This is something I wrote after I was offered my first contract. I hoped to impart some useful information to other writers/authors.
It finally happens. You're offered a contract from an ebook publisher after years of writing, sending queries, receiving rejections. Your heart pounds. Your pulse races. That joyous, euphoric sense of accomplishment makes you want to happy dance in the streets...but you think twice about that idea. Neighbors would surely assume you'd gone insane. Plus, dancing maybe isn't your best skill!
But, hey. You're flying high on that number nine cloud. Years of trying to prove you could achieve the dream of being an author materialized. A message of "This is better than sex" flashes in your head...
Backtrack on that thought. You regain your sanity real quickly. Nope. Even in a slightly insane state, you'd never be able to let that thought linger in your head.
It's amazing how people react to your news. Those that love you, wish you well. Others who "don't read romances" congratulate you with a look of "sorry, I'll never read it". Some wonder why you've gotten published while they're still trying. And the last group seem perplexed by the fact that you've accepted an offer from an electronic publisher.
You enter into a relationship with your publisher. What you can and can't discuss about your contract and your publisher's business binds you together, like a new couple. Hence, kissing and telling becomes your decision and it can't be taken lightly.
Questions accompany all who respond to you. When does your book come out? Can I buy it at a bookstore? How much does it cost? What's your contract like? How much do you get?
You try to answer all questions, although some make you feel a bit uncomfortable. The easy ones have answers that flow unconstrained, simple and to the point.
"No, you can't get this at a bookstore. This is an ebook. You download it to your computer or to an ebook reader." Okay...not so simple to those who haven't the faintest idea what you're talking about. But you smile happily and explain what's involved, and usually the response you get is, "I'll wait until it comes out in print." You accept their response graciously and move on to someone else.
The cost? Will you know before the book's published? Some authors do and some don't. You may have to smile and answer, "I'm not sure right now."
Now the contract questions. Some publishers post their standard contract on their website. Others don't. Still others have a standard contract but each author receives one tailored to their needs, desires, what you both agree to...a specific one detailing your conditions in signing with your publisher. Therefore, there is no standard contract for everyone.
Along with this comes a confidentiality agreement if your publisher has one for you to sign. Basically, you agree not to divulge information about your contract or information passed on by your publisher that's strictly for in-house personnel...staff and authors.
So. How do you answer those questions about your contract? You've already "kissed" your publisher so now there's no "telling" if you've signed that agreement not to reveal information. Your choice is to speak in vague terms. "I have options I may take. I may get my book into print eventually. My publisher holds certain rights to my book." You get the picture. Nothing specifically spelled out.
The last question is asked by some simply out of curiosity. Others ask with a different reason in mind. For the curious ones, once again, you give a vague answer. "Oh, around half of what the book costs." Not an exact truth, but enough to satisfy them.
The ones who ask with that different reason in mind seem to be the same ones who question your sanity in going with an epublisher. You still smile and give your vague answers, but that may not satisfy them. Some groups like Romance Writers of America and individuals who are same-minded about pitting print publishers against epublishers seem to make it their business to expect you to divulge your income. Why? To make them feel vindicated about their stance?
You've kissed, so there's no telling. And, it's really nobody's business what you make. Exceptions are your publisher, the IRS (in the US), and yourself. Outside of those, you'll be gracious in answering the well-meaning curious people, but be leery of the ones trying to downgrade your success. They're the ones you need to ask, "Did you ask your doctor what he makes? How about the engineer at your local phone company? Your son's math teacher?"
Personal experience...Someone not impressed with epublishing (although she hasn't published in years) stated that authors should make enough to live on, inferring an ebook author couldn't compare to a print one. I looked at her and asked, "Do you?" That stopped her train of thought very quickly.
My point to epubbed authors? Kiss your electronic publishing company and tell what you can and want to impart. But smile when you do and always keep a professional profile.
"Strip Poker for Two", by April Ash, will be released 20 August. For details, check www.ellorascave.com or www.aprilash.net.