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March 2018
A Message from Kristin Nelson

How #MeToo Impacts Authors

Kristin Nelson

In October 2017, the #MeToo hashtag went viral on Twitter. Thousands of women shared their stories of sexual harassment, misconduct, and injustice in the workplace. The momentum began with the allegations against film titan Harvey Weinstein and then morphed into movements across other industries.

It hit publishing in a big way in February 2018 with Anne Ursu’s bombshell of an article on Medium about sexual harassment in the children’s book industry.

It engendered a lot of conversations here at NLA, as I imagine it did for a lot of authors out there. But I wonder how many authors realized that the #MeToo movement would directly impact them in one very specific and unexpected way: in their contracts.

It was no surprise to me when we received a Penguin Random House contract recently, and lo and behold, there was new language in clause 7.c, which deals with publication. There is a new “morality” clause that cites that if the author’s reputation materially changes, such changes could be cause for termination of the publishing agreement.

Every non-author-friendly clause in publishing contracts is there because of some other author’s previous bad behavior. But in general, I don’t subscribe to the philosophy that NLA clients have to contractually pay for the mistakes of others.

Personally, I fully understand why PRH wants to add this language given recent current events. I certainly support the intention! As an agency, though, we are going to negotiate this clause to be more fair for an author who isn’t guilty until proven innocent.

My sense is that PRH will not be alone in amending boilerplate language. We’ve got several other agreements coming our way in the next two weeks. We’ll definitely be looking for the addition of these types of morality clauses.

Recent News
Think Like an Agent

Pivot Like a Pro

By Joanna MacKenzie

It is a truth universally acknowledged by writers everywhere: every success in publishing is built on stacks of rejection letters. Authors by Agents. Authors by Editors. Agents by Editors. Part of that success is about being agile and knowing when to pivot, whether away from a project on submission or away from a long-running series. Think about pivoting if:

You’re not getting traction. You’ve been pitching your manuscript and not getting any requests, or the rejections just keep coming. How to pivot:

  • Pitch. Think about your pitch first. Is there something about the story that you’re not playing up? Is there a better way to be positioning your work? Agents do this all the time. If a project doesn’t seem to be connecting, one of the first things we consider is how we’re positioning it. Switching up the pitch (playing up a relationship of note or an underlying mystery, for example) forces the reader to look for different elements in a story and opens up new avenues of connection.
  • Manuscript. Are you getting consistent feedback that something isn’t working or that something isn’t coming across? This might be a tough one to unearth in the world of form rejection letters, but if you’re concerned that something isn’t connecting, make sure to get to the bottom of it. If you’re receiving standard form rejections, seek out other sources: editors at conferences, contests, or a new writing group can help.

You can’t see the forest for the trees. This is the story you very desperately want to write, but you’ve been reworking it for so long you’re not sure if you have critical distance to see if it’s working any longer. How to pivot:

  • Clean slate. Sometimes the best inspiration comes when we put aside the unfixable and start from scratch. Most published authors got their agent with their third or fourth completed manuscript. Some of today’s bestsellers were the projects authors were working on while their agents were out on submission with something else. Try writing something completely different. It’s hard, especially when the idea in front of you has been with you for so long, but it’s worth it. You’re not letting the first one go, just giving it room to breathe.

Readership is dwindling. Series with recurring protagonists sound like bestseller gold, and they can be, but there is such a thing as jumping the shark in books. Typically, readership declines book to book in long-running series, and at some point it might be necessary to call it quits with a protagonist you’ve been writing into many books, but there are ways to keep your engaged audience coming back. How to pivot:

  • Keep it fresh. Just because you’re working with the same protagonist doesn’t mean you have to keep writing the same book. Consider switching up POV or narrative voice or locale for the next installment.

The market shifts. You’ve been writing (fill in the blank: dystopian, cozy mystery, spy thriller, etc.), and suddenly they tell you there’s no market for it. How to pivot:

  • Rebrand. Market shifts happens all the time. A life-long career as an author is just that, life-long, so consider a lateral move to a different genre.
Kristin's Book Club

Looking For Your Next Read?

Very excited for book club on Sunday because we are going to discuss BETWEEN SHADES OF GRAY by Ruta Sepetys.

