Pub Rants

Category: Marketing & Promotion

Fire Alarm Approach

STATUS: It’s 7 o’clock at night and I’m trying to squeeze in this blog so I can leave the office.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? KID by The Pretenders

I just spent the last 4 hours with my accountant so my brain is mush.

Here’s what I want to say tonight though. Lots of authors are on chat loops. Normally this is a great thing; I encourage it.

But when rumors start to fly on those loops, it can create author panic that then translates into frantic emails to the agent. When that happens, that’s when I like to advise authors to send an email but take everything with a grain of salt and send a “not sure if you’ve heard the rumors but I know you like being in the loop so I’m sending what I’m hearing” email instead.

Works the same but without the fire alarm approach.

There may or may not be truth to the rumors and why be upset over something that might not be true? Trust me, when it’s proven to be true, your agent will be plenty upset and pissed off on your behalf.

Talking Head

STATUS: I’m still riding high from yesterday’s news!

What’s playing on the iPod right now? (SITTIN’ ON) THE DOCK OF THE BAY by Otis Redding

And the good news just keeps coming.

Hank Phillippi Ryan’s FACE TIME has just been chosen as a January 2008 Book Sense Notable Book.

And PRIME TIME was nominated for a Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice Award.

And Hank isn’t my only client garnering nominations from RT. DOWN HOME ZOMBIE BLUES by Linnea Sinclair has also been nominated for a Reviewer’s Choice Award in the Futuristic/Fantasy romance category.

Sheesh. I’m going to have high expectations for the beginning of next year.

And sorry in advance for the public service announcement but if you live in Colorado and want to hear me speak (or if you just want to come up and say hello—that’s cool too), here’s an event that my author Kim Reid and I are participating in at the Boulder Bookstore in about two weeks.
The Women’s Voices Series

“So, You Want to Write a Book”
January 20, 2008 – 3-5 p.m.
BOULDER BOOKSTORE (Boulder, Colorado)

Two authors, a literary agent, a publishing house acquisitions editor, and a publicist discuss the process from concept to published book and marketing. This is an outstanding opportunity to discover the inside story about book writing, from dreams to reality! Panelists will be:

Kim Reid, author of the narrative nonfiction memoir No Place Safe (Kensington 2007), her story of a childhood shaped by her cop mother’s investigation of an Atlanta serial killer in the early 1980s.

Kristin Nelson, literary agent, who established the Nelson Literary Agency in 2002. Since then, she has sold more than 65 books to such publishers as Random House, Hyperion, Harlequin, Simon & Schuster, Hachette/Warner and the Penguin Group. Her authors are RITA-award winners and New York Times and USA Today bestsellers.

Michelle Dally, author of the novel A Highly Placed Source (Ghost Road Press 2007), a satire that targets Colorado politics, media, and the religious right. She holds a JD from Georgetown, was part of the Denver Post team that won a Pulitzer for its coverage of Columbine, and has worked as a legislative aide to Senator John Chafee (RI), and a lobbyist for a children’s mental health hospital.

Jennifer Coffee, acquisitions editor at Sounds True, a multi-media publisher of tools and teachings for personal and spiritual transformation based in Louisville, Colorado. She holds a BA in Music and Religious Studies and an MA in Buddhist Studies and Tibetan Language from Naropa University.

Bella Stander, promotional consultant and producer of workshops for authors of commercial trade books, is an author’s best friend. She is also a program organizer for the Virginia Festival of the Book and a long-time contributing editor at Publishers Weekly. Her book reviews have appeared in such publications as Entertainment Weekly, People, the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post.

Moderator: Rosemary Carstens, freelance writer, author, and marketing consultant. Rosemary Carstens is the editor of the quarterly e-zine FEAST, about books, art, film, food, and travel. She is the author of DREAMRIDER: Roadmap to an Adventurous Life (2003) and co-author of Sustaining Thought (2007). She has been published in regional and national magazines and is an avid adventure traveler. When not writing or hosting presentations and workshops, two of her favorite leisure activities are surfing the ‘Net and riding crosscountry on her motorcycle, the Road Goddess.

Top Dealmaker?

STATUS: What a way to kick off 2008! First I get an offer for a project I have on submission which is how I always like to start the year. Then I get the big, big news. Ally Carter’s I’D TELL YOU I LOVE YOU BUT THEN I’D HAVE TO KILL YOU lands on the New York Times paperback bestseller list at #4 and CROSS MY HEART AND HOPE TO SPY, which has already spent 5 weeks on the NYT hardcover list, is back on coming in at #9. Woohoo!!!!

What’s playing on the iPod right now? I ALONE by Live

Thank you all for all your lovely blog comments on my last entry of 2007. I did have to chuckle though. Selling 22 books over the course of one year is not actually a lot. I have many agent friends who sell double or triple that number (although I have to add here that they’ve all been in the biz for a lot longer than I have).

It’s not a high volume and I have to admit that I don’t see myself as ever being a high volume agent. I don’t take on that many clients or that many projects in a given year so there’s a limited quantity of projects to sell. I don’t want to say quality over quantity because that’s not necessarily the case. I have many agent friends doing a quantity of high quality projects and deals. I imagine as my clients grow their careers, the number will increase over the years just on repeat deals alone.

