Pub Rants

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

Category: career

Because Agents Are Human Too – Part 3

This month’s topic is the hardest to quantify, because when an agent offers representation, it will be difficult for a writer to ascertain his or her financial viability. This is often knowledge that doesn’t become apparent until after a business partnership has been established.

Regardless, it’s still worth saying: Good Agents are financially stable as agency entities as well as in their personal lives. 

First, let’s discuss why this is important. For those who are new to the publishing industry, keep in mind that money always flows to the author, not away. So, an agent earns her living by being paid a 15% commission (slightly different percentages for foreign and dramatic rights) on advances and royalties for projects sold. In other words, a book is sold to a publisher, the publisher sends a check to the agent, the agent takes her 15% commission based on the gross amount and then passes the other 85% through to the author.

Pretty simple. So why is it important for an agent to be financially stable in both her business life and her personal life? Because you don’t want your agent making fast, split-second decisions about your career, what deals you should accept or not accept, based on the fact that she might really need her 15% commission that month to pay her bills—either for personal debt or for the agency. Same is true when the contract comes in. You don’t really want an agent who will “rush” through a deal-points negotiation or a contract just to get it signed so that she can receive her commission faster.

That’s never going to be in your best interest.

Is it possible to identify the financial stability of an individual agent? In the initial stages of forming a representation partnership, probably not. But here are some thoughts to keep in mind:

*  Does an established agent, in the business for five years or more, still take on a lot of clients? That can be a sign that her current client list does not generate enough money to support her or her agency.

An established, good agent with solid financial stability takes on only select clients in any given year. Agents who need the money often take on a lot of clients so there is more front-end money (advances) coming in rather than back-end monies (revenue generated through royalties). Evaluate an agent’s sales track record and assess how likely the money generated by those sales creates financial viability for the agent.

Are all the deals for small or no advances? Do larger deals that have sold at auction for six figures balance out the smaller deals? Have enough clients on the agent’s list been successful enough to potentially earn back-end royalties to support the agent or agency?

Even when NLA was in its infancy and the budget was tight and small, I was very selective in offering representation. I had a five-year business plan and a business loan to make sure agency expenses were covered as I slowly built up my client list. Good agents don’t jump into agenting on a wing and a prayer. Good agents are savvy entrepreneurs with a plan.

* Does an agent close a deal quickly and then process the contract equally as fast? See my previous Fearless Negotiation article on this topic, as this might be a red flag.

* Does the agent talk about money in oblique or negative ways? There are certain expenses that are just part of being in business as an agent (i.e., paying for one’s own health insurance if an independent contractor under a larger agency umbrella). Does the agent kvetch or consider it a “hardship” to cover these types of expenses? Often that will come out in casual conversation and could be a sign of financial instability.

* Is the agent an independent contractor affiliated with the agency? If so, then that agent has to cover all their own expenses outside of the agency umbrella. Does that agent attend major events like Book Expo or Book Fairs, even when they have to foot the bill themselves? Or does that agent only attend conferences that reimburse travel, hotel, and meal expenses?

* Does the agent balk at footing extra, necessary costs—such as a consultation with an attorney for special situations or issues?

* Does an agent talk with a long-term perspective? Agenting is hard, and lots of new agents come to the business with wide-eyed optimism and then don’t last beyond two or three years. If an agent is committed to the career regardless of the finances associated with it, that will come through in casual conversation.

Keep in mind, this is not a get-rich-quick career. An agent needs to be in for the long haul to make it a success.

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General Summary about the Article Series: Just as the title suggests, because agents are also human beings, they are going to embody both good and bad traits found in human nature. No one is perfect. And as some authors have discovered, some agents are more imperfect than others!

Your job as an author is to objectively recognize those human attributes or failings in your agent and decide whether they impact your career. Hopefully they don’t. To this end, Karen Dionne of Backspace and I have put together a whole list of topics to tackle for “Because Agents Are Human Too.”

