Pub Rants

Category: general rants

World’s Best Paid Authors

STATUS: I’m actually heading out of the office early to finish up a client edit. It’s just easier to do that when I’m not answering the phone or checking emails.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? HALFWAY HOME by TV On The Radio

At least according to Forbes. I imagine all of you can guess who heads the top of that list.

Harry Potter anyone?

I have to say that I was a little surprised not to see Nora Roberts’ name there. Seems to me that she overtook Danielle Steele years ago. Maybe that’s only in volume of novels published per year rather than in dollar signs. I really don’t know.

And before y’all get stars in your eyes, I wouldn’t buy into the idea that writing is your path to riches. It can be but it’s probably up there with getting struck by lightening or winning the lottery.

It has to happen to somebody (of course) but if you’re a writer, I wouldn’t count on it. Writing has to be your passion and if good things follow, monetarily, for you—hooray!

I know. I know. You are all going to dream big anyway. Can’t say I blame you.

One Book, One Denver

STATUS: Another late night but I’m finally getting caught up after vacation.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? DANCING IN THE DARK by Bruce Springsteen

Last week I had the pleasure of attending the launch party for One Book, One Denver hosted by Denver Mayor Hickenlooper. One of the fun aspects of being involved in Denver’s literary scene is that I get invited to interesting events.

So the launch party is the big reveal that happens before the press releases are officially out and about. I personally had no inkling as to what book they were going to choose for the city-wide book club.

And I have to say, I was a little surprised and here it is.

When I chatted with some of the committee members, they mentioned that they were really looking for a fun but literary book that all kinds of readers could get behind. Makes sense to me.

So what do you think about the choice?

For my part, it’s certainly one of my favorite movies. Nick & Nora and their very brainy sidekick/family dog, Asta, solve the crime and save the day.

Heck, I think the book is worth reading just to watch the movie again. And if you aren’t into classics, this just might be the film to win you over (with its 4 Oscars and all).

Overnight Success Takes 2 to 10 years

STATUS: TGIF (Even though I’m blogging a bit late tonight.)

What’s playing on the iPod right now? IT’S TOO LATE by Carole King

Have you ever noticed that when an author becomes really popular, readers act like the author’s success appeared out of nowhere?

In reality, a big success takes anywhere from 2 to 10 years.

For example, in the young adult world (and in a lot of cases, the adult world as well), Stephenie Meyer’s name is on everyone’s lips. As an author, her Twilight books seem to “come out of nowhere” (if you talk to folks who have recently discovered her).

But the first book TWLIGHT, was originally sold in late 2003 and the initial hardcover of the title released in 2005.

It’s not three years later and suddenly this author’s name is everywhere (including a lot of non-print media). For a lot of folks, it feels like “overnight” success. However, that’s really an imaginary construct. Basically the book just reached critical mass in terms of awareness and thus looks like the success is sudden.

Here’s another great example. I sold my author Ally Carter’s first YA book, I’D TELL YOU I LOVE YOU BUT THEN I’D HAVE TO KILL YOU back in 2005. It released in hardcover in 2006 and it wasn’t until 2 years later that this title hit the New York Times Bestseller list.

Overnight success indeed! I think I would call that more a slow build but except for rare exceptions, that’s how overnight success really happens.

Why Google Alerts Might Be An Author’s Best Friend

STATUS: Another late night trying to catch up on client and slush pile reading.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? ONCE IN A LIFETIME by Talking Heads

Just as authors are often obsessive about their Amazon numbers (and don’t get me started on Bookscan), some authors are pretty attached to their Google alerts about their books. Folks might think it narcissistic but in reality, Google alerts can be quite a handy tool.

Here are just some reasons why a published author might want to keep the alerts handy.

1. Alerts are a great way of discovering new reviews that have been posted about your book. Editors are good about forwarding them but heck, everyone is busy and things slip through. One author discovered that her young adult book was a Cosmo Girl pick for best beach read. Not even her editor knew. It was a complete surprise but there it was.

2. Google alerts can catch electronic book piracy (which is rampant let me tell you). Most of our authors have been a victim of this at least once and sure enough, the discovery often comes through a Google alert that then hits the chat loops and wings its way back to us. Publishers do go after the sites but often it’s just a matter of time (sometimes only days) before some other piracy site rears its ugly head.

