Wednesday, January 31, 2007


STATUS: Tired. Super late day at the office. The computers transitioned to the new place today so I didn’t have access for most of the day as the network was being reconfigured. Also, I just switched over my blog to Google so there might be some quirks.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? CHASING CARS by Snow Patrol

Sara had to forward this one to me. We got a query that said, and I kid you not, that this writer had had a dream, was convinced that it would make a good book, and would we be interested?

Uh, no.

Makes you wonder what the person was, um, taking right before going to bed.

Still, it does allow me to point out what should be obvious. Complete your manuscript before querying agents (that is unless you are writing nonfiction and then all you need to do is put together a proposal and sample chapters). Memoir can go either way. Sometimes they can sell on proposal but for the most part, it’s like fiction and you need the whole thing to be complete.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Pesky Warranty Clause

STATUS: Warm snuggly because Chutney is sitting on my lap. I’m blogging from home tonight.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? AIN’T THAT A KICK IN THE HEAD? by Dean Martin

Nothing gets my blood boiling faster then when publishers embed a no-compete type clause in the warranty section of the contract. This is actually becoming standard as of late.

It’s usually one sentence that’s easy to miss unless you’re reading carefully. Especially if you just finished reading and dealing with the no-compete clause in the paragraph before the warranty section.

The sneaky line will read something like this, “"that the book will be the author's next book length work (whether under the author's own name or otherwise)...”

First off, I believe it’s none of the publisher’s business whether the soon-to-be contracted work is the author's next published work or not. Authors should be able to write and publish as many books as their ability and careers can sustain.

Now publishers will argue that they are making an investment in this writer and that they are simply trying to protect that investment, blah, blah, blah, blah. Fine. That’s what the no-compete clause is for and that’s why we, as agents and editors, like to argue the terms of that clause. This is such an important issue that it’s usually brought up when negotiating the deal points so both parties are clear as to what the author is willing to commit to or not.

So, then you think it’s finished and boom, you hit the warranty clause and there’s another pesky little reference to what is really a no-compete issue.

And as an agent, you have to start the battle all over again with limiting it, massaging the phrasing, making sure it doesn’t interfere with the author’s ability to expand his or her career, etc.

But what really annoys me is that this line really has nothing to do with an author’s warranty otherwise outlined in the rest of the paragraph. So why is it there? Good question.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Too Many Agents!

STATUS: Office move. Chaos. Sneezing from way too much dust. Slightly crabby.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? Well, I found my iPod stereo but didn’t have my iPod with me. Knocks hand against forehead.

Last week I did an email interview for Finn Harvor’s blog Conversations in the Book Trade (I don’t think it has posted yet). He asked me an interesting question. He wanted to know if I thought there were too many literary agents working currently in the field.

Jokingly I replied that when I’m vying against several other agents for the same client, then yes, I’d have to say there are way too many agents.

Guess what happens today? I read a fab project that I must have. I have a great conversation with the author. And yep, you know it. Five other agents also want to sign her.

Five good agents. Five agents that are tough competition (I grumble to myself). I’m happy to be one of the five but lol, too many agents!

But if you’re reading (and you know who you are), pick me. Hehe

(hey, do you think this blog gives me an edge on the competition?)

Friday, January 26, 2007

No Agent Answers Hotline

STATUS: Everything is in chaos because my agency is moving to larger office space starting this weekend. I’m carefully marking boxes that have the “must open immediately” important stuff like my contracts that are currently in process. Now half the boxes have the urgent pink label on it. Hum…

What’s playing on the iPod right now? WHITE FLAG by Dido

Just recently I’ve been receiving a rash of phone calls from writers who are calling because they want free advice about their publishing career. I don’t know why but this always surprises me. Do they think I’m going to actually return these calls? I’m nice but…

Now I realize that by writing my blog, I’m putting myself out there and that writers will often feel like they “know” me but I want to gently remind all readers that I’m not a personal consultant that a writer can just ring up and get a question answered. This isn’t the agent answers hotline (but heck, that’s a brilliant concept for an enterprising individual!).

I’m certainly committed to helping writers. Just know that the extent of my free advice is what I give via my blog and my eNewsletter.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Samurai Agent!

STATUS: Just chuckling. Smart Bitches asks if AN ACCIDENTAL GODDESS cover can be saved. Answer is NO but the general consensus is that the story inside is totally worth braving the ABBA dancing queen cover. If you read my blog regularly, y’all already know how Linnea and I feel about that cover.

