I assume you all have plenty of Easter candy left over, so feel free to snack while I spread cheer :)
First off, I would like to announce the winner of the March Pitch Pick! As always, all the entries were terrific, and all the entrants were so brave to put their work out there for everyone to comment on. Thanks to you, we all learn something new each week. It would be lovely if everyone could win, but since we have to pick one each month, the polls have spoken and this month's winner is.........
Miranda, with Reef Stew!Congratulations, Miranda! Your pitch has already been sent to editor Erin Molta for critique, and we will all look forward to her comments!
Next, as you may or may not remember :), I so appreciate all the work the devoted Perfect Picture Book bloggers do each week that I like to spread a little thank-you cheer by randomly selecting one person each month to win a little prize. Bloggers get one entry for every Perfect Picture Book they post that month, so in March quite a few people got 5 entries! In case you are wondering, this month 33 bloggers posted anywhere from 1-5 books each, resulting in 128 new books being added to the list! I didn't do an exact count, but we now have upwards of 450 books on the list all together. It's getting to be quite an impressive resource! Hopefully, parents and teachers out there are beginning to discover it and put it to good use :)
But I digress... :) I was announcing the March gift winner which is
... dddrrruuummm rrrooollllll...
Kirsten @ creatingcuriouskids!
Thank you so much, Kirsten, for your wonderful additions to the list this month, and thank you to EVERYONE who participates in PPBFs - you are all wonderful!!!
So, hmm... let me rummage around in my goody bag and see what I come up with for this month's prize... Kirsten, you may email me to receive your choice of one of the following: The Giblin Guide To Writing Children's Books, An Egg Is Quiet, or Little Bunny Foo Foo: The Real Story.
Next on the happy announcement list is that we should have 5 or so new Tour Posts coming from Phyllis in the upcoming week from Vermont, Pennsylvania, Georgia, Australia, and 2 from the UK... if all goes according to plan... which it doesn't always :) But do stay tuned :)
Also, for anyone who hasn't seen it yet, Phyllis now has her very own Punxsutawney Phyllis Face Book Page for anyone who wants to like her! She's very excited and hoping to become more popular than Punxsutawney Phil, who currently has 20,885 "likes". Phyllis currently has 48 "likes" so she has a ways to go, but she is very optimistic :) Phyllis's page is still evolving, but she will certainly be featuring a Fun Fact Friday!
Finally, my last happy announcement for the day is that I get to babysit for my granddaughter today... which also means I will not be online much as she is 8 months old and crawling :) So please forgive me if I get a little behind in blog post commenting!
Now that you are all hopefully feeling very cheerful, we shall move on to today's Oh Susanna question. Donna has a good one. She asks:
What are some of the key things a new author should find in a "good" contract? The flip side to that would be what are some of "bad" things in a contract that should set off warning alarms for a new author to run for the hills?
Donna, my experience is that contracts are not all that different from publishing house to publishing house. I have dealt with 5 different houses, and they all seem to cover the same basic, standard things. These include (but may not be limited to):
- where the publisher has the right to publish your book (USA only, or foreign?)
- your assurance that your work is original
- when your manuscript is due in final form
- the time frame the publisher agrees to publish the book in and at whose expense
- when galleys and/or proofs will be delivered by the publisher and how much time you have to review them and make any corrections, as well as how much you can change the work without incurring cost to yourself
- the amount of your advance and when and how it will be paid (full amount on signing, or half on signing, half on delivery of ms, etc.)
- subsidiary rights (such as book clubs, audio, film rights etc.)
- how many free copies the publisher will supply the author
- when statements of account and royalties if they are due will be delivered (usually semi annually, and the publisher will supply the dates)
- author's right to examine publisher's accounts
- agreement by author not to publish competing work
- reversion of rights and termination
I don't think any reputable publishing house would try to hoodwink or cheat an author, but there's no doubt that publishing is a business. The publisher is laying out the money to produce your book and they want to make sure it's worth their while, so the contract will likely be written in their favor. You as an author, especially a first-time author, may have to consider how hard you want to push for things. Do you really need a bigger advance/higher royalties/to keep the audio rights etc. if by insisting on such things you may cause the publisher to withdraw their offer? Many people do push. Other's (like me) tend to be more complacent. This is a reason many authors like having an agent - it is the agent's job to negotiate higher advances, better royalties etc.
I'm generalizing here to give you an idea of what to expect, but I think a typical advance to a new picture book author can be anywhere from $1000 - $5000 (depending on the book and the size of the publishing house and other factors), royalties of 5% on hardcover, 6% on paperback are common, publication in 12-24 months (but it can be shorter or longer), and 10-15 free copies of your book are typical. I don't know how frequently you can expect to get audio rights, or foreign rights, or things like that - sometimes I get them, sometimes the publisher does and I don't have enough data to make a guess.
I'm not really sure what to tell you to be wary of - certainly any situation where the publisher asks you to pay for things. Many vanity publishers will do this, but it's not something that should show up in a traditional publishing contract. And I guess a contract that varied hugely from the generalities above might be something you'd want to look at pretty carefully.
I would recommend having someone look over your contract if you're not familiar with publishing contracts. I believe there are even resources in SCBWI for this, although I'm not sure.
So I hope that answers your questions somewhat, Donna, and I would be most appreciative of any readers who have knowledge or expertise in this area who would be willing to chime in in the comments!
Have a great Monday, everyone. See you Wednesday for the next pitch - this one a picture book from Rebecca C!