Friday, July 31, 2009

The Proverbial Cat Out Of The Bag

STATUS: TGIF! And I’m really ready for a relaxing weekend. No white-water rafting or extreme sports scheduled.

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

When I was at RWA, three different people came up to me and said, “I think it’s absolutely amazing what Sara is doing.”

When I looked at them blankly, they said, “your associate agent, Sara Megibow. I think it’s amazing what she is doing.”

Aha, it finally clicked for me. I knew now what they were talking about but I couldn’t figure out how three totally different people at RWA knew.

It certainly wasn’t some deep dark secret that we were keeping hidden but nor had we made an announcement to the world either.

Except unbeknownst to me, we had. The Boulder Weekly newspaper ran an article on the amazing thing Sara is doing this year and my client Sherry Thomas saw the article and twittered about it.

So are you dying yet to know what it is that Sara is doing?

I won’t keep you in the dark. The cat is out of the proverbial bag anyway (especially if you follow Sherry’s tweets!).

So here at the Nelson Agency, we are definitely into make dreams come true. Sara just takes it to a whole other level to say the least and if you’ve met her, you’ll know that’s just how she rolls.

It’s amazing, every day, to have her as part of the agency.

The Boulder Weekly Article.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

One Good Reason For An Agent

STATUS: Working on a reading day from home.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? WHEN I DREAM OF MICHELANGELO by Counting Crows

I know that a lot of frustrated writers view agents as evil gatekeepers.

This is a problematic view on so many levels and not just because I’m an agent! I always fear a mindset that buys into the idea that “somebody else is to blame.” Hard to succeed if you’re wed to that viewpoint.

But that’s beside the point. I’m actually writing today’s blog entry to point out one good reason to have an agent.

Remember last Friday when I related the horrific story of an agent who had received an offer and was in the middle of negotiating it when the publisher decided to rescind it? (Bad Sign Of The Times, July 23).

Here’s an update.

The agent went to bat on the issue and told the publisher, “Yo, that ain’t cool.”
(Actually I’m positive that’s not what the agent said but you get the picture).

After several rounds of discussion, the publisher agreed and the offer was reinstated.

Without the agent, I’m convinced that this resolution would not have happened for the author.

So, one good reason.

Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Speaking Of Bad Covers

STATUS: I’m heading to Red Rocks tonight for a concert. I want the rain to hold off. It never rains in Colorado—except for this summer and on the evenings I have a concert in an open venue.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? LEAVIN’ ON YOUR MIND by Patsy Cline

Today, an editor emailed me to say that I was going to get the publisher’s catalog in the mail but not to freak out regarding the cover for one of my author’s titles.

This is never a good sign.

The editor went on to say that the picture was a place holder for the catalog only and that the cover was changing.

Good to know. So of course I email back and request that they send me the jpg of whatever cover they used in the catalog so I can be prepared (and so I can prepare the author).

The editor does.

Oh my. Truly a hideous cover. I’m so glad the editor emailed to say that it wasn’t going to be the final cover, don’t worry about it, she hates it too, it’s changing.

And no, I can’t share it on the blog (however sorely tempted).

I shared it with my marketing director, Lindsay, and we just had a moment of commiseration. Sometimes you have to wonder what the art department was thinking because honestly, I can’t imagine who thought this cover was okay. I’m not even a design person (really, it’s not my strong point) but even I looked at this and went, uh, no.

There’s no symmetry, no beautiful colors, not even an interesting person on the cover. Bland would sum it up.

But hooray, this isn’t the cover. The editor called us both to talk concepts and ideas and get our input. Love that.

So, I won’t worry unduly. That is until I see the next jpg. Grin.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

When Cover Art Goes Bad—Guest Blogger Brenda Novak

STATUS: Woot! Only 128 emails in the inbox. Two contracts on the verge of being finished up. Two projects on the verge of being optioned for film. Not a bad week.

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

As you know, publishers are doing a lot of cost-cutting measures and belt tightening in this tough economy. I certainly understand that. One casualty of all this though is the disappearing cover flat.

It used to be that before any original trade paperback or mass market edition pubbed, the publisher would send out to the author and agent at least 6 to 10 cover flats (sometimes more) so we could review the final cover. Generally admire it. And for the author, use them for promo.

Those were the days. In the last year, I’m lucky if I get one (1) cover flat to review before publication. More often than not, I’m only getting a copy of the book with the final cover, hot off the press, about two weeks before pub.