But thank goodness Bantam came to their senses. Check out this treat (and nary a spandex covered Barbie doll proportioned chest in sight). GAMES OF COMMAND is releasing in one month, so put it on your wish list.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? A LITTLE LESS CONVERSATION by Elvis Presley

An agent friend of mind sent the link for the last-samurai-agent my way today and I just had to laugh.

I think I might try out this technique next time I’m in New York. Not.

But I feel like a slacker. I just knew I wasn’t going that extra distance to get those increases in advances for my authors.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Photoshop That Baby?

STATUS: Just got the new Korean copies for ENCHANTED, INC. Man, I’m just so tickled because I think the cover is darling.

Random House JoongAng/Korea

What’s playing on the iPod right now? WALKING IN MEMPHIS by Mark Cohn

I want to say first off that I can completely sympathize with authors concerning the trauma involved in having a headshot taken.

My current picture on my website (see it here) was taken during the Denver Magazine 5280 photo shoot for the profile they did on me. Great photographer. Good lighting. But I’m telling you, that young lad took over 200 pictures of me and when it was time to select a photo for the magazine spread, there were only two shots I remotely liked. I’m not that photogenic super close up.

So I feel your pain. Get out the photoshop, baby!

But I want to caution authors to resist that particular temptation. Why? Because I think you should look like your author shot. There is nothing more startling than meeting an author in person and he or she looks nothing like the photo and if the photo is better than the in-person moment, well, it’s downright awkward. I’m as politically correct as the next person but it sometimes hard to hide the shock.

And that’s certainly not the response you want your fans to have when meeting you.

Now I do think you should like your author shot and redo it until you get it right (however you define that.) You have to live with it after all.

If you detest the whole author photo thing, than you can get creative. I think it’s Kim Harrison whose author photo consists of a long shot of her from behind walking down a wooded road. I love that shot. Very dramatic and mood setting which kind of fits the books she writes.

No contract ever stipulates that it has to be a headshot of the author (at least none that I’ve seen.) I’ve also seen great author shots where the writer is anonymous because they are wearing a hat dipped low or something similar.

Photoshop is not the only option.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Wait Until I Lose 20 Pounds

Note: Blogger was down last night so even though I had created this entry, I couldn't post it. Sorry about that.

STATUS: Just finished working on a contract so I’m a little cross-eyed.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? PUT YOUR RECORDS ON by Corinne Bailey Rae

This contract took a bit of time because it was my first at this particular publisher and as an agent, I have to establish by kick-butt boilerplate.

I was struck by one of the clauses though. It read, “The Author will deliver to the Publisher on or before the Delivery Date for the book a selection of color photographs of the author cleared of all necessary permissions.” Now my authors have always provided an author photo with cleared permissions but it’s never been a contractual clause before so I was a little surprised to see it.

Now I’ve had more than one client delay the getting of the author photo because they wanted to lose a little weight. I understand the desire, believe me, but with these kinds of clauses popping into contracts, there can be no more procrastination (or there can be up until the book is d&a so I guess set a diet/exercise schedule if you’re adamant about the photo weight you want).

One client even begged me to give her six more months to get author shot ready and I had to ask, very kindly of course, what the likelihood of her achieving that goal in 6 months if she hadn’t done so before now. Well, she had to laugh at that.

And you know what, she did the author shot a week later and she looked terrific. Outright lovely.

So I realize that we are all a little self-critical when it comes to our own body images but I say, stuff that. You are who you are. Be proud of the way you look and no more procrastinating on your author shot.

Besides, your contract just might not let you.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Got Conflict?

STATUS: Wow it’s late but I’m finally getting around to writing this entry from home. Long day.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? DOWNTOWN TRAIN by Tom Waits

Over the weekend, I read about 100 queries (and in case people take notes on this sort of thing, we requested sample pages for 36 out of those 100 queries). That’s actually rather high (so great job on those queries folks). The number is usually around 15 or 20.

But as I was reading all these queries, something became pretty crystal clear to me. I would finish reading the letter and then ask myself, but what is the story?

If I had to ask that question, it was a NO.

So let me expand on what seemed to be the issue. Since I can’t really talk about any one query specifically, all I can point to is general elements.

Most of the queries end up following this structure:

Paragraph 1 describes the setting.
Paragraph 2 highlights the character traits of the main protagonist and who he or she interacts with, and maybe a little bit of his or her back story.
Paragraph 3 details the villain, the love interest, a second protagonist, who they interact with and some back story.

