Friday, July 10, 2009

WRITER'S MOMENT - Dakota Banks

Signing a contract is a much-heralded step on the road to success as a professional author. But what comes next?

In her blog, Dakota Banks provides a month-by-month look at what to expect in the year after the contract is inked.

What Happens After the Book Contract's Signed

Advice abounds on the web for aspiring writers trying to get an agent or get published. A great deal of angst and energy is expended leading up to the signing of the book contract. What then? What's beyond the curtain? Let's take a peek.

I can tell you that it isn't all putting your feet up and waiting for the accolades to roll in. You'll be plunged into the work on your next book and the ever-growing work on the business of writing. Here's an outline of a theoretical (but grounded in reality) year after the contract is signed.

You sign a book contract December 31, 2008! Here’s what you have to look forward to in the months to come.

January 2009
Send your agent a thank you card or gift.
In rare cases your acquiring editor will assign a new editor to work with you - if so, introduce yourself and establish a working relationship.
Begin work on any revisions your editor has requested.
Begin collecting a mailing list of bookstores and individuals for promotion.
Supply any needed permissions to editor for quotes used inside your manuscript.
Continue working on the proposal for your next book, which will be done under a deadline.
Contact possible sources of jacket quotes for permission to send a manuscript to them. Be bold. Ask members of writing organizations you belong to. Be sure you're selecting writers whose work is similar to yours.

February 2009
Turn in revised manuscript as negotiated with editor.
Your book is placed on production schedule.
Pub Date set at January 1, 2010 - it seems so far away!
Send out manuscript copies (unbound) for advance quotes - let recipients know the deadline for getting quotes in. Make sure you let them know you are not demanding a quote, but that you'll have to earn it.

Plan your web site, if you don't already have one. Choose your poison for social networking and begin to establish yourself in your real or pen name.
Get written permission from publisher to use a book excerpt on your web site.
Don't give away too much, and be sure to stop at a "tease" point.

March 2009
Receive the payment of your advance for the first book, but don't get too attached to it.
Plan on spending those dollars on promotion. Unless you have struck it big, new authors can plan on plowing the advances for the first three books into developing a readership.
Make contact with the publicist assigned to you by your editor and determine what, if any, promotion will be done. Plan yours to complement, not duplicate. Some publicists will want to wait until the book release date is much closer before even making plans. This is okay for web promotion, but watch out for long-lead print media.
Plan giveaway items such as bookmarks, but don't order them until you get the cover art for your book.
Study proofreading marks - you'll need to understand those squiggles if you don't already.
You did make sure that your contract specified review of the copyedited manuscript and not just the galleys, didn't you?
Remind your editor that you would like to review/correct the jacket text (in rare cases, you'll be asked to write the jacket text).
Think about cover art and be prepared to offer suggestions. Don't expect to have too much influence over art or jacket text - it's a marketing thing.

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