I received an email on Thursday evening:
I'm about a hundred pages into your manuscript and I really like this
story. Is it still available, or have you placed it elsewhere?
Let me know if you are still interested in a contract with (name of publisher). Signed, (Editor)"
Cue the SQUEEEEEEE.
After I had responded to her that my novel was, indeed, still available, she emailed me back and said she would like to offer me a publishing contract.
**Thud**. That was me, hitting the floor, in simultaneous shock, glee, and excitement.
After I had picked myself up off the floor, I started trying to remember everything I'd ever read about accepting a contract with small publishers. This particular publisher, though small, seems to be reputable, and I had personally met with them at the RT Booklovers Convention Pitch-a-Palooza event that I attended earlier in the spring. They were incredibly nice ladies.
One of the things I remembered reading was that it might be beneficial to nabbing an agent once you have a contract on the table. So, I immediately emailed the two agents who still have my full manuscripts to let them know I have a contract offer.
In the midst of all this, a third agent who had a sample emailed to wish me well and also said lovely things about my character and my writing, but she wasn't taking on the project. I emailed her back to thank her, and asked her if she had any advice about this contract I was considering. She gave me a couple of really good pointers regarding royalty standards, length of term, and being very very careful about anything in an options clause...
I've researched the terms of the standard contract the publisher sent me, and it looks totally legitimate and quite fair according to what I've seen so far. Everything seems to be in line with industry standards.
So, even if I don't win representation, I have a contract that I can accept with this little e-book and print-on- demand publisher, which pays industry standard royalties on ebooks and print, and whose authors' books are available on Amazon and Barnes and Noble.
I will be a published author somewhere in the neighborhood of April 2014.