Then there might be some reference to them tackling a conspiracy, an issue, a mystery, or a need to reach a destination (etc.) together.

Now all of the above are great things to have in a query (make no mistake) but ultimately, these details are all set up and don’t answer the question, “but what is the story actually about?”

What is the main conflict that will make this story about these characters worth reading? Be sure that your query letter answers that question. As a reader, we need to know what is at stake. Without it, it’s a lot of frosting but no cake. Now I love frosting as much as the next person but it’s the cake that gives a query substance and is often the deciding factor between a YES or a NO.

So, got conflict?

Friday, January 19, 2007

It Takes A Freakin’ Village To Buy A Book

STATUS: TGIF! I’m feeling decent. Did I finish everything on my list for today? No but I came close and that’s always amazing since I usually have 10 things that have to be done and only one actually gets accomplished. I have two outstanding things that I’ll finish up (probably tomorrow) and email off to my clients. What’s that adage about all work and no play?

What’s playing on the iPod right now? TUB THUMPING by Chumbawamba

When I stop to actually think about it, I’m generally amazed that any book gets bought at all. Why? Because think about the levels of difficulty involved in the process. Sometimes it’s hard enough to find that one editor who loves it and will champion it through the process but since books are bought by committee, it’s darn near a miracle when an editor gets the second reads and the editorial director in love with it as well (not to mention the marketing director and sometimes the publisher). In reality, it takes a village (of at least 5 or 6 publishing people) to buy a book.

So imagine how heartening it is to find not just one editor who loves a work on submission but three and then imagine how heartbreaking it is to have those editors go for second reads, get full support from those reads to take it to ed. Board, get folks excited there, but ultimately the offer gets squelched from a higher up like the editorial director or the publisher and boom, the project gets no offer.

Rejection is always painful but nothing compares to that. To know your book might not be bought solely because of market conditions and not because of lack of talent or because no editors felt the love.

Squashed by the bottom line.

In general, that tends to tick me off as an agent but as I’ve said before and will probably say again. Publishing is a business. P&L statements are the ultimate decision-makers.

End of story.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Perseverance Pays Off

STATUS: Triumph. Maybe. With technology I’m always a little skeptical but supposedly we have fixed all the errors with the e-Newsletter subscribe process. So, subscribe away.

And here’s another hint about our electronic submission database that we’ve recently discovered. Don’t try and upload your sample pages from your workplace (besides, wink, aren’t you suppose to be working?). Several writers have knocked their heads against the company’s stringent firewall that won’t allow uploads. Even if you’re on your coffee break, you should wait until you get home.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? DON’T WORRY, BE HAPPY by Bobby McFerrin

It’s no secret that many authors lament the stingy promotional budget/plan they receive from their publishers—if they even receive one at all.

But here’s a nice encouraging story. I have an author who sells well but certainly would be considered mid-list. For the last two years, she has plugged away mightily on her own promotional campaign—always keeping her editor in the loop. And her publisher has certainly done some terrific publicity stuff in conjunction with her efforts but nothing higher end.

But personal perseverance is finally paying off. Her publisher plans to cough up some dough for her next book release.

So even though you may feel like your wallowing all by your lonesome in the promotional dark, your unstinting and determined efforts can eventually translate into publisher dollars. Publishers like to see that can-do attitude and will often reward authors who soldiered on by themselves to start with.

Just a thought to keep in mind when embracing that daunting task called self-promotion.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

The Phone Is Your Friend

STATUS: My shoulder blades hurt from trying to handle all the tech problems on top of all the client work I need to review. I plan to finish up a lot of stuff tomorrow which excites me. Newsletter subscribe/opt-in is still an issue but I think we have finally nailed down the problem.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? HARDER TO BREATH by Maroon 5

Agents must be snowed under in January or doing “housekeeping” without informing some of their clients because I’ve been seeing some posts on the writer sites I visit where the writer is lamenting about their incommunicado agent.

I realize that a lot of authors don’t have a close, communicative relationship with their agents, so it feels like “bothering them” when they have questions, need to know the status of a submission, or generally want to career strategize. But remember, they work for you.

If you are sending emails with no response for weeks on end, you need to know that the telephone is your friend. Pick it up and call.

At the very least you can confirm that there is no problem with your ISP or with your emails getting spam blocked if you leave a voicemail message.

