I get another ISBN when the book goes to print. The epubbed world works at warp speed compared to the NY pubs. I just sold a four book series to a NY house, and I was a bit astonished how much slower the process is. Obviously the difference in size of the corporations adds many more layers to the process.

I definitely agree you should send a professional inquiry stating your confusion about the process and that you have a few basic questions.Ie:

Have they received your contract sent (insert date here)?

When should you expect to receive a copy?

Do they have a FAQ for new authors which would answer your questions and address your confusion? If not, would they mind answering the following questions:

1)Have you been assigned an editor?

2)How long is the average wait between submission and edits?

3) What is the editing process of the house?

4)At what point in the editing process are books slotted for publication? How will you be notified?

5) In what time frame after purchase will the house have the book published? (This should have been in your contract, but if not, ask.)

6) Is there an email loop for authors of the house? (handy way to get info and help as a newbie to the house) Who do you speak to about joining?

When you get answers to these questions, you'll probably have a lot better idea of how the house works and an idea of more detailed questions to ask down the road. If you can't get answers to these questions, I would suggest looking again at the offer.

I would also suggest calling rather than email. That way, you wouldn't have to wonder about whether your email got through. Epubs tend to upgrade servers to keep up with rapid growth and this seems to always mess with the receiving or sending of email.