Pub Rants

A Very Nice Literary Agent Indulges in Polite Rants About Queries, Writers, and the Publishing Industry

Q&A continued

STATUS: Nose to the grindstone. Only two more days after today to finish stuff.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? NIGHT PART ONE: SNOW by George Winston

Before I kick off more Q&A, here is a fascinating article on Amazon, $9.99 eBooks, losing money, profits, wholesale prices and where the author is going to fit in all this.

Definitely worth a read.

Anonymous asked:
My question would be what are your instant turn-offs? Any genre or just something that you are so tired of you don’t even want to look at anymore…
It’s certainly true that we often tire of seeing vampire queries or thieves as the main narrator in fantasy or what have you but you never know when somebody is going to have a different spin on it. In general, if the query is well done, we’ll ask for sample pages, even if we saw 200 queries this week about a vampire thief in a dystopian near future society.

My answer is that there isn’t anything that is an instant turn off.

Evangeline Holland asked:
What I would love to ask an editor? In the crunched market, would some measure of success in the e-publishing or self-publishing market tip the scales towards acquiring the author? What is expected of an author today that a newly published writer of one year ago, two years ago, or even five years ago, wouldn’t have had to deal with or worry about?

For your first question, would some measure of success in e or self-publishing tip the scales? It would really depend on the type of e-publishing. If the author is with an established eHouse in a genre that has had a lot of success with eBooks only, then yes, I can see this being a weighted factor in the author’s favor. However, if the author just self-pubbed and got out a 100 copies to friends and family, probably not going to help.

There have certainly been several publishing stories this year of successful books that had their start in self-pubbed world such as STILL ALICE or THE LACE READER. However, the authors of those books did the whole self-pub thing smartly by hiring an external PR firm that had done a lot of book promotion to get the book in the right hands etc. They hired professional book cover artists and editors for book layout and design. They didn’t just throw it out there “to see what might happen.” The authors had a plan, a budget, and a way to reach people. When they started selling thousands of copies consistently, you bet editors took notice and both titles ended up selling to traditional publishers after the fact.

As for your second Q, an author today is definitely expected to be internet savvy, have a website, and have a sense of social media outlets and how promo is done electronically.

Anonymous asked:
“In general, is the number of male readers declining? What trends do you see among male readers over the next three to five years?”
The answer is yes—although I don’t have any statistics on hand to confirm my yes. I just know I’ve seen articles this past year highlighting that male readership is declining. This is not necessarily true for SF&F readers. That male readership has stayed fairly steady.

As for trends, I see male readers staying tight with their tried and true authors and not exploring much outside of the biggest name sellers unless we give them a reason to. I see young male readers becoming more reluctant to read unless schools loosen up their definition of a book by letting them read graphic novels or other things that catch their interest. Reading—any kind—is good.

Anonymous asked:
Kristin — Kirkus is closing, can you offer any insight into what this means for authors? That Kirkus star review was such a sign of quality, and they often gave stars to books that other reviewers (such as Booklist or VOYA) overlooked. I’m so sad that books will have one less opportunity to shine and gain notice.
Kirkus was a bi-weekly founded in 1933 and has annually published hundreds of thousands of reviews since its inception. This was huge news when it hit the wires. I’m still stunned although not surprised. Lots of publications are discontinuing because of declining subscriptions.

I have to say that Kirkus rarely liked things. It was almost a badge of honor to get a bad Kirkus review asit was expected. But when they did like a book, wow, that Kirkus review would carry some major weight.

Now I’m not sure what will be “the review.” I do think blog reviewers will start becoming more prominent and certain sites will start becoming more and more well known to fill the gap. It’s just too bad Kirkus couldn’t make that transition to that medium (although I’m not sure if they even tried).

10 Responses

  1. The Decreed said:

    *Cups hands over ears talking about declining male readership.* La la la la I can’t hear yooooouuu.

    Thanks for this. Your A’s are great, concise and smart.

  2. Watery Tart said:

    I have a question about the profitability article you linked.

    Is there any movement ANYWHERE to consider the author getting a bigger CUT of the eBooks?

    I can understand 10% of a $20 hardback, then 6 months later 10% of an $8 paperback, because that paperback is a second chance if you will.

    eBooks on the otherhand are offered UP FRONT (or a few weeks behind, such as it looks at the moment)–I recognize the readers are a little different, but if the PUBLISHER stands to make MORE because of the lower waste, why have I not seen a suggestion of say 15% to the author? The publisher would STILL make more than they do on paperbacks.

    It just seems so unfair that in this turf war, the author loses no matter what.

  3. ryan field said:

    “I do think blog reviewers will start becoming more prominent and certain sites will start becoming more and more well known to fill the gap.”

    I agree. There are already many good online reviewers on the web right now.

  4. Erin Edwards said:

    Very interesting article on ebooks – it makes me realize just how more complicated the ebook issue is than I thought.

    But still, I have to wonder why the article automatically assumes that the author should still have the same royalty rate based on retail price? Maybe the publisher put in less work (saving on manufacturing), but the author put in the *same* amount of work, which now represents a higher percentage of the amount of work on that book.

  5. Kristi said:

    I read the Amazon article and finally feel like I have a basic grasp on the e-book thing thanks to the P&L (I’m a visual person so the breakdown was great). I understand the power of the consumer to eventually drive down e-book pricing.

    What I don’t understand is that since the manufacturing costs are so much lower for an e-book, why doesn’t the author have more room to negotiate a higher royalty rate? Is there something I’m missing – which is very possible as my Ph.D. is not in publishing.

  6. Deb said:

    Interesting analysis, yes, but shot rather full of holes.

    For one thing, why does the writer assume e-authors’ royalties are a percentage of cover price? Not yet in my lifetime!

    And why does the article claim the e-book distributors lose money on each book sold? I didn’t find his premise well supported.

    Experience speaks: at one small press who released in both e-format and trade PB, Amazon took 60% of the cover price off the top of the e-book. For basically adding the title to their database. Net loss per e-copy sold? I think not.

  7. Joni Rodgers said:

    Good info, as always, but I just want to thank you for the George Winston music. I interviewed him a few times back in my radio days, and what a delightful spirit. The last time I saw him, I was enormously pregnant with my son. After the interview, George went out to his car and came back with “December” and several other Windham Hill tapes (this was 1987) for me to listen to while I was in labor. When I clicked on your little music box just now, I was right back in Helena, Montana, looking into the startled brown eyes of my hours-old son. We spent the first day of his life just looking at each other in wonder and listening to George Winston.

  8. tracalin said:

    Are you still taking questions? Here’s one: Scalzi has spent a lot of time this month defending his criticism of poor-paying markets and in doing so, completely invalidated all the small and semi-pro pub creds I worked all year to get. How is it in your world? If I’m working at anything less than the minimum pro payment, are those credits worth anything to an agent or editor? I’ve even seen commentary that a long list of tiny creds can be a bad thing, so any soothing words would do wonders for my demolished ego.

  9. Marianne Mancusi said:

    I think one reason for declining young male readership is they’re finding their stories in different formats. Yes, manga, of course, but also RPG videogames, which many people overlook. These games often have complex plots, vivid storylines and tons of world building. They’re getting more and more sophisticated as time goes on, too. So the teen and twenty-something boys are getting to experience and take part in a huge interactive story that involves people from all over the world.

    Bottom line: Storytelling will go on, no matter what. In the future, it will just take different forms.


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