Photo Credit: Rich


A Digital Love Story of Survivability

The following would have been impossible even seven years ago:

This week I sold the film/tv rights for a memoir that a major publisher took out-of-print in 2013. But because of the indie-publishing revolution, the author had made her memoir available in the digital realm. Because of that, it was discoverable by a major Oscar-winning director and producer who not only took an interest, but also optioned the rights for television.

Sounds like fiction, doesn’t it? Back in 2005, I met Kim Reid at the Pikes Peak Writers Conference in Colorado Springs. Kim had made a pitch appointment, but she pitched me a novel that didn’t sound right for my list. However, in the course of our conversation, I learned about her extraordinary childhood as the daughter of one of the lead detectives who helped solve the Atlanta child murders, committed by Wayne Williams in the seventies and eighties.

I immediately told her, “You need to write that. I could definitely sell it!” So she did, and I signed her as a client. It took sixteen months of dogged determination, and Kim surviving a slew of rejections, but I finally sold No Place Safe in June 2006.

Kensington Publishing did a lovely job with it. Good packaging. Wonderful editing. And then the book was published, and bookstores shelved it, oddly, in African American Studies rather than in biography, where it truly belonged. I can honestly say that the shelving diminished the book’s discoverability, as well as its ability to sell.

Heartbreaking. By 2013, the work was out-of-print, and the rights reverted to Kim.

Luckily, the digital revolution happened. So Kim, in partnership with NLA Digital LLC, indie published the memoir to give it a second chance at life. Director/producer John Ridley found it. Bought a copy. Read and loved it so much that he convinced ABC Studios to buy it for him.

Suddenly, a memoir that would have dropped completely from sight was saved by publishing’s digital transformation. This title now has a ton of exciting new possibilities unfolding.

This is why I love agenting in the digital age. Authors have so many more options available now. And this particular terrific story happened to a very worthy book!

Photo Credit: Alyssa L. Miller


Debut Authors Pass On the Inspiration

After listening to an amazing series of keynote presentations at the 2015 National conference of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI), during which authors wear their hearts on their sleeves, I feel the need to pass on the inspiration!

From the Success Stories Panel:

  • Ten years from first conference to first book published. And when editing with a critique partner, editor, or agent, recognize and acknowledge the issue, and then find the fix that works for you, as it’s your story. —Anna Shinoda (author of Learning Not to Drown)
  • When you decide you want to be an author, you need to try for real. —Mike Curato (author of Little Elliot, Big City and Worm Loves Worm)
  • You have to show up every day, and a lot of what you create will stink. Don’t wait for perfection. —Lori Nichols (author of Maple and Maple & Willow Together)
  • Torment your character. Give him/her a goal and spend the next 70,000 words thwarting it. —Stacey Lee (author of Under a Painted Sky)
  • You don’t need to win an award to acknowledge your talent or become a published or successful author. —Martha Brockenbrough (author of The Game of Love and Death)

Writers, keep writing! Keep the faith, and as Kwame Alexander reminded us in his SCBWI 2015 closing keynote speech (“Six Basketball Rules of Publishing”), “You’ll miss 100-percent of the time if you never take the shot.”

Creative Commons Photo Credit: @wewon31 #365


Because Agents Are Human – Article 1

Just as the title suggests, because agents are also human beings, they are going to embody both good and bad traits found in human nature. No one is perfect. And as some authors have discovered, some agents are more imperfect than others!

Your job as an author is to objectively recognize those human attributes or failings in your agent and decide whether they impact your career. Hopefully they don’t.

To this end, Karen Dionne of Backspace and I have put together a whole list of topics to tackle for “Because Agents Are Human Too.”

Topic 1: Because they are human, good agents keep their client lists small and manageable.

The trick is to define what is considered small and manageable. This question is asked at conferences all the time, and the truth is that the answer is going to vary widely depending on the agent and the agent’s situation.

Some things to keep in mind:

*Is the agent part of a larger organization/agency that supplies a lot of support staff in terms of auditing royalty statements, reviewing contracts, accounting, etc.? Or, if he or she is with a smaller, less corporate agency, how many non-agent personnel does the agency employ?

