Pub Rants

Category: career

Fun Facts On NLA Clients—Take 4

STATUS: I have an auction unfolding later this week so busy busy.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? DOG DAYS ARE OVER by Florence and The Machine

Kristina Riggle—literally lives on the street one block over from where my husband grew up in Michigan. Talk about a small world…

Sherry Thomas—English is Sherry’s second language. She didn’t start learning English until she was thirteen years old. If you’ve read her, you’ll know she has a beautiful way with language that’s really stunning.

Linnea Sinclair—came to me via a referral from the amazing Deidre Knight. How cool is that for a fellow agent to recommend an author to then to have that author have such a great career? Deidre and I toast it every time we get together.

Helen Stringer—has a gorgeous British accent and a little known fact is that she has a background in film/tv. This doesn’t happen often but she auditioned for and landed the narrator job to read her own novel SPELLBINDER for the audio book version. She’ll be doing THE MIDNIGHT GATE as well. So if you’ve listened to the books, you are actually hearing her. If you haven’t picked up the audio version, I highly recommend it.

Fun Facts On NLA Clients—Take 3

STATUS: Today was a whirlwind of good news and I actually knocked 2 things off my To Do List. I’m flying high tonight.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? THE WEDGE by Dick Dale

Courtney Milan—next to Chutney, Courtney has the cutest dog on the planet! Seriously, most of you know that Courtney came my way via a recommend from Sherry Thomas but then I met her in person and the Chicago Romance Writers Conference. I was impressed on many fronts.

Paula Reed—is the only client where I found her! I read an article about teachers and Columbine High School in the Denver Post and she was profiled. In the article, she mentioned she was writing a romance so I reached out to her. Now she writes literary historical fiction.

Sarah Rees Brennan—I was the only agent she queried for The Demon’s Lexicon series. Every day I’m thrilled and amazed that it was so!

Kim Reid—I met Kim at the Pikes Peak Writers conference and I think I physically groaned when she said she had a memoir to pitch (she won’t let me live that down!). Her memoir NO PLACE SAFE is one good reason why I’m proud to be a literary agent.

More Dick Dale music on iLike

Fun Facts On NLA Clients—Take 2

STATUS: Hey, winter decided to show up, briefly, in Denver today. It snowed. I already miss out near 60 degree weather already.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? GIVE PEACE A CHANCE by John Lennon

The Gals of Killer Fiction (all former Dorchester authors) are giving away free eBooks because finally, it’s their books to give away. Two of my authors, Jana DeLeon and Leslie Thompson are participating. Nothing wrong with the word “free” in this case so you might want to check it out.

And that leads me to back to some more fun facts to share.

Lucienne Diver—was already publishing under a pseudonym when I convinced her to do the Vamped Series in her own name.

Carolyn Jewel—has never missed a deadline (which has me convinced that she has mastered the art of cloning)

Leslie Langtry—was skeptical of literary agents and gave me the most detailed questions I’ve ever received when offering representation. And if you know Leslie, who is probably the author most likely to buy you a beer and hug you, you’d realize just how strange that is!

Marie Lu—was an attendee I met at the Pikes Peak Writers Conference. She submitted sample pages to her first novel which I passed on (sensing a theme here!). Then I took her on for a novel that I wasn’t able to sell. Now her debut YA, LEGEND, is one of Penguin’s big books for this fall. Talk about paying some dues.

Time for bed but more tidbits tomorrow!

Fun Facts On NLA Clients

STATUS: Ack! Can’t believe it’s 5 already. Where did the day go?

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? CALLING ALL ANGELS by Train

Once an author is established, it’s kind of hard to think of them as having a beginning but every successful author has a fun fact about their beginning. I thought it might be fun to share today.

Gail Carriger—Four years before she sent me SOULLESS, I had read a YA novel from her, passed on the manuscript but sent along a letter with feedback. She remembered that fondly and so queried me with SOULLESS.

Ally Carter—I signed Ally for a novel (adult) that we’ve never shopped.

