You have a publishing contract. Now what? Can someone please write this guide?

I’m one year in since the sale of my first manuscript (Alone Together on Dan Street, Apples & Honey Press) and I have no idea what is going on sometimes.

Here are some things that I would like someone to cover:

Prologue: Send it Out to the World Not quite yet. You wrote a brilliant manuscript. Edit. Edit it some more. Show it to critique partners. When it is ready, you need to send out a standard query publishers or send it to your agent. If agented, your agent will send it out on submission to publishers when it is ready.

Introduction: Waiting It takes time to get an offer. There’s rejection and waiting. Be prepared (possibly) for a very long wait with many ups and downs.

Chapter 1: The Offer Congratulations! You did it! Almost. You need to agree on the offer (advance and royalties). Like in the querying process, when you do finally get an offer (in most cases so long as it wasn’t exclusive) you can contact other publishers that have your manuscript and let them know that you have an offer. This should help you get an answer from them fairly quickly. Footnote: There is more waiting here.

Chapter 2: The Contract Once you agree with the publisher, the contract will follow the offer. If you are unagented, this is daunting, but not impossible. I’m a lawyer (technically though I typically mention this about as much as I mention that I’m actually originally from New Jersey and not New York) and I’m married to a lawyer and this was still daunting. I had author friends talk me through this though it was also suggested that I consider joining the Authors Guild. If you do have an agent, it is still a good idea to have someone else talk you through the contract as well if you aren’t sure about something. Your agent can also help you with this too.

Footnote: SECRETS You want to shout to the world that you have a contract. Don’t! You have to wait until it is officially announced or until the publisher tells you that you can when working with smaller houses. You will see authors posting vague tweets about ‘signing something’. They are dying to tell. They want to scream it from the rooftops. They can’t. There is waiting involved.

Chapter 3: Waiting (Again) When you agree on terms, you need to wait for the final contract. When you have a contract, you wait for the signature copy. When it is signed, you wait until you can announce your new book deal. See: Secrets in Chapter 2

Chapter 4: Platform Ok. You have a book deal. You have signed. You are excited to get started on edits, but you need to wait for the editor to get back to you with them. There are things you should be thinking about especially if this is your debut. You can presumably write a book, but can you write a blog post, an instagram post, Tweet, develop a website, or do whatever people do on TicTok (it is blocked in Hong Kong)? This probably should have also been Chapter 1 because it is also how you can meet and connect with other writers who will become friends and the people you turn to for advice through all of these steps. You are now expected to be an expert in marketing, social media, and branding.

Try to find on online co-marketing group. I found the Picture Book Pals through the SCBWI blueboard after every co-marketing group I contacted on Twitter told me that they were full. This group has been incredible in terms of support and knowledge.

Chapter 5: Edits You sent your best work out and you got an offer so it must be perfect. Wrong! It is likely far from it, but the editor you are working with (through the publisher) is there to help you. This process takes however long it takes.

Chapter 6: Media Kit Apparently, this is something that I should have had prepared since my debut is out in 2 weeks. I’m going to work on it after I finish this post.

Chapter 7: Waiting Your platform has been created, your media kit is ready, your edits are done, but there is still more waiting. Hopefully your deal has been announced and you can enjoy that minute while you wait for the publication date. Be prepared for a very long wait. I’m signing contracts now (in February 2022) for books with publishing dates in the second half of 2024!

Chapter 8: Presale Finally you have a copy of your book in your hands and you still are waiting for the world to see it. This is where I am now. Waiting!

Alone Together on Dan Street is out in the world on March 1!