But here’s what’s interesting and why I bring this up. Publishers Marketplace has a new feature called Top Dealmakers on their website. Let me tell you, this has caused some interesting consternation amongst agent friends and here’s why. Our agent reputations are the key to getting future good clients; we want to be known as top dealmakers! Publishers Marketplace can only rank top dealmakers on quantifiable criteria. In other words, they can’t verify that deals actually sold for the money highlighted by the editor or agent (or by the authors themselves) in the announced deal. The only criteria they can use for rating top dealmakers is based on the number of total sales in a given period (and that is, of course, only if the deals are reported). Many agents don’t report deals for a variety of reasons.

I like to think that might be the reason why Michael Cader implemented this new feature to begin with—to encourage deal reporting. Very smart on his part.

But it also means, quite sadly I have to say, that I’ll probably never be a top dealmaker on Pub Marketplace. Right now, I come in at #40 for Fiction as a whole, #26 for women’s/romance, #15 for children’s (that ain’t shabby I guess!), #8 for young adult.

You get the picture. And I have to admit, this entry is solely self-serving. Big smile here. I might not sell a lot of books in any given year but because that is true, I also have to sell what I take on for more money and that’s not captured in the Top Dealmaker ranking.

Is it better for an agent to sell many projects (but all in nice deals) or just a few projects in good, significant, or major deals—in Deal Lunch terms? And the answer to this is purely subjective because it really depends on how each individual sees it.

Unfortunately, Top Dealmaker on Pub Marketplace can’t use that criterion for obvious reasons (although when I was chatting with Michael before the break, we did talk about it).

Maybe that needs to be my 2008 goal. More deals and all for a lot more money. I’m sure my clients wouldn’t say no to that!

More Than Just A Signing

STATUS: TGIF! And what I have in front of me to do so I can head out of town for the Thanksgiving long weekend on next Wednesday is a bit frightening. I’m determined to plow through and finish though.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? HARD TO HANDLE by Black Crowes

Agents are book fans too. Bella Stander (book publicity consultant and friend) had mentioned that a fellow Backspace member was going to be at the Tattered Cover this week and did I want to go. I’m always up for supporting fellow members so I said yes. We were off to see John Elder Robison’s reading for his memoir LOOK ME IN THE EYE.

I also had the unexpected pleasure of having dinner with him and his wife Martha before the event—compliments of Bella—but that’s not what this blog is about.

I want to revisit the topic of authors being strong public speakers and if they aren’t, to get savvy at this skill. And I know I’ve blogged about this before (and received a wide array of feedback after the posting) but John’s terrific presentation just reinforced again for me how important it is for an author to be a good presenter—to make the event more than just a book signing.

John didn’t just read from his memoir and open the floor to questions. He engaged us in his passion—which is to make the world more aware and more understanding of those with Asperger’s. I have to say it was very powerful and in doing so, made everyone in that room a lot more interested in buying the book right then and there. I know I got in line and got an autographed copy.

And let me just point out one more thing, John has Asperger’s. If you know anything about this disorder, most folks who have it don’t really like talking and interacting with a lot of people. Hence the title. John named his book that because all his life he heard people say, “look me in the eye when I’m talking to you.” Communication can be tough for an Aspergian.

So just imagine what public speaking might be like. It’s not often an Aspergian strong suit. John didn’t let that stop him and he got savvy at public speaking because he was determined to share his story and his passion—just in case that in doing so, it made a difference.

I can’t stress it enough. If you are an author, master this skill because you never know when you might be presented with many opportunities to share your book, your passion, and your vision with the world.

We Interrupt This Blog Pitch Workshop To Bring You…

STATUS: Excited. CROSS MY HEART AND HOPE TO SPY is still on the NYT top 10 bestseller list for the fourth week. It can’t last forever but I’m going to be happy while Ally is still there!

What’s playing on the iPod right now? I COULD WRITE A BOOK by Harry Connick, Jr.

An awesome cover! Shanna and I got this late in the day yesterday. I have to say I love all the Enchanted Inc. Series covers but this one, this one is just perfect. I couldn’t resist posting.

And sorry to get you all excited because it won’t release until April 2008. Don’t worry. I’ll remind you then.

I also wanted to give a big shout out to a conference that is going to be happening in Denver at the Convention Center the week after next (Nov. 8-9, 2007). It’s an Executive Leadership Development Conference sponsored by the National Hispanic Leadership Institute.

Although most of the topics are about achieving successful corporate careers, there are quite a few workshops regarding publishing. One of them is being given by a good friend whom I met when she was working at Simon & Schuster several years ago. If you live in the area and this applies, you might want to check it out.

From Inspiration to Publication: What Latinas Need to Know About Getting Published
By Marcela Landres

WHAT: Finding the right publisher is difficult for any writer, but Latinas face unique challenges–and opportunities. Topics discussed include: the significance of Latinas to mainstream publishers; writing in Spanish vs. English; dealing with the label of “Latina Writer”; how to find a good agent and editor in a non-Latino industry; overcoming cultural and social barriers; and the most important thing you can do to ensure the future success of Latino publishing.

