Pub Rants

Category: NLA Authors

2012 Bologna Children’s Book Fair – Next Hot Thing?

STATUS: Meetings every half hour and running on 6 hours of sleep a night on average. Yep, that’s Bologna!

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? I PUT A SPELL ON YOU by Bryan Ferry

Three days at Bologna and here’s what I can tell you.

On the plane over, people were talking about the next hot trend being about geeks in young adult fiction. Geeks transforming. Geeks not transforming but still winning the girl or the day. Geeks in love.

Do I think it’s the next hot trend? I haven’t got the faintest idea.

It’s definitely clear that foreign editors are feeling the drain of paranormal romance in YA being hot for so long but even with that, they say it’s still selling well in Germany, UK, and France. Editors don’t seem to be buying a lot of it at the moment though.

Since I’m here with Marie Lu to meet with her very excited foreign publishers (the trilogy has been sold in to 22 territories and counting), we are, of course, asking if dystopian is hot abroad.

The verdict is undecided. HUNGER GAMES fever is definitely sweeping the world but whether that will translate into other dystopian novels also becoming hot has yet to be proven. Well, I’ve got my fingers crossed for June and Day…

Hands down, for middle grade DAIRY OF A WIMPY KID works amazingly in every country but Russia. Guess they like big burly guys instead of wimps?

*grin*

Some pics!

Anita and I at entrance of the Fair.

Me with Sara’s amazing client Stefan Bachmann and the brand spanking new cover for his wonderful middle grade gothic steam punk: The Peculiar

Marie Lu and her Taiwan Publisher Sharp Point! Marie was a rock star. She did the whole meeting in Chinese. (Marie is second person from right.)

Marie and I in the Penguin Bologna Stand.

Their Failure is Not Mine – Guest Blogger Mari Mancusi

For some reason, Internet Explorer is not showing the blog so had to delete last post and redo. My apologies to anyone who commented.

Don’t worry, Fridays With Agent Kristin video rants will resume next Friday! This week seems to be all things Dorchester.
–Kristin

I still remember the day my dot.com company dragged us all into the conference room on Friday afternoon—pay day—and announced there would be no pay checks distributed at the end of the day. Not today—and not ever again. We were summarily dismissed and suddenly found ourselves unemployed–with no way to make up the money that was owed to us. It was devastating, to say the least. I felt powerless and weak and alone.

Fast forward 10 years and bring on the déjà vu when I opened my mailbox to find a royalty statement from my long time, traditional publisher, Dorchester. While the statement clearly stated I was owed money, there was no check inside. Dorchester was having financial difficulties, just like my dot.com and chose not to pay what it owed.

But this time, I wasn’t going to just lay down and die. Maybe I’d never see a dime from Dorchester, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t make a dollar on my own. And so, as Kristin worked tirelessly to get the rights back to my books (even the ones she didn’t represent the first time around!), I started researching how to publish these backlist titles on my own. For many reasons not detailed here, I decided to use Kristin’s digital liaison service to launch the books rather than self-publish them on my own. Together we began the process of working with cover artists, copyeditors, and converters to breathe new life into these old books. I even did some rewriting! One of the advantages to digital publishing—you can always update and tweak your product. (Though my husband likes to tease me and say I’m like George Lucas in that regard…)

Today we launched Tomorrow Land, a post-apocalyptic, dystopian YA romance previously published as Razor Girl in Dorchester’s crossover Shomi line. Best described as a post-apocalyptic pilgrimage to Disney World in a zombie infested wasteland, the story follows two teens who had fallen in love before the apocalypse and then separated, Casablanca style, only to be reunited four years later and forced to find a way to trust one another again. All the while trying to deal with those pesky, flesh eating zombies!

The artwork, by the way, was custom created for the book by artist/illustrator Tony Sahara. He’s amazing, isn’t he? He’s also did the artwork for Alterntiy, my next young adult dystopian release, coming May 1st.

I can’t tell you how awesome a feeling it was to wake up this morning and see Tomorrow Land up for sale on Amazon and know—without a shadow of a doubt—that I’ll get properly paid for each and every download. On a book that will never go out of print and costs half the cover price. So not only do I benefit—but readers do, too! Total bonus.

I know that I will never get that last check from my dot.com company. And there will never be a royalty check in the mail from Dorchester. But you know what? Their failure is not mine. I’m determined to make the best of this bad situation and come out on top in the end.