Laura, who is first generation Lithunaian-Amercian, is going to host and share Lithuanian traditional dishes. Not only will we have an amazing discussion, we’ll be conversing over yummy and unique food. My favorite kind of book club.

But that also means I don’t have a lot to share in this month’s column. However, we are preparing our voting list for our 2018 reads.

I have no idea what will grab the attention of the other gals in the group, but here are a few titles I’ve added to the list in case you are looking for suggestions for your next read:

POETRY

Milk & Honey by Rupi Kaur

FICTION

Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

The Immortalists by Chloe Benjamin

NONFICTION

Balls: It Takes Some to Get Some by Chris Edwards

Born a Crime by Trevor Noah

New Releases

Pacifica

by Kristen Simmons

Kristen Simmons, critically acclaimed author of Article 5 and Metaltown, brings her trademark action, romance, and frightening prescience to this tale of high seas adventure.

For too long our people have suffered, plagued by overcrowding, disease, and lack of work. We have only just survived for too long. Now we must take the next step and thrive.
Pacifica.
A new beginning.

Blue skies. Green grass. Clear ocean water. An island paradise like the ones that existed before the Melt.

A lucky five hundred lottery winners will be the first to go, the first to leave their polluted, dilapidated homes behind and start a new life. It sounds perfect. Like a dream.

The only problem? Marin Carey spent her childhood on those seas and knows there’s no island paradise out there. She’s corsario royalty, a pirate like her father and his father before him, and she knows a con when she sees one. So where are the First Five Hundred really going?

Buy It Here:

       

Not If I Save You First

by Ally Carter

Maddie thought she and Logan would be friends forever. But when your dad is a Secret Service agent and your best friend is the president’s son, sometimes life has other plans. Before she knows it, Maddie’s dad is dragging her to a cabin in the middle of the Alaskan wilderness.

No phone.
No Internet.
And not a single word from Logan.

Maddie tells herself it’s okay. After all, she’s the most popular girl for twenty miles in any direction. (She’s also the only girl for twenty miles in any direction.) She has wood to cut and weapons to bedazzle. Her life is full.
Until Logan shows up six years later . . .
And Maddie wants to kill him.

But before that can happen, an assailant appears out of nowhere, knocking Maddie off a cliff and dragging Logan to some unknown fate. Maddie knows she could turn back- and get help. But the weather is turning and the terrain will only get more treacherous, the animals more deadly.

Maddie still really wants to kill Logan.
But she has to save him first.

Buy It Here:

       

No Earls Allowed

by Shana Galen

It is a truth universally acknowledged
that a lady can do anything a man can do:
backwards and in high-heeled dancing slippers.

Lady Juliana, daughter of the Earl of St. Maur, needs all the help she can get. She’s running a ramshackle orphanage, London’s worst slumlord has illicit designs on her, and her father has suddenly become determined to marry her off.

Enter Major Neil Wraxall, bastard son of the Marquess of Kensington, sent to assist Lady Juliana in any way he can. Lucky for her, he’s handy with repairs, knows how to keep her and the orphans safe, and is a natural leader of men.

Unfortunately for both of them, the scandal that ensues from their mutual attraction is going to lead them a merry dance…

 

The Survivors Series:
Third Son’s a Charm (Book 1)
No Earls Allowed (Book 2)
An Affair With a Spare (Book 3)

Buy It Here:

       

The Radical Element (Anthology)

by Jessica Spotswood with Stacey Lee

In an anthology of revolution and resistance, a sisterhood of YA writers shines a light on a century and a half of heroines on the margins and in the intersections.

To respect yourself, to love yourself, should not have to be a radical decision. And yet it remains as challenging for an American girl to make today as it was in 1927 on the steps of the Supreme Court. It’s a decision that must be faced when you’re balancing on the tightrope of neurodivergence, finding your way as a second-generation immigrant, or facing down American racism even while loving America. And it’s the only decision when you’ve weighed society’s expectations and found them wanting. In The Radical Element, twelve of the most talented writers working in young adult literature today tell the stories of girls of all colors and creeds standing up for themselves and their beliefs — whether that means secretly learning Hebrew in early Savannah, using the family magic to pass as white in 1920s Hollywood, or singing in a feminist punk band in 1980s Boston. And they’re asking you to join them.

Buy It Here:

       
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