For an unpublished romance writer, a period of pure exhilaration follows the receipt of the acceptance letter from the publisher. There is shrieking, bouncing up and down, a face gets grabbed and lips get mashed, and your spouse temporarily loses hearing in one ear. Because, damn it, you're riding a wave and you want the world to know.
If your joy is excessive, the Snoopy Dance gets performed on the front lawn in full view of the neighbors. (It was okay, really, my neighbors already thought I was strange.) And a rep for eccentricity adds to the writer mystique, right?
Then there comes a second email with the mysterious contract, full of confusing and intimidating legalese. The moment the lengthy file opens on the screen, that initial haze of happiness becomes a daze of bafflement. The contract gets printed and perused—squinting eyes and a crease in the forehead as the author attempts to discern the meaning inherent within the words.
Of course, if you're like me, then you really only care about seeing your work finally published. By the time that I received my first publishing contract with The Wild Rose Press, I would have gladly signed away conjugal rights to Mr. Snark. (It's a good thing those lady editors never found out just how sexy the mister is…)
So you scrutinize it and familiarize yourself with some legal terms, because that's what you're supposed to do, even though you really have no concept of what it all means. (Unless you're one of the few unpublished authors with an agent.)
In the end, you sign it anyway, because you'd do anything to see the baby you've labored over, shed tears and laughter for, finally make it into the hands of readers. And you reassure your spouse—"Don't worry, Mr. Snark. I'd never sign away rights to your studly services. Unless, maybe, there's a movie offer on the table…"