Many agencies employ a lot of agents but very few support staff. It’s typical in this industry that agents are one-man bands. They handle all the business elements listed above, and even if they’re associated with a larger agency, they still operate as the sole proprietors of their client lists. To be blunt, doing agenting well requires far more work than one person can handle in an eight- or ten-hour day—which means a lot of agents aren’t doing things like auditing royalty statements and thoroughly negotiating contracts.

More support staff = more clients an individual agent can manage successfully.

Here’s a good rule of thumb: If your agent has a lot of support in place, a larger client roster is not really a concern. If they don’t, then know that a larger client list is pretty difficult to manage, and more than likely, some business aspects are going to fall through the cracks.

Some possible red flags:

*Some agents operate on what we call the “shotgun” approach. They take on a bunch of clients, throw a lot of stuff out on submission, and see what sticks. These agents will have a lot of clients on their rosters.

*A high number of small- or no-advance deals could indicate that an agent is operating on the shotgun approach.

*Agents who are already established (five+ years as an agent) should have developed strong financial security with their current client roster. Be on the lookout for agents who suddenly take on a lot of clients all at once or during a short period of time. It could mean their current client list isn’t supporting their business.

*Be aware of agents who have high rate of client turnover, or who do a lot of one-time deals for authors but few subsequent deals.

For me, a small client list means fewer than 50 clients. My list is currently at 32.

Other agents may easily have a comfort level at 60 or 70 clients.

The real question here is, as an author, what is your comfort level regarding how many other clients your agent represents?


Article 5: Good Agents Audit Royalty Statements

 

Over the last decade, I really wish I had tracked how much money NLA has recovered by carefully auditing our royalty statements every accounting period. Because of some big errors found a couple of years ago, it’s probably to the tune of over $600,000 recovered at this point, and it wouldn’t surprise me if that total was actually more. Even now, nary an accounting period goes by that we don’t recover at least $500 to $3,000 owed to a client.

On rare occasions, we have even found errors in the Publisher’s favor—and yes, we do notify them to highlight the correction. Luckily, those have only amounted to several hundred dollars at any given time. And to be clear, Publishers aren’t being nefarious or deliberately cheating the author (with the exception of a few publishers, which will remain unnamed).

Most errors we catch are human errors. In other words, the Publisher’s in-house royalty management staff simply keyed incorrect information into their accounting system. Also, “accounting departments” at some mid-sized publishers and small presses are staffed by English majors. Mistakes will be made.

These mistakes need to be found and corrected and the monies paid to the author client. Here is the jaw-dropping fact: A good percentage of agents do not audit their clients’ royalty statements.

Let me repeat that. Even though authors hire literary agents to guide their careers and most importantly, manage their business publishing interests (royalties being a huge component of this), many agents do not actively audit or even read client royalty statements. This leaves authors to fend for themselves regarding reading and understanding their statements.

So for me, good literary agents audit royalty statements. When I was newer to this business, I did the time-consuming auditing and analysis myself, every accounting period, and shared my comments with my client. Every accounting period. I even hired a professional book royalty auditor to mentor and read behind me to assess my competence and capability. Then I hired and trained our amazing Contracts & Royalties Manager Angie Hodapp to handle this at NLA.

And Angie took it to a level that leaves me in awe every accounting period. I imagine our clients are often in awe as well when every six months, she sends a detailed letter with my comments as well as her analysis of the statement and what questions we had to track down and if extra monies are owed.

A lot of the larger agencies will have staff in-house to handle this (or I hope they do….I don’t actually know as I’ve not worked in a big agency), but I’m willing to guess that most of the smaller, boutique agencies don’t. This means that the author relies on his/her agent to analyze the statements.

So ask yourself. Is your agent doing this? If you don’t know, ask. It’s part of the agenting job. Recently, Angie has been giving workshops at local writing conferences to teach authors how to audit their own royalty statements. Even if your agent does this on your behalf, it’s not a bad idea to also be checking them. Human errors can happen on our end as well!