3. Alerts can keep you apprised of any book buzz that might be going on. Bloggers suddenly talking about the book, etc.

4. Alerts can warn an author if a right is being exploited illegally. For example, when Amazon bought Booksurge there was a kerfuffle when this POD entity was offering books available for sale that they no longer held the rights to. Uh, that’s more than an oops. If an author has held audio or electronic rights and then suddenly one of these copies are available and the author hasn’t sold the right, well a Google alert might just be the first time the author “hears” about it.

I imagine there are many other great uses (or misuses for this tool) so feel free to share.

Agents Behaving Badly

STATUS: Sliding this blog entry just in under the wire.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? WHAT A DIFFERENCE A DAY MADE by Dinah Washington

I was struck by one of the comments in the comment section of yesterday’s blog. A blog reader had mentioned that most reputable agents will not speak with an author until that author has severed the relationship with the current agent.

Actually, I think that is a misperception. I would like to think that would be true but I’d say for the most part, it isn’t. If an agent being queried really wants the author who is looking, many don’t care whether the author is free of the former agent or not. In fact, some of these agents have encouraged an author’s bad behavior to see if the former agent could be bullied into releasing rights etc.

And funny enough, certain agent names reappear again and again in these instances so when I hear about authors behaving badly, it often comes as no surprise when I find out who is the new agent taking them on. Certain agents (and no, I’m not going to name names) have a history of displaying equally bad behavior.

Perhaps these authors and these agents might actually deserve each other.

Authors Behaving Badly

STATUS: Just finished watching the Walsh-May recent set domination in Women’s Beach volleyball.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? TV is on and will probably be for the next week.

Something must be in the water but I’ve heard three stories just this week of authors behaving badly. Gee whiz.

Obviously it’s time for me to blog about this topic again. If you are an established author looking to change agents (for whatever reason), there is a professional way to do this. There is an etiquette that should be followed or you are in danger of burning some bridges and if there’s anything I’ve learned in this biz, burning bridges, in general, does not help your career.

There is a way of severing a relationship professionally and there are many authors I’m hearing about lately who should have kept this in mind.

1. An established, already agented author should not be shopping for a new agent without formally ending the current representation.

Folks, publishing is a small world and no matter how discreet you think you are being, word often filters back to the agent in one way or another.

2. If an author is planning to leave and has already made that decision but has not told the current agent, he/she should not be career planning with the agent he/she is planning to leave nor should that author be availing him/herself of the current agent’s hospitality by attending agency functions at RWA or Worldcon. That’s just bad behavior.

3. If an author is planning to leave his or her agent, expect to be held to the letter of the agency agreement the author originally signed—especially if you behave badly before severing the relationship.

Most agents I know aren’t interested in standing in the way of an author’s career. Most are reasonable and would probably come to some sort of agreement or compromise on certain points (such as projects currently on submission) if the author behaved ethically in the severing of the relationship. If you didn’t, well, what can I say. An agent is not going to be in the mind frame to be conciliatory. Nor do they have to be legally if an agency agreement is in place.

And my last point is just something I want y’all to keep in mind. Whenever an already agented author comes to me looking for new representation, I always ask the question, “Does your current agent know you are looking?” My second question is always “have you had a conversation with your agent about your desire to leave? If you haven’t, you should.”

Now I realize that sometimes an agent/author relationship has gone so far south that any communication isn’t possible and this is not an option. Fine. Then your path is clear to sever that relationship before seeking new representation.

So make that clean break. Make sure your behavior is beyond reproach. At the very least, that gives you the ability to say you held the moral high ground regardless of anybody else’s behavior.

In the end, that strikes me as the most important aspect.

You Don’t Have To Be A Fashionista But…

STATUS: Just about to head out of the office and to the convention center for an afternoon at Worldcon

What’s playing on the iPod right now? LITTLE LIES by Fleetwood Mac

Last night I had a dinner for the NLA clients who are in town for Worldcon this week. This topic came up and I have to say that we were all in agreement. Sometimes conference attendees need to rethink their clothing choices when the desire is to meet industry professionals.