Now if everything is sailing smoothly, this is no big deal. However, if there is a large snafu as detailed in the cautionary tale below, we’ve got a problem, Houston.

Author and agents always see a jpg of the cover early but as you can tell by Brenda’s story, just seeing a jpg can’t substitute for seeing the final cover art in the flesh so to speak.

So my advice for you published authors (and agents) out there? Make sure you see a copy of the finished book or a cover flat in enough time before pub to problem solve if that becomes necessary.

So, from NYT Bestselling author Brenda Novak….

What’s an author to do….

You work hard to write the best story you possibly can. You polish that manuscript through three rounds of edits. You give cover art and back cover copy input. And you partner with your publisher to put a marketing plan in place that is costing you both a substantial amount of money. At this point, you think you’re finished--finally ready for the book to be released. And this isn’t just any book. This book is the fulfillment of your fondest dream, the first to have “New York Times Bestselling Author” emblazoned above your name.

And then you get your author copies and realize that there’s a serious problem.

This just happened to me. My author copies arrived less than four weeks before THE PERFECT COUPLE was due out. Eager to take a peek at the real thing, my husband got to the box first and opened it. Then he held my eagerly anticipated book in one hand—and frowned. “Um, honey? Aren’t they going to put your name on this one?” he asked.

I think he’s joking. He’s color-blind, for one thing. I laugh and nudge him to get him to hand it to me. “What are you talking—” I start to say, and then I see for myself. It’s not because he’s color blind that he can’t see my name. It’s because the turquoise foil is so dark there isn’t enough contrast against the black background. Held in the right light, it glimmers and shines and shows up just fine. But place it straight in front of you, and you can’t read “New York Times Bestselling Author” (which is a bit ironic, isn’t it?), my name (even though it’s in a huge font—which would also be exciting if you could see it), or part of the cleverly done title (the “Perfect” part, which is also ironic, since it is anything but perfect). To make matters worse, my agent is out for several days to celebrate the 4th of July, and this book is the first of three to be released in consecutive months. If it tanks, the others could go down like dominos.

At this point, I pictured my career dying a sudden death. LOL Without the help of my agent (thanks to her vacation and the timeliness of this issue), I was forced to do what I could to salvage the situation, but my publisher hadn’t yet seen a copy of the finished book and didn’t even know there was a problem. I dashed off an email to my editor and started the hive buzzing…and buzzing…as they, too, went into panic mode.

Fortunately, I write for a great house and their ultimate decision was to reprint and reship, but I’m sure that wasn’t an easy call to make. It will cost someone (either the publisher or the printer) a fortune. And the process doesn’t happen overnight. Some accounts will respond to the recall, others will ignore it, just as they often ignore street date (I’ve been hearing from fans who’ve read THE PERFECT COUPLE as long as two weeks ago, even though it wasn’t supposed to come out until yesterday).

But will this debacle ruin my career? I hope not. I’m choosing to look at the bright side. Initially, there will be many more of this title in print and, as those with the dark, unreadable foil are collected and destroyed, any that survive...will become collector’s items? Yeah, that’s it. That’s the way to spin it. Everyone wants a book where you can’t make out the author’s name!


The original jpg of The Perfect Couple:



A shot of the unreadable cover next to one of Brenda's previous books:



New York Times Bestselling Author Brenda Novak has three novels coming out this summer—THE PERFECT COUPLE (7/28), THE PERFECT LIAR (8/25) and THE PERFECT MURDER (9/29), all part of her popular Last Stand Series. She also runs an annual on-line auction for diabetes research every May at www.brendanovak.com. To date, her auctions have raised over $770,000. Brenda considers herself lucky to be a mother of five and married to the love of her life.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Beyond The Call Of Agent Duty—Part II

STATUS: I think I need another weekend to recover from my weekend. Grin.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? ROUTE 66 by Natalie Cole

Really? Could I blog about anything else today? Enjoy!

So you can track us, I’m wearing a white visor and Simone has on a blue bandanna.

Watch the chick in front of Simone. She ends up falling into the boat. Better than the alternative I have to say.

Lesson of the day: tuck you feet securely while in the raft.

Also, we are going through two sets of the rapids. In the second set, look at the rock to the right of the picture.

My personal favorite is the shot where pretty much everyone in the boat disappears in the spray.






















