Hi Ms. Snark,

Recently I was contacted by an editor at a small publishing house. I wrote a commentary for a newspaper and he was writing to let me know that he'd enjoyed my writing and was interested in me having my own single-author book. I'm really excited and this is exactly what I've been waiting for, but...I'm mystified and have so many questions.

At which stage do I need a literary agent?

Should I be content and move forward with this company or attempt to capture the attention of other editors (if at all possible?).

Because it's a small publishing house is there a chance that I wouldn't be as visible as I would with a larger entity ?I don't want to seem ungrateful, but I do want to do things properly and not make major decisions out of overwhelming excitement.

Did you think this editor is just the first in a horde of eager New York editors who are a day behind him cause they can't read the map and had to stop for directions?

You've got ONE guy who wants your work. That's it.

You need an agent but you probably can't get one cause there's not enough money in the deal. If you proceed, email me again and I'll give you the name of a contract review specialist who will review the contract for you. Don't sign anything without a publishing expert looking at it.

This could be a good opportunity for you. Sell the hell out of this, and you may well have a shot at bigger things.

Grateful is not a word you want to use in a business relationship. You have a good product; this guy stands to make some money if it sells. You can both be grateful if you want but it's not just a one sided dea..


Dave Fragments said...

If you have a book ready, then send it to the editor. If the book isn't ready, then get it ready and send it to him.

If you don't have a book at all, you you might discuss his expectations of the book you will write. A number of years ago, an editor approached four of us to compile a technical research book and we sat down with the editor and planned the subject and chapters. Maybe this editor doesn't want to be that involved, but he might say that he wants it to sound like your article's voice and be upbeat (Stuff like that).
Other times, I got requests for research papers on various topics for themed editions of journals or public symposia on a single topic. In those cases, the discussion was fairly short but informative.

You have to be wary of the contract, so take Miss Snark up on the contract specialist when you get the contract in hand. And don't moan about his fee, ever. This type of lawyer is worth every penny.

PS - my papers had topics like:
Hindered Diffusion in NiMo Alumina Catalysts, or
Autocatalysis in the Primary Liquefaction of Coal
...Just in case you wanted to know...

miriam beetle said...

PS - my papers had topics like:
Hindered Diffusion in NiMo Alumina Catalysts, or
Autocatalysis in the Primary Liquefaction of Coal

but were they upbeat?

Dave Fragments said...

When we turned solid black coal into clean, water-white gasoline, we bottled it and gave it away as trophies. I guess that was upbeat.

We celebrated when our research reduced the pollution out of coal-fired power plants and when other countries bought our techologies.

Upbeat is an apt word.

Anonymous said...

Dave, your comments are always sound and helpful, but get a twinkle in your eye.

Anonymous said...

Another contract-related suggestion: If the publisher makes you an offer, you can join Authors Guild (excellent organization) for less than a hundred dollars and send the contract under negotiation to their legal department. They will not negotiate with the publisher; however, they will tell you if there are unfavorable clauses in the contract that you should ask the publisher to change. They will also tell you, based on their reviews of other author contracts at the same house, if it's possible to negotiate more favorable terms.

Jim Oglethorpe said...

Very cool. Congrats. This is a dream come true.