I'm (finally) going to continue my series on book publishing by examining contracts. As with other parts of the book publishing process, there is a lot of stuff to think about that one may be unfamiliar with (I sure was!).
Receiving a contract-offer (or, better yet, multiple offers) is really exciting. But there are also a lot of things to think about. First and foremost, you need to decide whether you should accept the offer (and, if you have multiple offers, which one!). What should go into your decision? To some extent, this depends on your aims and academic position. If you are at an R1 (research) school or elite college--or have your sights on getting a job in one--I've heard you should really try to publish with a "top-ranked" press (for one of the only rankings of presses I've come across, see here). On the other hand, I've been told explicitly by people in positions of power (e.g. department chairs and administrators) that a book with any legitimate academic press is looked upon favorably (towards jobs and tenure) in other types of institutions...provided, presumably, the book is decent (though, for my part, I don't know how a book's reception by reviewers is looked at by tenure committees. Anyone know?).