Oh frabjous day, we finally got the contract. Only four months of waiting!
I kinda want to print it out and rub it all over my body, but that’d probably be weird.
Actually, it’s not perfect yet, we have to go BACK to get another phrase or two changed, but they at least sent something. Which is a big step forward from where we were.
Just as a commentary for writers who may be wondering if this is normal or if this will happen to them…every now and again, you wind up waiting on a contract. A LOT. This one was attended by madness, apparently, and we waited a REALLY long time. The agreement’s made, the money’s set–those are the important bits–and you’ve both agreed that yes, there’s gonna be a book…but the details take forever. And it’s not necessarily that you’re hammering out the details between agent and contract, it’s that the contract department is horribly busy and then sometimes it goes into a thing called “routing” which means, according to my buddy Deb (who once waited three months for a contract and says that, while not NORMAL, it’s not horribly ABNORMAL either) that pretty much everybody in the company has to sign off on it and it turns into one of those complicated little spatial puzzles about how you cross every desk from here to there without recrossing a desk or getting eaten by wolves.
This doesn’t mean they hate you. If you are an author in position, let me assure you that this doesn’t actually mean anything at all, except that they are very busy and understaffed. Do not try to read meaning into this. I know this is hard, but trust me–trying to determine your career future by the contract department’s timetables is kind of like the meter reader determining how much you like him by how promptly you pay the electric bill. Save yourself some grief, go work on the next book, or the garden, or a model plane or something.
Sadly, they don’t pay you until the contract is signed–and actually, generally not for a while after that–so I was seeing the level of my bank account sink until the pilings were exposed and there were nervous little crabs clicking claws made of loose change. And this is where an agent is handy, because she can call people and utter menacing phrases about “if you ever want to see this book” where the best I could do would be to send passive-aggressive notes about how I’d love to work on the book but I’ve had to get a job as a Wal-mart greeter because I have no money.
But we have a contract! And god willing, soon it will be the absolutely correct contract! And they will send me money just in time for me to send half of it back out again for NEXT year’s taxes! It’s the circle of life! (Cue singing, lion cub held aloft over savannah, etc.)