Thursday, January 31, 2008

New Rules For Promotion

STATUS: Boy, I’m not off to a good blogging start in this new year but I promise that I’m not flaking out either. I still plan to blog M-F like normal. I just need to get control of the chaos first!

What’s playing on the iPod right now? WHEN IT’S SLEEPY TIME DOWN SOUTH by Louis Armstrong

Last week I spoke on a panel at the Boulder Bookstore with publicity expert Bella Stander where she outlined for the audience 5 new “rules” that soon-to-be published authors need to know. In fact, we had lunch a week or two before then and that’s when she first unveiled them.

The minute she spoke them aloud, I knew I had to share with my blog readers because I hadn’t thought of this before but she’s spot on.

Most of you already know this but if for some reason you don’t, I’ll tell you the number one rule right now. If you are a published author (or about to be), you need a website. And not some do-it-yourselfer page by the way. You want to pay someone for his or her expertise in this field because that does make a difference.

But here’s what most authors don’t know. That website needs to be up and ready before the book is actually published. In fact, that website should be up and running when the catalog copy is being done for your book.

Why? Because your publisher is going to be sending out ARCs to reviewers and to other terrific people who have the power to give you a plug, and it’s at that moment in time when they might want to find information about you and the book quickly and easily. What better way than through your website?

Darn straight! Consider this a new rule to live by and if you want to check out the other four, click here.

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Author Camaraderie

STATUS: Finished up a deal negotiation and continued work on the accounting upgrade. I’ll be so happy when that is complete and all the reports are in order for my Tax CPA.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? I STILL DO by The Cranberries

There are some authors in this world who view themselves in competition with other authors for the ever-shrinkingbook buying dollar slice of the pie. And then there are authors who know and understand that this is a unique community, that book buyers will buy a range of authors if they are interested enough, and there is no reason not to support each other.

And let me tell you, it’s the latter authors who I want to work with. And nothing proves that good karma goes around and comes around more than what has happened for debut author Patry Francis.

Here’s the story if you haven’t heard it. Patry is ill with a cancer and knew she would not be able to promote the release of her debut as most authors do.

So what did the writing community decide to do? They decided to pitch in and promote it for her since she was unable to. Over 300 bloggers committed to participating in THE LIAR’S DIARY blog day.

Check this out by clicking on some links. Here’s an article in the Sun-Sentinal about the effort. Here’s some more at Red Room, Lit Park, and Backspace.

Look at all the links on Technorati!

Wow! And of course some of my authors joined the party, but here’s what I want to say. Don’t ever let anyone convince you that publishing is “an every person for him or herself” industry because it’s not. There is a real community of writers and if you haven’t got connected, ask yourself why not?

Monday, January 28, 2008

Grumpy About WGA Strike

STATUS: Mail arrived! Hooray. Huge stack too. And there were royalty statements and checks. I told you so.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? FIND THE RIVER by R.E.M.

Most normal people might be grumpy because of the dearth of interesting programming on the telly right now. I’m annoyed because it’s keeping one of my projects in film limbo because the script needs reworking. Since the screenwriters are on strike, no revisions allowed.

I got a call today from my film co-agent just to update me that there is no update. Good to know and I’m glad she called, just to stay in touch. (It tells me she’s still employed; there are lots of rumors about mass firings that may be imminent in Hollywood).

But I’m sure I’m not alone in thinking, “who do I need to bribe to get the parties back to the negotiating table?”

Starbucks anyone? I’m buying.

Friday, January 25, 2008

Mail, Mail, Where Can You Be?

STATUS: TGIF! I concluded a negotiation today which always feels good. The author is, of course, thrilled.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? AIN’T NOBODY BUT ME by Supertramp

This isn’t a publishing rant per se but it’s rather indirectly related. On Monday, the office lobby floor was retiled. In order to do that, the workers moved our mailbox center.