NOTE: My heart goes out to my fellow Dorchester authors who were not able to get their rights back. It sickens me that this company would not only steal earned money from its hardworking writers, but then steal their intellectual property as well. I hope you find a way to get your books back in the end.

Kristin’s NOTE : If you are a Dorchester author with rights in question and titles currently still available online for sale, you lose nothing by reaching out to the various electronic distribution venues and finding out exactly what you need to do to get those titles removed from sale. Will it be a lot of work? Probably but potentially worth it in the end. I, of course, also recommend you consult with an attorney. I would also reach out to other former Dorchester authors and see how you might be able to help each other.


About Tomorrow Land


Can true love survive the end of the world?

Imagine finding your first love, only to be ripped apart by the apocalypse. Peyton Anderson will never forget the day she was forced to make a choice–between her family–and Chris Parker, the boy she’d given her heart. And now, four years later, as she steps from the fallout shelter and into a dead and broken world, he’s the only thing on her mind.

All Chris “Chase” Parker wanted was to take Peyton away and keep her safe from harm. But he waited for hours in the rain on judgment day and she never showed–breaking his heart without ever telling him why.

Now the two of them have been thrown together once again, reluctant chaperones of a group of orphan children in a post-apocalyptic world where the dead still walk…and feed. As they begin their pilgrimage to the last human outpost on Earth, can they find a way to let go of old hurts and find the love they lost–all the while attempting to save what’s left of the human race?

“A high-stakes, high-octane tour through a devastating and deftly imagined future. This is Mancusi at the top of her game.” –Diana Peterfreund, author of For Darkness Shows the Stars

A New NLA Milestone!

STATUS: Having a great afternoon.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? YOU CAN CALL ME AL by Paul Simon

I rarely post twice in one day but I can’t resist.

For the week of March 18, Gail Carriger’s TIMELESS is sitting at #17 on the NYT list and at #98 on the USA Today. Definitely worth celebrating.

But what’s really fun?


SOULLESS The Manga graphic novel just hit #2 on the NYT Graphic novel list.

That’s a first for NLA!!

An Abundance of Mikes!

STATUS: If John Greene doesn’t mind our borrowing his “title” for a bit.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? BIG LOG by Robert Plant

Sara is just back from the SCBWI National conference in New York and today we finally got to connect and catch up. And the timing of this is hilarious. Speaking of testosterone….

So unbeknownst to me, Sara has offered rep to two Mikes this week.

That on top of Mike she already reps and a Micheal on my client list, well, we suddenly have an abundance of Mikes! Statistically speaking, if your name is Mike, I guess your odds of getting offered rep have just gone up significantly.

*grin*

In the last month, I’ve signed two new clients as well. Both of them guys but alas, not named Mike.

That ought to balance the percentages a bit. We’re just rolling in the T.

Now back to editing! The client fulls have piled up. Must get a move on here.

A Few Good Men And Then Some

STATUS: I wasn’t in the office yesterday so today is catch-up.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? STRONG ENOUGH by Sheryl Crow

Our eNewsletter goes out on the 1st of every month (unless the 1st is over the weekend, then we wait for the first Monday after the month begins) but you get the picture.

And I guess I need to assume that some newsletter readers are not also blog readers because every month, I get an email asking me why we don’t rep male writers.

I imagine Stefan Bachmann, Jamie Ford, Jason Hough, and Micheal Planck would be slightly offended by this question.

What do they need to do? Don wife beaters and have a Harley in their author photos to stand out?

And that doesn’t count all the new guys we’ve just signed on but haven’t sold yet.

Enough already. We’ve got plenty of testosterone on the client roster.

For The Book That Almost Didn’t Sell–Happy Release Day FIRELIGHT!

STATUS: Another phone conference in 20 minutes! Must blog quickly.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? LOWDOWN by Boz Scaggs

Blog readers, have I got special treat for you today. If you ever wondered what the editor rejections looked like for a book that has shown every sign of coming out of the gate wildly popular, well today is your lucky day.

Today is the official release day for Kristen Callihan’s FIRELIGHT.


I’ve blogged before about the fact that I almost could not sell this book. And today, Kristen has given me special permission to share her rejections.

But let me preface this.

This debut novel has received two starred reviews (Publishers Weekly and Library Journal) and top pick at any number of romance sites, too many to list here.