Sara Creasy—(who by the way was just nominated for the Philip K. Dick Award—HUGE!!!) I made her revise SONG OF SCARABAEUS twice before I signed her and then went on to sell it.

Jana DeLeon—For her first book, RUMBLE ON THE BAYOU, had an editor who so wanted to buy her. Got shot down at her house. It sold elsewhere but just recently, this editor asked for every book she’s written since so she would have them on her vaca. Oh yes, we [email protected]

Simone Elkeles—had only one offer to buy PERFECT CHEMISTRY. I was afraid I wasn’t going to be able to sell it!

Jamie Ford—When he first submitted HOTEL ON THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET, he had the manuscript entitled THE PANAMA HOTEL. Sounds like it’s set in Latin American. We went through about 100 titles before settling on the one it was published with before submitting it to editors. Now people can’t imagine any other title for it. One bad suggestion was Burning Silk—after the one scene where Japanese women start burning their wedding Kimonos after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

Janice Hardy—Sold me on her manuscript during the 10-minute pitch session at the Surrey Writers Conference. Right after the pitch appt. I called my assistant (Sara at the time) and asked her to send it to me the minute it came in. She did. I read it and immediately offered rep for it. It’s rare to take on a novel from a pitch session but it happens.

More to come tomorrow!

More Train music on iLike

If You Think A Publisher Will Be Filing…

STATUS: First day of fall. Makes me kind of sad. I want summer to stay awhile longer.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? WONDER by Natalie Merchant

…for bankruptcy, what is the best thing an author can do?

My answer? Get your rights reverted before the filing so the books aren’t tied up indefinitely by the court as non-reverted titles will be deemed assets of the company.

By the way, this is true even if you have a bankruptcy clause in your contract specifying that rights automatically revert. Bankruptcy courts don’t perceive it that way and they trump contract clause.

I also suggest you get a full accounting, if you can, of what is owed to you. You want this for several reasons: 1) if you have to file a claim as a creditor in the bankruptcy, you’ll know for how much. 2) you might be able to take the amount loss as a tax deduction (but ask a tax expert first).

White Noise

STATUS: Last week was just tough. Battling being sick so just didn’t know when I’d be in the office or not. So not pleasant….

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? NOTHING LEFT TO LOSE by Mat Kearney

When I was at the Rocky Mountain Writers Conference, I gave a couple of workshops. In my classes, I always give the daunting statistics on how many queries we get, how many sample pages we read, and how many authors we actually take on from what we read.

Yep, the icky stuff.

Then I tell them to cover their ears and say, “la, la, la I’m not listening” because what it boils down to is that these stats should be white noise to you aspiring writers. You can hear it, but it’s in the background. Know the stats so you have a keen understanding of the reality behind the business of publishing but then don’t let it stop you. .

If you love writing, if you are passionate about it as your dream, then you are going to write no matter what. Publication is one possible end result but whether that happens are not should not be the only determiner of why you write. You write because you have to. It’s like breathing. Absolutely necessary.

Besides, you never know when toughness and persistence will finally pay off so don’t lose sight of that!

Sometimes It Pays to Pay…

STATUS: Life in the fast lane…not. Sheesh. Where has this day gone? I’ve got three more things I absolutely must do before leaving tonight.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? AMERICAN PIE by Don McLean

For professional advice. Having been an agent for 8+ years, I’ve certainly dealt with interesting events in publishing. Bankruptcy is just one of them.

A couple of years ago, an independent sports publisher filed for bankruptcy to re-organize. One of the first books I sold in my agency’s infancy was impacted.

What I learned? Most publishing contracts have bankruptcy clauses and ALL of them are useless. If a company files for bankruptcy, even if your contract stipulates that rights revert automatically, the bankruptcy court sees it differently and the rights can be tied up—sometimes for years.

Luckily for my author, I was able to negotiate the rights back with the help of my IP attorney and another attorney specializing in bankruptcy.

Sometimes it pays to pay for a professional assistance when it comes to specialized events like the one I describe above. If you’re an author facing similar and going it alone (sans agent), don’t ask friends or google the web. Get the facts. And in a lot of cases, it’s information only an expert can provide so you might want to consider it.