Your agent may take several days to get back to you (he or she could be out of town, out sick whatever), but if weeks go by without a return call, then some of your questions are starting to be answered. You haven’t been demanding; has this agent lost that loving feeling?

Personally I think it’s an awful way for an agent to dissolve a relationship but I’ve heard of it happening that way often enough. You need confirmation so you can begin to move on and find that agent who will embrace you and your work and you can’t do that if you are stuck in limbo.

Get courageous. Pick up the phone.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Look! A Contest Without A Fee.

STATUS: Just when I think I’ve tamed technology… yes, there is an issue with the double opt in section of subscribing to the newsletter (you might be getting a system error message). We’re on it. It should be fixed by now but try again tomorrow and let me know via the blog comments if you are still having issues. Thanks y’all.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? MANIC MONDAY by The Bangles
(this just might be my theme song) Manic everyday.

I know, I know. I’m a little slow to ring the death knell of the Sobol Awards over here at the Pubrants blog. I was delighted of course and not in the least bit surprised. If you haven’t heard the news, the contest is no more.

Now what does surprise me is how much Simon & Schuster’s imprint Touchstone/Fireside desires to publish a winner of a contest. They’ve lined up another possibility but this time, there’s no fee! It’s open to any unpublished author with a full manuscript.

You post the first chapters and the world (a la American Idol style) gets to vote on which manuscripts make the cut and go on. Well, the world of subscribers that is. Final judging compliments of Carolyn K. Reidy, the president of the adult publishing group at S&S, and George Jones, chief executive of Borders.

Here’s the article in the book section of the NY Times.

Here’s the website for You need to sign up (which is also free) to get more details.

But the winner gets a book contract from Touchstone and 5k from (and no silliness about being repped by an “agency” that has never brokered a publishing deal).

Now that’s a contest I can support. Go check it out.

(heads up about the contest compliments of my client Mari Mancusi)

Monday, January 15, 2007

Glitch! Take Two.

STATUS: Quiet in publishing because it’s MLK day. Take a moment to think about the impact he had on our world today.

I’m happy to say that the e-newsletter is undergoing a few tweaks and will probably be sent out by Friday. Don’t forget that the subscription process is a double opt in so there’s no chance of spamming. You must respond to the email sent to you in order to be officially on the mailing list.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? SAILING by Christopher Cross

Let’s go from computer glitches to writer glitches because these might be the real rejection culprits. Are you ready to get critical and be honest about your manuscript? If so, here are some thoughts to keep in mind.

1. If writing suspense, is your story basically one long chase scene? This is a tough call because there appears to be a lot of events happening but ultimately, when the plot is broken down, and all you have are long, involved chase scenes, you’re going to run into problems.

2. In fantasy, how many scenes do you have where the main characters are sitting around a fire, dinner, at a table (insert whatever) and chatting? Don’t mistake event summary as actual action or scene building. In fact, do we need this summary? Good writers seamlessly interweave any summations to allow the story forward momentum.

3. In all genres, have you mistaken dialogue for action or scene building or for characterization? Remember, there has to be a balance. It can’t be all dialogue at the sacrifice of the other stuff. Some folks are great dialoguers. Don’t rely on your strength to carry a whole novel.

4. I see this a lot in fantasy. Do you have dramatic or action-packed scenes that are great but ultimately don’t further the story any? This is the hardest to be honest about because you love these scenes. They are sooooooo good but if they don’t help to develop the story, you’re going to get dinged.

5. Are you so in love with your characters that you have them do all sorts of fun stuff in scenes but ultimately these scenes don’t interconnect to the main story unfolding? Misguided character love has caused many a downfall for submissions received.

Can you list what actually physically happens in your story? Do it. How many things are on that list? Too many and your story is underdeveloped. Too few and it hasn’t got enough meat to it.

You’d be surprised at how often I pass on good, solid writing simply because nothing happens. Now with literary fiction, you’ve got a little more leeway but it’s the kiss of death for commercial mainstream and genre fiction.

Friday, January 12, 2007


STATUS: Friday and it’s really freezing in Denver.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? TRULY MADLY DEEPLY by Savage Garden

It was simply a matter of time before problems with the new electronic submission database reared their ugly little heads. Don’t fret though. We are committed to fixing all the problems. Just be sure to email us with a heads up that the error is occurring for you if you can’t upload the sample pages.

