Pub Rants

Category: QandA

Q&A continued

STATUS: You don’t even want to know how many eggnog chais I’ve had this week.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? CAN’T WRAP THIS by MTV video

Richard Curtis says the unmentionable. Where would publishers be if agents split off electronic rights away from the print rights sold to publishers? Amazon did just fly out a bunch of agents to corporate headquarters and no one there is talking on or off the record about that discussion. Now before you get too excited, the likelihood of this possibility for a debut or midlist author is slim—for now. But I know Richard is preaching to my choir…

And even though it’s not Friday, this video cracked me up so much I had to share it ASAP. Enjoy.

And now back to some Q&A so I can get my nose back to the grindstone.

Peggy Asked:
What do you think of sites like from Harper Collins (where authors can upload chapters of their books in hopes of getting discovered)? Do would-be authors take any risks uploading to a site like this? Do you think their books are any more/less likely to get a traditional publishing contract if sections of their works have been posted on a site like this? I know how you feel about vanity publishers, but I’d like to get an agent’s take on forums/sharing spaces like Authonomy or even Deviant Art and other such websites.

I personally don’t have a problem with writers participating in Authonomy (sorry don’t know much about Deviant Art so can’t really comment on that at the moment) but in general, I do think a manuscript that’s good enough to get attention through Authonomy will probably be good enough to get notice from agents.

Authonomy looks a little different from the Penguin sponsored contest via Amazon Breakthrough Novel where the winner of that contest is pretty much stuck with the boilerplate Penguin contract (which trust me, is not in a writer’s favor). It looks like at Authonomy, writers can still negotiate if HarperCollins shows interest and maybe even get an agent on board for that discussion. I don’t see a downside. I wouldn’t post my entire work there but chapters are fine.

It’s actually kind of smart. HarperCollins is using the general readership to read through the slush pile and vote for the works that are worth their looking at as, according to the site, the editors look at the most popular entries.

Anonymous asked:
Hi! My question is this: Do you see spies being a popular trend in YA? Also, should we quit on the vampire stuff for awhile and write more classic fantasy? Which do you think would sell better at the moment?
I’m the agent for the very popular New York Times bestselling Gallagher Girl series. I’m thinking I might have a biased opinion on whether I think spies are a popular trend in YA. Grin.

As for your other questions about whether to quit on the vampire stuff and write classic fantasy, I really can’t answer that without having looked at your work. Perhaps you are a stronger writer in classic fantasy than in urban fantasy. If that’s the case, you have your answer. However, if your vampire take is wholly original, then it can probably still work. As to what will sell better at the moment is wholly dependent on how good the manuscript is.

Anonymous asked:
My question is: can we send our queries to you before the 18th or should we wait until the New Year? Since you guys are in a crunch, I don’t know if that’ll affect how you read the queries…like if you’re rushing to get everything done, would you be a bit more impatient while reading a query sent to you in the next few days? Just wanna know…
We are reading all queries up to 5 pm on Friday. Dec. 18. After that, all incoming queries will get the auto-reply that we are closed until Jan. 4, 2010.

I find that if you really want a certain agent to rep you, this time of year is not the time to be querying (although I know a lot of writers have great stories about landing their agent during this holiday time).

For me, I just need the break. I really do. We are always behind in terms of reading and replying to queries. We live constantly with the thought that there is more work then we can really keep up with. It makes such a difference to believe that we are caught up for 3 weeks—even if it’s an illusion. I know some agents are still reading (Nathan mentioned he would be as he’s afraid to lose out on something good) but I don’t care if I miss out on something great. This is for my mental health and renewal. Smile.

If I were you, I would wait until Jan. 4 and then send away. We’ll be rejuvenated and excited to get back into the game. January is probably THE best time to query us.

Dreamstate asked:
What to do about those dreaded “Didn’t love it enough” rejections? Should the writer response be persistence, querying with the belief that someone will love it enough. Or after 3 or 4 such responses, should the writer be looking at revising, albeit in the absence of any guidance from said rejections? I would be so grateful for any words of wisdom from you!
Only 3 or 4 responses! Surely you jest. I wouldn’t worry until you’ve gotten at least 20 rejections on your sample pages. When you’ve hit that, then you might want to think about revising, working with your critique group, making it stronger, and following any feedback you might be receiving. Once that is done, go out full bore with it again. If you are still getting 20 to 30 “didn’t love it enough,” then you might revise again or keep trying. I wouldn’t be giving up on those sample pages until you have 200+ rejections.

Anonymous asked:
My question is, since you and Sara both have the same email address to send queries to, should I address my query to both of you? Or just pick one? (both of you rep what I write, YA)

You can address to both us of or if you think it would work specifically better to one of us versus the other, then you can address directly. Hope that helps!

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).

Authors Guild on RH’s Rights Grab, Q&A continued

STATUS: It’s obvious that I need to rule the world. I couldn’t BELIEVE that the judges dismissed FACE from the Sing-Off. Are they nuts? Not to disparage the other performers but FACE is doing something different with a cappella. Surely an audience might like to see more of what they can do. Now it’s just the same old same old for the remaining groups with the exception of Nota (who were outstanding). Go and buy FACE’s new album Momentum anyway. Take that Sing-off.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? COLORADO CHRISTMAS by Nitty Gritty Dirt Band

I’m getting an early start to my blog or I’m just going to get buried. I was very happy to see the Author Guild speak out. In a message to members, they basically rejected RH’s argument that its older contracts that grant rights to publish “in book form” or “in all editions” is a grant of electronic rights.