An Interesting Reason For A Pseudonym

STATUS: This week is actually rather quiet. I’m checking off lots on my To Do list. Next week, after the holiday, will be zany I’m sure.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? LOVE SOMEBODY by Schuyler Fisk

One of my new to-be-published authors recently decided that she might publish her debut novel under a pseudonym and she had an interesting reason why.

She had gone to lunch with a few of her author friends and one of them was in the job market but having trouble landing a job—even after a good interview. Prospective employers were Googling her, discovering her writing stuff, and then questioning her commitment to their job or wondering why she needed a job in the first place. These employers were erroneously assuming that all writers with a couple of books published were making a living from it.

Okay, I could hear the guffaws from here about that assumption. I imagine most authors would love to make their living solely from the writing bit and yes, it does happen but it’s not the norm for the majority of writers.

And I have to say that this reason for a pseudonym had not occurred to me but I don’t doubt this story. For my author, she’ll be in the job market again right around the time her novel publishes so this is a concern.

I imagine some of you could end up in a similar position so I thought it worthwhile to mention.

A Story The Editor Will Never Know

STATUS: Doing all the crazy wrap-up before the three-day holiday weekend. Yes!

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? LEAVING LAS VEGAS by Sheryl Crow

I’ve mentioned before what I call The Curse Of The Sophomore Novel. For whatever reason, authors invariably trip when it comes to writing the next novel after their debut.

My hypothesis is that the first novel took many years to write, had lots of feedback and many drafts. Then novel 2 needs to be written on deadline and usually in under a year’s time. With that crunch, a lot of talented authors kind of blank on all the great tools they used in the debut novel that made it so good. By the way, it doesn’t matter how talented the author, what genre the author writes in, or how many previous novels he/she has under her bed. More often than not, a new author will whiff on book 2.

Good agents anticipate and prepare for this—which leads me to a terrific article my author Kristina Riggle just sent me from Poets & Writers. Editor Jofie Ferrari-Adler has been doing a series of articles on editors and agents and every one of them is a gem. If you haven’t seen them before, I suggest tracking all of them down.

What this month’s article tackles is best described in Jofie’s own words. He says: “This is a story about literary agents. It’s a story about good literary agents and bad literary agents and, more specifically, it’s a story about the tireless, often intangible work that good literary agents perform for their clients during the period after the contract is signed but before the book is published.”

Interestingly enough, none of the agents in the article tackled the curse of the sophomore novel so I thought I would in today’s post.

As I mentioned, good agents anticipate the curse. I always strongly recommend that I see the sophomore novel before it’s delivered to the editor. In fact, I encourage our authors to send it to me (if at all possible) 2 months before the delivery deadline to the editor. Just in case. Occasionally, the author does just fine and the sophomore novel is great. No intervention necessary. More often than not, the curse has reared its ugly head.

For the story I want to share, the editor (to this day) does not know—and this is why details will remain anonymous. In fact, I should say “stories” and “editors to this day don’t know” because it’s happened more than once and none of the editors know.

Author delivered the cursed sophomore novel. I read and said “good heaven! This won’t do. The poor overworked editor will blow a coronary if we send this on.”

Called author and delivered the bad news. Then buckled down with the author to, literally, rewrite the entire novel in 6 weeks. (The author sent me 2 chapters every 2 or 3 days. I would edit and turnaround in 2 days to shoot it back. Author would send next batch and while I had that, author reworked already edited chapters until entire novel was revised.)

Author delivered wonderful “first draft” of novel to editor on deadline.

Couple weeks later, editor called just to tell me what a pleasure reading the novel was and how the editor has never had such a clean sophomore novel delivered to her before.

I responded with “I know. Isn’t the author amazing?”

And I’m positive I’m not the only agent to have ever done this.

By the way, this only ever happens to an author once. After the sophomore curse, the author never missteps again.

Happy 4th of July! See y’all back here on Tuesday.

