Pub Rants

Category: NLA Authors

When Love IS Better The Second Time Around

STATUS: Had my first real appts. at HarperCollins this afternoon. Funny enough, the editors and I spent more time talking about my new Kindle than upcoming projects. The associate publisher even popped in to play with it.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? MAMBO No. 5 by Lou Bega

Here’s another spin on the second time around. Last year I took on a new client from whom I had seen a previous novel but I had passed on (but remembered that I liked the writing). She hooked up with a different agent, but the project didn’t sell. The agent wasn’t interested in her next novel so she decided to try me again for her new stuff since it was so different from her previous novel.

Loved it. Took it on. Sent it out and it’s going to auction.

The love was definitely better the second time around.

Happens all the time by the way.

There Will Always Be One

STATUS: The only problem with doing a lot of deals is doing all the time-consuming contracts. Small price to pay really.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? HAPPY TOGETHER by The Turtles

I know I’ve said this before but it bears repeating. No matter how good a manuscript, no matter how many editors attend the auction, no matter how much the project went for in the end, there will always be at least one editor who passed on the novel.


For fun, I went back into Ally Carter’s submission folder. In case you’ve been living under a rock, one or both of Ally’s Gallagher Girl books have been on the New York Times Bestseller list for many many weeks.

She received no less than 5 rejections. Now the actual content of those letters isn’t mine to share but I can give you a general idea of why those houses passed. Two said that they thought the spy school idea had been done and it wasn’t fresh enough. Two other houses passed because they were afraid it was too similar to other books on their list (certainly a valid concern but when I look at those titles, they have never appeared on the NYT list). Okay, I probably shouldn’t have rubbed it in there.

The last house thought it should be grittier and was disappointed that it wasn’t more so.

In the end, two houses made pre-empts. One of which we accepted.

So I know there is one very sad editor out there who couldn’t convince her publisher to go higher in that pre-emptive offer and then there is Ally’s editor at Hyperion who is very glad she came in strong and now has the sales figures to validate her gamble.

Keep that in mind if you are currently on submission. I imagine that JK Rowling and Stephenie Meyer also have a letter or two that might make them chuckle now.

My 8 New Clients And Where They Came From

STATUS: Oh baby. Ally Carter is still on! This week, CROSS MY HEART AND HOPE TO SPY is at #5 on the New York Times hardcover list and I’D TELL YOU I LOVE YOU BUT THEN I’D HAVE TO KILL YOU is #2 on the NYT paperback list. Do I see #1 in our future? I’m praying for it!

What’s playing on the iPod right now? YOU GOT LUCKY by Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers

I’m really starting this year on a roll. I just took on a new client today. With that in mind, it occurred to me that I didn’t really explain how I found the 8 new clients from last year and that info might make for an interesting blog. Or not. Let me know.

If the client has already sold, I used his/her name.

Brooke Taylor—young adult
Brooke is an interesting story. I actually met her in person at an RWA chapter conference a year before she queried me with her novel UNDONE. She knew a couple of my authors and had mentioned that info as well as our previous meeting in her query letter. That certainly made me pay more attention to it when it came in.

Sarah Rees Brennan—young adult fantasy
Sarah simply sent a query letter by email—going through our standard email query submission process.

Jamie Ford—literary fiction
Jamie did the same.
Helen Stringer—middle grade fantasy
Helen came to me via an agent friend recommendation. My agent friend doesn’t rep middle-grade so she asked me if she could send this author my way. So glad she did!

Client 5—young adult
This client is a currently published author who had left her previous agent. She knew several of my clients and asked if they would give me a heads up that she would query me about new representation.

Client 6—young adult fantasy
I met this client at the Surrey International Writers Conference in Vancouver, B.C. She had a pitch appointment with me. I loved her title right off so was eager to see sample pages just based on that. She didn’t disappoint!

Client 7—young adult
This client was a direct referral from one of my current clients. She is previously published in the adult world but her agent didn’t want to handle children’s on her behalf so I took her on.

Client 8—women’s fiction
This client was also a direct referral from one of my current clients.

I’m so glad my clients know really great authors who are looking for representation. It certainly helps to have that referral to help you get the agent’s attention, but it’s not the only way. A really good or intriguing query letter or pitch can do the trick as well.

Accidental Children’s Agent

STATUS: My hand is tired but the holiday cards are done!

What’s playing on the iPod right now? SANTA CLAUS IS COMING TO TOWN by Chris Isaak

Two years ago I didn’t even represent anything in the world of Children’s publishing. Now it’s what I’m starting to be known for.

I should have realized this. I love high school movies with a passion (as my husband can attest). I would say that half my DVD collection is high school movies so why it didn’t occur to me that repping young adult and middle grade would be a natural fit is a mystery. I’m just glad that Ally Carter and Jennifer O’Connell insisted on writing for that market and forced me to get savvy. Now I love it.

