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My First Publishing Contract

September 4, 2012 | By | 15 Replies More

It’s every writer’s dream to receive an email that says, “We would really love to publish your book.”

Well, it’s finally happened for me. I expected myself to jump up and down on the lounge suite like Tom Cruise on the Oprah Winfrey Show, but I didn’t. I just read over the email a few times to make sure I’d read it properly the first time, the second time, and then the third time. I think I was in shock.

I’d been under consideration a few times with other publishers, but for different manuscripts. Those few were my first real let-downs, and it took a great deal of effort to move on. But I think success without a struggle may rob a writer of two important abilities: to be persistent and to have resilience. That everyday persistence is what makes us put words on paper, draft a character sketch, do some research, or simply spend time on the plot. In addition, a writer has to muster the power to recover when he or she receives a rejection letter or some constructive criticisms about their manuscript. I had experienced both situations many times.

So here I was at the age of forty-six, and I’d finally received my first publishing contract. I sat there and watched each page as it printed out. I snuggled into my comfy chair and read it carefully. Then I realized something: I knew nothing about publishing contracts – nothing! But guess what? I didn’t care, because right in that moment, it felt really good to be in that position. I placed the contract down, removed my glasses, and smiled. I think that was the moment when the nervous excitement really hit me. I’d just read my first publishing contract with all the professional aspects and commitment I assumed a contract would have: marketing and promotion, proofs, author’s copies, electronic editions, licence and territory, publication, term – the list goes on. That had to be one of the most exciting and nervous moments of my life.

Any emerging writer knows it’s not easy to get your work viewed, let alone published by a publishing house. I had to work really hard and dig really deep each and every day to finally submit a great product.  Of course, very little can be achieved without the dreaded “hard work.” If I can inspire other writers to sit in front of a computer and begin the story they’ve been eager to write, then that’s a good thing.

So as I begin this new experience, this opportunity to learn something new in the journey of life, it’s hard not to feel a little nervous. Oh yes, I hear you all saying, “But it’s good to be a little nervous!” And you’re right. It complements the experience of beginning something new. New beginnings are indeed very important moments in life. It’s through these new experiences that people grow and develop new skills, and engage in new practices of thought.

Although by now the excitement of that day has faded, I still can’t help but feel a little nervous; at the same time, I feel very grateful for this wonderful opportunity to learn about the publishing process. It’s true what they say, that life is full of wonderful moments that make a person say, “Today has been a great day.” And tomorrow? Well, I think it’s best to enjoy one day at a time.

A big thank you to the wonderful people at Odyssey Books.

Note to writers: When it comes to publishing contracts it’s important that you always have the contract looked over by a professional person who knows about these types of contracts. I’ve been an advocate for many different issues involving people’s rights in general for many years. I’ve written to many boards of directors over these years raising issues from racial prejudice to unfair and bad business behaviour.

Authors must protect their rights, too. I’ve always believed that if both parties have a vested interest in the project a fair deal can always be negotiated.  If a writer receives a contract from a publisher please don’t sign it until it’s been checked by a professional in the industry. There are many organisations who offer a low cost for a contract assessment. This type of assessment will inform a writer of areas that need to be negotiated.  Here in Australia the Australian Society of Authors and the individual state writing bodies like Queensland Writers Centre offer this type of service.

Follow Vacen on Twitter @VacenTaylor. Visit Vacen Taylor’s website. This is Vacen’s second post with Women Writers, Women Books.

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Category: Australian Women Writers, Being a Writer, Contemporary Women Writers, On Publishing, Women Writers

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  1. Hi Vacen,

    Great post! Completely agree with you when you say “success without a struggle may rob a writer of two important abilities: to be persistent and to have resilience”.

    I’d argue that you’re not going to ‘make it’ as a writer without those two qualities, and it’s important to hang on to them, even after success.

    May I ask: did you ever consider self-publishing when the other publishers fell through?

    I also just want to say: Congratulations on your first publishing contract! It’s inspiring to see it happening for other authors! All the best with your book!