When we sent the novel out to already established and successful authors to read with an eye for a possible blurb, we had our fingers crossed that maybe we’d get one or two responses.

Every author on our list read and blurbed it:

“Callihan has a great talent for sexual tension and jaw-dropping plots that weave together brilliantly in the end.”
—Diana Gabaldon, New York Times bestselling author of Outlander

“A sizzling paranormal with dark history and explosive magic! Callihan is an impressive new talent.” —Larissa Ione, New York Times bestselling author of Immortal Rider

“Evocative and deeply romantic, Firelight is a beautiful debut. I was fascinated from the first page.” —Nalini Singh, New York Times bestselling author of the Guild Hunter Series

“Passionate and sizzling, beautifully written and dark. This unique paranormal twist on the beauty and the beast tale rocks!”
—Elizabeth Amber, author of Bastian The Lords of Satyr

“Kristen Callihan delivers a dark, lush offering to fans of gothic and paranormal romance. With a deliciously tortured hero, an inventive supernatural mystery, and slow-building heat that simmers on each page, Firelight is a sexy, resplendent debut. I can’t wait to see what Kristen Callihan comes up with next!”
—Meljean Brook, New York Times bestselling author of The Iron Duke

“This book has everything: sword fights, magic, despair, a heroine with secret strengths, a hero with hidden vulnerability, and best of all, a true love that’s hot enough to burn the pages. I couldn’t stop reading. This book is utterly phenomenal.”
—Courtney Milan, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of Unraveled

“Inventive and adventurous with complex, witty characters and snappy writing. Callihan will make you believe in the power of destiny and true love.”
—Shana Abé, New York Times bestselling author of The Time Weaver

“A dark, delicious tale of secrets, murder, and love, beautifully shrouded in the shadows of Victorian London.”
—Hannah Howell, New York Times bestselling author of If He’s Dangerous

“A dazzling debut, sexy and thrilling. Callihan now has a place on my to-buy list.”
—Anya Bast, New York Times bestselling author of Dark Enchantment

“A fantastic debut that has everything I’m looking for in a story: compelling conflict, beautiful writing, gripping sexual tension, and strong, intelligent characters.”
—Sherry Thomas, RITA-award winning author of Not Quite A Husband and His At Night

“A compelling and emotional pageturner that will have readers burning the midnight oil.” —Anna Campbell, award-winning author of Midnight’s Wild Passion

“Lush and imaginative, Firelight will sweep you away.”
—Zoë Archer, award-winning author of Devil’s Kiss

“Combines romance, wit, and suspense in a fabulous retelling of Beauty and the Beast…with a supernatural twist.”
—Colleen Gleason, international bestselling author of The Gardella Vampire Chronicles

“I LOVED the book! Fabulous writing, great characters, innovative plot. It held me from the first page. I was so drawn in by the quality of the writing. She’s sure to become a fave of mine. I have already raved about the book to my readers group.”
—Gail Link, 2010 RWA Bookseller of the Year

And yet, the editors did not feel the same love.

–I’m afraid I didn’t love the voice, which felt a little bit overdone to me, and this kept me from getting immersed in the story. I’m therefore going to pass; I’m sorry. But thank you for giving me a shot at this, and I hope you will find the right home for it.

–I love your description of the story, but for me, the writing itself doesn’t stand out from the crowd.

–Thanks so much for sending this! I liked the reimagining of the beauty-and-the-beast story, but didn’t quite love the voice as much as I’d hoped

–I do love a great gothic, so I was really hoping to love this. Unfortunately, I just didn’t connect with the voice as much as I wanted to.

–Many thanks for thinking of us for this, but we’re going to pass. Gothics are very hard to sell right now

–I’ve been reading this, and I’ve enjoyed the appealing voice and the strong element of mystery. But while I liked this novel perfectly fine, I just didn’t feel the level of enthusiasm necessary to make this a success. Ultimately I just didn’t feel the strong emotional connection I’d hoped for.

–I really tried hard to get emotionally attached to FIRELIGHT because the atmosphere is so beautifully written. I just couldn’t connect, I’m sad to say,

–I did find plenty to like in the manuscript: Miranda makes a great heroine, and I absolutely loved our introduction to her in the opening chapters. (In particular, the scene where Miranda is having the ethical dilemma over whether to steal or not really hooked me.) The main problem I have, though, is that I never really connected with Archer as a hero. Miranda won me over, but she alone wasn’t enough to make me believe in the romance.

