Pub Rants

Category: deals

Best. Story. Ever. (Part II)

STATUS: It’s been a little quiet. Fewer emails than normal. Let’s me get stuff done!

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? DREAMGIRL by Dave Matthews Band

Ah, I just so love torturing my blog readers. Just to be nice, I’m doing my blog entry early today.

So as I mentioned yesterday, the one thing everyone else wants to know is why did the editor change her mind and decide to offer for a book she had initially passed on?

Before I answer that question, here’s another fun facet. A day or two after I got that call from the editor who originally passed but now was offering for the book, this same work received another offer from an editor at another house.

All this after the project had been on submission for a little while. It’s like one offer knocked the universe open for the other.

So not only did we have one offer, we had two. There is no better place for an author to be. So I had the author do phone conferences with each interested editor. Get their vision for launching the title. For us, it just wasn’t about the advance. We wanted to be with the editor who best “got” the book—especially given the unique circumstances of one of the offers. Ultimately, the author did go with the editor who originally had passed.

So why did that editor change her mind?

She couldn’t stop thinking about the project and decided she had been wrong to pass on it. She figured out how to do the book and once that answer was clear to her, she called me to offer for three books—not just one.

The author and I were super pleased. After all, when we were working on the novel, we totally had this one editor in mind for it. We were actually flummoxed when she passed as we thought it was tailor-made for her.

So, I love an editor who can say, “hey, I was wrong. Is the book still available and if so, I’m going to offer right now for it. On top of that, I’m going to show you some serious commitment by offering for more than one book.”

And I’m just saying I’m around today if any other editors want to call me about past submissions they passed on…

Best. Story. Ever.

STATUS: Just another manic Monday. Can’t believe it’s 3 pm already.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? BEMSHA SWING by Roy Haynes

Recently, I had something that has never happened to me before as an agent.

I had an editor ring up, out of the blue, to offer on a book that she had passed on 2 months previously. And she didn’t just offer for one book.

If the term “gaping fish” comes to mind, you won’t be far off in terms of how I looked when the call came in. I was so surprised that I think I even asked: “You’re calling to offer?” As if she were pulling my leg.

All my agent friends want to know how I made this happen.

I replied: “Uh, I answered the phone when it rang.”

And of course, the one thing everyone else wants to know is this: Why did the editor change her mind?

Tune in tomorrow…

If You Haven’t Got Anything Nice To Say…

STATUS: Springtime in the Rockies! It was 65 degrees and sunny today and I must admit, I left the office at 2:30 in order to take Chutney out for a run and enjoy the day. In exchange, I’m working all evening.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? TOMORROW PEOPLE by Ziggy Marley and The Melody Makers

Come sit next to me!

Last week, I pretty much spent every entry talking about contracts but today’s discussion tops the cake.

Just recently, a publisher made an offer for the next books from one of my clients. Excellent. But this publisher is also one of the big 6 that have announced that they are moving to the agency commission model for the sale of electronic books.

As ya’ll know based on my math lecture about net receipts last week, there are some key questions that really need to be answered about electronic books and exactly what 25% of net is going to mean.

So my contracts manager and I insisted on talking to contracts director before closing the deal.

The publisher’s response (and this is a paraphrase): they have no idea what the definition of net receipts will be and feel uncomfortable accepting the language we have put forth. Their suggestion? If the author would like to put the contract on hold until the company makes a corporate decision on this, then the author is free to do so. However, the publisher has no timeline for when this will be resolved.

Snort. That’s the solution?

Publishers. The world is changing. Quit dithering. We agents have to negotiate contracts now so maybe get on this. Telling us we can just put it on hold until you get your act together isn’t an alternative.

Rant over.

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…

Because You Asked

STATUS: Very sad to see that Imeem has now merged with My Space music. Not sure how good my music excerpts will be until I can find a new, good site for the embeds. I already miss Imeem.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? BABY IT’S COLD OUTSIDE by Johnny Mercer and Margaret Whiting.

And because I so rarely answer, I thought it would be fun to take your questions from the comments section of my December 1, 2009 blog entry and actually respond.

I know. Try not to die of shock or get used to it. Grin.

Lisa Dez asked:
I’ve been asked to make some revisions by an editor PRIOR to her taking my mss to her editorial board. My agent says this imprint is doing that more and more. I’d love to know if this is a common thing at all houses.

Sadly, this year a lot of editors are asking for revisions before going to ed. Board or before offering to buy a book. It’s becoming unpleasantly common across a number of publishing houses.

Stephanie McGee asked:
I’d be interested to get a feel for how angels are faring with agents and editors these days. I know Becca Fitzpatrick had Hush, Hush hit shelves a couple months ago. I’ve got an angel project hanging out on the sidelines but I’m not sure I should bother since I couldn’t get it done in time to hit any sort of angel renaissance.

Angels do seem to be popular as of late. Random House is releasing their angel book called FALLEN this month as well. Is there room for more angel books? I’d say yes but it depends on your take on it. They haven’t been done to death as of yet but just like all things paranormal in the YA world, editors are looking for something different and fresh. Since different and fresh is almost impossible to define until you see it, I’m not sure this answer helps you much.

Debra Schubert asked:
One question: Did you simply hold the glass of wine or did you get to drink it, too?

I did take the occasional sip!

Things You Don’t Want to Learn While In New York!

STATUS: Back at the hotel for 30 minutes before I need to run out again.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? COME BACK TO ME by David Cook

I mentioned in our November newsletter a couple of weeks ago that Sara and I just absolutely loved a submission that came our way, offered rep, but alas the author went with another agent (as there were many agents interested).