Let’s just say it was resting sideways on the stairs when I came in on Tuesday morning. I thought it a little odd but I certainly wasn’t able to move it so there it stayed. Well, Tuesday afternoon, the mail person comes to deliver the mail (and with MLK in there, more than the usual stack). He was in a huff because he had to come to each office instead of putting mail in the box like normal. Just to clarify, my office building isn’t large. On the second floor, there are only 8 suites—several of which are currently empty and awaiting new tenants. I understand that it was an inconvenience and outside of what a mail person would normally have to do to deliver the mail but it wasn't a big deal either and probably took all of 8 minutes to do.

But I guess it was because since then, I haven’t received another piece of mail all week—even though the mailbox center was put back.

Now, I know we do everything electronically here but seriously, not a day goes by where we don’t get a piece of mail. And we are expecting royalty statements and checks.

We had to call today and find out why mail hasn’t been delivered. I guess I’ll have to tell my clients that it was circumstances beyond my control on why their monies are late!

Thursday, January 24, 2008

Fire Alarm Approach

STATUS: It’s 7 o’clock at night and I’m trying to squeeze in this blog so I can leave the office.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? KID by The Pretenders

I just spent the last 4 hours with my accountant so my brain is mush.

Here’s what I want to say tonight though. Lots of authors are on chat loops. Normally this is a great thing; I encourage it.

But when rumors start to fly on those loops, it can create author panic that then translates into frantic emails to the agent. When that happens, that’s when I like to advise authors to send an email but take everything with a grain of salt and send a “not sure if you’ve heard the rumors but I know you like being in the loop so I’m sending what I’m hearing” email instead.

Works the same but without the fire alarm approach.

There may or may not be truth to the rumors and why be upset over something that might not be true? Trust me, when it’s proven to be true, your agent will be plenty upset and pissed off on your behalf.

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Interminable Length Of Time

STATUS: Don’t mind me. I just took an extended MLK holiday! Seriously, I just forgot to blog yesterday. I had 3 meetings and the third one didn’t end until 8 p.m. I kept thinking I was forgetting something but it didn’t occur to me until this morning that it was the blog entry.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? ORANGE COLORED SKY by Natalie Cole

Very few of my blog readers probably suffer from the misassumption that publishing moves quickly once an offer is made.

But just in case you do think that, let me make it clear for the record that publishing moves at a snail’s pace that probably wouldn’t be tolerated in other industries. And lately, it seems, publishing houses are moving at an interminably slow pace when it comes to mailing out contracts for deals recently made. Ninety-five year old grandmothers on the highway in their Buicks move faster than publishers. And personally, I don’t think claiming “the holidays” is enough of an excuse.

Let me give you just a sampling of what agents like me are dealing with.

In November (2007), I concluded the deal points for two offers. Just this week I received a contract for one of those deals, and I’m still waiting on the contract for the other. And trust me, it’s not like this delay went unnoticed. I’ve been prodding since early December.

So what I’m saying is that my job often entails loud and frequent whining.

Here’s another example. For a deal “concluded” in late October, I received the contracts the first week in December (which isn’t too bad actually). It took my contracts manager and me about a week to review and then write up the letter to the contracts director at the publishing house.

Now we have been waiting a month and three weeks for a response. Yes the holidays were in the middle of that and yes, I can be flexible but when we are three weeks into the new year without a response, the you-know-what has hitteth the fan.

So what can an agent do? Well, we can give an ultimatum (as in if I don’t have the contract by XYZ date, the deal is off) but that is rarely what an author wants. After all, they have accepted this offer for a reason. Sometimes, it’s necessary though and when push has come to shove and a deadline has been given, response time quickens remarkably.

Funny how that happens…

Friday, January 18, 2008

Boilerplate Item Du Jour (take 2)

STATUS: TGIF! I have so much to do this weekend…

What’s playing on the iPod right now? CRASH INTO ME by Dave Matthews Band

The best defense is a strong offense.

What do I do about Publisher insistence on assuming that graphic novel rights is a boilerplate item? I immediately make it clear that it is not at the BEGINNING of each negotiation so there can be no misunderstanding early on.

That also establishes to the publishers that regardless of what they think, where my agency is concerned, graphic novel rights is not a boilerplate item.

