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I accepted an offer from a publisher recently on a non-fiction title. It's my first book and naturally I'm excited. My agent negotiated a good deal since which time the publisher has not been in touch. Is this normal? How long can I expect to wait between accepting an offer and signing the contract?

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Congratulations on your book offer!

It depends on how quickly the publisher's legal department generates and sends the contract to you and/or your agent. One service your agent should be providing is contract review to remove the onerous clauses that publishers almost invariably attempt to insert into contracts, especially with first-time authors. For example, no author should accept cross-collaterization, which is a nasty clause where revenues from subsequent books you do for the publisher (not revisions, different books), are made to pay back advances on the first book. Publishers try to stick that in, and are almost always willing to take it right out when the author objects. Similarly, a no-compete clause should be removed, as well as overly-broad rights grabs.

I have a long relationship with my principal publisher, and it still takes them as long as a month to get a contract to me after we agree on terms. Other publishers have taken two or three months. I previously had an agent; I no longer do. Being agented did not affect how quickly a contract arrived from a publisher. It did sometimes slow down the signing of the contract, as my agent would raise appropriate objections to contract clauses, requiring another round of contract revisions.

It's appropriate for your agent to query the acquisition editor on contract progress every few weeks.

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