So far the culprits seem to be one of two things: 1) the firewall connected with the writer’s ISP and 2) an issue with the uploader’s internet browser.

Thanks for your patience as we work on the glitches.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Book Snob Kryptonite

STATUS: It feels like it should be Friday already. The five day work week is so overrated.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? I’LL BE AROUND by Joan Osborne

I have an interesting book in my collection. An editor friend sent me CONFESSIONS OF AN HEIRESS by Paris Hilton last year or it might have been the year before last. I can’t remember.

I gobbled it up in one sitting. I found it hilarious and highly entertaining. And I’m no book snob, so I stuck it on my coffee table to share with the world.

Then an interesting thing started to occur. Friends would come over and instantly be horrified that I was so proudly displaying such a crass book.

But what I noticed is that these book snobs couldn’t keep their hands off of it. They just had to pick it up and start reading. Inevitably they would become engrossed in the book (as the evening continued around them).

Paris Hilton's confessions was a book snob’s kryptonite!

Interestingly enough, I hear these same similar remarks about romance novels (“how can you read that stuff” etc.) and imagine the horror if any of those folks found out that a book they actually read and enjoyed would be considered romance (happens more than you think!).

What’s my point? None really, except maybe book snobbery is silly. Read what you enjoy and be proud of it.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Editors Get Serious About Historical Romance

STATUS: Feeling pretty good. Our new submission database is up and running—and smoothly to boot. No glitches have been discovered as of yet. I took my last two bins overflowing with paper down to recycling. It should be the last bunch—although there are a few paper sample pages request still out and about. Of course we’ll honor our request and read those submissions when they arrive. We do keep a log of requested material and cross-check with what arrives.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? BE OUR GUEST from Disney’s Beauty and The Beast Soundtrack.

Now this is a sign that cannot be ignored.

First, an editor emailed me today and said she would be willing to cut off her left foot to get her hands on a good historical romance.

That’s serious folks.

Then not an hour later, I was having a phone chat with another editor at a completely different house who said, “I’m dying to see some historicals—but none of that drawing room chatty stuff. I like adventure with my romance.”

You heard it here folks. I’ve been telling you the tide is turning for this arena and editors are now getting serious about wanting to acquire historicals.

So hop to it.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Not A Lick Of Work

STATUS: I’m pretty excited because the Nelson Agency is launching our brand spanking new e-Newsletter starting next week. It’s going to include all kinds of special info that won’t be divulged on the blog. So if you are interested, you might want to sign up so you don’t miss the inaugural issue.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? WAR The Cardigans

Today was a complete wash, work-wise, because I answered my summons for jury duty. Now I’ve been called in the past but I’ve basically sat in a big room for a whole morning without my number being called. I got to leave by noon.

Not today. This morning I was actually selected to sit through the juror selection process. A criminal assault case (third degree) no less (but don’t worry, the judge clearly said there was no gag order and we were welcome to discuss it freely).

Law & Order it’s not.

Twelve prospective jurors sat in the jury box to start the process (10 alternates sat off to the side and observed). The attorney for the prosecution began the questioning with the defense attorney allowed her turn afterwards. Initial question period was 15 minutes each.

I’m not sure what I expected but here were the two questions I personally received:

1. Has anyone ever made me angry enough that I was provoked to violence?

Answer is no by the way.

2. Could I maintain the presumption of innocence even if the defendant chose not to testify or explain his actions in the alleged assault?

I answered yes.

The attorney also questioned whether the race of the defendant (African American) and the race of the person pressing charges (Latino) would be a factor. We all answered NO. It would be interesting to know how that eventually played into who stayed on the jury and who were dismissed. I’m sure our individual races as jury members were factors in the selection.

I was also surprised by how much the defense attorney was allowed to lead the questioning in the jury selection process. She asked whether we could believe in a self-defense argument if the defendant was larger than the complainant.

Gee, I wonder where that question was leading to.

I didn’t get to find out because I was dismissed as well as a white male corporate attorney, a white male airline pilot, an older white woman of Southern origins who described herself as a housewife, a Latina woman whose English, by her own admission was only so-so, a white cocktail waitress who had mentioned the at she had been moved to violence several times, a Puerto Rican man who admitted that he would need the defendant to testify to understand the case, and a retired Latino gentleman who seemed pretty neutral to me.