So genres for the 8 new clients (and funny enough, quite the leaning toward children’s!). If they’ve sold already, I used their name.

Brooke Taylor—young adult
Sarah Rees Brennan—young adult fantasy
Jamie Ford—literary fiction
Helen Stringer—middle grade fantasy
Client 5—young adult
Client 6—young adult fantasy
Client 7—young adult
Client 8—women’s fiction

And you guys know what I want more of, don’t you? Adult science fiction and fantasy. I’d love to take on more romance. I’d love to take on more literary fiction like Jamie.

I don’t suggest querying now (because we close on the 19th) but come Jan. 2nd, bring it on!

TGIF! I’m out.

Make That 8!

STATUS: It’s supposed to snow again tomorrow. This could hinder our holiday card wrap up!

What’s playing on the iPod right now? I HEARD THE BELLS ON CHRISTMAS DAY by Harry Belafonte

You won’t believe what I did today. In fact, I can hardly believe it myself. I signed a new client. And that makes 8! Truly an agency record for the year.

I finished reading the manuscript last night and called the author first thing this morning. And here’s the funny part. I had to leave a message on the voicemail. I always feel a little silly saying “sorry to miss you but I’d like to offer representation so give me a call back.”

Still, that’s what the voicemail is for. I don’t think I’ve ever signed a client so late in the year. And I still have three more fulls to read by next Wednesday. I’d better get cracking.

I’ve been talking to a lot of editors this week. Most will be in next week but Thursday or Friday will be their last day in the office until the new year—that is unless they didn’t take holiday for those 3 days in between. My guess is that most will be out or working from home.

Me? I hope to be sitting on my couch eating the yummy treats my clients have sent my way (thank you!) and drinking holiday cheer (nod to Linnea) for two weeks but something tells me I’ll be tackling the new accounting system with the bookkeeper instead. Still, 2007 started off slow but it’s ending with a bang so I can’t wait to see what 2008 will bring.

Wafer-Thin Mint?

STATUS: I’ll be working late tonight to wrap some things up but come tomorrow morning, I’m officially on vacation until next Monday. No blogging until then. Happy Turkey Day!

What’s playing on the iPod right now? MARGARITAVILLE by Jimmy Buffett

As y’all know, I’m not one to answer questions posted in the comment section as a general rule but for John, I’m willing to make an exception (we did dine together after all). It’s a great question and I haven’t tackled this topic so why not.

Is there such a thing as adding one more client to a roster and that addition tips the balance into the unworkable in terms of a client list being too full?

Boy this is a loaded question because it’s going to depend on the individual agent and extenuating circumstances. Let me see if I can explain.

If an agent works for a larger firm where all he/she has to do is work with the clients and find new ones (and not manage the company, oversee contracts, accounting and all that jazz), I can easily see an agent managing a 100 plus clients successfully without stuff falling through the cracks.

And I imagine the number of clients an agent has would also depend on that individual agent’s time management ability and organizational skills. Not all are created equal in that arena let me tell you.

For me, because I’m the CEO of the company and oversee everything as well as being the principle agent, I imagine my client roster would be full around 40 clients—maybe 50 depending on how many authors were under contract or actively looking to sell new projects. That feels like the tipping point between taking on too much (just a wafer-thin mint) and feeling sane and happy working with the clients I have.

But ultimately, that’s not a static number either. I may take on another agent at my agency. I might hire full-time person to oversee contracts or marketing or whatever and thus freeing me up to focus more on the client roster.

So in this sense, there is no magic number to determine capacity (although I’m sure an algorithm could be created to try and determine it!).

I’m out.

Snooze I Lose

STATUS: Tomorrow is my last day in the office for this week so it’s a scramble to complete things (or as complete as they can be) before heading out of town on Wednesday.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? BUBBLY by Colbie Caillat

If a previously published author comes my way because they are looking for new representation, it’s not an automatic yes.

Taking on a new client can be a big deal. Sure it helps to have an already established track record of sales (and it certainly doesn’t hurt to have a sale imminent) but for me, I still have to love the work and be excited about these future books to take on a previously published author.

And sometimes, it just comes down to a matter of timing. This week is a great example of that. I had an author come my way whose stuff I liked and whom I also liked personally. Should have been a no-brainer but seriously, I just ran out of time with everything else going on. I ended up not being able read and get back to the author in a timely fashion. Two other agents offered to take the person on and making me too late to the game.

Snooze I lose.

Now I’m not so happy when that happens but ultimately, I already work crazy hours and there is only so much I can humanly do in a day (or over the weekend) without burning out, which means I might lose a client opportunity here and there.

