I know what you're thinking, why do I need to read about how to be accepted? Isn't that the goal? Isn't that the point of my existence right now? I should be able to handle this one.
Well, as it turns out there are several situations you might find yourself in after being accepted that you are not prepared for. So, we decided to share some of those with you so you can prepare for that glorious day and all it will hopefully entail.
The Perfect Fit
The first is being accepted by the wrong person or agency/publisher. Every time you submit to an agent, publisher, or magazine you should have made sure your piece is a good fit with their interests. However, they may not be a good fit with you. If you're receiving offers of representation or publishing from an event (such as a pitch party) you definately need to check out who they are before you start jumping for joy. Actually, scratch that. You were accepted! That's totally a reason to jump as much as you want. But before you sign ANYTHING or even respond, check out their website and set up an interview. It's good for both you and the other party to know who you are, essentially, getting into 'business' bed with.
Whether this person is an agent or will hold the rights to your work for a long period, you want to know them. You want to be able to work with them and you want them to be willing to work with you. V had an experience where a publisher approached her with a contract for her first book, Smoke and Rain. And we totally did a happy dance. Then we researched and discovered the publisher was pretty exclusive to the Christian genre. For those of you who don't know, Smoke and Rain, is the first book in an epic fantasy series that follows a war between gods and the creatures that created them. And it doesn't always paint the gods in a favorable light. It's a balance thing and very cool, but pretty sure it would not mesh well with a Christian audience. So she explained her reasoning, thanked them, and polietly declined.
Another problem that might arise is a difference in personality. Perhaps you submit to an agent and when you sit down to talk to them, via Skype, the phone, or in person, you just didn't click. Sure, it's hard to gauge how well you would work together over just one phone call. Have questions prepared, ask to talk to other authors with whom they work, get a feeling for their views on anything relavant to your work, or work that you plan to run by them in the future. If you're still uncertain, have another conversation and raise your concerns. This person has to represent and believe in you and your work, and you have to trust them with your piece and your best interests.
If it's really not a good fit, it's perfectly fine for you to polietely tell them you don't think it will work.
Now, lets get to the fun part: your acceptance of the initial acceptance! You have talked with these people, maybe gone over a contract, and now you are ready to send an informal email of acceptance. If you have gone over the contract and you don't like it for any reason, ask if those details can be tweaked. We strongly suggest you have someone else (who's livelyhood and work aren't on the line) take a look too. If the issues can't be changed, then you need to decide how important those things are to you. If they're small, maybe you can look the other way, but if you aren't comfortable, look elsewhere. We will write a post specifically about contracts in the near future to help with this. The main thing I want you to take away right now is: this is your business, your livilyhood and your career. It's OK to be picky, and, frankly, you should be. It's also OK to accept the contract and pop open some bubbly! I feel like the technical and cautionary stuff is getting in the way of the goods here. But honestly my friends, it's important to know this ahead of time so you dont get screwed.
A Note About Professionalism
I really wish we didn't have to stress this as much as we do, but here we are. In the previous posts in the series, we talked about how to be professional, despite the highly emotional nature of submitting your work. Just because you've been offered representation or a contract, does not mean you are suddenly a VIP. It's OK to be excited and proud of yourself and your work at this point. And you should be proud! Just remember, it's business, and you should always be respectful and understanding. This is a business relationship and should be treated with respect. The company probably has several authors they're working with, and while you are important, you are not always their top priority.
Whether you're going forward with this person or company, or not, how you speak (or email) will determine your future in the indstry. Be considerate and make sure to read over your emails and messages for typos--an author who doesn't take care with their correspondance can seem disrespectful.
When declining an offer, be professional and considerate and, above all, thankful. This person might have 20 offers out there floating around and really not be bothered by you saying no. On the other hand, your book could be the one they've been waiting for and are dying to represent. You just don't know.
Ah, so there you have it guys. Acceptance is fun and exciting and let me know when it happens to you I'll help you drink that champagne! Just remember it's also part of a business deal. Good luck!
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