Pub Rants

Category: New York Times

Another Agency Milestone!

STATUS: I’m having a terrific day with lots of good news!

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? GEORGIA ON MY MIND by Willie Nelson

Okay, I know you guys are probably getting sick of these announcements but I have to celebrate when milestones happen and what better way then to announce it on the blog.

This year has been an amazing one for Nelson Literary Agency and the New York Times List. We’ve had two authors debut for the first time on the list (and in the same month to boot!). Jamie Ford’s Hotel On The Corner Of Bitter And Sweet has literally been on the regular NYT list or the extended list for 6 months straight.

I mean, holy cow.

Then today marks a new milestone. Today I have 3 authors on the NYT list at the same time. This has got to stop as the bar is getting raised seriously too high. Still, I’m grinning.

And for those of you who wonder how the NYT list works, the bestseller list is announced the week before it hits publication so today I’m getting the news for the May 9 list.

Huge congrats to:

Simone Elkeles at #3 for a second week in a row.

And to Gail Carriger who is back on the extended list at #33 after having one week off. That’s three weeks on the list.

And to Jamie Ford who is on the extended list at #32 (although for the last two weeks we’ve been really close to breaking the top 20 titles (as you have to be #20 or above for regular list).

Huge Congrats to Simone Elkeles—NYT Bestseller!

STATUS: Just an amazing day

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? MY STUPID MOUTH by John Mayer

Squee! Simone Elkeles’s RULES OF ATTRACTION has just hit the NYT bestseller list—coming in at #3 after Hunger Games and Catching Fire.

We are speechless but just thrilled. Simone, you so deserve this. You are one of the hardest working authors I know and you paid your dues for this NYT list hit as Rules is your sixth novel. Even more sweet given the fact that Rules is the sequel to Perfect Chemistry—a novel that we had trouble selling originally.

Oh, and Happy Birthday Simone. Isn’t this the best gift ever?

And this may sound like an odd reaction but I think I might just want to lay my head down on my desk and cry. When I started my agency in 2002, never in a million years did I dream of this kind of success. This the fourth NLA author to appear on the New York Times bestseller list and the seventh novel to hit.

I feel emotional and very very blessed.

Huge Congrats To Gail Carriger—NYT Bestseller!

STATUS: First day in the office but will have to head home soon. My head is starting to ache. I still need time to recover.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? COME ON AND GET HIGHER by Matt Nathanson

Squee!!! Gail Carriger’s CHANGELESS (the second book in the Parasol Protectorate Series) just hit the New York Times bestseller list coming in at #20.

That’s the real list, baby, not even doing the extended list to start. I’m so thrilled for you Gail.

And this is NLA’s third NYT bestseller this year. Much celebrating ensues. Ps. And HOTEL is still on the extended list so that means I have two authors on the NYT list at the same time again. Second time this year. Gotta quit upping the stakes like this…Grin.

A Milestone

STATUS: Some pretty great news today.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? GIRLS JUST WANT TO HAVE FUN by Cyndi Lauper

One of my agent friends is constantly chastising me for not taking a moment to celebrate when really big things happen at my agency.

For example, last week, we did a huge film deal and I barely broke stride. I have to admit, I didn’t even go out to a celebratory dinner or anything. I just kept my nose to the grindstone (in my defense, Bologna Book Fair is rapidly approaching—I have to be ready!)

But today, I really can’t just do that. Besides, I don’t want her to berate me again (and I know she’s reading this and will call me up).

Last week was big—no doubt. This week is a huge milestone for an agent and in truth, it doesn’t happen often so I really need to take a moment and acknowledge it so that’s what I’m going to do.

Today, I have two authors sitting on the New York Times Bestseller list at the same time.

Now, I’ve had one author with two books sitting on the NYT list at the same time but never two authors on at the same time.

Wow.

Great. Now I’ve just raised the bar and I’ll have to do 3 authors on the list at the same time or 2 authors with 2 different books on the list at the same time…. Naw. I’m just going to enjoy this moment.

We Interrupt This Royalty Statement Tutorial

STATUS: It was a great day I have to say.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? WOMAN by John Lennon

To bring you a special squee moment!

Wait, I’m a professional.

I interrupt this royalty statement tutorial to give our client Jamie Ford huge congratulations for hitting the New York Times trade paperback bestseller list coming in at #15 for Hotel On The Corner Of Bitter And Sweet (and after only being on sale for five days).

Yes, that’s more like it!


