Do I dare blog about this???

I’ve been really careful about not saying too much about my children in my blog. I don’t even mention their names…even though anyone around here who knows me or them knows exactly who I’m talking about when I say Teen did this or Preteen did that. And anyone who doesn’t know them can at least find out their names/ages on my website.

But it’s not my children I’ve been debating blogging about…it’s my situation with M. Press. Should I be as private about this as I am about my family? Maybe…but I think I’m going to tell you what’s going on anyway because 1) this blog is “A day in the life of a children’s book author” and, well…this is all about life as a children’s book author; 2) if things DON’T work out, I don’t mind telling people why they DIDN’T work out; 3) if things DO work out, it won’t matter that I blogged about it.

If you’re interested and you missed it, you can read about my history with M. Press in my August 23 entry. And if you read the comments to that post, you know that I had a query out to an agent (sent about 4 hours before I found out M. Press wanted to publish When Grandpa had a Stroke) and I decided to e-mail the agent to let her know about this contract and find out if she’d be willing to handle this contract now for a flat fee before making a decision on whether to take me on permanently. I haven’t heard back from her…but I’m not necessarily concerned about that. It is the end of August, after all…she could be on vacation. Which brings me to what’s going with M. Press…

They’re putting a lot of pressure on me to just sign this contract and sign it quickly. (I ended up contacting a literary attorney who specializes in children’s book contracts, and as she pointed out, what if *I* was on vacation right now and didn’t even get the message about the contract yet?) In M. Press’s defense, they’re planning on publishing the book Spring 2007. No, that’s not a typo…they really think they can publish a picture book that fast, and that’s why they need the contract signed YESTERDAY. (Is that necessarily my problem? They told me they were “interested” in this manuscript almost six months ago…but they didn’t make a definite decision until last week…) We can’t move on to revisions until the contract is signed.

I really don’t like the pressure of being asked to hurry up and sign a contract without having a chance to really take a look at it. My contact person (not the editor I’ll be working with) e-mailed it to me last Wednesday…I didn’t receive it until late Wednesday because it ended up in my SPAM folder…he wanted a response by Friday. My “response” was basically “I’ve passed this on to a literary attorney; you’ll be hearing from her.” His response was “Protracted negotiations could possibly delay the book up to a year.” I haven’t responded, but my thoughts are, “I wouldn’t have expected a picture book that sells today to come out before 2008 anyway, so that’s no reason not to take the time I need to make sure I understand all the terms of the contract and can live with them.” Is a WEEK really so unreasonable??? And this high pressure, JUST SIGN IT NOW vibe I’m getting makes me wonder what all might be in that contract that he’s hoping I won’t notice?

There are several areas of concern: 1) the copyright isn’t in my name (that’s a deal breaker); 2) there’s no advance (I counted…this is my 26th book and I’ve never not received an advance. I’ve received one other contract that didn’t stipulate any advance, but when I asked, I was given one…and it was a nicer advance than I expected); and 3) I legally CAN’T agree to their options clause because my “next two books” are already under contract someplace else.

I forwarded M. Press’s “we really need this signed ASAP” e-mail to the attorney I hired. She told me there are seven people in line ahead of me, but in light of this pressure I’m getting, she’s going to try and get to my contract tomorrow or Wednesday…which is very nice of her, but I feel bad if I’m edging out people in line ahead of me.

I REALLY WANT THIS TO WORK OUT!!!! I want it to work out because 1) M. Press really does publish some nice books; 2) I want to see this particular manuscript published, and I know it’s not the kind of manuscript that most trade publishers will pick up..but it IS the kind of book M. Press does, and does well; 3) I have a friend who has done two books with M. Press and she had a good experience…she raves about her editor, who does indeed seem like a great person to work with (she’s not the one I’m dealing with on the contract); and 4) I want to NOT FAIL with this publisher a SECOND time. But that’s why I hired the attorney…she’s going to negotiate for me, too (HOORAY!!!!). This time I have someone else in my corner…it’s not up to me alone to decide what’s reasonable and what’s not. And maybe it really will work out this time…

Wish me luck…

3 thoughts on “Do I dare blog about this???

  1. Re: agent

    Really? It helps to hear that you’ve heard back from her in a timely manner in the past, but you didn’t hear from her this week, either…that’s better than imagining said agent purposely ignoring my e-mails while she tunes into this blog every day to find out what kind of freak writer I am. No, it IS the end of August…I don’t think much gets done in publishing the end of August.

  2. Delaying publication a year (usual pub time anyway, as you say) sounds way better than signing bad terms, definitely. A week isn’t unreasonable, at all–isn’t anywhere close to “protracted.”

    I’d be wary of pressure to sign quickly, too. If they’re treating you fairly, an extra week or two won’t be an issue. If not, then you probably don’t want to be signing anyway.

    Hoping things work out, regardless!

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