So with her permission, and worth its weight in gold, a handy list.

How to Audit Your Own Royalty Statements by Angie Hodapp

Keep an excel spreadsheet for each title, and add the following when each statement arrives:

• Track copies sold and royalty rates applied to each edition. Do the percentages match the contract?

• If you have a royalty escalator, make sure you’re watching units sold so you can see if the escalator is triggered at the right time.

• Track royalty earnings for each edition. Add them all up and subtract them from the advance. Make sure your math matches the math on the statement.

• Check for continuity from the last statement’s bottom line (ending balance) to the current statement’s starting balance.

• If the royalty is based on net receipts, then make sure the net amount received by Publisher is reported on the statement, along with number of copies sold. Do the division. How much is the publisher claiming to have received for each unit? Is it a reasonable amount based on the retail price?

• Look at the number of copies reported sold as “high discount” or “over discount” or “special sales.” Publishers love to sell most copies under these terms, which means smaller royalties for you. Make sure your contract limits the number of copies publishers can sell under these terms!

• Watch reserves. Your contract should specify how much the publisher can hold in reserves, and for how many accounting periods after initial publication. You can ask the publisher to release reserves once returns taper off. That’s more money passing through to you, or applying toward your advance.

• Watch returns. Publishers adjust reserves up and down from period to period based on actual and projected returns.

• Watch subrights licenses. Know the terms of all subrights deals, which may include audio, large print, book club (either a stock-buy or a special printing), or other special editions.

• Watch and track foreign right deals. If your publisher holds world rights and is actively selling your work into foreign territories, ask them each accounting period to give you:

—Details of any new foreign-rights deals, including: advance, royalties split, term of license, publication date or planned publication date, and reporting schedule. (Note that most, but not all, foreign publishers report annually, not bi-annually.)

—Copies of the licensing agreements. Even if they’re in languages you don’t understand, it’s within your best interests to have such things in your physical records.

—Note that foreign monies can take from a year to 18 months to pass through the publisher’s subrights department and show up on your statements.

If you want a more in-depth royalty statement auditing experience, join Angie for her upcoming Royalty Statements Auditing Workshop, scheduled for July 30, 2015.  This Webinar is open to the first twenty attendees to sign up.

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The genesis: In January 2015, Backspace co-founder Karen Dionne and I had a conversation in which she mentioned that writers sometimes want representation so badly they are willing to sign with an average or even a below-average agent. Trust me, not all agents are equal. I replied, “Well, writers don’t know what they don’t know.”

In that moment, a lightbulb went on for both of us. Writers don’t know what a good agent does. How could you if (1) you’ve never experienced it and (2) you’ve only ever had one agent and no way to assess just how strong he or she might be at the job?

Thus, this series of articles was born.

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Archive:

February 2015 Newsletter – Article #1: Agent As Savvy Business Manager

March 2015 Newsletter – Article #2: Commanding Authority: An Agent’s Negotiation Edge.

April 2015 Newsletter – Article #3: Fearless Negotiation: An Agent’s Most Important Role for an Author

May 2015 Newsletter – Article #4: Negotiation Tactics of Good Agents


Article 5: Authors – Are You Auditing Your Royalty Statements? by Karen Dionne

 

After I read Kristin’s June article in her “What Makes a Good Agent” series and learned that publishers’ royalty statements sometimes contain significant errors, I took an informal survey. I wanted to know how many of my author friends’ agents audit their statements, and how many of these authors also audit their own.

The authors are split between midlist authors and bestsellers. Almost all said they read their royalty statements carefully. But nearly half don’t audit their statements—mainly because they don’t know how.

Two of the 15 authors were reasonably certain their agents audited their royalty statements before sending them on, while only 3 of the 15 reported their agent took the initiative to help them understand them—suggesting this is a conversation agents and authors should be having more frequently.

