Pub Rants

Category: NLA Authors

The Email That Started It All

STATUS: Blogging late. No particular reason other than it has been a rather busy day.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? THICK A** STOUT by Skankin’ Pickle

It never gets old. When Wednesday comes and the NYT bestseller list for the next week is released and Ally Carter is still on it, holy cow. You’d think the thrill would die down but it really doesn’t.

And this is what gets me. Three years ago, I didn’t even represent young adult or anything in the children’s world. In a sense, Ally has my author Jennifer O’Connell to thank for starting me down the children’s world road (which I absolutely love, is totally a natural fit, and I can’t imagine why I didn’t rep it to begin with).

Jennifer was the person who started it all when she wanted to write for the YA market and asked me if I could sell it. Of course I said sure (even though I didn’t know any children’s editors at the time), and got on the phone immediately with a good agent friend who only reps children’s books to get the scoop. Then I went to New York to meet the people I needed to for Jennifer’s submission. And that’s how my repping YA began.

Her first young adult, PLAN B, sold at auction in less than a week. Thrilled, all I could think of was that I love YA and where could I get more to sell.

That inspired an email to all my current clients asking if any of them had ever thought of writing for the young adult market.

Ally immediately emailed me back with a list of ideas—which I promptly shot down (Ally tells a more colorful story on her website if you want to check it out). But it inspired her to come up with 3 more ideas and I’D TELL YOU I LOVE YOU BUT THEN I’D HAVE TO KILLYOU was the second on the list. It hit me immediately that that was the novel she had to write so I called her to tell her so.

She did. And here we are on the NYT bestseller list for 14 weeks running.

So thank you Jennifer! I think it’s her turn to hit the list so mark your calendars for June as LOCAL GIRLS and RICH BOYS hit the shelves and these two books seriously rock. It’s her best stuff yet (and I want that girl’s abs…).

Potpourri of Publishing Tidbits

STATUS: Do you know how hard it is to work today when it’s 78 degrees here in Denver and the forecast for tomorrow is for cold and rain. Sara and I are really making a heroic effort…

What’s playing on the iPod right now? TAXMAN By The Beatles
(couldn’t resist playing this one today)

You guys are all way cooler and hip then I am so I’m definitely behind when it comes to pointing out other cool blogs and stuff. Just recently (I know, I live under a rock), I’ve discovered two new-to-me agent blogs that might be worth checking out—if they aren’t already a part of your daily reading.

Agent Nathan Bransford

And Agent Rachelle Gardner –who I had the pleasure of meeting at the Northern Colorado Writers Conference. She works in the CBA market (and I’m not talking basketball but Christian literature for those of you who might not know the acronym).

So that might be worth checking out.

And here’s an interesting tidbit (that will probably cause controversy) but what the heck, it’s worth sharing and discussing. My author Mari Mancusi participated in an anthology entitled THESE BOOTS WERE MADE FOR STOMPING. Her publisher, Dorchester, did an interesting promotion for this book. They partnered with an actual online shoe selling company so readers who pick up the book, which is about magical shoes granting powers, can actually buy the shoes featured on the cover via a website listed in the book.

This isn’t brand new as I can name at least two other books (one a YA and the other a nonfiction work) that also experimented with product integration.

Future of publishing going to heck in a hand basket or is this the publishing future as book readers decline and new sources of revenue need to be explored to make it viable?

Or is this just a cute concept for shoe lovers who might dig the boots that were made for stomping featured on the cover?

Let the discussion begin!

Calling All Conference Organizers

STATUS: It’s suppose to snow later today so I’m working a bit from home, then walking Chutney early while on my way to the office.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? HEY THERE DELILAH by Plain White T’s

Considering I just finished attending the Northern Colorado Writers Conference (and a big shout out to Kerrie who single-handedly pulled off a terrific, well-organized conference up there), I found Jessica’s comments on Conferences over there at Bookends to be pretty spot-on.

I strongly recommend any conference organizer to hop over there and take some notes.

But Kerrie of NCW and I got into another great conversation over the weekend when I was in Fort Collins and I’d love it if conference organizers can add this to their list as well.

When agents attend conferences and participate in pitch session, our basic hope is to potentially find a new client in the mix. It doesn’t happen too often but I have found two of my clients from conferences so I’m always optimistic. After all, what are pitch sessions for if not to hook up a writer with an agent?

Now for a pitch session to work, the writer needs to have a completed full manuscript. Why? Because if an agent likes the sound of the project, she’ll ask for sample pages (probably the first 30 or 50 pages). If the agent likes what she reads, she’ll want to request the full novel (and that can happen just a couple of weeks after sample pages are requested so a writer needs to be ready).

If there is no full manuscript, therein lies the problem.

As a writer, you always want to put your absolutely best writing foot forward—so you shouldn’t need to rush or send in a novel prematurely just because an agent requested it and the full wasn’t ready.

