Okay, I'm going it alone. I sent a query to Laura Rennert of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency, and received no response which means she's either really busy or not interested in representing me. So, after going through agent Kristin Nelson's very informative "Agenting 101" blogs—a must-read for all writers negotiating their own contracts—I've submitted my counter to the publishing terms Joanne Taylor offered me. I've always believed in the motto, "If you don't ask, you don't get"—well, not always. There was a time in my very shy high school years, when I didn't ask for anything—and got left behind in the dust. Let's just say, if you weren't born into the world a really assertive person, becoming a really assertive person is no easy task! It's doable though. I've learned to be a much more assertive person, especially when it comes to marketing my own books and writing—but that's a whole other blog.
Anyway, back to negotiating contracts. It's like standing on the edge of a very steep cliff, and you have to cross the swaying, rickety wooden suspension bridge to get to the other side. Why? That's not important. You could be chased by a tribe of cannibals, searching for hidden treasure, running from your ex-husband, whatever. You just have to get to the other side. Stepping on that rickety wooden bridge is terrifying. Are those wooden planks going to hold? Will you fall through and plunge headlong into the abyss? But if you don't at least make an attempt, you won't get anywhere.
If you've never negotiated a publishing contract before, how much can/should you ask for? What's reasonable? There's a difference between assertiveness and aggressiveness. One can get you what you want, the other might lose you the contract altogether. There's no simple answer. A lot depends on the relationship you have with your editor, your publishing history (obviously writers with many books under their belts have more clout), and your own personal style.
I can tell you what I did though. I asked for a higher advance, to keep some of the subsidiary rights, and whether I can get royalties based on cover price rather than net price. Stay tuned to find out how that went!