Signing the contract. The final step. Okay, I didn’t exactly do this the traditional way. In other words, I didn’t/don’t have an agent. And I completely advise that you get one because I’ve heard they’re wonderful. (Hopefully I’ll get to find that out for myself some day.)
Buutttt, I’ve signed two contracts with two smaller independent publishing houses (at different times) and I’m going to talk about my experience.
Going Under Contract as a Minor
So, the big thing I had been worried about from the very beginning of my querying experience was, “I’m a teenager, I’m under eighteen and ohmygoodness, how does this come into play when/if signing a contract?” To my great surprise and relief, it really didn’t matter. Both publishers were still offering publication and no problems arose. The only thing that sort of popped my bubble was that my parents had to sign my contract for me. Sort of ruined my fantasy moment I’d been dreaming of since the age of twelve, but whatever. (I’ll be 18 in October and therefore be able to sign my own contracts from thereon out. Happiness.)
So basically, as long as a legal guardian signs for you, there’s not going to be a problem. Granted, there are some publishers who don’t take on authors under the age of 18, but they usually mention that on their submissions page so you’ll know not to even send a query letter.
Another random tip when signing a contract is to look out for the option or exclusitivity clause. Either one of these (depending on the contract and wording) can bind your future works to that publisher, so make sure to either get rid of it, negotiate it, or deal with the fact that you might be with this publisher for the rest of your career. Once again, I’m not an expert on contracts, so try, try, try to get yourself a literary agent. That’s what they’re for. 🙂
Anyway, hope this helped!