Q&A—Round 4

STATUS: Boy this flu is just hanging on. I’m counting 15 or 16 days and it’s still not completely gone.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? YOU CAN LEAVE YOUR HAT ON by Joe Cocker

Pre-Bologna, I had not finished up our last round of questions and answers. I didn’t forget! I just haven’t had enough time to tackle them in a while. But I did save the questions and so I plan to dive right back in.

Anonymous Asked:
1) Who do you decide “gets” a project if you and Sara both want it? If someone queried “Kristin” or “Sara” and got back a partial request “from Kristin and Sara” does that mean you’ll both consider it and whoever likes it best might take it on? Or does that mean only the one it’s addressed to will consider it?
This is a good question. If the original query is addressed to Sara, then she has first dibs on it. If the query is addressed to me, then I do. We both, however, tend to read the submissions where a full is requested. Just so we can talk about the project and why one or the other might like it or want to offer representation. Sometimes, I like a project and it’s not Sara’s cup of tea and vice versa. That way if we both read the fulls requested (regardless of who asked for it), we know we won’t miss out on something that might come down to a difference in taste.

2) You are known for sending out a book until it sells, whereas some agents only send to ten or twelve and they are done. But do you have a list of favorite editors who you contact first no matter what?
Agents certainly have a list of their favorite editors. These are the people we connect with the most. We know our tastes line up etc. However, each submission is different. As an agent, we want the right editor to have it—not just a favorite editor so the answer is no, there isn’t a list of editors who get a submission no matter what.

Anonymous asked:
You seem to have a lot going on in the YA market. But as a romance writer, I wondered how many romance writers did you sign last year? And are you looking for more?

Hum…I’d say with 6 RITA nominations the week before last, we’ve got a lot going on in the romance world as well. Grin. Are we looking for more? Of course! There is always room for a good author. However, in general, I don’t sign a lot of clients in any given year. I’m very selective on who and what I take on. Last year I signed only one romance author. To put that in context, I only signed 2 authors total last year.

Katrina asked:
What are your biggest pet peeves for queries, and do you have a list of things you saw in past queries that rocked your socks off?
For queries, my only criteria be that it is well written and fit in the types of projects we currently represent. Otherwise, I don’t have any specific pet peeves. Peeves come from poorly written queries. For those, we just send the auto-rejection and move on. For queries that knocked our socks off? The writer had nailed the pitch paragraph. If you don’t know what I mean by that, check out my blog pitch workshop right here on the right sidebar of my blog.

Mechelle Fogelsong asked:
Nathan Bransford recently asked us which author’s career we’d like to mimic. I chose Jane Yolen, because her career has longevity. So my question is simple: what’s the key to becoming an author with longevity? To stay afloat for the long-haul?

The key to longevity is creating an excellent sales track record and continuing to write books that feel timely, fresh, and appeal to your established audience as well as to new fans.

Right. So much easier said than done. That’s why there is no answer to this question about what creates author longevity. It’s so many factors that come together and work. And those specific factors may differ depending on the author. In other words, what works for one career might not work for another.

Eika asked:
Going for the long shot here, but I haven’t started querying yet and I’m still feeling optimistic. What is the exact etiquette if you’re offered representation and someone else has the full? To the agent on the phone with, what do you say? And to the person with the full, do you phone them? E-mail?
The etiquette: If an agent calls and offers representation, you go through all the normal questions you should be asking an agent who has offered rep. Then you express your enthusiasm for the offer but since it’s a big decision, you want to give all agents with fulls time to respond. Set a timeline for one you will get back to the offering agent. That time frame can be one week, five full business days, over the weekend (whatever feels appropriate). Then inform all other agents with the full. I’d send an email first. If you don’t get a confirm after one day regarding your update, then I’d call to make sure the message was received. After that, I think you’ve done all the due diligence you need to.

Then stick to the timeline you had requested. And of course, if the first agent who has offered is your top candidate, there might not be any reason to go through the above. Of course if you do accept representation, then immediately inform all others with the full so they don’t waste time reading a manuscript that is no longer available. Hope this helps!