It is a nice reminder to get moving for the next one that comes along!

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.

The Client Book Mention

STATUS: I’m hearing some interesting rumors through the romance grapevine. Nothing I can share quite yet but when I hear a confirm, I’ll fill you guys in. What are Mondays for except to set up a crisis for later in the week…

What’s playing on the iPod right now? DO-RE-ME by Julie Andrews

Because I really needed to, I stayed up late last night reading about 100 queries (yes, I was a little behind). Newsflash I know. But I had an interesting thought while I was reading those queries and since that doesn’t happen often…

Okay, that was a lame joke but it is a Monday after all. I do think this is important if you are in the middle of the query process. Many times in query letters, writers will mention that they read one of my clients books and that was partly why they decided to query me.

I have to say I like that. It tells me you didn’t just do a quick research on the internet and then shoot me a query. It means that you took the time to read (or skim) a client book so as to target your query. How could an agent not be flattered?

But then I noticed something. The book mentions didn’t really hold any weight for me except when writers deliberately had cited a specific scene or something that had happened to a main character in the query letter itself. Because then I knew that they had, indeed, actually read the novel. (And even if you didn’t read the whole thing and only read let’s say the first 50 pages, well heck, I won’t call you on it. You at least made more than an effort then the general querier.) I can’t say I then ask for sample pages 100% of the time but it’s probably close.

Here’s the other thought that struck me. The read-the-client mention also only worked for me when the connection was obvious to the query project being proposed. In other words, if writers had read a client novel that didn’t really have much to do with their type of work, I have to say it confused me more than helped. I couldn’t help but think that gee, it’s interesting that the author had read Marianne Mancusi’s STAKE THAT! (for example) but I’m not sure how that YA title has anything to do with this adult horror novel (or whatever) the writer is presenting in the query.

Do you see what I mean?

Now I do give extra points to writers who creatively make the connection or just outright say that STAKE THAT! doesn’t really mesh with their proposed project but since they had read it and liked it, they thought I would be open to XYZ. That works—just as long as there is a clear enough reference to an actual scene or character in the book that demonstrates that it was read.

And speaking of… GIRLS THAT GROWL hits shelves this week as well.

Third in Mancusi’s hip, sassy vampire series, featuring the heroine of Stake That!

She’s a vampire. She’s also a vampire slayer. (It’s a long story, don’t ask.) And now Rayne McDonald, Goth girl, has to carry out her most deviant mission yet: trying out for the cheerleading squad.

Rayne already has enough on her plate: her twin keeps whining about whether or not to go all the way; her mom’s boyfriend is moving in; and her man, Jareth, who’s now allowed out in the sun, has turned from a dark, brooding hottie vamp into a surfer dude.

But this vampire slayer is still on the clock, and she has a new assignment. A member of the football team has disappeared-and her bosses at Slayer Inc. think the cheerleaders had something to do with it. Now they want her to infiltrate the squad and get the dirt. But first, she’ll need an extreme prep makeover. If only they’d let her wear fishnets under that revolting uniform…

Here Come The Gallagher Girls!

STATUS: TGIF! I’m still troubleshooting issues from yesterday. Fingers crossed that everything will be resolved by Monday.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? FEEL SO DIFFERENT by Sinead O’Connor

Yep! You only have to wait a few more short days before you can get your next Gallagher Girls fix. Ally Carter’s long awaited sequel CROSS MY HEART AND HOPE TO SPY will hit shelves next week.

After staking out, obtaining, and then being forced to give up her first boyfriend, Josh, all Cammie Morgan wants is a peaceful semester at school. But that’s easier said than done when you’re a CIA legacy and go to the premier school in the world…for spies.
Cammie may have a genius I.Q., but are still a lot of things she doesn’t know. Like, will her ex-boyfriend even remember she exists? And how much trouble is she really in after what happened last semester? And most of all, exactly why is her mother acting so strangely?

Despite Cammie’s best intentions to be a normal student, danger seems to follow her. She and her friends learn that their school is going to play host to some mysterious guests–code name: Blackthorne. Then she’s blamed for a security breach that leaves the school’s top-secret status at risk.

Soon Cammie and her friends are crawling through walls and surveilling the school to learn the truth about Blackthorne and clear Cammie’s name. Even though they have confidence in their spy skills, this time the targets are tougher (and hotter), and the stakes for Cammie’s heart—and her beloved school—are higher than ever….

“The characters still succeed in keeping readers interested in the unexpected “missions” around every turn. Purchase this one for fans of the first book.”
–Sarah Krygier, School Library Journal

“If you have the security clearance, come join the Gallagher girls on their latest humorous mission, where you just might learn a little about boys, life, and spying.”
–Book Divas