Friday, July 24, 2009

Beyond The Call Of Agent Duty

STATUS: Yesterday, one blog commenter said they didn’t want to hear any more doom and gloom so in good news, I’ve done three deals in the past 2 weeks for already established clients. All six figure deals. That’s positive.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? YOU’RE THE ONE THAT I WANT from Grease soundtrack

Yesterday, my author Simone Elkeles flew into town to do some research for her next YA title that is going to be set in Boulder, Colorado (sequel to her wildly successful title Perfect Chemistry (almost 100,000 copies in print!).

She has never been to Boulder, Colorado and since she’s a big believer in experiencing what she plans to use in her books, here she is.

Well, little did I know that she also wanted to have her main character, Carlos, do white-water rafting in this new novel.

Yep, you can see where this is going. Who else is going to take her to go and do white-water rafting but her Colorado agent?

Hey, I never want to hear that I don’t go the distance for my authors.

So tomorrow morning bright and early (heading out at 5 a.m.) we are tackling the class III and IV rapids of the Arkansas river through Brown’s Canyon.

Don’t worry, it’s mandatory to wear life vests (not to mention Simone’s editor emailed and said her author had better be wearing one and I don't want to upset her editor).

Hope to see y’all back here on Monday…

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Bad Sign Of The Times

STATUS: Hooray. Only 199 emails in the inbox.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? EXILE by Enya

Several years ago, I had a project out on submission for one my clients. An editor had called me on Wednesday to discuss the format, the title, how to publish the book and to let me know that in Friday, she would call with the offer.

On Friday, she did call—but she didn’t make an offer. Her publisher had changed her mind in the two days in between and the editor could offer for the novel.

I was stunned. When an editor had called to warn me that an offer was pending, the offer had always come. But at least there really hadn’t been an offer. Just a notice that one was forthcoming. Sucks to be us (and unfortunately, I was never able to sell that particular novel).

A couple of weeks ago I heard a more horrific story. A fellow agent had received an offer that was in the beginnings of being negotiated and then the editor’s publisher called to say that were rescinding the offer.

Now I’m not just stunned but speechless.

It’s not like an editor can just pop on the phone and make an offer. These things go to committees. It’s discussed. The editor has to do a full P&L (Profit & Loss) statement. This has to be reviewed by the higher powers and approved before an offer made.

If the house had hesitations, come on, that should have been discussed before the agent was called.

Uh, guess not.

Now response times for submissions are slow. I’ve also heard of current contracts being cancelled (abominable but I know it has happened). I’ve also heard that editors are being extremely cautious about what they buy. I don’t have hard data on this but I also know that advances are skewing down rather than up when offers are made.

But this. This is a first and not a good sign of the times.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

What Surprises An Editor

STATUS: I love going to conferences abut I have 246 emails in my inbox. And I was checking and responding to emails when I was away!

What’s playing on the iPod right now? HOME by Face

When I was at RWA in D.C. last week, I was having drinks with an editor from The Penguin Group (I think that was the house—it’s all a blur really). We were talking about passing on sample pages and I had mentioned that I had just passed on an author who already had an offer on the table.

She was really surprised and said, “I didn’t know that agents did that. I thought you’d always take the sale.”

And then I looked at her surprised (there was a lot of surprise going on in this conversation) because I just had assumed that editors knew that agents pass on projects—even with offers in hand. Even if the agent can see that the project might excite other agents and probably sell. Guess I shouldn’t assume what an editor would know or not know about the agent side of the biz.

Maybe I'm unusual. Maybe other agents wouldn’t have passed but right now, when I think about taking on authors and really pushing them in what is a tough fiction market, I’ve gotta feel the love. It could be a tough slog—even with a prior publishing record!

This offer was from a previously published author with a debut track record (so neither good or bad in that aspect). It’s not like I didn’t like the project or didn’t see the merit it. I did. It just didn’t speak to me so I could champion the author’s career.

And in this case, I don't think the author had prior representation but had worked directly with the publisher. I don't remember. She may have left the previous agent (which is a requirement for me as it makes me uncomfortable if an author is shopping new agents without leaving the old. I know it's done and I know we've debated the pros and cons on this blog about that. I'm just saying what I'm comfortable or not comfortable with.)

Of course, I’m always wondering why my favorite authors aren’t ever dissatisfied with their current agents. Grin.