Those who remained were a white stay-at-home mom, two Latina grandmothers (one retired and the other worked line-assembly for machinery), a Latino 18-year old high school student (no kidding, he was going to have to take off from school to sit on the jury), an older white woman who managed contracts for an oil/petroleum company, and a serious African American gentleman who looked to be in his 30s and who was an alternate to sit on the jury when a young woman asked to be excused because she was dealing with the recent death of her daughter (that startled the jury panel). I can’t remember his profession but it was pretty late in the day by then (and that was another interesting tidbit because we all had to state our name, profession, marital status, and some hobbies).

All in all, the whole day was fascinating. On one hand, I was relieved to be dismissed so I wouldn’t miss another day of work. On the other hand, it could be really educational and interesting to see the trial unfold.

But the end result was the same. Not a lick of work got done today.

Monday, January 08, 2007

A Call But Not THE Call

STATUS: It’s Monday. Today I went to an editor lunch with Kelly Notaras from Sounds True Audio. Since I mainly do my editor lunches in New York, this was a fun treat. We chatted about Chelsea Green publishing opening an office in Golden, Colorado. Dare I say it? An NYC exodus? Okay, probably not but I’m constantly amazed at how many publishing professionals are moving west. I consider myself on the forefront of the trend…

What’s playing on the iPod right now? EDGE OF SEVENTEEN by Stevie Nicks

Last week I found myself in the interesting position of calling two authors but not because I was offering representation. Sometimes an agent calls but it’s not THE call. You’re probably asking yourself why I would bother if I were passing on a manuscript.

Here’s why. Sometimes the writing is just that good (and in these two instances, I was torn and seriously contemplated whether we could work on revisions with the authors), but ultimately, if I think a manuscript is fatally flawed and it would entail the author revising more than half the work, I have to pass. It’s not fair to them to say, “well, representation is contingent on XYZ first” (despite being sorely tempted).

My goal in calling is to offer encouragement because I believe it’s simply going to be a matter of time before they are in print.

And I’m hoping they’ll think of me for the next project (or maybe they have something else in the cooker I can review so it behooves me to call and ask).

I do consider this to be part of my job. So it’s an important call even if it’s not THE call.

Friday, January 05, 2007

A Little Education—The Fun Way!

STATUS: What am I still doing at the office at 7 p.m. at night on a Friday? Yep, it was that kind of day. Just need to kick out this blog and I’m outta here.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? I WANNA BE A COWBOY by Boys Don’t Cry

My sister-in-law gave me a great gift for the holidays. Now some folks would think it’s dangerous to give an agent a book but my sis-in-law Melissa is pretty darn savvy. She knew just how to tickle my reading fancy.

She gave me a novel that spoofs the publishing industry.

Folks, it’s hilarious. I guffawed loudly many times—much to the dismay of my husband. Thinly disguised real publishing players (but of course, the whole story is fiction—wink). But I don’t post this to my blog just to highlight how entertaining this read is. I’m posting it because I think it’s worth reading if you are serious about writing and publishing because a writer can’t successful spoof unless she nails that core element of truth and boy does Ms. Grimes hit it with a hammer.

It’s a nice bit of education—and you’ll have a helluva good time while doing it.

Thursday, January 04, 2007

Was That Requested Material?

STATUS: I made quite a few editors excited with the submission I sent out today. Love that.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? AND WHEN I DIE by Blood, Sweat, & Tears

I have to say that most of the writers I talk to and interact with are wonderful. They are interesting, engaging, ask smart questions, follow guidelines, and don’t waste an agent's time.

I just had to chuckle when my agency received a full manuscript out of the blue via the mail two days ago. First off, we never ever ask for a full manuscript to be snail mailed to us. Ever. Even from day one of my agency, I’ve always allowed a writer to send it to me by email. It’s the only time I allow a submission via that medium. Mainly because I don’t ask for that many fulls (54 total last year if you read my statistics entry) and I can do an intense virus scan before allowing that sucker to download.

And as y’all know, even snail mailed paper submissions are a thing of the past here at the Nelson Agency. I’m launching the new electronic submission database this week. The first request emails are probably going out tomorrow. Now if something comes via snail mail, we’ll KNOW that it wasn’t requested.

But I highlight this simply as a gentle reminder that it doesn’t help you or pay to circumvent the system. We really don’t want to read your work unless we’ve asked for it via the query process. Most agents simply discard unrequested material—no response sent.

