Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Writer's Wednesday - What Happens After the Contract?

Pink Heart Society regular, Stefanie London, is talking us through the post-contract world of writing...

The publishing world can seem like a bit of a mystical beast before you get ‘the call’. Since it’s Writer’s Wednesday, I thought I’d shed a little light what happens after you sign a publishing contract, including publishers do (and don’t do) for authors.

Hopefully this will help any aspiring authors be as prepared as possible before they sign.

Now, it’s disclaimer time. This is based on my experience of being acquired by Harlequin Mills & Boon and Entangled Publishing. Different publishing houses (and even different divisions or lines within a single publishing house) have different processes. This is by no means the final word on post contract activities.

There, now that we’ve got that out of the way let me set the scene. I was offered a two-book deal with Harlequin in December 2013, then invited to participate in a continuity in January 2014. I was offered a single-book deal with Entangled in April 2014. I did not have an agent for either of these acquisitions, although I do have one now.

Immediately after the call/email (pre-contract): 
  • The Harlequin KISS Editor tweeted that I’d been signed and linked to my social media profiles. Not all publishers do this, but it’s very common with Harlequin. (TIP: have the social media accounts you want to use already set up with your pen name.)
  • In the case of the two-book contract with Harlequin, they needed some information from me up front. This included a date for Book 2 even though I had no idea what book 2 would be. (TIP: have an idea of how long it takes you to write a book and always build in a little wiggle room if you can.)
  • I was invited to join a few publisher and author loops to better help me connect with other authors writing for the publisher. (TIP: there are some loops available to writers who aren’t yet published. Check with your local romance writing association.)
Post-Contract: Writing the book is only one part of publishing a book. There are a lot of other activities which take place before the book is available to readers.

Getting my author copies of Breaking the Bro Code
  • Final revisions: you may be required to make further changes to the manuscript prior to edits. I had completed several rounds of revisions with Harlequin before I signed, and there was further revisions to be done post contract. With Entangled, they bought my book as I’d submitted it and then I did all revisions after the contract was signed.
  • Copy/Line Edits: an editor will go over your book and ensure there are no typos, errors etc. Often the author will review the copy edits after they are complete. 
  • Art Fact Sheet: this is basically a questionnaire about your characters and your book that the publishers use to design your cover. Many traditionally published authors don’t get control over their covers. However, I’ve been really happy with most of mine (especially with my first book, Only The Brave Try Ballet – I love that cover so much!)
  • Titles: Whether or not the author has input into the title (or gets to keep their working title) depends greatly on the publisher. My debut book for Harlequin, Only the Brave Try Ballet, was originally called Love en Pointe. However, my novella with Entangled, The Rules According to Gracie, still features the title I chose.
  • Blurbs: With larger publishing houses they have a team who handle the writing of blurbs (content in the Art Fact Sheet can also be used for this.) In smaller publishers the author may have input or even provide a suggested blurb. 
  • Release dates: Harlequin has a reasonably long lead time between the book being handed in and when it gets publishes, about 6-8 months but it can be longer or shorter depending on what else is going on with the editorial schedule. 
  • Loading books onto sale sites such as Amazon, iBooks etc: This is generally done by the publisher. CHECK THIS INFORMATION…it’s not always right. Understand who your contact points are to get this fixed – most likely your editor.
  • Stalking Goodreads…or maybe that’s just me.
  • Getting copies of your book! Aka the most exciting thing in the world.
  • Marketing: This is vary greatly between publishers in terms of approach, how much they do, the guidance they provide etc. Often in category romance the line is often marketed rather than individual authors – this is not necessarily a bad thing for a new author because it allows you to be included/featured alongside more established authors.  
A side note on marketing. What do you do and what does the publisher do? My advice is to expect to do everything and if you get support from your publishing house then that’s brilliant. Marketing activities, however, are whole other blog post (or series of blog posts) so I won’t go into it in this post.

I really hope you’ve found this post helpful!

Stefanie London's latest book, The Tycoon's Stowaway, is available now in the UK and Australia (available from May 1st in Canada and the US):

Luxury yacht tycoon Brodie Mitchell and dancer Chantal Turner haven’t seen each other since that fateful night when the searing heat between them ignited, devastating everything in its wake. 

Now, they’re both single and Brodie’s determined to get Chantal out of his system. Exploring their electric chemistry opens Brodie’s eyes to what he really wants – what he’s always wanted: Chantal. This time he’s going to tame his little stowaway…for good!

Stefanie loves hearing from readers. You can find her via her website, don't forget to sign up for her newsletter for all the latest news and giveaways!

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