I do the same thing at the beginning of a negotiation for a possible multi-book deal. Right when the editor calls, I announce that my agency does not do joint accounting so are we talking about one book or two?

And that takes it off the table right from the start. It won’t be a point of dissension for later.

Now graphic novel rights aren’t quite the same thing as joint accounting so I still expect a discussion or argument but my position is at least clear from minute one.

Have a great weekend.

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Boilerplate Item Du Jour

STATUS: Every day it’s another piece of good news for Ally Carter and her Gallagher Girl series. Today, it’s the news that she just debuted on the Publishers Weekly Top 15 children’s bestseller list (Jan. 14th issue) and if that weren’t enough, I’D TELL YOU I LOVE YOU has just landed on the USA Today Top 150 bestselling books (granted at #148) but that’s still big news because this list encompasses children’s and adult fiction titles. So quite the coup.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? HOME by Michael BublĂ©

Sometimes I just want to shake my head. About a year ago, Random House did a big push to say that US-only Spanish language rights would now be a “boilerplate” item on all their contracts. Do you remember this? Maybe some enterprising reader can look up that entry or series of entries and provide the link.

Agents pushed back and said, no, it’s not a boilerplate item; it’s a granted right—just like UK, translation, audio etc. It’s not automatically granted to the publisher. It must be specifically requested and included when discussing the event.

So the new boilerplate item du jour is graphic novel rights. A year ago, never saw this. It was never even mentioned or brought up in the deal points negotiation. Now, I’m starting to hear publishers say that this is a “boilerplate” item and corporate policy.

Here we go again.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

God Bless International Tax Attorneys

STATUS: I’m generally annoyed but can’t really talk much about why. Maybe later. In good news though, Ally Carter is still on the NYT list. Yahoo! CROSS MY HEART has been on for 8 weeks and is at #6. I’D TELL YOU I LOVE YOU has now been on for 3 weeks and we’re holding on to the #2 spot. Now that never fails to bring a smile to my face.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? THE BIG SKY by Kate Bush

IRS—that should sum up my day. Do you know what I did this week? I paid a nice hefty sum to my International tax attorney to write me up a memo that clearly outlines what the agency’s responsibilities are for tax withholding and reporting for my clients who are citizens of Australia, Ireland, and Canada.

This is something that should be accomplished via a free phone call to the IRS but after the fourth transfer and conflicting answers (see previous blog about this), I decided it was worth the money to confirm the letter of the law from an expert (and no, that would not be an IRS representative).

I have to say that Cara, the International Tax Attorney, is my new best friend. The minute I asked her my questions, it was clear that I was not speaking in a foreign language and she knew exactly what I was talking about. Such a pleasant experience.

This was a fifteen page memo that I’m really not going to sum up in one blog entry but I can hit on the high points.

And folks, I’m just sharing this for fun. This in no way substitutes for tax advice from a professional and should not be considered so.

1. Ascertain the foreign author’s country of permanent residence and whether they are a citizen there.

2. Check the tax treaty for specifics on what is the withholding percentage allowed as well as what type of royalty income is covered by the treaty. (For example, Ireland has 0% withholding on everything. Canada is also 0% withholding except for royalties earned from film/tv. Such fun to keep this all straight.)

3. Have foreign author complete W7 form for an ITIN (international tax id number) which will be needed for the W8BEN form which must be on file.

4. Have foreign author fill out the W8BEN form correctly. If they don’t, agency must withhold 30% for U.S. taxes regardless of what the tax treaty says (so this is crucial)

5. Report to the IRS amount withheld or not withheld on form 1042-S. If withholding was done, monies need to be sent to the IRS at a specific time and with a whole other form. The IRS can’t tell you what you actually need to do but woe is you if you don’t get it there in time.

So basically what I’m saying is that I’m good to go with any foreign author clients from Australia, Ireland, and Canada so query away.

If you are a non-US citizen and resident of somewhere else, it’s back to Cara and a whole new memo…and no, that wouldn’t keep me from taking you on but I’d have to especially love your manuscript to take on the trouble.