It’s a good way of getting a rather prompt rejection and then that avenue is closed (as you only get one shot at an agent) until you either do a significant revision and resubmit (but an agent is always going to be slightly hesitant about a resubmit—see my previous blog post on Love The Second Time Around) or you have a new novel to shop. Which can take a year or more to prepare.

But most new writers don’t realize this. They see “pitch session with Agent” and sign right up because who wouldn’t want to talk with an agent, right?

But ultimately, a writer can’t pitch a project that doesn’t exist or is unfinished because there is nothing for me to see at this point in time. Out of my 12 appointments at NCW, I only requested sample pages from 4 participants as all the others either had just started a project, were in the middle, or had only an idea for a novel.

I hate to say it but that made these pitch sessions a waste of my time because I ONLY want to talk to authors who have project ready to be read. Sorry if that sounds heartless but it is the truth. Writers with “ideas” for a great novel are a dime a dozen. It’s that one in a hundred writer who actually has the perseverance and stamina to sit down and write the entire thing (which is a huge achievement all in itself since the majority of aspiring writers never even make it that far).

Not to mention, how many great writers did I miss who did have a completed novel because my pitch slots were full? Ack.

So here’s what I’d like to add to Jessica’s list. I know it makes more work for the conference organizers but it would make a HUGE difference in the power of the pitch sessions.

Please don’t allow just anyone to sign up for a pitch with an agent. All interested writers should submit a mini application to pitch that includes the following:

1. Title of project
2. Genre
3. Word count
4. Is the manuscript complete? Yes or No.
5. previous publications if any
6. Why is this agent the right fit for your project?

If the writer checkmarked NO for number 4, then the pitch session is denied. If the manuscript is finished, then the conference organizer can check the project next to the agent’s bio (which should include a list of what they are currently looking for) and make sure it is a match. Then sign the writer up for the pitch.

Most conferences right now assume that writers will do their homework (because heck, that would only be to their advantage) and sign up with the appropriate agent.

I find that this is rarely true. In fact, I’ve even had authors pitch me projects my agency clearly doesn’t represent and when I ask why, they will often say that the other agent slots were full and they just wanted to practice the agent pitch.

Argh! I’m always polite but I don’t want to be somebody’s practice session! I only want to hear about projects that might get me a new client whose project I can sell!

Calling all conference organizers! I beseech you to take this extra step. All agents will thank you.

Waiting On A list

STATUS: Why did I plan two writers’ conferences on back-to-back weekends? What was I thinking?

What’s playing on the iPod right now? SOME ENCHANTED EVENING from the musical South Pacific

I really wish I knew the how and the what of when a book lands on the NYT bestseller list. If I did, I would certainly share. It’s proprietary information so any big reveal is definitely not happening any time soon.

I can tell you that here at the Nelson Agency, Wednesday afternoons are met with much anticipation as that is when the next week’s list are announced (before the info is known to the general public).

We jump on that email in about ten seconds.

Ally Carter’s I’D TELL YOU I LOVE YOU BUT THEN I’D HAVE TO KILL YOU spent 10 weeks on the top ten NYT list before dropping off. With much sadness, we were greeted with that news about 2 weeks ago.

And then, rather suddenly (or at least it feels that way as it is not readily apparent to us as to why), the title hit the list again

Now we can’t wait for 3 p.m. each Wednesday to find out if the title has stayed on or not. I’m happy to say that we are still there for the week of April 13 in position number 5. That’s makes 12 weeks total (three months).

That’s an amazing fact to contemplate.

And now I’m waiting eagerly for next week’s list as we might be hearing about another title that has very strong sales right out of the gate but since we don’t know the factors involved (and it may or may not be harder to hit the adult list), we’ll just have to wait on pins and needles for the list announcement tohappen next Wednesday.

Now you know what we are doing every Wed. afternoon when we should be working as the waiting is the hardest part!

Talking Book Trailers

STATUS: Just a heads up that tomorrow morning I head to Salt Lake City for the World Horror Conference so I can’t promise I’ll blog on Thursday and Friday. I’ll try though.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? STAR 69 by R.E.M

I actually tried to post this directly from but for some reason, the post wouldn’t show up. With my luck, after I post this entry, it will show up three different times for all three of my tries.

If so, sorry about that.

Last year when the book THE MANNY hit shelves, there was a fun book trailer floating around blogs and easily spotted on youtube.

I have to say this trailer was uproariously funny. I watched it several times and laughed heartily with each viewing but ultimately, I didn’t buy the book.

There in lies the rub. Book trailers can be great, fun, and generate buzz but do they sell books? That’s the million dollar question. If we could accurately measure the books sales generated by a trailer then that would help quantify whether it has a positive impact or not.

But ultimately it can’t hurt book sales so if you are creative, or have the dinero to hire professionals to make one, I say go for it.

Especially when the trailer is clever or quite funny as that in and of itself might get the link spread around. With that in mind, I give a huge thumbs up to Sherry Thomas’s new book trailer for her debut PRIVATE ARRANGEMENTS, which just hit shelves yesterday for all you historical romance readers that have been eagerly awaiting the release.

