This is my first post in my “After the Deal” series, designed to help inform writers and curious readers about the traditional publishing process. Today, I’ll talk about the deal memo and the contract.
Once all of the hoopla, champagne drinking *hiccup*, and general madness settles after the offer, the business of writing begins. My agent and I received a deal memo from my publisher that outlined the basic terms of the contract that we’d agreed upon. Some of the information covered included: advance numbers for books one and two, a payout schedule for the advances, a listing of territory & other subsidiary rights, and royalty percentages.
ADVANCES AND SCHEDULES
Advances are typically paid in three installments we’ll call thirds (though they don’t always divide up equally into thirds.) The first third is paid upon signing the physical contract. The second third is paid upon delivery and acceptance of edits. The final third is paid on the publication date.
Most people outside of publishing (and let’s face it, most writers) think a huge advance is a good thing; and it is, but with it comes a lot of pressure. If you don’t earn out a huge advance, things can get a little dicey. That’s why it’s so important to have a great agent who can help you strike a balance between a good, fair advance sum and one that sets you up for success.
I am very blessed to have a two book deal, and the benefit of that is that the two timelines run concurrently. While I’m working on edits for HEMINGWAY’S GIRL, I’ll also need to work on planning and drafting the second book. The first draft of my second book will most likely be due before the publication date of HEMINGWAY’S GIRL. I’ll also be able to work with my editor at the publisher throughout the process on idea development, synopsis and scene reads, and troubleshooting for my second book.
My publisher had a scheduling meeting last week and has marked September of 2012 as the release date for HEMINGWAY’S GIRL. Now that we have that date, we are able to set the target dates for edits and drafts of both books.
It will take four to six weeks for the contracts department to complete the contract, and my editor plans on getting me the revision report for HEMINGWAY’S GIRL by this summer. In the meantime, I’m working furiously on completing research for my second book so I may begin drafting it.
One of the most exciting things about publishing is the breadth of possibilities for reaching readers. My publisher has World English, ebook, and audio rights to my books specified in the deal. My agent was able to retain foreign rights and film/performance rights. My agent works at a boutique agency, so she has a subagent who will work to sell my books in foreign markets. It’s nice to have a balance of division of rights so both the publisher and author are satisfied.
Doesn’t that word have a nice ring to it? It’s the target for all authors, because if you’re earning royalties you’ve earned out your advance money and made your publisher very happy. This makes for a healthy long term relationship in publishing.
Writers, if you have anything you’d like to add, please include it in the comments. If you have any questions, please feel free to comment or email me directly.