Re: rights, that's one reason I suggested approaching a smaller, photography-focused press, not some multinational conglomerate. The stereotype is they're more understanding.
You will almost always retain the rights to sell prints, &c. -- we're only talking about publishing rights, here. You're probably smart to "value add" by writing text, as you might have an easier time keeping your rights than if the photos were integral to the product (ie, if you were selling a photo book). That's just me guessing, though -- this isn't exactly my area.
You shouldn't assign the *copyright* to your photos to anyone else -- this is just publishing rights (and technically, first publication rights) that we're talking about.