Wednesday, September 27, 2017

What Happens When an Author Completes Their Book Contract? - Kara Isaac

Earlier this week I sent my agent my latest book proposal.

I've had a few people surprised at this news, thinking that because I've had two books traditionally published that another book contract was a done deal. Oh how I wish that was true!

And while I'm sure that is the case for bestselling authors, it's certainly not for the rest of us. So I thought I would chat today about what happens from here :)

The agent call: Later this week I'll be chatting to my agent about the proposal and getting his thoughts. The possibilities there run the entire continuum from "this is terrible and there's no way I'm going to be able to sell it" through to "this is perfect and I'm ready to hit send".

The RFR: As with most traditionally published authors my publisher has what is known as a Right of First Refusal (or RFR). This means that they get the first opportunity to exclusively review my next proposal for a specified period of time. If they reject it or we aren't able to come to mutually agreeable terms, then once that time has passed my agent can...

Pitch it: This is where he speaks to other contacts he has at other publishers and talks to them about the proposal, in the hope that they will request to see it. From some he will get a flat no (we're not acquiring any more romance this year, we've recently done a book that sounds too similar etc.), from others he may get a "sure, we'll take a look at it".

In both my current publisher, and any other ones, even if they love the books ideas (and that's a big if!) they'll also be considering a heap of other information. How many copies have my previous books sold? Were they well reviewed in major trade publications? Have they finaled in or won any major awards? How big is my platform?  Where would they see the stories fitting in their current planned releases over the next couple of years? A combination of all of those things will determine whether they want to move forward with the project.

Over the last few years a number of publishers have either closed their Christian fiction lines (Harvest House, B&H, Abingdon, Heartsong Presents, Summerside Press, Love Inspired Historical to name a few) or reduced the number of titles they are releasing. Many midlist authors have had contracts either cancelled or not been offered new ones. The result? Many talented authors competing for an ever-shrinking pool of available release spots. Fortunately, many of those authors have gone on to well-deserved success releasing their books independently.

The Wait and Hope/Pray part: The publishing process takes time and it will probably be 2018 before I know whether they have a traditional publishing home. Whether they do or they take another journey I know that I can trust God with the outcome. Especially when I look back on my ten year journey to publication and see how perfectly he ordered those steps, even though I couldn't see it at the time!

In the meantime, if you have an author that you love do whatever you can within your resources to support them. The need every sale and piece of encouragement they an get :)

Kara Isaac lives in Wellington, New Zealand. She is the author of Close to You, a RITA Award Double Finalist, and Can't Help Falling, an RT Review Top Pick. Her latest book Then There Was You released in June. When she's not chasing three adorable but spirited little people, she spends her time writing horribly bad first drafts and wishing you could get Double Stuf Oreos in New Zealand. She loves to connect on her website, on Facebook at Kara Isaac - Author and Twitter @KaraIsaac


  1. Kara, thanks for sharing one of the fragile aspects of an author's life. You've done so well with your first few from a readers perspective and I hope the sales have exceeded your expectations.

    As you say it's all in God's hands and He has a plan ... I trust you'll use this time to spend even more time sitting in His presence while you continue to write more fabulous stories.

    Grace and peace, my friend

  2. Thanks Ian! Like you say, it's all in God's hands. And yes, I am working on new projects while I wait :)

  3. Terrific post Kara - and a reminder that the elusive contract (with an agent or publisher) isn't the end game, it's the next phase of play.

    I echo Ian's comments - your start to fiction has been a pleasure to watch and a deserved reward for hard work and talent. May it continue!

    1. Next phase of play, I like that! And that's exactly what it is :)

  4. Thanks Kara. My first book was traditionally published. But I have turned to Indie. At least I know the book will get published, but it makes it all the more important to perfect your work and get plenty edits and input before releasing it to the public. All the best for your next book!

  5. Very true, Shirley! Indie publishing has many pros but you definitely want to put you best foot forward by having great editors!