RH politely disagreed with their stance. Surprise I know. Put on your boxing gloves. Here we go.

But back to Q&A.

Anonymous asked:
Ask them – are mid-list authors dead in the water? What do you expect from mid-list to say yes to future projects?

I don’t believe that midlist authors are dead in the water but it also depends on where they are in the midlist. There are different levels—the consistently-selling midlister versus the midlister who is now having declining sales for each subsequent project.

If the author is a solid seller, publishers are still buying new projects—however, they may be offering less money than they have in the past or they are sticking with the same terms as previous contract. There’s not a lot of negotiating leverage for the midlist author.

In order to say yes to a future project from a midlist author (looking to change representation), I would have to believe that the new project or proposal is strong enough to bump the sales numbers or will take the author in a new, stronger direction from which the author can build.

Anonymous asked:
I was wondering if you have ever fallen in love with a manuscript and then never found a home for it?
Sadly yes. It always amazes me when I’m not able to sell a project. There’s obviously something wrong with the editors. Grin.

Rebecca Knight asked:
Hmmmm. My question for an editor would have to be what direction they think e-book pricing and the royalty structure is going to go in the next few years.
Actually, individual editors have no idea. All changes to eBook pricing and royalty structures are set by corporate policy. In fact, in negotiations, they have to toe the party line.

From my perspective? I think eBook pricing and royalty structure is going to be a huge battle. Publishers are seeing squeezed profit margins and they are clearly on notice about how third parties such as Amazon are controlling the perception of what pricing should be for eBooks (with their $9.99 price point or lower).

On Mike Shatzkin’s blog, he speculated that the publishers’ decision to delay the e-book versions of some major upcoming titles isn’t “a battle to rescue hardcover books from price perception issues caused by inexpensive ebooks” so much as it is about “wresting control of their ebook destinies back from Amazon.” I don’t disagree. His insights are worth reading.

Because of fear, publishers are all jumping on board the 25% of net bandwagon because they have no clear idea of price points and discounts that would be needed to stay with a 15% or 25% of retail model.

Who loses out the most right now? Authors. Unless they contract directly with eBook providers such as Amazon or Rosetta Books (see the stories on Stephen Covey’s deal with Rosetta and the Pat Conroy deal with Open Road). However, that’s probably only profitable (right now) for clearly established authors who have a backlist and control of those eRights. A debut author is not going to be in the same position and if that debut wants a traditional print publisher on board as well, then they will have to acquiesce to the electronic royalty structure being offered.

Agents aren’t stupid. We know that this 25% of net crap is not good now and it’s not going to be good 5 to 10 years from now and we might be stuck. (Just as the 7.5% trade pb royalty rate hasn’t change in 20 years although the publishing model for trade books has shifted significantly). If we have leverage, auction situation, we get more. When that’s not available, what is the likelihood of that debut author or midlister walking away from a traditional book deal over eRoyalties when the current percentage of sales done electronically is not even 1% of the total book sales overall? And yes, I know this is going to change drastically over the next 5 years but the agreements being done right now are creating the “standard.” However much we disagree with them and warn authors that it’s not to their advantage.

May you live in interesting times. Rather sounds like a curse right now.

Because You Asked—Take 2

STATUS: People assume that Denver is cold in the winter. In general, our temps are pretty mild. Not this week. We’ve got Alaska weather. It was -13 degrees when I woke up this morning. At least the sun was shining…

What’s playing on the iPod right now? RIVER by Sarah McLachlan

Kristi asked:
I’d love to ask an editor if they feel less inclined to take on a debut author due to the current economic climate – if they happen to address that issue, I’d love to hear their thoughts.

If the project is strong enough and generates excitement, editors are just as interested in bidding for it at auction and taking on a debut author. However, if there isn’t that level of excitement, I do see that editors are being more cautious about submissions. And maybe cautious is the same as reluctant but I don’t think so. Editors are still showing interest but they are not jumping in with an immediate offer. I see editors asking for revisions first. Wanting to give it a second read post-revision to see if their interest level is still high. Then they are getting on board to try and make an offer.

I’m also noticing that all of the above is taking a lot of time. It used to be that editors would turnaround a project with an offer in 6 to 8 weeks. Now it’s taking 6 months. 8 months. Even a year. Cautious is definitely the word of the day.

Jade asked:
I’d be interested to know if angels are the new vampires or are vampires still the new vampires? Actually, I’m just generally interested in YA trends as always, especially since whatever is being bought now won’t be in stores for a couple of years.Oh. What about merepeople? That’s my call for the next big trend. Everyone seems to be writing about meremaids and meremen…except me.

I’d have to say that angels are probably the new vampire—although I don’t think vampires are done yet.

As for mer-people, I’m not sure what to say. I haven’t seen a lot in this realm but hey, maybe that’s the next hot trend and it hasn’t surfaced quite yet (pun intended!).

And I’ll tackle more Qs tomorrow…