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Got Trilogy?

STATUS: Note to self: don’t eat wasabi peas until your lips start burning.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? SUBTERRANEAN HOMESICK BLUES by Bob Dylan

I haven’t dispensed any query letter words of wisdom lately so I’ll toss this one out there. Lots of writers are writing trilogies. Excellent. I have great admiration for those of you with a big enough vision and an outlined game plan to see the full story unfold over 900 potential pages and in three books (seriously, I’m in awe.)

But here’s what you need to focus on in your query letter: book one of the trilogy. If you can’t get an agent interested in this book, it’s rather a moot point that you have two sequels if you get my meaning.

So in your query, focus your pitching on that first book. If you want to mention in your query letter wrap-up paragraph that you envision this as a first book in a trilogy, no worries. Mention it but that’s it. No plot summaries for book 2 and 3.

Sell me on book 1; then we can talk.

Monday, January 14, 2008

Redux: To Deal Or Not Deal Lunch?

STATUS: Soon (she says hopefully) the accounting upgrade will finish and life will be happier.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? CARUSO by Paul Potts

Someone in the comments section was nice enough to provide a link to my former post on this topic. When I took a look at it, I realized there were a couple of other reasons why an agent might not want to post sale news on deal lunch that I hadn’t included.

So, other reasons to keep the news on the down low (so to speak).

1. An author may be concluding a contract with one publisher but has already sold and established a new contract with a new publisher for future books. In order not to lose support from the current publisher, the author might prefer that the new sales information is not shared.

2. An agent has just sold a timely book project on a hot topic that might have competing titles in the works. The sale is kept under hat so as not to tip off the competition. The point is to hopefully have this title release before the others do. (This is more of an issue with nonfiction than fiction.)

If I think of other reasons, I’ll share.

Friday, January 11, 2008


STATUS: TGIF. I’m in the middle of negotiating several different deals this week, which has made life particularly hectic on top of all the “normal” stuff.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? NEVER LET ME DOWN AGAIN by Depeche Mode

You probably have to be living under a rock not to have heard all of the hullaballoo happening over at the Smart Bitches Blog and the possible allegations of plagiarism and romance writer Cassie Edwards.

If you are living there and haven’t heard, you might want to pop over there to check it out. (Stories are also running on the AP and hence in a lot of major newspapers.)

I’m not really going to jump into the discussion per se because I think most of the pertinent things have been said.

If you remember there was another recent brouhaha with the OPAL MEHTA novel scandal and the plagiarism of established author Megan McCafferty. In both cases, I must say I felt a small pang for the editors involved. Why? Because I’d be silly not to live in fear of the possibility happening with one of my clients, and I missed it.

When pointed out so clearly, it seems like the misuse should have been clear as day but egads, what if you had never read Megan’s SLOPPY FIRSTS (so didn’t catch the obvious echo) or, because you are so used to the author’s style, you just missed the change in tone for the passages in question? Makes me sick to my stomach just thinking about that.

So for all my clients, a message. Don’t plagiarize and if you remotely have a question on whether content could be “paraphrased,” for heavens sake ask me!

I know the rules. I was an English College Professor for years and had to teach this stuff and how to cite and attribute correctly (based on several different styles: MLA, Chicago AP etc.) I’ll be happy to guide you.

And for all those non-clients reading this, use this incident as a learning moment to be warned, to be careful, and to be knowledgeable about what plagiarism is.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

All By Myself….

STATUS: Beside myself with all the good news. Seriously, how can next January compete? I just found out today that my debut author Sherry Thomas is going to have a starred Publishers Weekly review for Private Arrangements in the January 14th issue. That’s almost unheard of for a debut. Congrats Sherry!

What’s playing on the iPod right now? MAGIC MAN by Heart

But not anymore. I’ve got really fun news to share. Denver, Colorado is going to get another terrific literary agent and no, this agent isn’t coming aboard here at Nelson Agency (although I wouldn’t have minded that!). It’s Kate Schafer—formerly of the Janklow & Nesbit Agency of New York.

She’s opening up her own show as KT Literary in South Denver.