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

10 Sample Page NOs and Why

STATUS: First day back in the office is always crazy, crazy. I did three phone conferences, accounting, and solved a few key issues that cropped up today.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? THE MAIN THING by Roxy Music

On the plane back from DC, I read 10 different sample pages on my Kindle.

(Sidenote: I hate the new plane seating in economy. If you are not in the premium seats, editing on a laptop is impossible if the person in front of you sets the seat back. Literally, the laptop is in your lap and I can’t prop the screen upright. I had wanted to edit a client full but just couldn’t battle the positioning so read sample pages on my Kindle instead. So much easier given the space issue.)

I passed on all 10 sample pages. Here are the reasons why.

For about six of them, the writing wasn’t there yet (2 fantasy, 1 women’s fiction, and 3 young adult). And this is only in my opinion and other agents might feel differently. For me, the writers still needed to work with a critique group to bump the writing level and complexity of the story a least a couple of notches.

For one entry, a middle grade work, I thought the writing was really quite solid but I didn’t like the main narrator much at all. The writer can’t do much about that. It either speaks to the agent or not. I mentioned that in my response because the writing was strong.

Another sample page young adult submission had a vampire element. I thought the writing was solid and this entry nicely done but not different enough to make it stand out in what I think is a pretty crowded YA vampire market. I can see another agent responding differently and I included that in my response.

Another YA submit had a paranormal element but I found I was much more interested in what was unfolding in the regular contemporary part of the story than I was in the paranormal element the writer was introducing. Once again, another agent might think differently.

The last read was a project I had looked at before and then requested revisions on the first 50 pages. The writer was resubmitting. I could tell that the writer had done significant work on the revised manuscript but I thought the revision introduced a new problem that made the manuscript still not work for me. Despite a great concept, it was time for me to pass pass.

Monday, July 20, 2009

Wrapping Up RWA

STATUS: Travel day as I head back to Denver from D.C.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? BABYLON by David Gray

1. All the romance editors I talked to mentioned that they were still buying projects (and I spoke to several from each house). So nice to hear when other fiction sales have slowed down as of late.

2. Many editors expressed interest in seeing something fun and meaty in contemporary romance. It’s been a little while since contemporary was actively sought from authors beyond the established lions in the industry such as Rachel Gibson and Susan Elizabeth Phillips.

3. We all have our fingers crossed that historical romance will trend up again.

4. Paranormal is still selling well. (Here’s an interesting tidbit though. What’s hot in the U.S. doesn’t necessarily match what’s hot abroad. For example, Sherrilyn Kenyon couldn’t be hotter here in the US but not as hot in Germany. An Australian bookseller weighed in and said the Aussies like her bunches Down Under as well.) I find that fascinating.

5. On Saturday night, a non-dark romance without a vampire or werewolf in sight, Seducing Mr. Darcy, won the RITA on for best Paranormal. Does that mean anything? Heck if I know but I thought that was rather cool. Also, a Young Adult title nabbed Best First Book (the fun title Oh. My. Gods.) YA is taking over the world!

6. Three editors asked me what I thought would be hot next. Uh…if I knew that, I’d buy a lotto ticket too!

7. And last but not least, I did survive teaching three one-hour workshops back-to-back-to-back. But I didn’t have much voice or energy by the end of it. I dragged a fellow agent off to the Bantam party only to discover that it had ended 20 minutes prior to our arrival.

Oops. But that gave us ample opportunity to visit the White House where we were promptly not invited in for tea.

Me and the wonderful Sally Harding of The Cooke Agency:


Friday, July 17, 2009

News From The Floor

STATUS: Considering I hit the floor by 9 a.m. and don’t hit my hotel room until midnight, I’m doing okay.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? CAN’T HELP FALLING IN LOVE by UB40

I’ve got a quick 15 minutes that I can pop online to give you an RWA rundown. For a more updated behind the scenes look, you might want to check out the Smart Bitches site. Those gals know the scoop because I obviously don’t. I sat next to Heather Osborn from Tor at the Wed. night SB party and since we hadn’t ever met in person, we didn’t know until the next day when I sat next to her at the FF&P award ceremony and we finally introduced ourselves. Note to self: it’s easier to network if you actually introduce yourself (neither one of us were wearing badges).

Big news on this end. Linnea Sinclair’s SHADES OF DARK won the Fantasy, Futuristic, and Paranormal P.R.I.S.M award for best futuristic.



Hooray!

I acquitted myself well with the acceptance speech on her behalf—didn’t trip on the stairs or anything.

Hooray!

