Another outstanding article by a literary agent, Jenny Bent of the Trident Media Group also found at BackSpace. Written specifically for first-time authors (a situation in which I hope to find myself...soon?) she tells the hard-edged truths we'd just as soon not hear, but must, but she also does so understanding the emotional roller coaster which is publishing these days.
Set in a Q&A format, Ms. Bent goes through those questions plaguing all of us:
--How long before I get an offer for my book?
--How much money can I expect? (Forget about half-million dollar advances, alas.)
--What's a book auction?
--Hey, I'm getting stiffed by this stupid publisher. I ain't working for beans. Do I have to accept the offer my agent brings. (O.k., I'm paraphrasing.) Answer: Yes. Reminds me of the first house I sold. The first offer was "offensive," and I derisively turned it down. Four months later, I took much lower offer. Get a good crystal ball.
Other questions deal with when you'll get your money, when am I going to see it in bookstores, the extent of editing one has to endure, what kind of marketing and publicity support you'll get (less than you want or expect), things you can do yourself, and what constitutes success.
It's a long article, and I urge you to read it here.
Her final thoughts are worth remembering if not tatooing on your wrist:
Don't take anything personally.It will take a long time to get your contract. It will take a long time to get paid. It will take a long time for your editor to read your book once you've delivered it. Your book may not get as much publicity or attention as you had hoped. Your book may not sell as many copies as you had hoped. Again, none of this is personal. It does not mean that you are not valued by your agent/editor/publisher. It does not mean you didn't write a good book. This is just the way the industry works. Be prepared to be patient. Be prepared to work as hard as you've ever worked in your life. Be prepared to encounter a few disappointments and set-backs along the way. Remember, this is only your first book. Think in terms of building a career, not in terms of overnight success. If you play your cards right now, there will be many more chances to publish in the future.
She also gives valuable tips on when you're going to need that guidance the most.