Together, we are going to put Denver on the map for literary agents! No more “and where are you located” by the publishing world.

Okay, so we might have a few more years until that happens but welcome Kate.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

My 8 New Clients And Where They Came From

STATUS: Oh baby. Ally Carter is still on! This week, CROSS MY HEART AND HOPE TO SPY is at #5 on the New York Times hardcover list and I’D TELL YOU I LOVE YOU BUT THEN I’D HAVE TO KILL YOU is #2 on the NYT paperback list. Do I see #1 in our future? I’m praying for it!

What’s playing on the iPod right now? YOU GOT LUCKY by Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers

I’m really starting this year on a roll. I just took on a new client today. With that in mind, it occurred to me that I didn’t really explain how I found the 8 new clients from last year and that info might make for an interesting blog. Or not. Let me know.

If the client has already sold, I used his/her name.

Brooke Taylor—young adult
Brooke is an interesting story. I actually met her in person at an RWA chapter conference a year before she queried me with her novel UNDONE. She knew a couple of my authors and had mentioned that info as well as our previous meeting in her query letter. That certainly made me pay more attention to it when it came in.

Sarah Rees Brennan—young adult fantasy
Sarah simply sent a query letter by email—going through our standard email query submission process.

Jamie Ford—literary fiction
Jamie did the same.
Helen Stringer—middle grade fantasy
Helen came to me via an agent friend recommendation. My agent friend doesn’t rep middle-grade so she asked me if she could send this author my way. So glad she did!

Client 5—young adult
This client is a currently published author who had left her previous agent. She knew several of my clients and asked if they would give me a heads up that she would query me about new representation.

Client 6—young adult fantasy
I met this client at the Surrey International Writers Conference in Vancouver, B.C. She had a pitch appointment with me. I loved her title right off so was eager to see sample pages just based on that. She didn’t disappoint!

Client 7—young adult
This client was a direct referral from one of my current clients. She is previously published in the adult world but her agent didn’t want to handle children’s on her behalf so I took her on.

Client 8—women’s fiction
This client was also a direct referral from one of my current clients.

I’m so glad my clients know really great authors who are looking for representation. It certainly helps to have that referral to help you get the agent’s attention, but it’s not the only way. A really good or intriguing query letter or pitch can do the trick as well.

Tuesday, January 08, 2008

Editor Dance

STATUS: Hugely productive day. I cleared the surface area of my desk for the first time in about a month I’d say.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? PROFESSIONAL JEALOUSY by Van Morrison

Today I was de-cluttering the files on my desk when I came across a pile of editor business cards from one of my trips to New York last year.

Often times I jot down a few notes to myself about the meeting or about the editor’s tastes on the back of the card. When I hit the office, I’ll input relevant info into my database for future use.

But what struck me about this pile, and hence the blog, was how many editors had left the business since I had those meetings last year. It was close to half (and these editors, by the way, weren’t new as in assistant or associate editors). They had been in the biz for years.

In fact, I just got an email from one of my favorite editors (with whom I had a client with for many years) that she’s leaving and will be having a baby very shortly. I’m thrilled for her but couldn’t help groaning.

Agents expend a lot of time building our contacts. Of course we’d love the editors to stay put—especially if we match up in tastes etc. There’s nothing worse than the perfect editor who leaves and you can’t match tastes with his/her replacement to save your life. On the flipside, there are several editors I adore personally but to whom I’ll probably never sell a book to because we just don’t share that vision. Invariable those editors stay forever (she smiles wryly). When that happens, it’s a godsend when new blood is brought in to that imprint so I have a fighting chance of landing a client there.

But back to the point. When an editor leaves, agents have to rebuild their contacts. Sometimes it’s easy (maybe there are several like-minded editors at that same imprint and I can focus on another editor there instead), but if there isn’t and a new editor arrives, I add that person to my meeting list for my next NYC trip.

And hope they won’t be leaving the biz in the following year!

Monday, January 07, 2008

The Last Word

STATUS: Busy Monday and I think it’s going to snow this evening.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? I WILL SURVIVE by Cake
(I apologize for the unintended irony but this was the song playing as I typed this.)

