The first offer is never the best, unless they are leasing a subdivision or something like that where everybody is offered the same flat rate.
After years of the Bonus Payments being really low (like in the $15-$35 per acre range), the companies are now paying $3500 - $4000 per acre just across the line into Pennsylvania where both the Utica Shale and the Marcellus Shale are being developed.
With your area only just now being developed, I suggest you shoot for something like $2500 an acre for a straight 3 year lease with you retaining 1/4 (25%) royalty.
They'll counter your counteroffer at a lower Lease Bonus and Royalty, although it might take some time while they continue to lease up all of your neighbors at the lowest rate and royalty that they can (you might be the last to be leased).
The final agreed to Bonus Payment, Term and Royalty will be up to you, but try and negotiate for at least a 1/5 (20%) royalty. That and even up to a 1/4 (25%) royalty is quite common in other parts of the country and they are up to 19% over in Pennsylvania.
With a three year lease, if your land is not included in a unit, when it expires you will be able to lease it again at more than likely a then higher rate. If they insist upon an option to extend the lease for an additional two years, you can allow them that, but I would suggest at 1-1/2 to 2 times whatever per acre amount your lease is for.
I advise everyone who's questions about leasing that I respond to to consult an attorney when negotiating terms for contracts like this.
Bonus, Term and Royalty are always important, but issues regarding surface use and damages can be quite troublesome if you don't have them all addressed in the lease: Environmental indemnity, loss of crops, location and maintanance of roads, drill sites, pipelines, fences, gates - damages to timber, fencing off operation locations to protect cattle, no interference with normal farming or ranching operations, surface water and water well use (or none) - all sorts of things.
If you grow crops, can you imagine what might happen if a roadway or surface installation permanently alters the natural drainage across your fields?
And don't forget to include a Pugh Clause and a Depth Release Clause - otherwise they can hold all of your land halfway to China while only including a single square inch in a unit.
A little expense now may save you a great deal of heartache later on.
Hope this helps!
Charles Emery Tooke III
Certified Professional Landman