–Here’s the thing-I kept hoping I could make this work, but increasingly we’re having a hard time making new historical romance authors grow in the market.

In the end, it’s so so true that you have to find the right editor with the right vision who is the right fit. When you do, even for a book that almost didn’t sell, it can be magic.

And I think Kristen’s holiday gift to me is the perfect end note!


Happy release day Kristen!

Writing To The Market but Also With The Book Of Your Heart–Guest Blogger Sara Megibow

STATUS: I wish I was working late tonight but I can’t….

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? O HOLY NIGHT by Josh Groban

Marie Lu is not the only author having an exciting release week! Sara’s very first agented author book is hitting shelves today. Hard to believe but yes, it really does take that long from sale to publication for this to be the first.

What better way to celebrate than to guest blog? (Okay, I’m making her toast with champagne, too, but you get the picture.) Huge congrats Sara and Miranda!


What did debut author Miranda Kenneally do that’s making her book release so exciting? CATCHING JORDAN hits bookshelves today and the buzz surrounding this book is absolutely incredible (ESPN picked up a review of the book yesterday and the Seventeen Magazine online book club is running a feature on it tomorrow).

Here’s the secret – Miranda wrote the book of her heart. She did NOT write to some hot trend. What’s hot in young adult novels right now? Well, one might agree that fantasy and paranormal and dystopian are hot. Contemporary young adult, conversely, might be hot or might not be hot depending on who you ask (I personally am a huge fan, obviously). And, contemporary young adult sports novels? yikes.

CATCHING JORDAN didn’t sell right out of the gate. We DID find the perfect editor for it, but we also had a handfull of editors pass saying, “no one is interested in reading about sports.” Yes, the heroine of this book is captain and quarterback of her high school football team. Yes, there are some scenes on the playing field in which the teammates are talking football plays and field positions and stats. When I read this book in the slush pile I fell immediately in love with the characters, the voice, the dialogue and the personality. THAT’S what I saw in it which made me jump up and down with glee. And that’s what these tremendous reviews seem to be saying too.

If Miranda had ever asked an agent, “should I write about vampires or about football?” it’s likely her first book would have turned out differently. But, as a great credit to her and to our art, she didn’t ask that question. Instead she wrote a book that takes a chance on a concept that we haven’t seen before. And, it’s paying off!

So, if you are looking at publishing and are tempted to ask, “do you think XYZ is hot right now?” stop. Take a deep breath. Yes the market is important but so is writing a book you believe in wholeheartedly. Miranda did just that for CATCHING JORDAN. It wasn’t in the hot trend but in a sense, she did keep the market in mind because it has a luscious romantic element. Something we’ve seen in other successful contemporary YA novels recently. Cheers to an author who took a chance and to the readers (and editors) (and reviewers) (and ESPN) who are loving that gamble!

-Sara

One Very Good Reason To Let Go That Manuscript

STATUS: I’m working super late tonight. It’s often the only good time to really check off items on the TO DO list.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS by Whitney Duncan

HAPPY RELEASE WEEK MARIE LU!!!


As you can guess, LEGEND released yesterday. And there is one simple fact I want all my blog readers to know. If Marie had not been willing to let go of a previous manuscript (that didn’t sell), we would not be celebrating her release this week.

All too often, I hear about writers revising and revising the same manuscript–some even for years. Sometimes, the best decision you can make is to simply let it go. It’s never a waste as you learned valuable things as a writer from the process of writing that novel.

It might stay tucked away on your computer forever. And you know what? That might be a good thing! Maybe you needed to grow in your craft and it will be your next novel where the stars will align, angels sing, and voila, publication.

Don’t believe me? You only have to ask Marie Lu.

From Marie’s face featured in Times Square after the book sold to stories in Entertainment Weekly, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today, what a ride it has been, Marie!