Here are the questions and results:

  1. Does your agent actively audit royalty statements?

YES – 2

I THINK SO – 5

NO – 8

 

  1. Do you audit and/or read your own statements? 

YES – 6

READ ONLY – 7

NO – 2

 

  1. Do you know how? 

YES – 6

SOMEWHAT – 3

NO – 6

 

  1. Has your agent ever walked you through a statement? 

YES – 3

ON REQUEST – 2

NO – 10

Royalty statements are difficult to understand. Some of the authors who responded admit they “never learned how to read a royalty statement,”or they “read them, but have a hard time understanding what everything means.”

One author I surveyed believes auditing is the agent’s responsibility. “I don’t audit. That’s her job. If I had to, I’d get an accountant to do it. But I figure that’s why I have an agent. She would walk me through it if I wanted, but that’s one less piece of business I have to do.”

Others take a more active role. “I read my statements multiple times. First, just to review them and make sure everything looks right and complete. Then I go through them page by page and compare to the last statement to see if there is something wonky (good or bad), then I write up a memo to my agent with any questions or concerns, or if there is something odd. We then discuss.”

“I noticed in my last statement, there were line items for Returns for a couple of books that had been released years ago. That seemed illogical, so I asked my agent, and she passed the question on to my editor. Also, I know that a number of my books have been released as audio books as much as a year ago, but I have seen no accounting for sales of those. So I asked my agent, and she asked my editor. Nobody has explained it yet, but I have done payment estimates based on the statements, and our calculations match.” Not surprisingly, this last author adds, “Not only do I know how to read the statements, friends often ask me to interpret theirs.”

Sometimes authors who audit their statements find mistakes. “I once found a $700.00 error on my royalty statement from my publisher that I noticed after scouring the numbers. My publisher apologized and said it was obviously an error and quickly corrected it, but would he have noticed if I hadn’t looked carefully?”

“For two consecutive royalty periods, I had statements passed on to me from a publisher that had gone through the agency’s business department and past my agent that had a glaring error on the first page. Each time, it amounted to an error in my favor of mid four figures. One year the amount totaled approximately $11,000. This was not something anyone should have missed, and certainly not twice. The agent/agency did not catch the error, even after it happened the first time. I did, both times.”

“It’s important for authors to know that even if you have a representative you trust, nothing replaces arming yourself with all the knowledge you can,” my author friend Lauren Baratz-Logsted wisely says, who not coincidentally, zealously reads and audits her royalty statements. Thanks to Kristin’s article and her contract manager’s generous how-to, I’ll be doing the same.

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Karen Dionne is an internationally published thriller author, co-founder of the online writers discussion forum Backspace, and organizer of the Salt Cay Writers Retreat and the Neverending Online Backspace Writers ConferenceShe is represented by Jeff Kleinman of Folio Literary Management. 


Why Authors Should Pay Attention to Gravity

Last week, Deadline posted the news that Warner Bros. was claiming victory after the dismissal of a $10 million lawsuit regarding the blockbuster movie Gravity starring George Clooney and Sandra Bullock.

Quick Summary: Bestselling author Tess Gerritsen brought the suit making a claim that the movie was based on her book that New Line Productions had optioned in 1999. Warner Bros. acquired New Line studios and what is in question is whether Warner Bros, after the acquisition, is required to honor the New Line option agreement.  She explains in good detail on her blog.

So Warner Bros. might be crowing victory but what this boils down to is that the case was initially dismissed based on a legal technicality. Corrections need to be made to the case and then refiled. Nothing really has been decided.

So why should you care? You might be a writer at the beginning of your career. Maybe you don’t have a project under a film or tv option as of yet. Maybe writing as a career is simply a dream at the moment.

But someday you may very well be an established career author and what is decided in this court case will have far-reaching repercussions for all authors where Hollywood is concerned. You can bet that book-to-film co-agents are watching this very closely as are literary agents. This will change how projects are optioned in the future.

And just maybe the project being optioned is your book.


