Monday, March 2, 2020

Top Tips for Before and After Receiving A New Book Contract

Hi! Mary Vee here. 

Spring is on our doorstep! A Season for New!

This month on the Writer's Alley we're introducing, discussing, and giving tips for some of those "new" chapters writers encounter. We have a lot to share! Julia, Sherrinda, and Laurie will also host weeks this month.

Alley Cats Celebrating a Contract 

In this first week of March, I am discussing the "New Book Contract." The differences between what we expect and what happens. 

The season before we receive a book contract is not easy. I know. We write manuscript after manuscript, pitching our stories to agents and/or editors, study the craft, hone our skills, then write another manuscript. Time passes.

Before Receiving Book Contract Tips:
1. Read more.
2. Choose to set aside time to learn something new about writing. Attend conferences. Read books on writing. Participate in online writing groups.
3. Be open to the critique of others. Join a critique group. I belong to two groups. One is designed for writing, reading our work aloud, and receiving encouragement. The other is submitting a chapter online and receiving content, grammar, and other forms of helpful advice. The key to benefiting from feedback is: listen to your heart, your story, and your characters as you make changes. 
4. Take the time to present only the very best edited copy when sending a query, proposal, or pitching to an agent or editor.
5. Read the Publishing House's Guidelines and follow them completely. A great book can be rejected even at this point.

Thanks to friends and family, our encouragers who hold us up when we become discouraged, we march on, submit, write, and wait. Oh, how we wait for the golden email: an offer for a book contract. When the news arrives at last -- CELEBRATE!! Tell everyone. Laugh. We are about to become an author. 

Like high school or college commencement, this is not the end of our work, but the beginning of chapter two in a writer's career.

Chapter two- After Receiving the New Book Contract Offer

1. The greatest favor you can do for yourself at this point is to have an agent. The wording in contracts is power-packed with legaleese so specific to book publishing that a family lawyer would struggle to accurately decipher the wording. Never pay an agent for this service. Agents are paid when you are paid.

2. Edits. Before and after the contract there will be layers of editing. Content. Line. Fact check. And more. Publishing houses vary in how much they will edit the manuscript. This will be discussed in deeper detail this Thursday night when I interview Ashley Clark. Details below.

3. Cover survey. This is a fun step. The publishing house will send a detailed questionnaire about the manuscript. This information will be used to design your book's cover. This survey is worth every minute you spend filling in the blanks. Years ago, a writer wrote down the wrong hair color for the main character. Fortunately, she saw the problem in the first cover draft, and the artist changed the hair color for the final cover. We'll discuss this more in the Thursday interview. Ashley really enjoyed this step. 

4. Edits. At some point, the publisher will send galleys to you. The galleys have your manuscript formatted for publication. Limited changes will be allowed, however, if you catch one of those crazy errors that always slip through...a homophone problem, a missing letter, etc, these can still be fixed. Be sure to read through the galley carefully. It's the last chance to correct errors.

5. Promotion. Marketing. Who could promote this amazing story about to be published better than the author? We know the story best! This is the time to put on a creative hat. There are marketing classes at writer's conferences, books, and online groups to learn from. Try not to waste time inventing wheels. Why invest in promoting? Isn't this bragging? No. Not really. Think of it this way. Say you went on a trip. At some point, you get hungry. A billboard catches your eye. A restaurant you like is at the next exit. Had the sign, or the ad on the GPS not been there, you wouldn't have known. Marketing simply lets readers who like this genre know the book is available for purchase. 

It's the steps before and after 
that truly bring lasting fulfillment.

*Tackle the steps one at a time. Don't rush. Each one is worth every minute spent.
*Read/follow directions carefully.
*Ask for help from those who have walked the journey before you.
*Share your experiences. There are those who want to walk with you. AND these treasured souls are the ones who will be there to listen, congratulate, and offer advice.  


This Thursday at 8 PM Eastern 

I am interviewing Ashley Clark, one of the writers here on the Alley. Ashley received her first book contract this year! Congrats, Ashley! She is going to walk us through the steps from that golden book contract email to publication. You are invited to toss out comments, ask questions, and give answers/advice to other commenters during the interview. 

In the meantime, what questions do you have? 
Post them in the comments below.


Mary Vee has been a finalist in several writing contests. She writes suspense and mystery stories featuring characters like us. Her stories have gained recognition in the Selah and Phoenix Writing Contests. Daring To Live showcases a woman slipping into the depths of homelessness then discovers the only way to escape is to turn from the lies. Mary's years as a counselor, missionary, and caseworker to the inner city, Crow Indians, and peoples of Central America have strengthen the characters who live in her stories. She currently resides in the north with her hubby and two of her three children. Mary loves traveling, hiking, mocha, movie scores, and The Creator--the giver of our worth.

Mary would love to connect with you! Click the links below!

Mary Vee's Website
Mary's Blending Sites and Stories Blog
Twitter: @MaryVeeWriter
Instagram: @MaryVeeWriter

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