If you’ve ever wondered about the efficacy of writer organizations such as RWA or SFWA when it comes to protecting authors, then the last twenty-four hour period has proven just how valuable they can be.
Last week on Facebook, I linked to an insightful blog article Victoria Strauss had posted on the SFWA-endorsed site Writer Beware about the new Random House Hydra imprint. Yesterday, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) issued this statement:
Dear SFWA Member:
SFWA has determined that works published by Random House’s electronic imprint Hydra can not be use as credentials for SFWA membership, and that Hydra is not an approved market. Hydra fails to pay authors an advance against royalties, as SFWA requires, and has contract terms that are onerous and unconscionable.
Hydra contracts also require authors to pay – through deductions from royalties due the authors – for the normal costs of doing business that should be borne by the publisher.
Hydra contracts are also for the life-of-copyright and include both primary and subsidiary rights. Such provisions are unacceptable.
At this time, Random House’s other imprints continue to be qualified markets.
Today, within twenty-four hours, Random House responded and asked for a sit-down with board members of SFWA.
I’d say that’s your membership dollars hard at work for a good cause. If you write in this genre and you qualify to be a member but for some reason aren’t one, maybe now is a good time to join. I only foresee more battles like this in the future.
If you are looking for our “subscribe to our newsletter” button, you won’t find it quite yet. We are currently transforming the design, and we are migrating over to a new, more user-friendly delivery service. We plan to launch the new look on April 1. Once we’ve fully transitioned, we’ll be sure to announce that the subscriber button is back up.
Sit tight and don’t worry, I’ll remind folks in April.
STATUS: I spent 7 hours in the office yesterday revamping our text content for the new website. We are so so close to launching. I can’t wait. The new site is awesome. The new blogging medium is going to be hot!
What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? GOT YOU UNDER MY SKIN by Frank Sinatra
Next week I head out to New York to speak at the 2013 Digital Book World (DBW) Conference. I’m rather honored to be sitting on a panel with the illustrious Jane Dystel (who has repped a half a dozen successful self-publishing authors) and Steve Axelrod (who just recently did the first publicly announced print-rights only deal for his client Belle Andre).
I’m working on my talking points so I’ll have something intelligent to say. In this company, I had better! Ms. Dystel represented President Obama for his first book for goodness sakes.
She also recently did an interview for DBW entitled AGENTS UNWILLING TO ADAPT WON’T LAST. Worth a read as I could see myself saying every answer she gives.
Agents who haven’t already embraced assisting clients to make their books digitally available are behind. What started off as an added service to assist authors in finding their audience (as part of the evolving role of agents in this rapidly changing digital landscape) has fast morphed into being a necessary service to offer. As Ms. Dystel so aptly points out, it’s now, more than ever, our job to help writers connect with audiences.
In whatever medium, form, channel, or type of deal necessary.
In one year, I’m astounded at how fast the gross revenues are growing for authors who opted to publish through NLA’s digital platform. Even authors who are digitally publishing on their own use our digital platform for venues they can’t have direct access to. Those venues don’t have the advantage of being as big as Amazon (hands down the largest seller of ebooks) but even with these “smaller venues” revenues are growing from several hundred dollars a month to several thousands a month in just a few short months.
It’s a bit crazy to watch.
Two authors of mine have comfortably quit their day jobs because of their digital publishing success. And who knows, maybe I’ll be contracting print-only deals for them, like I did for Howey, in the not so distant future.
Agents — if you haven’t started, the time was yesterday to jump on this bandwagon as I’m fairly certain, it won’t be going away.
STATUS: The usual. I slammed every day as we wind down to the agency closing on December 14, 2012.
What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR by Mikey Wax
On the last day of December, my true inbox sent to me:
12 Eggnog Chai’s a-drinking
11 queries reading
10 royalty statement reviewing
9 checks depositing
8 Foreign deals a-doing
7 Payments a-processing
6 full manuscripts left a-reading
5 contracts done
4 calling clients
3 client fulls
2 pecan sandies
And a Party in the New Year!
A heads up if you aren’t on our newsletter circulation or on FB, Nelson Literary Agency is now closed to queries for the holidays. We wanted to make sure we finished reading every query, every submitted sample page, and all the remaining full manuscripts in our queue.
To do that, we closed queries on Monday, December 3. Anything incoming will now get our auto-respond email.
But never fear, we’ll be back in full form starting on January 2 2013. We’d be happy to read your query then.
STATUS: I need 5 more hours in any day.
