Today I received my very first contract from a publisher! Woo Hoo!!!
Stop. Read. Think. Re-read. Research.
I am new to contracts, so even though I may not be clear on every detail of the contract, I know to take a step back, understand what I can, and research the rest. The contract came from Black Rose Writing (BRW), and unfortunately their reputation does not make me optimistic. Most of the articles I found online are at least 5-8 years old, so the publisher has changed since then. However, it’s unsettling to read the unsavory reviews of a publisher who sent a contract.
They are not asking for money upfront, insisting I buy X number of books (as they once did), but I’m still hesitant. I’ve reached out to an author published through them to get an author’s experience of the publisher today. I’ve also reached out to SCBWI, my friend who writes and reviews contracts, and other authors in my critique groups for advice. It’s tempting to say “I did it” and sign away, although if BRW is a vanity publisher it’s about as exciting as getting a participation trophy at a sports event.
ABOVE WRITTEN FEB 14
Today I have heard back from several trusted people about BRW. Most people I have talked to are also skeptical and want to know more. This uneasy response has confirmed that I will not be choosing BRW as my publisher.
The joy of getting a contract has worn off and disappointment has settled in, but I am glad for it. It’s important to do the research and tap into resources. I talked to a librarian today and she knew of another indie publisher in IL that is small but produces quality work. I will check them out. As a new author, using a small publishing house is a great way to get published and start the process of getting known. BRW, however, boarders the line of vanity press and requires the author to do most of the marketing. At least that is the vibe I get from the contract and website.
For those of you new to publishing who are afraid of getting targeted by vanity publishers, here are some things to look out for:
- A reputable publisher WILL NOT ask you to pay money upfront. If someone offers you a contract and requires you to pay a fee, buy a certain number of books, or pay for marketing services: run.
- Weird typos. Publishers like words and order and professionalism. Having a stupid typo in a contract is a scary sign. BRW had two: 31 of February, and Witnesseth.
- If you contact the press and they can’t say anything specific about why they chose you, it probably means they didn’t read the MS. You want someone who loves your work, not your wallet.
- Vanity and Subsidy press is the same thing. Both will prey on authors and try to get money from them. A publisher is supposed to support YOU, not the other way around.
- More info about staying safe and informed below.
If you have experience with author contracts, what to look for, and how to stay informed, please comment below. I too have a lot to learn, and sharing helpful information unites us as a writing community.
My list of 75 agents is growing smaller and smaller. I didn’t realize how many agencies have a policy where “A no from one of us is a no from all of us.” I have to trust they actually shared my query with their co-workers, otherwise I may have missed a chance. Two agencies have said no, and I was hoping to query about 8 people I now can’t because of this policy.
My heart is racing. I turned on some fun music to pump myself up today, and I finished 4 queries. My query letter is good and my MS has been edited about 4 times so I hope it’s ok. I don’t want to exhaust my options. Again. I know it’s all part of the process, but it’s still disheartening.
Two weeks ago when I had a MS request was the most excited I’ve been in a long time. The no from that was hard, but not as hard as it could have been since I prepared for it. Yet, with each query sent I feel rejection is inevitable. It’s hard to get out of this funk. Self-publishing is not an option for this book so I have to hope an agent likes it.
If I go through all my agents, then what? This question has been plaguing me since the first rejection. I’ve been through this before, but my skin is not as tough as I thought it was. Do I start a new project? Do I push harder for this one? Do I, I dunno, troll Facebook for answers? I want to be optimistic but having a back up plan would help me a lot. Anyone have some good advice? Anyone been through this funk before? Wisdom welcome!!!
Last night I went to the Writer’s Loft for their first class. This class was taught for over 20 years by Jerry Cleaver and is now run by Mary Carter. The first class is free and comes with Jerry’s first book. However, I am still debating if I want to commit to the class.
I have an amazing critique group right now that is inspiring and helps me stay motivated, but this workshop is not a critique. It is open to anyone at any stage in their writing and offers tools to write, inspire, and get published. A lot of what was talked about yesterday was information I already knew, but there were some things that were either new or good to hear out loud again. One of my concerns about the class is that this particular class has many people who are new to writing. I think, however, that this will be alright since the class is about tools to improve writing and not worrying about my work being critiqued by people new to writing. I was hoping that more advanced writers would be in the class, but as Jerry (or someone else famous) said: A professional is an amateur who didn’t quit. I cannot judge anyone in the class because, honestly, I am also just starting out. I may already have a self-published book, but writing is a never ending learning curve.
Honestly, the biggest issue right now is the cost. It’s $575 for the 6 weeks which is not too bad, but I’m on a budget and I have a sick rabbit to think about. I want to invest the money only if I know for sure that this will help me and right now I am not sure. The website is optimistic and the teacher believes in Jerry’s teaching and methods. I want to know if anyone reading this knows of this class or has taken it/knows someone who took it. I want my time and money to be well-spent. I think the first class is a tricky one since it is a long introduction to what will be taught. It’s hard to know how the class will go based on reviewing a syllabus, main points, and a writing exercise.
I’m reaching out to ask for advice. This workshop is well known and the teacher has published several books and worked personally with Jerry to learn to teach this course. There are so many reasons to take it but I am still worried about the investment. I have one week to decide whether or not to show up to class. Please help me out! A conversation about the pros and cons from current and aspiring authors would help me out immensely.
My book signing is one week away and I am still thinking about the flow of the whole thing. I know they want me to do a reading and a Q&A, but I’m not sure what makes the most sense. I should probably introduce myself first. That would be a good step. However, I’m not sure after I introduce myself if I should launch right into the reading or open it up to the Q&A? I could introduce the book, talk about the characters and the creatures of Mauth and then open the floor to discussion. After some questions I can read a couple chapters and then hope I catch enough people’s attention and sell a couple copies. Ideally. Would that make sense? I could also introduce myself and the book and then start reading. I’m sure that after I read a couple chapters that will spur a couple questions.
Has anyone out there done a book signing? Any advice for this newbie? Any information on a good flow, or at least what not to do, would be immensely helpful! Thanks to everyone!