I have signed a book contract with a reputable academic publisher a while back. I have finished half of the work and so far it's right on schedule. Now I'm about to give birth and after a discussion with my doctor, it will be a c-section. My doctor said that I would need a much longer time to recuperate because of it, but he cannot tell how long exactly. The agreed deadline in the contract is still in six months, but now I know that I will not deliver on-time. This is my first time publishing a monograph of my own. Is it fine to ask for a six-month deadline, or is it too long? I prefer to be safe. Is there a big risk that the contract will be cancelled? I suppose a medical certificate would also be necessary? What is the best way to ask for the extension? Thank you for your tips.
It's absolutely fine to ask for an extension, especially for medical reasons which everyone can relate to. Most probably they'll just extend the deadline and forget about the book project for another six months. In fact, for most book projects, the deadline is just a very flexible date, and the publisher will be happy as long as you deliver the book eventually.
Is there a big risk that the contract will be cancelled?
No. They want the book, after all.
I suppose a medical certificate would also be necessary?
They're highly unlikely to ask for a medical certificate because they want the book.
What is the best way to ask for the extension?
Write to the editor assigned to your book (i.e. the person who sent you the contract) and tell them you need more time because [reasons]. That's all.
The problem for your publisher is the "publishing cycle," which requires advanced planning on their end for the complicated sequence of steps to create and market the book, including knowing which books will get placed in their catalog next year.
However, please know that in publishing, like in life, things don't usually go exactly as planned. There are all kinds of hiccups and delays, and extending deadlines is common. I don't think you should hesitate to ask for an extension in your case. I doubt that the publisher will ask for a medical note as it's easy to understand your situation. Do, however, ask for a deadline that you're reasonably sure you can meet. As Allure points out, this is a mutually beneficial relationship and so the publisher is likely to want to accommodate you.