WHEN: Friday, November 9, 3:30 – 4:30 PM

WHERE: Colorado Convention Center, 650 15th Street, Denver, Colorado 80202

Click here to find out more and if you’d like to register, here’s the link.

Speaking of NYT Bestseller List

STATUS: Frustrated!

What’s playing on the iPod right now? AFRICA by Toto

I have to admit that I was a little too distracted this morning to actually work because I was online attempting to buy Colorado Rockies World Series tickets instead. The tickets were only available for sale via the web.

And now they’ve just posted a press release stating that because there were 8.5 million hits to the website, it went down in about 15 minutes and only 500 lucky buyers were actually able to purchase tickets.

I should apologize to all my clients right now that I did indeed waste 2 futile hours trying to buy tickets…


As for the Surrey Writers Conference genre lunch, it was a hoot and an absolute blast. Everyone at my table said “of course chick lit is dead.” Old news (those Surrey Writers are so savvy!) and we ended up chatting about all sorts of great topics. Truly a delight.

And since we’ve just been talking about New York Times Bestseller lists, I saw this article today about that very same subject. Not sure it sheds too much more light on the subject but it is interesting.

From tidbits from the article by Clark Hoyt:
“THE New York Times best-seller list is a powerful and mysterious institution that both reports and drives the sales of books around the nation…”

“One of the first things I learned is that much of what the publishing world thinks it knows about the list is wrong or out of date…”

“Another misconception is that booksellers are surveyed only on a list of titles determined by publishers’ shipments, keeping “sleeper” books — distributed in smaller numbers — off the list…”

The NYT List

STATUS: It’s kind of hard to top yesterday but still, it is Friday and that’s worth celebrating too!

What’s playing on the iPod right now? MY GIRL by The Temptations

How books make the NYT list is actually closely guarded proprietary information that the New York Times does not share.

However, what little is known about it is this: titles are selected based on a percentage of sales done in a certain period of time.

I’d tell you more but then, you know, I’d have to kill you.

NYT List Baby!

STATUS: We are over the moon!!!!

What’s playing on the iPod right now? SHE WORKS HARD FOR THE MONEY by Donna Summer

Sara and I can barely sit still because we’ve just heard the news.

Ally Carter’s CROSS MY HEART AND HOPE TO SPY has just hit the New York Times Bestseller List (Oct. 21) coming in at #8.

Congrats Ally!!!! You are now a New York Times Bestselling author.

Great Covers, Film Deals, Good PR, That’s What This Job Is About!

STATUS: It’s one of those days where everything has come together. It makes being an agent perfect.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? SONO ANDATI from La Bohème

First off I get the news that my author Kim Reid is going to have a live interview about her memoir NO PLACE SAFE on NPR this Oct. 10th.

She will be on the program News & Notes (which is the flagship African-American talk radio program on National Public Radio and is hosted by Farai Chideya).

I love NPR and it’s always a special thrill to have an author spotlighted on their radio program.

Then I finally get to share my most recent exciting film news. Universal’s Strike Entertainment has optioned Shanna Swendson’s Enchanted, Inc. Look for the Deal Lunch announcement to appear soon. This is especially thrilling because this deal has been three years in the making—not to mention this project was optioned by a whole other company about a year ago and that deal fell through. It’s the little film option that could!

And then, cherry on top, I receive the most gorgeous cover for a recently sold young adult project. It’s always amazing when a publisher gets it exactly right. Brooke and I are so in love with this cover, so if you hate it, I don’t want to hear about it.

Just kidding. Well…maybe not.

Friday Randomness

STATUS: I actually spent most of last night reading sample pages. I might actually be caught up after this weekend. This idea shouldn’t excite me but it does. I’ve been feeling the guilt for making writers wait for a response. I may be guilt-free by Monday. That will last for about 2 weeks…

What’s playing on the iPod right now? FRIDAY I’M IN LOVE by The Cure
(Okay, even I think the coincidence is a little strange.)

I’m just shaking my head. I’m now dubbing it The Thigh-high Stocking controversy. It has yet to end.

Smart Bitches now has close to 500 comments on the issue. If you’ve got some time, like a couple of hours (because you’ll need it), you can read all about it.

The news even made the GalleyCat blog today.

Personally, I’m hoping those two simply laugh all the way to the bank. Show your support for Liz and Mari and go buy their books. And if you don’t agree, well then, don’t buy their books. Simple enough.

I also want to point out a new blog I just discovered, and here’s the embarrassing part. I only discovered it because Joe had some awfully nice things to say about me although in general he thinks agents are evil incarnate.

Okay, I made that up…

Joe of Publishing 2020 is the Vice President and Executive Publisher of the Professional/Trade division of New York publisher John Wiley & Sons. So what I’m saying is that this guy is a bit of a gearhead and is in the know…

And I bet you blog readers didn’t realize that Sara, my amazing assistant, also blogs over there on our myspace page. She’s giving out a lot of good information for free so you might want to check it out.

TGIF folks!