I had the thrill of handing over my iPhone to Catherine Asaro (who was sitting next to me) so she could text her congratulations to Linnea directly. In fact, a ton of Linnea’s friends were at the table so much iPhone passing ensued. Linnea was so tickled. It was almost like being there.

This morning standing in the lobby, a sudden posse of agents, editors, and the wonderful reviewers from All About Romance gathered to dish the dirt. (or lament depending on your perspective).

It was declared that paranormal historical romance might be dead (or never really got off the ground).

Contemporary paranormal was going strong and all of us had fingers crossed that historical romance was on the rise.

We shook the magic eight ball for that. Big smile here. Off to do my three workshops that RWA, in all its wisdom, decided to schedule all on the same day back-to-back-to-back. Sigh.

I may not have a voice by 5:30 pm.

TGIF!

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

If You Think You Are Going To Meet Up With An Agent At A Conference

STATUS: Safely arrived in D.C. for the annual RWA conference. I started with a bang with a breakfast meeting at 9 a.m. Off and running.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? BIG GIRLS DON’T CRY by Fergie

Because I was going to RWA, last week several previously published romance authors looking to get an agent on board for their career got in contact with me. They were hoping to meet me in person at the National conference.

Great idea! There’s only one problem. The timing. My schedule has already been booked up for over 4 weeks. I haven’t got an open slot to meet with a potentially new client—even if I’d like to!

Let’s say you’d really like to do this in the future. Here’s my suggestion for those of you who are previously published.

Start this process about 6 to 8 weeks before the conference. That’s when you want to get in touch. Offer to send samples of your work because any agent who might be contemplating a physical meet up will want to read your work first. We may or may not be a good fit for each other. (Also, I read widely so there is a chance that I might have read your work on my own but it’s probably more likely that I haven’t.) Seeing material is usually the best first step.

Once material is reviewed and I like what I see, then I’ll still have plenty of time to fit you into my schedule before the conference actually happens. This way we can then find out if we are a good match for each other both personally and professionally.

Big smile here.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Young Guns

STATUS: I’m off to Washington D.C. tomorrow for RWA. I’ll be blogging but it might be sporadic—just like Friday’s lost entry. Sorry about that. Some days there really are not enough hours to finish everything.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? ME AND MRS. JONES Michael Buble version

Just recently, an aspiring writer sent me this note:

“One thing that worries me is how young many of you agents are. [Young in my forties, I love this person!] I feel so old when I meet these youngsters who will have so much power over my future.”

This isn’t the first time I’ve heard this concern from an aspiring writer. First off, “young” is a relative term. Are we simply referring to agents in their twenties? Yes, that's certainly young but that doesn't mean inexperienced. Agents in their thirties? Well, A thirty-something being in a position of power at any type of company (not just publishing) is not an unusual thing.

Being in my forties, well I guess if the writer is in his or her eightes, I’m certainly a whippersnapper in that context but I don’t think that’s what this writer means.

So I’m going to assume that we are talking about agents in their twenties. And here is what I can tell you. Publishing is a young profession (You have to be young to be willing to take on such low-pay for considerable length of time and do it all potentially in New York City but that’s an aside.)

The young agents I’ve met (which is quite a few) are scary bright. I look back at myself in my twenties and think, “did I have it together like that?”Maybe, I was a college teacher in my twenties so I must have had some act together but boy, I’m not sure I had the focused that a lot of these young agents do.

They are dedicated, passionate, and hard-working. As a writer, I would worry less about age and more about these young guns’ reputation, commitment to your work, etc. These young agents know the young editors who will be running the publishing houses in about 10 to 15 years (and I’m not kidding here).

So keep that in mind. And of course, what I’ve said above can’t possibly apply to every young agent but I’m willing to bet that if the above doesn’t apply, those youngsters will be weeded out before they have an opportunity to build their own client lists.

“Old timer” Janet Reid raves about “youngster” agent Barbara Poelle on her blog. On mine, let me rave about two young agents who have also got it going on—Holly Root and Emmanuelle Alspaugh.

If you haven’t checked them out yet, maybe you should.

Thursday, July 09, 2009

Pirating Made Easy

STATUS: Very chaotic and busy today. Logged a lot of phone hours for a negotiation, a revision phone conference, and a possible Hollywood deal.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? EVERYBODY HURTS by R.E.M

Today, one of my authors sent me a very interesting link. Basically you can Google to find a tutorial on Scribd that gives you instructions on how to easily download a Google Books "Limited Preview" book in its entirety into PDF.