I know that sounds harsh but I’ve said it here numerous times and I’ll say it again, the sheer volume of what we receive (even when we have actually requested it) is so large, we haven’t got time for the unrequested stuff. And now for us, the unsolicited stuff will be pretty darn obvious and I’m warning you now, we plan to discard it.

It’s also a small test. Do you understand publishing, agenting, and how the submission process works? Can you follow directions, instructions, or guidelines? Even these annoying steps (and I know they are annoying because every agent has his/her own unique, jump through the silly hoops, guidelines) acts as a filter for those who are truly serious about writing and publishing. Only the really serious would take the time to learn the biz and navigate the submission process.

Right there that’s an indicator to us that you have the fortitude and fortitude is an essential quality to becoming a future client.

Wednesday, January 03, 2007

Kristin’s Cheat Sheet

STATUS: I was a working machine today. I got a lot accomplished. Makes me wonder why I haven’t even made a dent in my To Do list for tomorrow.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? WHY CAN’T I BE YOU? By The Cure

Three days into the new year and it’s already clear that I’ll be negotiating some deals in the very near future. Now remember I did that whole Agenting 101 series starting back in late June 2006. So search the archives if you want to see the whole run-down on how to negotiate a deal.

Today I thought it might be fun to share my Deal Points check list. It’s my quick and dirty reminder of all the points that need to be discussed in the initial negotiation. All agents have one. It helps to keep an electronic paper record of all the points—especially if there is a lot of back and forth during the negotiation with points changing.

Once the deal concludes, I email the editor a copy of my deal points memo for written confirmation that our negotiations match.

I tell you. It’s saved me once or twice when an editor has left a house after contracting for a book but the contracts hadn’t been generated yet or were generated but something’s missing. In general, I just like being anal and detailed-oriented.

Ask what editorial changes will be needed.
Ask for potential pub date.

1. Rights Granted (If World involved, ask for confirm of splits, reversion in 18-24 months. If audio is involved, ask for a reversion in one year if publisher hasn't sold it)

2. Advance
3. Payout
4. Royalty structure

5. Bonus clauses (I have a whole separate notes section for kinds of bonuses I want to ask for etc.)

6. option clause (Limit option clause to one name/pseudonym/next in series/or type of work)

7. No US-only Spanish language (however, if must give, ask for 1 year reversion clause, same royalty percentage, and for it to be excluded from the option)

9. Publication time frame (as in 12 months, 18, or 24)

10. No Joint Accounting if multi-book deal

11. Discuss non-compete clause/second option for smaller work (see publication house specific notes below) –These I’m not sharing because it would take too long to include.

12. Add reserved rights clause: "All rights not specifically granted hereunder are reserved by the Author, including, but not limited to US-Only Spanish Language, translation, motion picture, television, radio, calendar, commercial merchandising, audio, video, electronic, multimedia and/or interactive electronic rights."
(This sentence changes depending on rights granted.)

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Kickstart the New Year

STATUS: The new year is off to a roaring start. The first day back in the office is always chaos but today I got lots of exciting news. My author Ally Carter is going to be a spotlight author at Book Expo 2007 and audio rights just sold for the second book in her series. Then an editor called to express excitement for a project that went on submission right before the holidays. Now that’s a first day back in the office. Can’t get much better—unless, of course, an editor had called to actually offer.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? THE BED’S TOO BIG WITHOUT YOU by The Police

Did you guys miss knowing what was playing on the iPod for the last two weeks? Seriously, I needed some new downloads for Christmas. It’s one of those things that I do when I have time and I should have had plenty of time over the holidays while being trapped in Denver with about 4 feet of snow. But did I? No. Must have been all the eggnog I drank instead.

I am glad to be back although I really enjoyed my blog break. Consequently, these blogging muscles feel a little rusty but lucky for you it’s a two-fer.

One here and one posted over at Romancing The Blog. I say that’s kickstarting the new year. Just try not to overload.

So today was an attempt to get back in the swing of things. There’s no hard or fast rule but I usually try and wait until tomorrow before I start calling and haranguing all my editors about the status of current submissions, publicity/marketing plans for upcoming books, and whether they are ready to see what I’ve got cooking.

Just like 1000 other agents, I have submissions to send out but waited until after the holidays to do so. Guess what’s happening tomorrow? I’m sure I just made a bunch of editors either cringe or leap with excited anticipation. Maybe both. After all, they probably cleared off their desks and computer desktops before heading out. That lasted about one week.

Happy New Year folks!