Monday, October 27, 2014

5 Reasons You Shouldn't Sign that Book Contract

In my editing career, I've discovered that there are a few reasons authors should pause for a week or two before they opt to sign a book contract. I don't say this to discourage anyone. I love encouraging authors to follow their dreams and reach that published status. I say it to encourage you to really consider what you're getting into and whether or not you're working within God's timing or your own. Is this really something He wants for you, or are you just looking for your name on the cover?

Here are five things to consider before you sign that contract:

1. If you're writing non-fiction or you've based your fictional character on someone you know, have you mentioned that to the important people involved? If not, why? If you are afraid to tell someone that you've written about them or tackled a tough topic that involves them, I don't recommend you look for a contract until you feel safe enough or guiltless and can handle a confrontation should one arise.

2. Can you accept constructive criticism without feeling the overwhelming need to defend your writing? If you do not want anyone to change anything in your book, don't sign a contract with a publishing house. I guarantee you the editor is going to recommend changes, and most houses state in their contracts that you no longer own the rights to your manuscript. Basically, when you sign a book contract, your rights go to the publisher. Which means they can tell you to change anything they deem necessary. Don't sign that contract if you're married to your words or you want to coddle them like a baby.

3. Are you a procrastinator? If so, do you work well under the pressure of a deadline? The process of publishing a book usually takes around a year to happen from start to finish, beginning the moment you sign the contract. There will be times that you'll be wondering if the publisher is even working on your novel, and then you'll find yourself with a manuscript slayed with red ink and only two weeks to make all of the required changes. It's a slow, quick, slow, quick type of process. Consider your schedule before you sign that dotted line.

4. How do you feel about marketing? Do you know anything about marketing? Publishing houses no longer have the budgets to fund major marketing campaigns. Most expect the authors to assist in marketing their books. That's why we constantly hear the word "platform." Because they want to know you've got a built-in audience. So what have you done to build that platform or form that tribe? And what can you do in the future to help your book sell? Are you comfortable getting in front of people through radio and television interviews, book signings, and speaking engagements? Are you proficient in social media networking? Do you go places your audience would frequent? These are all things to consider before you say "yes" to publishing.

5. Do you like working with other people? As writers, we spend a great deal of time alone in front of our computers, talking only with the characters in our heads. But when you sign a book contract, you're joining a team that is pulling for you, while at the same time they are expecting you to put forth your own effort and do what is requested of you. You may or may not have input into your cover design, your marketing plan, etc. Will you be able to handle interaction or lack of interaction? If not, don't sign that contract!

Please be very honest with yourself when answering these questions. I know it's difficult to face the fact that maybe I'm not ready to do one or more of these things. If it were me, failure and insecurity would overwhelm me, and I may drop my dream altogether. But, with time, any one of these points can be overcome and the dream can be pursued. That time is very important, though. Not something to be rushed or skipped for the sake of having a book in the market. Take it, and allow God to prepare you for what lies ahead as a published author.


5 Reasons You Shouldn't Sign that Book Contract - #thewriteediting {Click to Tweet}

How do you know if you're ready to accept a book contract? @AlyciaMorales shares 5 things to consider before you sign. {Click to Tweet}

Some writers rush to publish for the sake of having their name on a cover. Are u really ready for that contract? {Click to Tweet}

Have you found any other reasons to delay publishing your novel or non-fiction book? We'd love to hear them! Please share in the comments.


  1. Excellent article with great tips! Thanks! I think with all of the self-publishing going on there are those who need to hire an editor as well. I know of a wonderful speaker who has rushed to get her books published and found my self wondering as I read her books, "How many eyes did you borrow to edit this mess? It wasn't enough." I find myself reluctant to post a review for her because of the grammatical and errors and typos strewn throughout the books. So sad. One badly edited book can turn readers off to an author completely.

    1. Hi Gay!

      I totally agree. I've found myself in the same position many times. I will be posting on that very subject soon. :)

      Thanks for stopping by!
      ~ Alycia


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