If a publisher wants to publish your manuscript, you will be offered a contract. Do not let any publisher begin editorial revisions or production work until you have signed a mutually satisfactory contract. Remember, contracts are negotiable – the clauses can, and generally should, be changed.
The Union offers a Contracts Self-Help Package to writers considering publishing contracts. The package includes a Model Trade Book Agreement you can use for comparison, or you may want to hire a lawyer who has experience with publishing contracts to review the contract. Don’t be pressured into signing quickly; a reputable company should give you time to review any contract with a lawyer.
Receiving an offer to publish is a pretty heady business but, remember, it is a business arrangement. If you negotiate a good contract you will avoid many problems and misunderstandings later on and develop a good working relationship with your publisher.