That makes it NLA’s third NYT bestseller for this year.

Squeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee!!!!!!!!!

Does The Size Of The Advance Equal Success?

STATUS: Blogging a bit late tonight. Busy day.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? MR. JONES by Counting Crows

The answer is yes.

The answer is no.

The size of the advance paid can increase the likelihood of success as the publisher is more likely to commit significant resources toward a title that a large advance was paid for.

However, the size of the advance is not a guarantee of success for any specific title.

I remember reading an article in Publishers Weekly last year (and I wish I had saved it). The article outlined two thriller titles being released by two different publishers. Both thrillers were in hardcover and the lead titles for their specific imprints. Both titles had a solid six-figure advance. Both titles had significant resources allocated for the marketing and promotional push. Both titles were from debut authors.

One title hit the New York Times Bestseller list. The other title had, in the publisher’s own words, “disappointing sales.”

So what happened?

Quite simply, no amount of money can force a public to want and buy a book. Sometimes it happens and sometimes it doesn’t. If the publishers knew what created that ground swell to catapult a title onto bestseller lists and a million copy sell-thru, they’d do it for every book.

It’s a dangerous to assume that the size of the advance paid is the only indicator of possible success. (Or that a publisher who has paid a large advance will always pay attention to that title rather than embrace a newly bought title that might sell even better.)

And every agent I know has a story of a little book that could. The book that was a hard sell, that didn’t have a big advance, that had almost no marketing or promotional budget attached and yet defied all the odds.

A great success story that exemplifies this exactly is agent Deidre Knight’s 90 Minutes in Heaven—a book that was not sold for a lot of money and certainly wasn’t released with a lot of hoopla. Initial print run was by no means huge. The hardcover sold modestly well but then when the paperback version released, an explosion happened. The book kept gaining traction. Word of mouth. The ground swell that money can’t purchase started to happen. In the end, I don’t know exactly how long the title stayed on the bestseller list but I do know that it was for more than a year. This book has now sold millions of copies.

So does a large advance equal large success?

The answer is yes and the answer is no. All the stars ultimately have to align.

CONGRATS ALLY!

STATUS: We are dancing around the office; we can’t believe it!

What’s playing on the iPod right now? GIRLS JUST WANT TO HAVE FUN by Cyndi Lauper

It’s no small feat to hit the NYT series list. Looking at who was on the week before last, it was even scarier. At that time, there was only one non-vampire, non-paranormal title on the list (Diary of A Wimpy Kid).

Then last week, 39 Clues popped back on making that two titles on the NYT Series list.

Now I’m happy to report that there are THREE titles on the Series list. Coming in at #6, The Gallagher Girls land a spot.

HUGE CONGRATS ALLY!

Children’s Best Sellers
SERIES

1 THE TWILIGHT SAGA, by Stephenie Meyer. (Megan Tingley/Little, Brown, hardcover and paper) Vampires and werewolves in school. (Ages 12 and up)

2 PERCY JACKSON & THE OLYMPIANS, by Rick Riordan. (Disney-Hyperion, hardcover and paper) Battling mythological monsters. (Ages 9 to 12)

3 DIARY OF A WIMPY KID, written and illustrated by Jeff Kin­ney. (Abrams, hardcover only) The travails of adolescence, in cartoons. (Ages 9 to 12)

4 THE 39 CLUES, by various authors. (Scholastic, hardcover only) A brother and sister travel the world in search of the key to their family’s power. (Ages 9 to 12)

5 HOUSE OF NIGHT, by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast. (St. Martin’s, hardcover and paper) Vampires in school. (Ages 14 and up)

6 GALLAGHER GIRLS, by Ally Carter. (Disney-Hyperion, hard­cover and paper) A school for spies. (Ages 12 and up)

7 THE MORTAL INSTRUMENTS, by Cassandra Clare. (McElderry/Simon & Schuster, hardcover and paper) A world of demons and warriors. (Ages 14 and up)

8 NIGHT WORLD, by L. J. Smith. (Simon Pulse, paper only) Su­pernatural races form secret societies. (Ages 14 and up)

9 WARRIORS, by Erin Hunter. (HarperCollins, hardcover and paper) Four clans of cat warriors aspire to meet up with the Star­Clan. (Ages 10 to 14)

10 VAMPIRE DIARIES, by L. J. Smith. (HarperTeen, hardcover and paper) Vampires in school, with a love triangle. (Ages 12 and up)

Hotel on the NYT!