You know the “partial” preview that is sometimes enabled on Google Books? Well, these instructions tell you how to get around the partial views to download the file. All of it.

Yep, pirating made easy.

Needless to say, I’m not including the link to the instructions on this blog (although if you’re curious, I imagine it’s not hard to find the link.)

One of the issues in this digital age is how authors will get paid for their intellectual property. And no, I’m not going into the whole DRM debate in this entry.

What I want to say is this. If you are a published author with the preview enabled on Google Books, tell your publisher about this quaint little feature on Scribd and the issue with Google Books preview.

Wednesday, July 08, 2009

Is Publishing Just About To Be Disrupted?

STATUS: How the industry is shifting does make me lie awake at night.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? SHE WORKS HARD FOR THE MONEY by Donna Summer

And to piggy-back on to what I was writing about yesterday on the blog, I want to share this very interesting article by science writer Michael Nielsen.

I read his blog entry earlier this week and my mind has been in a whirl since. He tackles the question of whether scientific publishing is about to be disrupted but I think the parallels to traditional publishing are very clear.

In the article, Nielsen highlights the signs of impending disruption in the newspaper industry: “Five years ago, most newspaper editors would have laughed at the idea that blogs might one day offer serious competition. The minicomputer companies laughed at the early personal computers. New technologies often don’t look very good in their early stages, and that means a straight up comparison of new to old is little help in recognizing impending disruption. That’s a problem, though, because the best time to recognize disruption is in its early stages. The journalists and newspaper editors who’ve only recognized their problems in the last three to four years are sunk. They needed to recognize the impending disruption back before blogs looked like serious competitors, when evaluated in conventional terms."

The signs of disruption in the publishing industry are already there. The big question is whether we’ve recognized them in time. The big publishers today are like the Titanic. Huge. Cumbersome. Potentially perceived as unsinkable. And yet, huge tech companies such as Google, Amazon, and the upstart Scribd are changing the face of publishing. What will the big publishers be like in five years? 10 years? They see the ice berg but can they turn in time?

I hope so. I don’t have any answers to share but I certainly see possibilities. Will they merge with big tech companies such as Google? That would not be surprising. What will the role of agent be as publishing transforms?

And digital is the key that has changed all of this.

And how interesting that I’m reading one of the more extraordinary articles to tackle this question on a blog. By a science writer. Not in a publishing industry magazine. Not in a newspaper.

That says a lot in and of itself.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Reshaping Reading

STATUS: Contemplative.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? UNDER THE MILKY WAY by The Church

Today as I have spotty internet from my home connection (curses Qwest DSL and the fact that I can’t have cable broadband at my home), I can’t help but do a rant on digital technology and how that is reshaping the reading experience.

Today, in Deal Lunch, I read about two new eReaders—the Ditto Book E Ink Reader and a new reader by Vodafone Germany. (For those of you who might not have been to Europe lately, Vodafone is a big mobile phone provider across the pond.)

Lower price points and mobile phone eReader technology.

Then I read about Cory Doctorow’s serialization of MAKERS that’s going to be posted on Tor.com. Then I read about the Hachette Book Group’s initiative to offer free Open Access to a variety of books in their entirety via their website. And to top it off, Chris Anderson’s book FREE viewed by 17,000 people, well, for free via Scribd.

And here’s what I want to say about this. It’s not okay to cling to your Luddite ways. Even if you love the feel of a physical book in your hands and hate the idea of reading digitally, you need to branch out and give it a try.

From the start of my agency, I’ve always read electronically on my computer (tablet PC). Then I got the Kindle the year before last and now I’m reading both on my kindle and my iPhone. In fact, lately, it’s been rare that I’ve read an actual physical book.

And for me, the medium doesn’t matter. Only the story does. Now I know that’s not true necessarily for other people but this is where we are moving and you if you are a writer, you need to experience reading in these other mediums. Why? Because the next generation, I guarantee it, will not be as attached to the physical medium of a book. They are already more used to reading digitally in all kinds of ways—blogs, twitter, texts, books, instant chat, etc.

Books are transforming. They might be multimedia in the future—interactive in the digital form—which would shift how writers think about writing a novel or a memoir or a work of nonfiction. You can’t afford to ignore this.

You can already see the shifts happening.

