the contract you sign that gives a publisher permission to publish your book
When will I receive my contract?
A few months after accepting a deal from a publisher to publish your book. Your agent, if you have one, will work to negotiate every point in the contract, which takes a long time. A contract is dozens of pages long, and every bit of language must be checked to make sure the contract is fair. This involves a lot of back and forth between your agent and your publisher.
What if I don’t have an agent?