I laughed outright while watching. No stuffy trailer here. Enjoy and let me know if it encourages you to buy the book. If it doesn’t, well…

2008 RITA Nominations

STATUS: Lots of smiling in the office today. Lots of smiling on the website as well as the new headshots are up if you want to check them out.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? ON THE STREET WHERE YOU LIVE from My Fair Lady

The phone literally rang of the hook this morning as the RITA-award nominees were being announced.

We have, count them, six RITA-award nominations for four of our clients. Huge news here at the agency and I couldn’t be prouder to share the announcement with all of you.

PRIME TIME–double nominee for Best Romantic Suspense and Best First Novel
GAMES OF COMMAND–Best Paranormal Romance

GRAFFITI GIRL–double nominee for Best First Novel and Best Young Adult


*please note that NLA didn’t actually sell this book but Simone is now one of our authors so we are super excited all the same!

Congrats Hank, Linnea, Kelly, & Simone

Doing Foreign Rights Deals

STATUS: Contracts and more contracts. I have four total that I’m working on. A fifth one just came in and I just started negotiating a new deal for a current client. Busy.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? DON’T GET AROUND MUCH ANYMORE by Natalie Cole

Last year the agency did 29 foreign rights deals on behalf of our clients and I have to say that the sales remain unabated into 2008. We are doing several a week for various clients. All great news.

But I had an interesting thing happen last week. I turned down a foreign offer for one of my clients (and obviously with the client’s permission) because I didn’t think the offer was on par with where it should be in comparison to other foreign offers and the client’s current sales etc.

This is a first for me. Because so many of my clients are (or were) debut authors (as my agency is only five years old), most often we are thrilled to get foreign interest at all. And yes, we always negotiate up the foreign advances etc. but you only have so much leverage when the client hasn’t got a sales track record.

But obviously the agency has reached a new level—especially for established clients with success. Yet another threshold we are crossing as we finish up year five and head into year six of our existence.

Another Memoir Scandal In The Headlines

STATUS: Piping Mad!

What’s playing on the iPod right now? OMG! Somebody is practicing their horn nearby and I can hear it through the vent (maybe a tuba?) And trust me, they need the practice.

Unbelievable! Yet again, an NYT story on how a hugely lauded memoir called LOVE & CONSEQUENCES is basically a fabrication.

Funny how all the memoirs that publishers have bought and have deemed “big enough” have been nothing but fiction disguised as a memoir. The publisher, Riverhead, is now recalling the 19,000 copies that released last week.

I am steamed. Kim Reid and I worked very hard to find a home for her memoir NO PLACE SAFE. An amazing story. A beautifully written story. A completely truthful (and we can back it up with full documentation) story.

Do me a favor? Go to right now and buy a copy of NO PLACE SAFE that’s actually a true memoir. Buy it so these yahoos in publishing will quit paying six figures for what is essentially a work of fiction.

If I hear one more story in the news about a fabricated memoir, I’m going to spit.

Okay, rant over.

And even though John’s memoir LOOK ME IN THE EYE did extraordinarily well (and Kim and I are often in envy of his sales numbers), his story is also true.

So if you want to support truth in memoir by making a purchase, I guess you can buy a copy of his as well. (But only if you buy a copy of Kim’s—she says wickedly).

What’s Frustrating For Agents

STATUS: Gearing up for my last week chock full of appointments. Can I say I think I might be lunched out?

What’s playing on the iPod right now? LANDSLIDE by Stevie Nicks

Last night I had dinner with an agent friend. I have to say we dished the dirt on the editors we love and the editors we’d rather not deal with.

I’m sure EVERYONE would love me to list that on my blog but some things are better left unsaid. And just to reassure editors out there who read this blog, it would have to be pretty egregious to get on our “no send” list so don’t sweat it if you are like 95% of the editors out there who are great, sane, normal, and a solid editor who tries his or her best.

But here is an interesting tidbit from our discussion. We were talking about client projects that come in and despite our plea for revisions or a solid edit, the client declines and would prefer to submit as is. And in our hearts, we know it won’t sell.

We submit anyway, and it doesn’t sell. Our only hope is that the editors point out our same thoughts and feelings in their response letters.

If that doesn’t happen, well, we can always try and beg for another revision so as to take it back out again (which by the way, both of us would be willing to do as we can convince the editors to give it another look if it’s a strong/major revision).

Private Arrangements Before It Releases!

STATUS: In a hurry…

What’s playing on the iPod right now? LOVE ME TWO TIMES by The Doors

Dashing out the door (pardon the pun) but I didn’t want to forget to mention a really cool giveaway that is going on over at Dear Author. Jane finagled 20 advanced final copies of PRIVATE ARRANGMENTS from Bantam (and it doesn’t release for another 5 weeks!). She’s giving them away on her blog and the giveaway ends Midnight tonight if you want to get your hands on one and see what all the buzz is about.