Okay, now you've got the attention of a publisher. You've followed the rules, sent them what they wanted in the correct format, and you've been patient. They wrote and asked for three chapters, then the entire manuscript, and then they called and said they'd like to offer you a contract. Wow. You've made it much further than most people do. A contract! How cool is that? But here is where it gets even more complicated. There are rules that you should follow and we've listed just a few
· Never scribble out things in the contract and write over them in red ink. If you have a question or concern about something, talk to the editor about it. Chances are if it’s a simple point, they will compromise with you. But you have to remember, it’s their standard contract. They don’t have to change the way they do business with an author just because you say so. It doesn’t hurt to ask for a larger royalty, but don’t expect to get it.
· Never just show up at the publisher’s door. Never ask if you can visit their workplace or office. Don’t call them after five in the evening, or before nine in the morning. Never call on week-ends or holidays. Do not call collect from jail, or from a bar at midnight. Please respect their privacy and remember they have lives and families and like to keep regular work hours if at all possible.
· You are responsible for keeping your own records and unless your house burns down, there is no reason to request another copy of anything from your editor.
· Do not send your editor daily e-mails just to ask how things are going. Don’t send them pictures of your family reunion, or chain letters telling them that unless they forward it on to 25 people they will get run over by a garbage truck. And don't send them political or religious forwards.
· When you are requested to make changes to a galley, do it exactly as they ask you to. Do not draw smiley faces in the margins. Do not reprint it with special purple paper, and do not tape extra pages to the back of it to better explain things. If you are making the changes directly onto the galley, write legibly and please do not write so small that it would require a magnifying glass to read. Do not use a special code that you created, use standard symbols for editing. You can find them online.
· You will probably have very limited control over the cover, sometimes none at all. Don’t expect to have your 93 year old grandpa’s picture on there unless it has something to do with the book.
· If your editor asks you to reconsider the title, seriously think about it. A bad title can sink your entire book. The original title of Jaws was Amity Cove. The editor changed it, and in the opinion of many, changed it to a title that helped it become a bestseller.
· If your contract states that a galley will be corrected and sent to you for final approval within ten weeks, don’t ask if they could make it three because you'd love to have the book by your high school reunion to show all those smarties that you did indeed become a writer. If it says 3 months, live with it. The editor has a lot of clients and a lot of books to work on. Often they have small staffs or none at all. Don’t push just because you’re impatient. Patience is a must in the world of publishing.
· If you were told that your book might be out by a certain date, please don’t set up signings. Wait until you have a book in your hands before you do that. There are a million things beyond an editor's control that can delay the release of a book. Again, be patient.
· Don’t expect your publisher to give you free books. Especially with a small press. Even the New York publishing houses make the author purchase any books that they might want to sell on their own. And it’s common knowledge, that in most cases, that’s the only way you’re going to sell. You should receive a substantial discount, but you will have to purchase books.