    - Helen

    • Vacen Taylor says:

      Hi Helen, thank you. I’m very grateful that you have taken the time to comment. Yes, persistence and resilience have always had a place in my life. Even more so now as I near the last year of my counselling qualifications and have since had my second book published. Most writers I know struggle with something and for each individual writer that “something” will be different. Of course, even the idea of “making it” will be different for each writer too. Perhaps a writer might not experience either of these qualities to have success. However, I’m yet to meet a writer that hasn’t had to develop a healthy attitude to rejection or self-doubt and that in itself fosters the need to be resilient. Resilience may happen naturally for some and for others it may need to be developed. Even when a writer is self-published there are still issues to be faced. The commitment to write a good story, self-promotion, having a healthy amount of self-efficacy and self-esteem, building on their abilities to step out of their comfort zone and coping with nerves at public speaking events. For some writers this will require persistence… if at first you don’t succeed try and try again. http://www.vacentaylor.com/what-makes-you-a-confident-writer-part-1/
      To answer your question about self-publishing: Yes, and I may self-publish in the future. I have the third book in a series of seven to finish for Odyssey Books. I also have an Australian story completed and a sci-fi novel in the last draft stage. I may self-publish one these. I’m also collaborating with another Australian author to produce our first screenplay, an adaption of my Australian story. There is no better time to be a creative in the world. :)

  2. Congratulations, Vacen! I am both very happy for you and ENVIOUS!

  3. Congratulations!

    I very much agree with your statement ‘success without a struggle may rob a writer of two important abilities: to be persistent and to have resilience’.

    On avg, I think traditionally published authors are more likely to have these qualities than indie authors – which is not to say indie authors can’t have those qualities, only that a greater proportion of them don’t.

    Self-publishing is success (if you define success solely as being published) without the struggle (even though it has its own challenges), and I think persistence and resilience are two important qualities any author of any stripe should have.

    Congratulations on being persistent enough and resilient enough to get this far.

    • Thank you for the congratulations,Ciara. Thanks also for taking the time to comment.

      I’m happy to read that you agree with my thoughts about success. ‘success without a struggle may rob a writer of two important abilities: to be persistent and to have resilience’ This was true for me. The journey towards being publishing needed both persistence and resilience. :)

  4. Lorna Suzuki says:

    Congratulations, Vacen! It just goes to prove that persistence, hard work and exceptional writing pays off! Good for you! ;-)

  5. Trish Anders says:

    That’s really great news, Vacen. Just what I need to hear as I prepare my MS for another submission, that someone I know has finally received an offer.
    I like the sound of your story as well and over 7 books! Wow.
    Keep us updated on the process and make sure you let us know when it’s available for purchase.
    Trish

  6. Congrats Vacen,
    For this awesome news.
    Thanks for sharing your insights and tips here on contracts.
    What was the title of your manuscript?
    Love to hear more… Karen :)

    • Hi Karen,

      Thanks for commenting. You know I’m a big fan of all the work you’re doing and your book, Me & Her. http://www.karentyrrell.com

      Yes, it’s always worth seeking out the Australian Society of Authors or your state writing body to help with contracts. I had ASA look at my contract and once you’ve negotiated changes and signed it they’ll keep it on file should any queries arise at a later date. :)

      The title is Starchild: The Age of Akra When Mai is selected and the Starchild returns, a prophecy is born. A battle spreads over the seven nations, but the mystical underworld also has a plan to dominate the seven nations and their elemental powers. The struggle to bring peace to the world of powerful energies lies in the hands of four children and a strange little lizard.

      The story will be told over seven books. :)

  7. I agree with Vacen Taylor that it is very important to get a professional to review publishing contracts. I was happy when I heard that David McKoy knew a corporate lawyer who was willing to read over our contract before we signed it. He did it Pro Bono because he was just that kind of guy.

    Since publishing our book, I’ve heard many stories of people who have been ‘cheated’ out of monies because they signed a contract with out professional assistance. They sorely regretted that decision. So please, please don’t let that happen to you.

    • Hi Lynn,

      And you did exactly the right thing. Having your publishing contract reviewed is so important. Most writers I know, either self-published or published by a publishing house work really hard on their manuscripts and are trying to make a living doing it. So if a person receives a publishing contract it’s always best to have it reviewed by a professional. My experience is most reputable publishers will be happy to discuss changes. :)

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