I heard today that the project sold at auction for some money–with tons of houses bidding on it.

Ack. Hate that. But you know what? We tried for it; we were in the game. We loved it. Obviously lots of people agreed.

And for all of you, this is good news. This means Publishers are willing to step up to the plate for projects—something I was rather worried about as of late.

But truthfully, I wish editors hadn’t told me about it. Ignorance can be bliss…


One Good Reason For An Agent

STATUS: Working on a reading day from home.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? WHEN I DREAM OF MICHELANGELO by Counting Crows

I know that a lot of frustrated writers view agents as evil gatekeepers.

This is a problematic view on so many levels and not just because I’m an agent! I always fear a mindset that buys into the idea that “somebody else is to blame.” Hard to succeed if you’re wed to that viewpoint.

But that’s beside the point. I’m actually writing today’s blog entry to point out one good reason to have an agent.

Remember last Friday when I related the horrific story of an agent who had received an offer and was in the middle of negotiating it when the publisher decided to rescind it? (Bad Sign Of The Times, July 23).

Here’s an update.

The agent went to bat on the issue and told the publisher, “Yo, that ain’t cool.”
(Actually I’m positive that’s not what the agent said but you get the picture).

After several rounds of discussion, the publisher agreed and the offer was reinstated.

Without the agent, I’m convinced that this resolution would not have happened for the author.

So, one good reason.

Beyond The Call Of Agent Duty

STATUS: Yesterday, one blog commenter said they didn’t want to hear any more doom and gloom so in good news, I’ve done three deals in the past 2 weeks for already established clients. All six figure deals. That’s positive.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? YOU’RE THE ONE THAT I WANT from Grease soundtrack

Yesterday, my author Simone Elkeles flew into town to do some research for her next YA title that is going to be set in Boulder, Colorado (sequel to her wildly successful title Perfect Chemistry (almost 100,000 copies in print!).

She has never been to Boulder, Colorado and since she’s a big believer in experiencing what she plans to use in her books, here she is.

Well, little did I know that she also wanted to have her main character, Carlos, do white-water rafting in this new novel.

Yep, you can see where this is going. Who else is going to take her to go and do white-water rafting but her Colorado agent?

Hey, I never want to hear that I don’t go the distance for my authors.

So tomorrow morning bright and early (heading out at 5 a.m.) we are tackling the class III and IV rapids of the Arkansas river through Brown’s Canyon.

Don’t worry, it’s mandatory to wear life vests (not to mention Simone’s editor emailed and said her author had better be wearing one and I don’t want to upset her editor).

Hope to see y’all back here on Monday…

Bad Sign Of The Times

STATUS: Hooray. Only 199 emails in the inbox.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? EXILE by Enya

Several years ago, I had a project out on submission for one my clients. An editor had called me on Wednesday to discuss the format, the title, how to publish the book and to let me know that in Friday, she would call with the offer.

On Friday, she did call—but she didn’t make an offer. Her publisher had changed her mind in the two days in between and the editor could offer for the novel.

I was stunned. When an editor had called to warn me that an offer was pending, the offer had always come. But at least there really hadn’t been an offer. Just a notice that one was forthcoming. Sucks to be us (and unfortunately, I was never able to sell that particular novel).

A couple of weeks ago I heard a more horrific story. A fellow agent had received an offer that was in the beginnings of being negotiated and then the editor’s publisher called to say that were rescinding the offer.

Now I’m not just stunned but speechless.

It’s not like an editor can just pop on the phone and make an offer. These things go to committees. It’s discussed. The editor has to do a full P&L (Profit & Loss) statement. This has to be reviewed by the higher powers and approved before an offer made.

If the house had hesitations, come on, that should have been discussed before the agent was called.

Uh, guess not.

Now response times for submissions are slow. I’ve also heard of current contracts being cancelled (abominable but I know it has happened). I’ve also heard that editors are being extremely cautious about what they buy. I don’t have hard data on this but I also know that advances are skewing down rather than up when offers are made.

But this. This is a first and not a good sign of the times.

Sign Of The Times?

STATUS: Ah, only two meetings today. It’s such a nice break. I feel like I can actually tackle the 170 emails sitting in my inbox from yesterday.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? I GUESS THAT’S WHY THEY CALL IT THE BLUES by Elton John
(Ok, I ‘fess up. I put that song on so I could write this blog entry.)

I saw this deal post on Deal Lunch and burst out laughing. I just love it. I think Caitlin and I might be kindred spirits—even though I’ve never met her.

Sarah Prineas’s THE CROW KING’S DAUGHTER, featuring faerie lore without the urban setting and without drugs, sex, and angst, to Toni Markiet at Harper Children’s, in a good deal, in a three-book deal, by Caitlin Blasdell at Liza Dawson Associates (NA).

A faerie story. A real one! Not meant to be urban paranormal. Not meant to be a Twilight knock-off. It’s truly a sign of the times when an agent posts a deal for what a story is not. I’m so tickled, and I can well believe it went for 6-figures. I’d buy this book!

In other news, I had a great lunch with a children’s editor yesterday. She mentioned that she was seeing a lot of what she called Karaoke young adult novels. Mystified by the term, I asked her to explain. She said she was seeing a lot of submissions where teens passionately talk about their issues in dialogue but there doesn’t seem to be much of a plot per so. Lots of angst. Not much story.

Needless to say, this editor was not buying them. As for me, I couldn’t say I’d be snatching one up to represent.

Karaoke novels. Get it? Teen characters that sing their own angsty song—and I certainly wouldn’t call it singing the blues.

Now that term cracks me up too!