STATUS: If you’re happy and you know it, clap your hands.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? IN THE MOOD by Glen Miller Orchestra

Congratulations Jamie on now being a New York Times bestselling author—debuting at #30 on the extended hardcover list.

We here at the Nelson Agency are just thrilled to pieces for you! Go knock ‘em dead in Milwaukee tonight.

Congratulations Ally Carter!

STATUS: This was a terrific day. What a way to kick off the year.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? A KISS TO BUILD A DREAM ON by Louis Armstrong

On hitting the New York Times Bestseller List yet again. Coming in at #2 no less for the week of January 18, 2009.

Most richly deserved!


For those of you who might not have your copy as of yet, let me inform you that Barnes & Noble did a special trade paperback edition, only carried at their stores, that includes special bonus material of Cammie and company’s very first day at the Gallagher Academy. Click here to get your hands on this exclusive copy. Once sold, they are gone!

STATUS: Buried in contracts—round three in the negotiation process for all but one on my desk.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? ROCK THIS TOWN by Stray Cats

Folks, if we had the answer to this, we’d rule the world. And every book a publisher (and the author) wanted to be a bestseller, would be one. As you know, the world doesn’t work that way.

There have been case studies of books that publishers threw a lot of money behind (and their whole weight) and the book was dead in the water.

Then you have stories like WATER FOR ELEPHANTS that was an indie bookseller chug-a-thon and the word of mouth was so great even before the book hit shelves that when it was finally available, it was “sleeper” hit.

So why did I’D TELL YOU I LOVE YOU BUT THEN I’D HAVE TO KILL YOU hit the NYT list two years after its debut?

I have no idea. Now I do have some theories. I can tell you what little I know (as it’s certainly not a trade secret). Not to mention, Ally was inspired by my post to offer her reasons on why as well so you might want to check out her blog too.

Here’s what I know:

1. LYKY (shorthand for that very long title) sold very well right out of the gate but never hit a list. In fact, we had sales numbers so good, some titles that were on the NYT list would have been envious.

2. LYKY was firmly supported by the Publisher—Hyperion Books for Children. They made this their lead title and did a lot to get the word out initially. Ads, author lunches with key book buyers, white box mailings, the works. There was a solid initial first print run but nothing crazy. (Sorry, can’t share that as the info is client confidential.)

3. Hyperion was aggressive on its reprints so LYKY continued to sell well and build steadily for 2 years (a success we really owe to B&N—which got strongly behind the book from day one as did some great Indies stores).

4. This title started landing on State reading lists (we love Librarians!) and won several awards—thus continuing the notice build.

5. CROSS MY HEART AND HOPE TO SPY, the second book in the series, had a really rockin’ initial print run and in Ally’s case, it was this title (lovingly referred to as CMH) that landed on the NYT hardcover list first (because of all the awareness-building LYKY had done, sales in the initial weeks after release were out the roof. And to land on the NYT list, a book needs a set number of sales within a short period of time to land. Actually that is just conjecture as the NYT does not share their criteria for the how and why of books hitting the NYT list.)

6. Just weeks after CMH hit, LYKY landed on the NYT trade paperback list and stayed there for 16 weeks.

7. Now we have notice and momentum building on each other. Readers excited about the release of CMH were talking to other readers and telling them to buy LYKY first. Not to mention, the trade pb price is always more appealing so sales took off in that format. There’s an uptick in hardcover sales as well but not like there was for trade pb edition.

8. Borders finally gets on board with a big buy-in for book 2. Because all this notice is happening, Costco, Best Buy, Walmart, etc. all buy-in for both titles as well. Now sales are really picking up.

I can’t tell you where they are right now (client confidential) but let’s just say the weekly sales are eye-popping.

Here’s what else I know:

1. There were few to almost no reviews for LYKY (or CMH for that matter)–although Publishers Weekly did feature the cover for LYKY in the front pages of their issue and they did review the title. It wasn’t a starred review though. So the success was not review-driven.

2. Librarians. Need I say more? They were a force behind talking to students about what great books these were. They ordered many copies for their school libraries to keep up with demand.

3. The biggest component to what makes a book a NYT bestseller? Word-of-mouth. Avid fans. We owe a lot to the readers who absolutely loved the book and told 20 of their closest friends to read it too.

Unfortunately, no one fully understands how w-o-m works. Why some titles make it onto everyone’s lips and others don’t—despite whatever money, marketing, or promotion is given to a book.

This can’t be “created.” It just is.