Three (hopefully) Inspiring Thoughts For 2015

To kick off 2015, here are my three (hopefully) inspiring thoughts for writers:

1. I recently had a discussion with a writer who had convinced herself that she was a middle-grade author. But when she wrote a young-adult novel, suddenly, that’s when she discovered her voice, the story worked, and she received multiple offers of representation.

If a genre or a project isn’t working, don’t be afraid to experiment with something totally new and outside of what you thought you’d write as an author. You might just discover magic!

2. Lately I’ve read a lot of really nicely written sample pages. I didn’t often ask for a full, but that’s not because these authors didn’t have talent. I just didn’t think it was the right story for this moment in time in terms of the market.

Don’t get caught writing and revising one story. I can name ten of my current clients whose first novel was rejected by me but whom I took on for a later project. Like my father used to say about love, it’s often about timing. I didn’t want to hear it when I was twenty-four, but he was right. And an author’s career is often about the right story at exactly the right time.

Keep writing!

3. Never stop learning. There is always something new to be found that will take your writing to the next level—a level you didn’t even know was possible to achieve. And that might be the moment you are discovered.

Have an amazing 2015!


Rushdie Discusses What it is to be a Writer in this World

Last night Anita, our intern Chris, and I went to see Salman Rushdie’s talk at Mackey Auditorium on the CU Boulder campus. Mr. Rushdie is eloquent and quotable. I was one finger typing furiously on my iPhone so as to share some kernel of ideas with my blog readers. Any inelegance in my paraphrasing of his talk last night is solely my fault.

His talk tackled what it is to be a writer in this world.

In a world where 24-hour news necessitates posting something about an event, even if it’s not entirely accurate and only later to be retracted, readers are hard-pressed to find “truthyness” in a lot of journalism these days.

The novel takes on a new form of accurate truthfulness that might be a more accurate reflection of what our world actually is. The novel becomes the depth of the lived experience and the writer is bringing to the public the socially important information that is missing from all other sources.

Rushdie mentioned that the novel, Orphan Master’s Son by Adam Johnson, which won the 2013 Pulitzer Prize for fiction just last week, is all we need to read to truly understand what is happening in North Korea.

And it is for this reason that when they come to power, tyrant and totalitarian regimes target artists and writers.

Rushdie went on to illuminate that we, as people, understand ourselves through the telling of stories. We have the right to tell story our way, through our beliefs, and about our nation. And those stories are a continuing dialogue. Unfree nations try to control the narrative. Not to have freedom to tell stories is true unfreedom.

The job of the writer, as it is for all the great arts, is to open the universe.

Tyrants close the world. A writer’s job is to open it.

Amen.

 


For The Book That Almost Didn’t Sell–Happy Release Day FIRELIGHT!

STATUS: Another phone conference in 20 minutes! Must blog quickly.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? LOWDOWN by Boz Scaggs

Blog readers, have I got special treat for you today. If you ever wondered what the editor rejections looked like for a book that has shown every sign of coming out of the gate wildly popular, well today is your lucky day.

Today is the official release day for Kristen Callihan’s FIRELIGHT.


I’ve blogged before about the fact that I almost could not sell this book. And today, Kristen has given me special permission to share her rejections.

But let me preface this.

This debut novel has received two starred reviews (Publishers Weekly and Library Journal) and top pick at any number of romance sites, too many to list here.

When we sent the novel out to already established and successful authors to read with an eye for a possible blurb, we had our fingers crossed that maybe we’d get one or two responses.

Every author on our list read and blurbed it:

“Callihan has a great talent for sexual tension and jaw-dropping plots that weave together brilliantly in the end.”
—Diana Gabaldon, New York Times bestselling author of Outlander

“A sizzling paranormal with dark history and explosive magic! Callihan is an impressive new talent.” —Larissa Ione, New York Times bestselling author of Immortal Rider

“Evocative and deeply romantic, Firelight is a beautiful debut. I was fascinated from the first page.” —Nalini Singh, New York Times bestselling author of the Guild Hunter Series

“Passionate and sizzling, beautifully written and dark. This unique paranormal twist on the beauty and the beast tale rocks!”
—Elizabeth Amber, author of Bastian The Lords of Satyr