I read a story today in the New York Times that made a shiver slide down my spine. The story was of an American soldier blogging about his experience in Iraq for the last five years. Here’s the link to the NYT article and his site. His blog was featured on the website of the Rocky Mountain News.

Nothing new about that; there are a lot of blogging soldiers—except Andrew Olmsted decided to write a final blog, the last word, to be posted in the event of his death.

And he died in Iraq on Jan. 3, 2008; his final entry is posted.

A tribute to the power of blogging, free speech, and to the courage of choosing to have the final word when so often we don’t get the chance.

A moment of silence.

Friday, January 04, 2008

Blog Should Come With A Warning Label

STATUS: It’s been a great week but I’m still glad it’s Friday!

What’s playing on the iPod right now? PROUD MARY by Tina Turner

This might go without saying but just in case, I want to point out here that my blog should come with a warning. Even though I do my best to share information that allows writers to get a good understanding of what happens in the agenting process (because I believe that writers should be as knowledgeable as possible), by no means is my blog a substitute for real expertise.

In other words, don’t use the information learned here in lieu of an agent. Or, god forbid, feel ready to take on agenting yourself. The very thought frightens me!

Seriously. There are some rare exceptions but for the most part, agents learned this biz from other agents who have been in the biz for longer (or was a former editor who learned the ropes from the other side of the fence). Even though I went on my own fairly early in my agenting career, I freely admit that I wouldn’t be where I am now without the incredible selfless mentorship by several powerful agents who, just out of the goodness of their hearts and because we had connected on a personal level, guided me through many a hairy situation where I needed more expertise than I had at that moment in time.

Even though I share a lot on this blog, it’s not even half of what you would need to know to be a good agent.

So please, keep that in mind!

Now on a lighter note, I just couldn’t resist sharing pictures of Chutney in her new holiday hoodie. Just add bling!

Thursday, January 03, 2008

Talking Head

STATUS: I’m still riding high from yesterday’s news!

What’s playing on the iPod right now? (SITTIN’ ON) THE DOCK OF THE BAY by Otis Redding

And the good news just keeps coming.

Hank Phillippi Ryan’s FACE TIME has just been chosen as a January 2008 Book Sense Notable Book.

And PRIME TIME was nominated for a Romantic Times Reviewer’s Choice Award.

And Hank isn’t my only client garnering nominations from RT. DOWN HOME ZOMBIE BLUES by Linnea Sinclair has also been nominated for a Reviewer’s Choice Award in the Futuristic/Fantasy romance category.

Sheesh. I’m going to have high expectations for the beginning of next year.

And sorry in advance for the public service announcement but if you live in Colorado and want to hear me speak (or if you just want to come up and say hello—that’s cool too), here’s an event that my author Kim Reid and I are participating in at the Boulder Bookstore in about two weeks.
The Women’s Voices Series

“So, You Want to Write a Book”
January 20, 2008 - 3-5 p.m.
BOULDER BOOKSTORE (Boulder, Colorado)

Two authors, a literary agent, a publishing house acquisitions editor, and a publicist discuss the process from concept to published book and marketing. This is an outstanding opportunity to discover the inside story about book writing, from dreams to reality! Panelists will be:

Kim Reid, author of the narrative nonfiction memoir No Place Safe (Kensington 2007), her story of a childhood shaped by her cop mother's investigation of an Atlanta serial killer in the early 1980s.

Kristin Nelson, literary agent, who established the Nelson Literary Agency in 2002. Since then, she has sold more than 65 books to such publishers as Random House, Hyperion, Harlequin, Simon & Schuster, Hachette/Warner and the Penguin Group. Her authors are RITA-award winners and New York Times and USA Today bestsellers.

Michelle Dally, author of the novel A Highly Placed Source (Ghost Road Press 2007), a satire that targets Colorado politics, media, and the religious right. She holds a JD from Georgetown, was part of the Denver Post team that won a Pulitzer for its coverage of Columbine, and has worked as a legislative aide to Senator John Chafee (RI), and a lobbyist for a children’s mental health hospital.