Now I’m no fashionista (as I prefer Tevas over high heels any day) but I do think there is a difference between attending a conference as a fan and attending a conference as an aspiring author looking to connect with agents, editors, or what have you.

If you’re a fan, hey, wear what you want and be comfortable. If you are there as an author looking to network, maybe the old t-shirt and shorts isn’t the best clothing decision.

And I don’t mean a person has to don a business suit. Heck, even I only wear business casual at any given conference (and I never wear nylons—she says while shuddering with horror). So I wouldn’t expect that of anyone. No tie is required here either. Still, I have to say it, if you’re an author looking for a prospective agent, appearance does count.

So don’t go with the t-shirt. Step up to a collared shirt or a nice blouse. Instead of shorts, choose pants (even a nice, clean pair of jeans is okay with me). Wear the skirt instead of shorts.

And for goodness sake, don’t wear sweatpants. (I haven’t seen it here at Worldcon but I have seen it at other conferences. I even had an author show up in them for her pitch appointment with me.) I want to be assured that any author I took on knows how to dress accordingly and that can start at the conference or pitch meeting.

And last but not least, unless you are at an evening party (where this would be appropriate), a costume isn’t what you really want to be wearing when meeting with an editor or agent.

So Whatever Happened To That Guy…

STATUS: I literally was on the phone from about 9:30 this morning until now. Not continuously mind you but that’s a lot of phone conferences.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? DOMINO by Van Morrison

who did the Book Promotion 2.0 youtube hit?

Well, Bella Stander did an interview with Mr. Cass that you might want to check out.

It’s a revealing look on how intention can really make the difference in promotion. Art for art’s sake etc.

And one of my authors, Shanna Swendson, grabs the spirit of GOOD TO GREAT and outlines how it might apply to authors. That’s definitely worth a look!

Nip That Rumor In The Bud

STATUS: I’m totally laughing.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? A WHITER SHADE OF PALE by Annie Lennox

Sometimes I just can’t help but want to know how a rumor gets started. I’m particularly delighted with the one that I had passed on Stephenie Meyer’s TWILIGHT (titled as something else? FORKS?) when it was in query form or on submission.

Folks, TWILIGHT was sold by an agent friend of mine back in December of 2003—long before I started representing anything in the children or young adult world as that didn’t happen until early of 2005.

There wouldn’t have been any reason for Ms. Meyer to send me a query (and we certainly didn’t see sample pages) of this project as I didn’t represent young adult at the time.

That would also have been pretty darn early in my career (as I opened my own agency doors in August 2002). I had just sold my first project as my own agent in February of 2003, so I can’t imagine I was on too many radars back in those early days.

(Which I remember so fondly as we only received 10 to 15 email queries a day rather than the 80 to 100 we get now…).

I’m absolutely tickled by this rumor, and only Ms. Meyer could say for sure whether my agency was on her agent list or not, but sorry, from the knowledge I have, it’s not true.

Summer Heat Must Be The Culprit

STATUS: Busy. I’m in the middle of negotiating several new deals.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? SWEET SURRENDER by Bread

The summer heat must be going to people’s heads because this is my third rant in a week regarding odd submissions here at the agency.

People! Get down to the pool and take a break I think. Yesterday I received a large box that the writer had spent $32.00 sending express mail. Egad! That’s a lot of money to spend sending a submission to an agency that only accepts electronic submissions. And a colossal waste at that because when I opened this package, inside were pages and pages of a handwritten manuscript.

I’m not kidding blog readers. The submission wasn’t even typed. I’m not even snorting with laughter; I’m too stunned.

There’s no email address included and no SASE. I’m not going to look at it. If that makes me heartless, so be it, but I don’t think I can toss this into the recycle bin either. What if it’s the only copy? Surely a writer wouldn’t be stupid enough to send us the only copy, right? I mean it looks like a photocopied version (another waste of money as we do electronic submissions!) but sometimes that’s hard to tell considering photocopying quality these days.

Okay, do I expend the money to return it? We could send via media mail, which would be pretty inexpensive. I think that’s what we might do but only because I’m feeling generous. Normally I don’t think twice in terms of pitching something like this in the recycle bin.