You’ve signed a publishing contract…what’s next?


If you’ve been following my blog, you know I’ve recently begun to navigate some uncharted waters.  I wrote a short story based on a publisher’s prompt, went through many beta reads until I got it ‘right’, paused a long time before I hit the submit button, and managed to obtain that elusive publishing contract.  I know.  To a lot of people,  a short story in an anthology is not the same as getting a novel accepted for publication, but to me…a publishing contract is a publishing contract.  I’ll take it, baby!  πŸ™‚

But what happens after you sign the dotted line? (which isn’t dotted by the way, in case you’re wondering)

I can’t speak for the industry as a whole because this is my first venture, but for me, I’ve been assigned an editor.  Now, if you’ve never worked with an editor, this can be a little daunting and scary.  Editors are different than beta readers in the sense they have a feel for the market.  They know what works and what doesn’t work.  They know what to look for:  grammar, logic, flow, story, clarity, sentence structure, specific errors, overuse of words, and many other elements.

I’d like to pause here for a moment and recommend two sites to help you fine-tune your document before you submit.  There is the paid version of Autocrit, which is a fantastic piece of software, and there’s the poor man’s version (free), ProWritingAid. Both will help you find overused words and constructs, consistencies in hyphenation, US vs UK words, capitalization, spelling, clichΓ©’s, redundancies, and so much more.  Autocrit is a little better because it breaks down the sections into reports and explains errors in a bit more detail than ProWritingAid does, but not everyone has the $$$ for Autocrit and ProWritingAid performs well.

Okay, what happens after you get the contract and get an editor?  You get your first line edits from the editor.  This can be really scary and upsetting if you don’t know what to expect.  Let me warn you, it may (and probably will), drive you to tears, but you can’t take it personally. Remember…your editor is your new best friend.  (S)he will help you polish your gem and make it the best it can be.  With that will come a few growing pains.  You’ll get through them.  Trust me.

When I got my first set of line edits, my manuscript looked like someone bled on it.  There were bracketed comments in the middle of the document with editor notes in red.  There were strike-throughs, comments, altered text, insertions, deletions.  You name the editing mark, it was probably in there.  Thankfully, my editor and I have an open line of communication (very important), and we’re able to bounce ideas off of each other and find solutions that work for both of us.  So far, the ride has been a smooth one.

I’m currently on my second round of line edits along with what my editor refers to as the author line credits.  This is where I go over the second line edits and make my changes to those.  Again, the second round was difficult to look at because now we’re in the tweaking stage.  Now we’re tightening the voice, keeping the pace consistent.  Looking for additional grammatical errors that were overlooked.  Finding plot holes.  This means more cross-throughs, additions, deletions, text transfers.  And, because I’m working with a publisher and an editor, I now have deadlines.  I’ll talk more about that next week.

Overall, the experience so far has been intense and I’m learning a lot as far as accepting criticism, knowing when parts of my story don’t work and accepting they don’t work, and being a part of watching my story come to life the way it should.  It’s an incredible journey, and one I’m glad I made, and it all started with the click of a button that said, ‘Submit’.

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16 thoughts on “You’ve signed a publishing contract…what’s next?

  1. Jenny, I’m so happy that you’re sharing these really important steps with us, thank you! Such good information to keep in mind. Also, I love that you had to ‘check with your publisher’ – how absolutely cool is that! πŸ™‚ It’s a brave, new world you’re entering, and I’m totally delighted for you! πŸ™‚ xoxox

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  2. Thanks for giving me an inside look at what happens after a contract is signed. πŸ™‚ Fascinating stuff! Also nice to know there will be red pen all over the page and that’s normal. πŸ™‚

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  3. I’m glad your editor experience has been good so far. There is definitely some learning related to it and it is exciting to see how your work can be so much improved with a teak here and there. πŸ™‚

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  4. Revel in those line edits – they will push you in ways you’d never expected. πŸ™‚ Crits can be tough, but always try to look at them as opening doors to different possibilities for both your characters and the story.

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  5. Great post for two reasons. 1) Thanks for the tip about the writing software. The the only issue is it could get addictive. Do you know of any software like this that can be downloaded? Because I spend winters sailing, I don’t always have access to the internet. 2) It’s great to hear about your publishing experience. Could you post an edit that surprised you?

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    1. I’ll have to check with the publisher and editor to see what can be revealed at this point. If I can, then I most certainly will. Autocrit can be downloaded I believe. There is a yearly fee for having it but I’m not sure what it is because I use the poor man’s version. πŸ™‚

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    2. So, I checked with the publisher and was asked to postpone any postings regarding exact edits until further along in the publishing process. I completely understand their reasoning, and perhaps, after the book is released, I can be a little more specific. Thank you for understanding.

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