Jennifer Coffee, acquisitions editor at Sounds True, a multi-media publisher of tools and teachings for personal and spiritual transformation based in Louisville, Colorado. She holds a BA in Music and Religious Studies and an MA in Buddhist Studies and Tibetan Language from Naropa University.

Bella Stander, promotional consultant and producer of workshops for authors of commercial trade books, is an author’s best friend. She is also a program organizer for the Virginia Festival of the Book and a long-time contributing editor at Publishers Weekly. Her book reviews have appeared in such publications as Entertainment Weekly, People, the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post.

Moderator: Rosemary Carstens, freelance writer, author, and marketing consultant. Rosemary Carstens is the editor of the quarterly e-zine FEAST, about books, art, film, food, and travel. She is the author of DREAMRIDER: Roadmap to an Adventurous Life (2003) and co-author of Sustaining Thought (2007). She has been published in regional and national magazines and is an avid adventure traveler. When not writing or hosting presentations and workshops, two of her favorite leisure activities are surfing the ‘Net and riding crosscountry on her motorcycle, the Road Goddess.

Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Top Dealmaker?

STATUS: What a way to kick off 2008! First I get an offer for a project I have on submission which is how I always like to start the year. Then I get the big, big news. Ally Carter's I'D TELL YOU I LOVE YOU BUT THEN I'D HAVE TO KILL YOU lands on the New York Times paperback bestseller list at #4 and CROSS MY HEART AND HOPE TO SPY, which has already spent 5 weeks on the NYT hardcover list, is back on coming in at #9. Woohoo!!!!

What’s playing on the iPod right now? I ALONE by Live

Thank you all for all your lovely blog comments on my last entry of 2007. I did have to chuckle though. Selling 22 books over the course of one year is not actually a lot. I have many agent friends who sell double or triple that number (although I have to add here that they’ve all been in the biz for a lot longer than I have).

It’s not a high volume and I have to admit that I don’t see myself as ever being a high volume agent. I don’t take on that many clients or that many projects in a given year so there’s a limited quantity of projects to sell. I don’t want to say quality over quantity because that’s not necessarily the case. I have many agent friends doing a quantity of high quality projects and deals. I imagine as my clients grow their careers, the number will increase over the years just on repeat deals alone.

But here’s what’s interesting and why I bring this up. Publishers Marketplace has a new feature called Top Dealmakers on their website. Let me tell you, this has caused some interesting consternation amongst agent friends and here’s why. Our agent reputations are the key to getting future good clients; we want to be known as top dealmakers! Publishers Marketplace can only rank top dealmakers on quantifiable criteria. In other words, they can’t verify that deals actually sold for the money highlighted by the editor or agent (or by the authors themselves) in the announced deal. The only criteria they can use for rating top dealmakers is based on the number of total sales in a given period (and that is, of course, only if the deals are reported). Many agents don’t report deals for a variety of reasons.

I like to think that might be the reason why Michael Cader implemented this new feature to begin with—to encourage deal reporting. Very smart on his part.

But it also means, quite sadly I have to say, that I’ll probably never be a top dealmaker on Pub Marketplace. Right now, I come in at #40 for Fiction as a whole, #26 for women’s/romance, #15 for children’s (that ain’t shabby I guess!), #8 for young adult.

You get the picture. And I have to admit, this entry is solely self-serving. Big smile here. I might not sell a lot of books in any given year but because that is true, I also have to sell what I take on for more money and that’s not captured in the Top Dealmaker ranking.

Is it better for an agent to sell many projects (but all in nice deals) or just a few projects in good, significant, or major deals—in Deal Lunch terms? And the answer to this is purely subjective because it really depends on how each individual sees it.

Unfortunately, Top Dealmaker on Pub Marketplace can’t use that criterion for obvious reasons (although when I was chatting with Michael before the break, we did talk about it).

Maybe that needs to be my 2008 goal. More deals and all for a lot more money. I’m sure my clients wouldn’t say no to that!