Blogger: Mary Keeley
“You have an offer for a publishing contract.” I don’t think those words from your agent will ever cease to thrill an author, whether you are multi-published or this is your debut. Being prepared for what comes next will give your book its best chance for success. Part of the preparation involves knowing when to involve your agent during the book production process.
Marketing and Promotion
I can’t speak for all agents, but my preference is to be in on the marketing conference call between the marketing and PR managers and my client. A client recently told me about the scheduled meeting and asked if I would like to participate in the conference call with the acquisitions editor, marketing manager, and publicist. My client is marketing and promotions savvy extraordinaire. You might wonder why I felt I needed to take time for this call. In her case the conversation was going to focus on blending her own multi-faceted efforts with what the publisher plans to do, making each initiative that much stronger. Because my client understood the value of my knowing the plan first-hand, I’m in a better position to do my job monitoring follow-thru.
Once your book is contracted, your publishing team will work with you directly. This means the marketing manager assigned to your book will contact you, the author, to schedule the marketing conference call. It’s up to you to make sure your agent is included in the call. Be sure to contact your agent any time during the production and launch process if you sense a problem arising. That is part of your agent’s job. Your communication at the earliest sign of a problem will help her to negotiate a solution for a small issue before time passes and it becomes a bigger one.
Conversely, you need to fulfill all the items you listed in your proposal’s marketing plan and continue to find additional opportunities to promote your book. Email your marketing manager once a month with updates and results of your promotional efforts. It will help them to maintain a high level of enthusiasm for your book. And don’t forget to keep your agent up to date too.
Cover and Interior Design
The publisher has the final say in the cover design, and for the most part, you need to trust their judgment because your publishing team knows what sells books. However, occasionally the direction the designer has chosen clearly isn’t right for the book. In a busy production season, your team might not have time to read your whole book, or perhaps the designer, who has multiple books to work on simultaneously, missed something significant in yours that you feel should be captured on the cover. This is why I always negotiate for the author’s input on the cover in the contract.
Covers sell books; they’re that important. Talk to your agent right away and let her be the bad guy. Agents are experienced at negotiating issues like these while you maintain your good working relationship with your team. Of course the best procedure is for you to ask the acquisitions editor to send your agent a copy of the cover at the same time yours is sent. That’s the type of request you never should feel reluctant to make.
Keep your agent informed during the production process. Your agent can explain the how’s and why’s of what your publisher is doing, advise you on the best way to respond, and intervene if necessary.
There is no need to feel you are being a pest. I prefer a quick email to say, “My editor marked changes on the page proofs that I don’t want to accept,” or “Here is a jpeg of my cover, which I think misses the mark.” That is enough to alert me there is a problem. Believe me, I would rather be over-informed than under-informed. The goal is to make your book a financial success, because superb sales numbers of your current book make the strongest case for a publisher to offer you the next contract.
What additional circumstances would prompt you to seek your agent’s advice or intervention? Have you been under the impression that you are on your own with the publisher after your contract is signed? Do you feel prepared for what comes next after you have a signed contract?
Keep your agent involved during the production process after you have a book contract. Click to Tweet.
Inform your agent at the first sign of a problem during your book’s production process. Click to Tweet.