What To Do After Signing a Publication Agreement

Shortly after signing my first publication agreement in mid-2011, I started to go a little bit crazy. Every morning when I woke up, and every evening before I went to bed, I checked my emails for any updates, and try to imagine the work that other people were doing to The Lesser Evil… cover designs, copy edits, marketing, reviews, whatever…

I was excited, sure; happy, sure; impatient, well, yes that too. But mostly, there was this anxiety I can’t really describe, a sort of nervous energy that comes from the knowledge that it was pretty much all in someone else’s hands.

There is a veritable cornucopia of books and websites out there that offer advice on how to write and/or draw, how to land a publishing contract, and how to read a publishing contract (for this latter, I strongly recommend the excellent Stroppy Author’s Guide to Reading a Publishing Contract)… but nothing (that I could find) about what you should do when you’re waiting for your book to get published.

Time to correct this oversight. Now.

1.      Keep Writing
What limited advice is out there with regards to this period of limbo is unanimous: continuing to write is imperative. I’m not sure why this is, but I assume the advice is unanimous for a reason, so I just did the smart thing and accepted it!

Unfortunately, it’s easier said than done. In my case, whenever I complete a project, I take a few days/couple of weeks off to relax, to decompress, and to collect my thoughts. If I try to get back on the horse too soon, I find it frustrating and unproductive.

It took a month after the contract was signed before I really began to work on my writing again.

So what did I do in the meantime?

2.      Harrass the publisher
This was by far the most tempting thing to do, but it strikes me as ultimately The Single Worst Idea In The History Of This Or Any Other Universe. As much as I wanted to maintain daily (or twice daily) contact with my editor, I needed to come to terms with the notion that this is a long and involved process (though anyone who is not me would recognise that at least in this case, it all happened rather quickly) for which daily progress reports would be inappropriate or frustratingly sparse. It is also a process to which I am not supposed to be especially privy, unless my input is required.

(For the record, I will state that Zeta Comics did an excellent job keeping me in the loop, and I can only imagine my anxiety levels had I signed with a less accessible company!)

So not only is the notion of constantly contacting your publisher extremely counterproductive, it would also be insanely unprofessional and unbelievably annoying for the publisher. Follow this path, and wave sayonara to your dreams of a sequel!

3.      Play video games
Or any other hobby that is a relaxing timesink. For me, it’s video games. My pile of shame has been growing and growing in recent months, and the month of July seemed the perfect time to whittle it down a bit.

It was a great way to eat some of my spare time, and divert my attention from my nervous energy. Not a long-term solution by any means, but definitely worth investing a little-more-than-normal time in this way.

4.      Reconnect With Family
Sometimes, when I’m hanging out with my wife and daughter, all I can think about is my writing (this is not a common occurrence, but it happens often enough to be irritating to everybody).

But if the urge to write has temporarily vacated the premises, then it should be easier to focus on the people you love, and who love you, and revel in their presence like you probably should have been doing all along.

5.      Write a blog about the whole thing
Ummm… yeah. Still anxious.

 Guest post by Shane W Smith. Shane W Smith is the author/artist responsible for the graphic novel trilogy The Lesser Evil (Zeta Comics, 2011/12), and the comic/essay hybrid Academaesthetics (TEXT journal, 2007). He doesn't write full time, but he would like to.
Find out more about Shane's books at his website:


  1. LOL - loved this! I'm in the same boat - just signed in March for my first novel. I've discovered querying made me an email addict - I was used to checking my in box every 5 minutes for query responses and even after I signed the contract - still checking the inbox. Only now, I wasn't expecting anything! And I was so used to spending hours researching agents and suddenly - nope, didn't need to be doing that. So detoxing from internet/email addiction is definately high on the list of things one can do as well!


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