I’m excited to welcome author Barbara Lowell to the blog this week! In addition to sharing some tips for her Baby Author Self, Barbara is also revealing the cover of her new book, My Mastodon, with artwork by Antonio Marinoni, slated for publication in February 2020. Without further ado, here is the FABULOUS cover:
As a lover of bones, and book and adorable dogs, I cannot get enough of this gorgeous image! Thanks for sharing, Barbara!
Now it’s time to offer some words of wisdom to your Baby Author Self. So…
What would you tell Baby Author You about your contract?
You have an agent, so you believe you’re all set – nothing to do on your part. Sorry. It’s important for you to read over your entire contract, no matter how many pages there are. Make notes on the questions you have and the areas you don’t understand. Because there will be many. It’s extremely important for you to know exactly what you will be signing. It may seem overwhelming at first, but learning to understand all that legalize is empowering and it will protect you.
The next step is to discuss your contract with your agent, over the phone or on Skype, etc. A back and forth discussion is better than one by email. When the contract negotiations by your agent are complete, read the contract again to ensure that you fully understand it.
What if you don’t have an agent? You may want to contact agents you think are a good fit and let them know that you have received an offer. They may offer representation. You may want to hire a lawyer who specializes in book contracts. You can join the Author’s Guild, submit your contract, receive advice and then negotiate the contract on your own. Or, you can find books or online resources about book contract negotiation and do the work yourself. What’s most important is that you fully understand all aspects of your contract. You will then write a letter outlining the changes you would like. These changes may or may not be accepted. But most publishers will be reasonable about not requiring that they have the exclusive right to your next work.
You have your first book contract and earned one-half of your advance. Celebrate!
What’s next? The editorial letter. It’s another milestone in your journey as an author. Before reading it do something fun or relaxing and calming.
Then, read the entire letter, line edits, suggestions, etc. It’s probably not what you expected. You thought your manuscript just needed a bit of tweaking. And now you have lots of revision to do. And you loved your story the way it was. Put the letter away. If you need to vent, call a supportive friend – do not vent to the editor. That’s a big no-no.
The next day, take the letter out, no more complaining – get to work. Make a plan. Will you work first on line edits? Will you cut what needs cutting first? Will you rethink the sections of your manuscript that need the most work? Ask your editor if you have questions. BE NICE. Don’t be surprised if there is a tight deadline. It’s up to you to meet it.
When your revision is finished, you probably will find that the story you thought couldn’t be better is now greatly improved. That’s why there are editors. Send your revision back. Most likely, you will receive requests for more revisions. This may go on for a while – so be strong. And one day, you will receive an email saying that your manuscript is accepted and the second half of your advance is on the way (sooner or later.)
You are finally close (in a year or two or more) to the magical day when you open the box of YOUR FIRST BOOK. Hooray Baby Author You! You did it!
Barbara Lowell is the author of Sparky & Spike: Charles Schulz and the Wildest, Smartest Dog Ever about young Charles Schulz, the creator of Peanuts and his dog Spike, the inspiration for famous pup Snoopy. Her books include the nonfiction early readers Daring Amelia and Alexander Hamilton, American Hero..And the forthcoming picture books My Mastodon (2/25/2020) and Behind the Bookcase: Miep Gies, Anne Frank and the Hiding Place (2021.) She lives in Tulsa, Oklahoma and is a member of The Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI.) You can visit her at https://www.barbaralowell.com and on Twitter at: https://twitter.com/barbara_lowell