I thought today would be a good day to write about my very first book contract. It turned out to be quite an interesting experience. Bear in mind, I refer to the publisher vaguely, to protect the innoncent (namely me). Anyway, I had reached out to a certain publisher that called themselves, a traditional publisher. I sent in my manuscript which at the time was about three hundred pages (and not Really ready, as I have now learned from my own battered experience). Several weeks later I recieved UPS delivery. The driver knocked on the door and then vanished into thin air the way most UPS guys do. (You just see the rear end of that big brown truck tearing out of the neighborhood)
But I looked down and saw a fairly large package laying over the threshold of the door. I picked it up and read it. It was for me. And it was from aforementioned, Traditional( wink, wink) publishing company. I was surprised to be recieving any communication back from them, so early, anyway. But I sat down on my overstuff couch and lowered the volume on the television( I think I had been watching Desperate Housewives or something similar).
But I was excited and my heart began to beat fast. It was because I thought I had an idea of what was inside the package. So, I tore the seal on that puppy and plucked out its contents.
It was a small packet of papers, bound together on each side with small white stickers and stamped on the front with a gold seal, denoting the publishers symbol. One loose page had fallen to the couch beside me and so I picked it up and read it.
It was an offer letter from the publisher, signed by the president of the company and the acquisitions editor. And the packet was a contract for my manuscript–Grand Rouge. I was ecstatic. I think it was probably the closest I’d come to a heart attack since I was twelve and we first got HBO.
I danced around for awhile, excited, trying to call my wife and inform her of the great news. But I couldn’t get her on the phone. Finally, I calmed enough to sit down and read over the contract (Did I mention, my first contract?). After I’d read a little further into the fine print, I felt my heart dropping further and further into my stomach. The contract I was being offered was not for the publishers “Traditional” guidelines, but for the it’s “Vanity publishing” guidelines.
What the hell?
It stated that I would be signed under contract and if I paid said amount toward marketing and publication, then the publisher would pay the rest. Mind you, said amount, for me anyway was well over the household budget. Besides that, I felt the manuscript deserved traditonal publishing.
Now granted I have nothing against the Vanity publishing route. There are some good ones out there and I hear that some people have benefited from them greatly. But it was just not for me. I actually wanted the thrill of someone wanting my project and willing to take the risks of traditional publishing. I was heartbroken but I still felt energized in many ways. Because to me, though the contract did not give me what I wanted, it still told me that my writing showed some promise. And that, friends, was the biggest take away for me. Any other experiences out there, that you’re not too, shy to tell us about, I’d loved to hear them. Thanks