Pub Rants

Category: Marketing & Promotion

The Art Of The Blurb Request

STATUS: I think I need more hours in the day.


What’s playing on the iPod or the XM radio right now? OBLIVIOUS by Aztec Camera

(haven’t heard this song in years!)

Most authors remember their humble beginnings and really do want to pay it forward by offering a blurb to a newer writer. They remember vividly what it’s like to be in those shoes! It’s part of the writer’s code.

Even with noble intentions, most writers who experience success end up having to put a moratorium on offering blurbs for a couple of reasons. It can be something as simple as receiving so many requests, it ends up not being physically possible. Sometimes it comes down to politics and the only way to be fair is to simply say NO to everyone that asks.

So just a couple of things to keep in mind if you are a writer requesting a blurb.

1. Make it personal. The blurb requests that are seriously considered come from authors who include a heartfelt note as to why they are making this request to this particular author. Trust me, it makes a difference.

2. Follow the established protocol if one is stated. Authors often publically say that requests must be channeled via the agent or editor (even if you have a personal connection to that successful author). If it’s not publically stated, always offer to go through the agent or editor if that is what the author preferred.

(The hardest part for successful authors is feeling guilty about turning down a request. Some opt to place a moratorium instead just to avoid the complications of feeling guilty or the difficulty of saying no. It’s a terribly awkward place to be in.)

3. If the response is a NO, be professional and gracious. Should go without saying but you’d be surprise at some of the responses received.

Some day (and hopefully soon), you just might be in those successful author shoes facing the dilemma: to blurb or not to blurb!

Live From Seattle!

STATUS: A beautiful sunny day here in Seattle. I feel very lucky because what a lovely city.

What’s playing on the iPod or the XM radio right now? A crackling fire at the Doubletree is all the music I have at the moment

As I mentioned yesterday, I flew to Seattle for the Philip K. Dick Awards on behalf of my author Sara Creasy who currently lives in Melbourne, Australia and couldn’t make the trip.

The awards are part of Norwescon and opening ceremonies began last night. If you are here at the convention, by all means, come an introduce yourself. I’d love to say hello.

But I’m posting this entry today to let you all know that Norwescon is live podcasting the awards ceremony.

If you want to tune in here is the url. Fingers crossed that Sara wins and you’ll see yours truly on the stage accepting the award on her behalf!

Live video by Ustream

The Power Of Story

STATUS: Heading to Seattle today.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? PERRY’S PLACE by Richard Underhill

When I was in St. Louis two weeks ago visiting family, my mom asked me if I wanted to go and catch a matinee movie. If you know my mom, you’ll know that she loves shoot ‘em up action films, mysteries, and thrillers. The more blood and guts, the better.

In general, not my cup of tea. But the point was to hang with Mom so I said, sure, and let her pick the film. For a matinee price, I can live with just about anything.

So off we went but she had gotten the movie start time wrong so as we sat down, the movie had already begun by a few minutes.

About 10 minutes later, I had a rather puzzled expression on my face and Mom asked what was up. The theater was almost empty so I leaned over and whispered, “I recognize this. This movie is based off of a short story.”

She shrugged as she didn’t know.

But I was right. It WAS based off of a short story—and one I hadn’t read in probably over 20 years.

The movie was The Adjustment Bureau starring Matt Damon and Emily Blunt–based on the short story by Philip K. Dick.

And that, folks, is the power of story. That after 20+ years, I still recognized it even though I hadn’t thought about it in years.

That’s what you want to achieve with your own writing. And speaking of Philip K. Dick, my author Sara Creasy has been nominated for the Philip K Dick Award for her debut SF novel SONG OF SCARABAEUS.

Why not check out the list and if you haven’t picked up one of these titles to read, why not? Editors are reluctant to acquire new SF authors because the sales numbers can’t compare to fantasy, so selling a debut SF writer is a tough biz (but I’m happy to report I just sold another debut SF author 3 months ago and gasp, a guy to boot!).

So if you love SF, do your part. Pick up one of these nominees.

Because It’s Cool!

STATUS: Enjoyed a quiet day because of the Passover holiday. I caught up on a lot of emails.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? CUTS LIKE A KNIFE by Bryan Adams

If you have read HOTEL ON THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET, you’ll know that in the front matter of the book, there is a picture of a Japanese girl circa 1942. She’s wearing a tag on her jacket and it’s implied that she is leaving for the internment camps.

It’s a powerful picture.

The week before last, Jamie was doing a reading/signing at Woodland Reads. He discovered that the young girl in the photo is still alive and lived nearby. So he invited Mae Yanagi to come and be his special secret guest.

And she did! Okay, I got a shiver just looking at the pics so here they are.

She stuck around and signed books with Jamie for the whole evening. How cool is that?

Congrats NLA RITA Finalists!

STATUS: This is how I like to start my morning.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? HOW WE DO by The Game Ft. 50 Cent

Not all the finalists have been notified so I’m hoping we might hear some more news as the RWA website doesn’t update until the finalist has been reached.

Still, we are super excited to say HUGE CONGRATS to…

Simone Elkeles for RULES OF ATTRACTION–Young Adult Romance

And to

Sherry Thomas for HIS AT NIGHT–Historical Romance

Both of these authors won the RITA award last year so if you haven’t picked up one of their amazing novels, what are you waiting for?

Absolutely No Need to Apologize!

STATUS: TGIF! I will not have to work on cleaning up files because of the computer conversion. We are done!

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? TAKE IT EASY by Eagles

Today Gail Carriger and I received an email from her Japanese translator apologizing for the delay in getting a copy of the Japanese cover art of SOULLESS to us.