“Kristen Callihan delivers a dark, lush offering to fans of gothic and paranormal romance. With a deliciously tortured hero, an inventive supernatural mystery, and slow-building heat that simmers on each page, Firelight is a sexy, resplendent debut. I can’t wait to see what Kristen Callihan comes up with next!”
—Meljean Brook, New York Times bestselling author of The Iron Duke

“This book has everything: sword fights, magic, despair, a heroine with secret strengths, a hero with hidden vulnerability, and best of all, a true love that’s hot enough to burn the pages. I couldn’t stop reading. This book is utterly phenomenal.”
—Courtney Milan, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Unraveled

“Inventive and adventurous with complex, witty characters and snappy writing. Callihan will make you believe in the power of destiny and true love.”
—Shana Abé, New York Times bestselling author of The Time Weaver

“A dark, delicious tale of secrets, murder, and love, beautifully shrouded in the shadows of Victorian London.”
—Hannah Howell, New York Times bestselling author of If He’s Dangerous

“A dazzling debut, sexy and thrilling. Callihan now has a place on my to-buy list.”
—Anya Bast, New York Times bestselling author of Dark Enchantment

“A fantastic debut that has everything I’m looking for in a story: compelling conflict, beautiful writing, gripping sexual tension, and strong, intelligent characters.”
—Sherry Thomas, RITA-award winning author of Not Quite A Husband and His At Night

“A compelling and emotional pageturner that will have readers burning the midnight oil.” —Anna Campbell, award-winning author of Midnight’s Wild Passion

“Lush and imaginative, Firelight will sweep you away.”
—Zoë Archer, award-winning author of Devil’s Kiss

“Combines romance, wit, and suspense in a fabulous retelling of Beauty and the Beast…with a supernatural twist.”
—Colleen Gleason, international bestselling author of The Gardella Vampire Chronicles

“I LOVED the book! Fabulous writing, great characters, innovative plot. It held me from the first page. I was so drawn in by the quality of the writing. She’s sure to become a fave of mine. I have already raved about the book to my readers group.”
—Gail Link, 2010 RWA Bookseller of the Year

And yet, the editors did not feel the same love.

–I’m afraid I didn’t love the voice, which felt a little bit overdone to me, and this kept me from getting immersed in the story. I’m therefore going to pass; I’m sorry. But thank you for giving me a shot at this, and I hope you will find the right home for it.

–I love your description of the story, but for me, the writing itself doesn’t stand out from the crowd.

–Thanks so much for sending this! I liked the reimagining of the beauty-and-the-beast story, but didn’t quite love the voice as much as I’d hoped

–I do love a great gothic, so I was really hoping to love this. Unfortunately, I just didn’t connect with the voice as much as I wanted to.

–Many thanks for thinking of us for this, but we’re going to pass. Gothics are very hard to sell right now

–I’ve been reading this, and I’ve enjoyed the appealing voice and the strong element of mystery. But while I liked this novel perfectly fine, I just didn’t feel the level of enthusiasm necessary to make this a success. Ultimately I just didn’t feel the strong emotional connection I’d hoped for.

–I really tried hard to get emotionally attached to FIRELIGHT because the atmosphere is so beautifully written. I just couldn’t connect, I’m sad to say,

–I did find plenty to like in the manuscript: Miranda makes a great heroine, and I absolutely loved our introduction to her in the opening chapters. (In particular, the scene where Miranda is having the ethical dilemma over whether to steal or not really hooked me.) The main problem I have, though, is that I never really connected with Archer as a hero. Miranda won me over, but she alone wasn’t enough to make me believe in the romance.

–Here’s the thing-I kept hoping I could make this work, but increasingly we’re having a hard time making new historical romance authors grow in the market.

In the end, it’s so so true that you have to find the right editor with the right vision who is the right fit. When you do, even for a book that almost didn’t sell, it can be magic.

And I think Kristen’s holiday gift to me is the perfect end note!


Happy release day Kristen!


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