You've got an agreement from your publisher to publish your book. Hurray! Congratulations!
At some point afterwards they will be sending you a contract to sign. You might be overjoyed to receive it but you must still remember to check especially the terms of the advance and royalties before signing.
If the terms are not as pleasing as you would like, and you don't have an agent to negotiate on your behalf, you mustn't be afraid to be assertive, stand up for yourself and say what you would like it to contain.
(Often, nowadays, terms are so keen that what you might gain an advantage and financial return by having an agent to negotiate for you, you might lose because they will take their 15%.)
The publisher can only say no to your requests. At this point, having said yes, they are not going to refuse to publish the book, nor should you worry about getting a reputation for being difficult.
In these negotiations the publisher obviously wants to get the best deal for themselves, and so do you.
Therefore they will almost always start by offering terms that are more favourable to them than they are to you. They actually expect you to come back and disagree about something.
The point of the negotiations is to reach a position that agrees is reasonable.
These days, a frequent point of contention is often the level of royalties considered to be reasonable for electronic versions of your book.
Without mentioning any names, I'm going to let you in on what happened in negotiations with a contract I signed this week.
This is my fifth book for the same publisher, and I know they were particularly pleased with this proposal.
However, I also recognise that times are hard for publishers and over the years my advances have more than halved, accounting for inflation.
In return I have managed to secure from them a rising scale of royalties depending on sales numbers.
But this time around they began by offering an even lower advance. When I pointed out (as I always do) that I make all of my money from writing, and without a higher lump sum upfront I could not write the book without starving, they agreed to give me the same amount of advance as before, this time all of it upfront, with a further amount upon publication.
In return, I waived royalties on the first two years' sales, representing, in their eyes, two print runs.
I also secured some other concessions from them. So far so good.
Then I noticed that in the contract was a zero percentage for royalties on all electronic versions, forever.
I sent a note saying that I found this disturbing, particularly since on average these days half of sales are for electronic versions, and this proportion is rising.
In the end they suggested a percentage I was happy with and I signed the contract.
Perhaps I could have got up a higher percentage. Some people, like the Society of Authors, argue that royalties on e-books should be 50%, since costs for publishers are lower.
I'm not so sure, since in my experience correspondingly more needs to be spent on marketing of e-books in order for them to secure attention in an increasingly competitive market.
The moral of this story is: don't be afraid to ask for what you think is rightfully yours.
If you need support, and you're a member of the Society of Authors, you can obtain legal advice from them for free, without the need for an agent.