She was emailing because the illustrator was currently in an evacuation camp but trying to finish it and because the Japanese editor on the project had also been impacted and hadn’t been able to be in the office.

Good Heavens. There is no need to apologize.

But this to me is an example of the incredible Japanese fortitude. In the face of dire circumstances caused by one of the biggest earthquakes on record, they felt the need to send us an email—and with an apology to boot!

On our end, we were just relieved to hear some news that they were safe. We have not gotten a lot of information on our Japanese counterparts as of yet.

Almost Famous?

STATUS: TGIF! I have to say that today’s news is a totally new experience for me.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? FAITHFULLY by Journey

OMG! I’m speechless.

And to quote Marie, “Is that my head in Times Square?????”

Uh…yep.

Quick & Easy Answers

Status: Doing Client reading.

What’s Playing on the XM or iPod right now? IS THIS LOVE by Bob Marley

1) What happens if you can’t sell a book to a publisher?
If we have exhausted all possibilities, I’ll put aside and concentrate on the author’s next work. If the next sells, that always allows us to revisit the prior novel. Sometimes the decision is made to let the past be the past and simply move forward.

2) How do you know if a writer’s idea is a good one?
Not a clue really. All I know is what I like and what really resonates with me. I’ve had the good fortune of having what I like generally match up with what editors like and are willing to buy. Just like every other agent in the world, I’m not 100% right all the time. Sometimes I love a book and can’t sell it.

3) If Hollywood has bought the film rights, does the author get a share in the profit?
The sad news is that in general, the author does not get a share in the profit. Although all film deals will have the standard “5% of 100% of net,” most Hollywood films will never show a profit because of how studios manipulate the accounting. It’s worse than the mafia. So agents often build in a lot of ways for the author to make money on the film deal that aren’t tied to “profit” so loosely defined. The option price, the purchase price, bestseller bonuses, box office bonuses etc. These are payments that are not contingent on the film making money.

However, some authors do get a share in the profit. That is not a percentage based on net but a percentage based on a cashbreak point on gross.

A very different thing. Also, it is possible to put merchandizing in a separate pool with a separate percentage. Good money to potentially be made there as well.

4) Can you publish your book yourself or do you have to have a publisher?
Of course you can publish a book yourself! That’s not the right question though. Anyone can self publish; the question is distribution and how to get folks to read what you self publish.

5) How do you decide if the cover art is good?
I have to say that cover art is not my strength as an agent. I have no background in art and not much of a creative vision. However, I do know what I like and what I don’t like. If I don’t like it and neither does the author, I fight like crazy to get it changed.

6) Do publishers show animation for cover concepts?
No. But wouldn’t that be cool?

7) What happens if more than one publisher wants the book?
Then you have an auction my friend! As an author, it’s always the best place to be. However, I do think that writers have a misconception that all auctions equal big money. That is not necessarily true. You can have modest auctions that are in low five figures.

Out Of The Mouth Of Babes

STATUS: Supposed to snow tomorrow. I’ll make it in but I think it will be a lonely day for Chutney and I.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? THE MAGNIFICENT SEVEN by Clash

Throughout any given year, I probably give at least 10 talks or workshops at writer’s conferences or other organizations. Plus, with my background in corporate training, I have to say that my public speaking skills are exceptional. And I certainly don’t feel any anxiety or nervous anticipation before any given talk.

That is, until this Saturday. I was tapped to do a talk for area 4th and 5th graders at the CCIRA Authors Festival. (Side note: CCIRA stands for Colorado Counsel International Reading Association.) That morning, I found myself kind of nervous. What an interesting new sensation. After all, with adults, you can fudge a talk; with kids, no way. If you’re boring, they’ll let you know. I also had never given a talk to people this young.

Much to my relief, the talk went great (phew!). Here’s a pic of the 90+ elementary schoolers in attendance (with a sprinkling of adults).

I actually confided that I was nervous and told them I was counting on their questions to carry me through so please don’t let me down. And I have to say, I was blown away by them. They asked the best questions I think I’ve ever received at a talk.

Here’s a sampling of what was asked:
1) What happens if you can’t sell a book to a publisher?
2) How do you know if a writer’s idea is a good one?
3) If Hollywood has bought the film rights, does the author get a share in the profit?
4) Can you publish your book yourself or do you have to have a publisher?
5) How do you decide if the cover art is good?
6) Do publishers show animation for cover concepts?
7) What happens if more than one publisher wants the book?

There were more but this is what I can remember. I’d do a talk for that age group again in a heartbeat.

One Picture Really Can Say It All

STATUS: Today is MLK holiday! I’m only in for the morning and then heading out to do a nice hike as the weather is good here.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? VALENTINE by Kina Grannis

Hey readers. Sorry about the blog silence starting on Wednesday. I had to go out of town unexpectedly for a funeral and there really was not time to write. I actually didn’t even open my computer except on the plane ride to and from.

On a MUCH lighter note. Jamie Ford attended the Pulpwood Book Queens 11th Anniversary Girlfriend Weekend Author Extravaganza!

I pretty much think this picture says it all!

Jamie (on right) with Sam Barry of Rock Bottom Remainders

Need more great shots? Click here.

And if that costume wasn’t enough, we just found out on Friday that Hotel On The Corner Of Bitter and Sweet made the USA Today’s Best-selling Books: The top 100 for 2010 list.

Hotel came in at #84. Huge Congrats Jamie!

For that, I’d put on an Alice and Wonderland costume….