5 Starred Reviews

“Lu’s debut is a stunner. Weaving the strands of SF dystopia, police procedural, and coming-of-age—with touches of superhero and wild frontier traditions—she fashions a narrative in which the action is kinetic and the emotional development is beautifully paced. First in a series, this story is utterly satisfying in its own right and raises hopes high for the sequels to come.”
—Publishers Weekly, Starred Review

“A gripping thriller in dystopic future Los Angeles…This is no didactic near-future warning of present evils, but a cinematic adventure featuring endearing, compelling heroes.”
—Kirkus, Starred Review

“. . . the delicious details keep pages turning to learn how it’s all going play out. Combine star-crossed lovers with the need to take down the Republic and you’ve got the makings for potent sequel.”
—Booklist, Starred Review

“Debut author Lu has managed a great feat—emulating a highly successful young adult series while staying true to her own voice. Legend will give Hunger Games fans something worthwhile to read while they await Katniss’ movie debut—and, most likely, Day and June’s.”
—VOYA, Starred Review

“Teens will love the page-turning suspense and emotional tension created by the dynamic characters. Following the success of Hunger Games, many dystopian books are filling the shelves, but this book stands out.”
—Library Media Connection, Starred Review

LEGEND, yesterday, in the promo stand as you walk into Barnes & Noble:


Marie on the PBS Late Night Show with Tavis Smiley:


And best of all, we heard that LEGEND was being featured in elevator news reels today. Wacky but a heck of a lot of fun!

So thank you, Marie, for being undaunted and forging ahead writing that next novel in the face of rejections.

Have a wonderful, wonderful release week.

Potpourri And Funnies

STATUS: This week was defined but what wasn’t on fire with gasoline explosions. Seriously, I was coming to work each day with the thought: “Can just one thing not be an issue today? Just one.”

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? WE GET TO FEEL IT ALL by Indigo Girls

But I can also define this week by some really cool things.

1. Got a revised cover for an author who had a hideous cover just last week. New cover is awesome! I’m so pleased and relieved.

2. My colleague Sara held a big big auction for a middle grade boy fantasy novel that went in a major deal (THE PECULIAR by Stefan Bachmann). Squee.

And the best thing ever? Today my author’s editor had her baby and get this, she named the baby boy after a character in my author’s novel for whom she is the editor.

Okay, nothing beats that. That is just “Yes Way” cool.

And because it’s Friday, how can I not share with you www.awkwardfamilypetphotos.com? I read the article in PW, had to check it out. Huge Beverage alert. The below photo was hands down my favorite. Oi!

Singing To My Choir!

STATUS: Monday it was 80 degrees. Today it’s snowing. Tomorrow it will be sunny and in the high 50s. And beautiful again by the weekend. Not sure what shoes to keep out or put into storage.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? CHINA GIRL by David Bowie

So last week, in my status, I mentioned that we had received three covers and nixed three covers. So needless to say, it’s been nothing but cover talks, phone calls, and strategy ever since.

For the newer writers out there, an author does not get approval over covers unless he/she is at a very high level as an author. At NLA (and I imagine this is true for most agents), we always put cover consultation in the contract.

However, the definition of “consult” can be very loose. I’ve had some editors involve the author from the very first illustrative sketch to the final version. I’ve had some editors send it to the author when complete and simply say here it is. (To me, that’s not consult and I argue it.) For most editors, they are really invested in the author liking the cover so they actually allow a lot of input.

I’ve been lucky this week. The editors were fully supportive, nixed the covers and sent them back to the drawing board.

And then this morning, one of my authors sent me this link to PW’s Blog Shelftalker. I immediately read it and felt an overwhelming urge to say “Amen!” and “Keep singing my song!”

In the past weeks I’ve said everything mentioned here:

1. Misleading cover image that doesn’t remotely match the novel’s content.

Please, I beg you, for women’s fiction, no more pictures of pastoral objects like a bike or a hammock on a lovely sun porch. Debbie Macomber already has that cover thank you.

2. Same Old Cover Designs That Fit The Popular Trend.

I echo Elizabeth, please, no more covers of models in gowns, young women lying down, partial face images. When we got the ARE mailing of the “hot summer books” from a variety of young adult publishers, it was clear that any one title sent in that bunch was going to have trouble standing out. Every single one had a picture of a girl in some kind of dark, mysterious background or in a dark nature setting.

But I would like to add one to the list. No more jarringly ugly covers. I literally got a cover where the colors clashed so badly, I couldn’t figure out why somebody thought that color palette was a good idea.

Trust me, I’m not an art major or graphic designer but I am an avid reader and have seen my share of art through the ages. I know ugly when I see it.

In talking to one editor recently, I said, “all I have is my immediate gut reaction and right now, my gut says Oh Please No.

I could have kissed the editor when she said, “no prob; we’ll throw it out.”