Monday, July 06, 2009

Books Coming To The Big Screen

STATUS: Feeling re-energized after the long weekend.

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

On Thursday night, as the holiday weekend was beginning, I met up with two girlfriends for dinner. Once ensconced at our table, one friend said she was dying to see the movie My Sister’s Keeper and were we game?

As much as I love movies, it’s rare for me to get my act together enough to actually see a film while it’s in theaters. I tend to rely on Netflix or the DVR if something is on cable. So when given an opportunity to see a book-to-film movie, I’m going to say yes (despite knowing this one was going to be a Kleenex fest).

Sheesh. What a way to kick off the holiday weekend.

(Disclaimer: I cry at movies. Doesn’t matter the movie. If it has a hint of sadness, I’ll cry. My husband has never let me live it down that I cried at the end of Terminator III. Hey, in my defense, Claire Danes as Kate just lost her pet and her entire family—I thought that was pretty sad.)

So My Sister’s Keeper was designed to be a real tear-jerker and I’m happy to say that I used plenty of Kleenex. As I had read the book several years ago, I was most interested to see how the film would handle the ending—as there was a lot of discussion around the ending of that book. (No spoiler here so I won’t comment further.)


But here’s what I found most interesting and hence the point of this entry, all the previews shown before the movie were all book-to-film projects. I wish I could remember all the trailers I saw but only Julie/and Julia: My Year of Cooking Dangerously comes to mind (which looked pretty hilarious).

So very interesting. I don’t remember such a high percentage in previous years but that may be because I don’t get to the theaters often enough.

Thursday, July 02, 2009

15 Out of 2,625 & Friday Funnies

STATUS: Tomorrow is a holiday so I won’t be blogging. Have a great 4th!

What’s playing on the iPod right now? HOUNDS OF LOVE by Kate Bush

Oops. Perhaps I should have clarified yesterday’s statistics because requesting 15 sample pages from 52 queries sounds pretty great.

That is until you hear the explanation. Be forewarned, the real statistics are daunting.

So yesterday I read 52 queries. That is true. However, these 52 queries were set aside for me to read out of three weeks’ worth of queries.

On average, the agency gets 100 to 150 email queries a day. So in the last 21 days, we received 2,625 queries (using an average of 125 queries a day). Out of those 2,625 queries, Julie and Sara set aside 52 queries for me to read and review.

Out of those 52 queries, I asked for sample pages from 15 writers. In reality, I just basically asked for 15 sample pages from 2,625 queries.

Now before you die of heart failure, that’s probably not wholly accurate either. I know Sara has also been requesting sample pages and I actually don’t know how many she has requested from queries over the last 3 weeks.

So I’m guessing the total is more like 30 or 40 requests for sample pages out of 2,625 queries.

Now you know why I’ve spent so much time teaching you folks how to write that silly query pitch blurb!

And because I can’t leave you in doom and gloom right before the holiday weekend, just remember that ‘re’ is a drop of golden sun…

This put a huge smile on my face. I hope it does the same for you!



More than 200 dancers performed their version of "Do Re Mi", in the Central Railway Station of Antwerp. With just 2 rehearsals, it is a promotion stunt for a Belgian television program where they are looking for someone to play the leading role in the musical of "The Sound of Music".

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

15 Out Of 52

STATUS: I’m actually planning to stay home from the office tomorrow to do a reading day. The trick is to not check email….

What’s playing on the iPod right now? SATELLITE by Guster

Tonight I read 52 queries.

I asked for sample pages from the following

1. two folks who had met me in person at a conference.
2. two fantasy queries that had caught my attention.
3. four YA paranormal queries that sound interesting but will really have to blow me away in this crowded market
4 . two literary novels that will have to be all about the writing
5. one military SF novel that was really very cool (I just wish the market was stronger in SF right now. I did just sell an SF novel a couple of months ago but that wasn’t an easy task.)
6. one historical romance query that had a unique premise
7. one middle grade novel that didn’t have anything to do with paranormal (who knew that was a plus?)
7. one project recommended to me by another agent (whom I knew of but don’t know well) so interesting
8. and one contemporary romance novel

I also respond ed personally to two queries that were for crime novels because the author had been referred to the agency by people I knew. Why I came to mind for crime novels is beyond me. I don’t represent them. Still I did write back explaining why I was passing on looking at pages. I also recommended a few folks who actually do crime fiction so maybe that will help.

And now I’m ready to call it a night.