What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? COLORADO CHRISTMAS by Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
Yesterday Sara Megibow and I went to lunch – just the two of us – so we could sit down and process the year. Celebrate what was great. Commiserate on what wasn’t. LOL
Of course the conversations came around to what we think is hot or trending. And honestly, I’m not sure I see any clear direction there but I can say in the adult realm it’s definitely genre cross-over novels, literary thrillers, and big upmarket literary commercial novels that appeal to women readers and book clubs.
In YA, it’s a bit more murky. In fact, neither Sara or I could think of a single debut author that broke out in a really big way in 2012. (Marie Lu’s LEGEND debuted fantastically but that published in November 2011 so I’m not counting it per se…). Maybe CINDER? That title looked to have done well (and pubbed in January ’12).
Certainly many already established YA authors did quite well in 2012 (Green, Condie, Roth, Dessen, Hopkins, Bray, Asher etc.) but I’m not sure I could name a 2012 debut. So I figured I would ask you folks! Sara and I might simply be having brain fatigue.
At this time of year, I always like to look back at the books on the 2012 BEA YA Buzz Panel. The titles were the following:
CREWEL by Gennifer Albin (Dystopian/speculative)
WHAT’S LEFT OF ME by Kat Zhang (Dystopian/speculative)
SKYLARK by Megan Spooner (Dystopian/fantasy)
SKINNY by Donna Cooner (Contemporary YA)
COLIN FISHER by Ashley Edward Miller and Zack Stentz (YA contemporary mystery)
Looking at the numbers on Bookscan wouldn’t suggest that any of them are a breakout – although I’m wondering if it just is a slower build now as dystopian/speculative have been a hot trend for a while.
Now there are two contemporary YAs on that list. I was kind of hoping the trend would swing back in the contemporary direction. Too soon to tell I think. Sara has an author doing well in that realm (Kenneally) as do I (Elkeles) but we need the next John Green or Zarr.
Most likely there is a quiet title out there gathering steam. Any ideas? Put some titles in the comments section.
STATUS: Not much has changed from last post….
What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? CRASH INTO ME By Stevie Nicks
And since we are speaking of money and concerns over the possibly shrinking advances, LOL, this leads right into my very next webinar that’s taking place on Wednesday, Nov. 7, 2012 from 6 to 8 pm Mountain time. It’s called SHOW ME THE MONEY: The Anatomy of $ In A Book Deal.
I’m literally doing a 2-hour workshop that walks writers through a publishing contract and the anatomy of money in it. I’m using actual contract clauses to illustrate how and what earns a writer money in a publishing agreement.
I’m pretty sure this will be the best tutorial you’ll have without actually having a book deal and your own agent walking you through your brand spankin’ new contract.
“A little learning is a dangerous thing” as Alexander Pope says but I’m of the philosophy that you can’t learn less. I like to be as thoroughly educated as I possibly can before being confronted with something.
Stuff you’ll learn:
1) What can a writer earn in terms of advances for different genres?
2) What are the standard royalties? Royalty escalators?
3) What is “high discount” and how can it impact what you earn?
4) Bonus clauses. What are they? What types can be built into a contract?
5) What subsidiary rights can be sold and what are typical monies involved.
6) Clauses that don’t immediately seem to be about money but can impact what you earn anyway.
Sound like something you might want to know? Then I’ll see you there.
STATUS: With New York Publishing shut down, I’m working on a UK contract and catching up on email. I think it’s going to be this way for most of the week.
What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? HOPE I DON’T FALL IN LOVE WITH YOU by Tom Waits
Obviously the Random House – Penguin merger is all the news in the publishing world right now. It’s a big deal. But I read this article in Publishers Weekly and pretty much snorted my tea.
PW makes it sound like an agent’s biggest concern might be the reduction in advance amounts paid for books.
I’m concerned about MANY things that might come about because of the merger but smaller advances is not one of them. It’s not even on my top 10 list of things to be concerned about.
Publishing saw the consolidation of publishing houses into smaller and smaller numbers in the early 90s. That evolved into what had been known as the “Big 6” of the last decade.
It’s now down to the “Big 5” and quite honestly, I don’t see NewsCorp (which owns HarperCollins) settling for the status quo. Wouldn’t surprise me at all to see the “Big 5” become “4” with two more houses merging in the not-so-distant-future.
Of course this all has to pass anti-trust rulings, etc.
What does fewer publishing houses mean for authors?
That answer is pretty simple. Fewer choices. Less competition. More uniformity of royalty rates (like that hasn’t happened already because houses are already more interested in status quo among themselves rather than actual competition). Narrowed vision of what is the market and what should sell (and they already have tunnel vision as any number of digitally self-published successes have recently proven). More emphasis on commercial blockbusters and less building authors from the mid list.
Getting the picture? Smaller advances? Not a main issue on my radar.
