Back in March, I got the kind of call that every writer dreams about. An editor at a major publisher telling me she loved the proposal, and could we talk? The last time I got a call like that from a major publisher was back in 1991.
Of course we could talk! We talked and talked and talked. The first contract they sent me arrived in June, and was unacceptable. I flagged over a dozen areas that I wanted changed. And we kept talking, although there were periods of several weeks when they seemed to disappear and didn’t return my calls. But then, just when I would start to think they’d changed their minds, they’d be back in my inbox and on my voicemail, ready to move forward. And usually, right about when they showed up again was when my co-author’s literary agent would go incommunicado for another few weeks.
In mid-September, another draft of the contract arrived. It didn’t give me anywhere near everything that I’d asked for, but it was a huge improvement. I was almost ready to sign, but two “deal-breaker” clauses had to be changed. One of them was the original due date of October 1, 2008, to submit the manuscript, and the other had to do with my existing intellectual property. And the co-author also had one clause to change.
Just this week, the third draft arrived. And this time, it’s something that we can all sign. Yippee!
It’s been a long process, but I’m not sorry.
As you can imagine, the temptation was strong to go flying off the handle, accuse people, or otherwise engage in behavior that might have felt good at the moment but would have done nothing except to dig myself into a deep hole. I resisted the temptation. I stayed positive and confident, even while pressing my demands in a friendly but firm way.
No matter how many times I called and got voicemail, I never left a negative message. No matter how many weeks went by with no communication, I always approached each new call without recrimination. I listened politely to the editor complain about the agent, and on other calls, the agent complain about the editor. But when I needed to complain I vented to someone who had no involvement in the deal.
And now, finally, we have a deal that all four parties–I, my co-author, his agent, and the editor at the publishing house–are all happy with.
This has been a long, drawn-out exercise in the principles I discuss in my award-winning sixth book, Principled Profit: Marketing That Puts People First: of being truly people-centered, of getting what you want by being nice, and of thinking long-term.
In fact, those principles got me the contract in the first place. There’s a well-known author who originally came to me as a customer; he ordered my award-winning sixth book, Principled Profit through my website. We began a relationship, I sent him an essay (unpaid) for one of his books, he did an appearance on my radio show…and he asked me, out of the blue, after over a year of corresponding, if I’d like the contact information for his editor at this publishing house.
In other words, this stuff works.
And I started work on the new book yesterday. I think it’s gong to be the best and most important book I’ve done, and I’m fully expecting that it’ll be a best-seller.
It’s an exciting journey. I’ll be sure to keep you posted.