9 Things You Must Do After Signing a Book Contract
- Rejoice and celebrate. Truly, there are enough disappointing things in this world and in the publishing industry, you must stop and celebrate. Celebrate each and every step along the way. Pull in your friends and colleagues and make a big deal of this! Take joy!
- Grab the domain. Do you have a firm title for the book? Then grab the domain. Even if you do nothing with it for the next year, besides a placeholder page, you must get the domain as soon as possible. Why? Because one way that Google ranks a site is the age of the domain. The older domains get more traffic. Even a year old is better than a month old. As soon as possible, as soon as you know the title, reserve the domain. I use GoDaddy.com because it is fast and easy. If you're into Facebook, reserve the Fan Page now with the username you want to use.
- Schedule. You're going to have deadlines, now. Likely, you'll need to revise your manuscript; if you sold it on an outline, you'll need to write the whole thing now. You need a calendar--online or offline--to keep you on track. I have a small desk calendar and religiously record every deadline and every speaking engagement, so I always know where and when I need to have things done.
- Update Bios Everywhere. Right now, while you're still excited and the work hasn't set in yet, continue the celebration by updating your bios everywhere. It is surprising how many I know have to keep updated. Besides the standard bio I send everywhere, I also have bios on Twitter, Facebook, Linked-In, SCBWI, my blog and probably a couple other places that I'll find later and wish I had updated. While I am adding the new, exciting info about a new book, I also try to update any photos.
- Get set up to work. By this, I mean that I set up folders in my file drawer, folders on my computer storage, set aside a place in my bookshelf for materials related to this book. (Well, really, I sorta say to myself, OK, everything for this book goes right there, on top of that stack of stuff.) By mentally, physically and digitally getting organized, I streamline work later. For computer folders, I might set up a BOOK folder and sub-folders for publicity, art, old files (For old versions of the mss--I find that I can't delete old drafts, I just can't.), and miscellaneous.
- Start the buzz. Start talking about the story and why you wrote it. Giving a speech to librarians next month? Put this news as a prologue or a postscript. Talk about it now, so anticipation builds. It's not coming out for two years? Still, talk about it now. Getting people excited about a Forthcoming is very important.
- Get to know your editor. No, you're not going to be chummy with the editor. But get to know their preferred methods of communication. Do they like phone calls or email? Are they all business or do they like a bit of humor thrown in or perhaps a bit of family info here and there? Look at them as a person you're going to get to know, while respecting their busy schedule.
- Write the next manuscript. While you're still in this honeymoon phase, in between rejections, it's a good idea to write your next manuscript. Of course, you'll be thinking about submitting and selling this to New Fabulous Editor; but keep in mind that it might not fit their needs. So, be ready with Plan B to submit it elsewhere (or have your agent submit elsewhere). If you sold on an outline and are deep into the research, it's still a good time to be thinking about the next mss--if you can. Being a success in publishing is 90% about selling the next manuscript and 10% about delivering an exceptional mss now.
- Rejoice. I know I mentioned this in number one. But really. Celebrate.Tomorrow's email may bring a heartbreaking rejection, so you must celebrate this success today. Writers need to learn to live in the moment, celebrating the joy of an apt phrase and a John Hancock scrawled across a legal document.
Darcy Pattison blogs about how-to-write at Fiction Notes.