STATUS: Yes, I’m still alive!
What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? WHITE FLAG (acoustic version) by Dido
Travesty I know! It’s been more than a month since I blogged. If you are missing me, be sure to check out my Facebook page where I am posting regularly.
Here’s the scoop. We are in the midst of doing a whole website redesign and the plan is to integrate the entire blog into the new site.
I’m a bit excited as it will have all our social media fully integrated into it (Sara’s twitter and FB. My FB and blog and whatever else might come down the pike in the future. I’m not particularly wed to pinterest or tumblr but I definitely have my eye on other things that are catching the public interest.)
So thanks for your patience as we transition. I haven’t been blogging regularly to mitigate the content transfer.
I’ve also being toying with making my FB status updates more like blog posts. I get that there are space limitations but heck, that might be good given my current workload. FB is easier to do on the fly or with just a short window of time available.
If you have an opinion, ideas to suggest, upcoming social media that should be on our radar, I’m open to hearing all of it. Leave me a comment!
STATUS: Hum, I thought August was suppose to be the slow month in publishing. Not so much.
What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? WAITING FOR A GIRL LIKE YOU by Foreigner
Last Thursday, Angie and I spent the day doing round-table chats with the graduates of The Denver Publishing Institute. The intensive month course ended and these 100 or so graduates are now making their way into a job market that is one of the toughest I’ve seen in years.
It’s true. But let that just be white noise as you move forward. You know this info but you aren’t going to let it rule what you will do. If you are determined enough, you can make something happen.
The year 2000 changed everything for me. I was a corporate trainer in my mid-30s making 6-figures doing training for fortune 500 companies. I worked 8 days a month. And I walked away because I didn’t love the job.
Folks thought I was crazy.
That was the year I had teamed up with a fellow corporate trainer and we did an awesome nonfiction book proposal. We had a well known literary agent. Our proposal was aggressively shopped and turned down all over New York (so I do, indeed, now what rejection feels like). But that was incidental. It was my “aha” moment that I wanted to be in this field but not on the writing side of things. But on the biz end.
But I was a corporate trainer. I lived in Denver. This was not the mecca of publishing in the year 2000 (and one would argue that Kate Testerman, Rachelle Gardner, and I do not a mecca make in Denver now)! I started researching what it would take and that showed me that I was going to have to work for an agent first to learn the ropes.
Not exactly a lot of possibilities available in my immediate geographic region. My husband and I sat down and formed a plan. If I had to, I would take a job at an agency in New York. We rock as a couple. We could commuter marriage for a year, two if necessary. That’s how important this was to me and I was determined to make it happen. I started applying for jobs. I went to New York and sat down with several agents who didn’t hire me but were awesome to talk to and encouraging.
Then I went to a local writers’ conference simply to meet the agents and network about jobs. I met an agent who had recently moved to Denver (previously with HarperCollins before having to relocate). She was looking for an assistant. I was looking for a job at an agency. Luck Luck Lucky.
Absolutely. But I was willing to do what was necessary and if New York had proved necessary, I would have done that so stay open. Work outside of “can’t” or “I can’t afford it” or “I don’t want to live in New York City.”
So I learned the ropes at that agency. I did the Denver Publishing Institute as a way of bolstering my network (which was very effective by the way as I sold my first book to a Penguin Editor who was a former DPI grad).
The day the program ended, I was ready. I had a $20,000 business loan and a five year plan and I opened my own agency on August 15, 2002. I gave myself five years to make a profit.
Year 1 – took a loss
Year 2 – took a loss
Year 3 – took a loss, did another business loan (my husband didn’t sleep at all that year as he was pretty stressed about the debt)
Year 4 – small profit so I hired an assistant.
Year 5 – took a loss because of the salary I paid my assistant (another sleepless year for the hubby)
Year 6 – a respectable profit!
Year 7 – an even bigger profit so hired a marketing director
Year 8 – stunned myself on how profitable we were becoming
Year 9 – a really stunning year so hired two more employees (our royalties and contracts manager and our digital liaison)
Year 10 – it’s our anniversary and we are celebrating on August 25th with our clients coming to town to join us. We are on track for our best year ever.
In 2002 for my first trip to New York to network with editors, I bombarded every friend I knew and asked if they had any relatives or friends who lived in Manhattan. They did. I slept on the couch in the apartment of people I had never met because they were family of friends of mine and they graciously opened their doors to me. (HUGE THANK YOU!! You know who you are.)
Make stuff happen. You’d be amazed at how many people love to be enrolled in what you are doing if you just simply ask!
If I knew then what I know now, I probably would never taken that first step. Thank goodness I was blindly optimistic.
Feel the fear. Do it anyway.