Monday, November 30, 2009

Brightening An Agent Friend’s Day

STATUS: I had a routine Doctor’s appointment late this afternoon. The first thing the nurse asked me to do was step on the scale. Right. Exactly what I want to be doing the Monday after Thanksgiving.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? 21 GUNS by Greenday

I had an agent friend call me today because she was just feeling a tad blue. A client she had loved working with had unexpectedly decided to leave her agency last year. In the past couple of weeks, this agent friend had spotted the sale for the project they had been working on together before the author left.

That’s just hard.

But I had just the thing to cheer her up. I said, “You can’t help when a client chooses to leave. It happens. But at least you didn’t pass on a novel that has been on the New York Times Bestseller list for more than 16 weeks.”

Yep. Yours Truly.

That and a pot of tea cheered her up immensely!

Grin.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Free

STATUS: And here I said I wouldn’t be blogging again for the holiday week. I couldn’t help myself.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? IT’S THE END OF THE WORLD AS WE KNOW IT by R.E.M

Yesterday I posted my blog entry rather late at night. This morning when I woke up, realized that there was something else that was hugely bothering me about Hyatt’s post and his accusation that agents would see vanity publishing as a threat.

He makes the rather naïve and short-sighted assumption that an agent’s only job is to act as a conduit between publisher and writer—that our sole purpose in life is to limit the access between aspiring authors and publishing professionals.

In other words, he’s playing off the assumption of what new or uninformed writers might believe about agents.

My job as an agent is to protect the author. Period. And as an agent, I do that in so many ways—fighting hard for fair contract clauses that protect and benefit the writer is just one small example.

If I didn’t embrace this position fully, that my job is to protect, I wouldn’t have spent the last four years devoting countless hours to this blog which freely distributes crucial information about the publishing industry to any writer looking for it.

And for no fee whatsoever. This info is free—in every sense of the word.

Oh, I’m working myself up to quite a rant this morning….I’m going to check my blood pressure now.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Horizons Is Not Remotely Like Harper Studio Or Vanguard Press

STATUS: Heading off for Thanksgiving Break. I won’t be back to blogging until Monday. Seems like bad timing with all that’s going on but don’t worry. We haven’t heard the last of it yet. If I hear any breaking news, I’ll try and update the blog.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? Nothing at the moment.

Today, Thomas Nelson Publishers joins the Harlequin hoopla in a ridiculous blog post. Ashley and Carolyn Grayson posted their response—to which I whole heartedly agree. I find it laughable that Hyatt believes that agents are speaking out against the ripping off of writers via vanity publishing arms because we see “self-publishing” as a threat.

As many commenters have already noted in my blog comments section, vanity publishing and self publishing are not the same. A distinction that Hyatt does not seem to understand. I suppose he also believes that venerated writing organizations such as RWA, MWA, and SFWA, all of which have a long tradition of helping and protecting writers, are similarly trying to keep the status quo by vehemently speaking out against such blatant ripping off of writers.

I also want to make this distinction.

When I spoke to an editorial director from Harlequin last week, the editor mentioned that “several other publishers were doing it.” The only difference was they didn’t announce their vanity publishing arm.

Incredulous, I had asked “like who?”

The editor could not respond with a list of names.

I’m wondering if the editor was erroneously comparing Harlequin Horizons to a legitimate publisher such as Vanguard Press or Harper Studio.

They are not remotely the same.

At Horizons, the writers are forced to pay for their work to be "published." And forced to pay for “marketing” or anything else from a fee-oriented “menu” of choices. The writer foots the entire cost.

At VP and HS, the publishers pay for publication. The authors are not out any money from their pockets. Vanguard and Studio also commit a certain percentage of monies to the marketing/promotion as part of the plan. In lieu of the advance, there is an equal split of royalties between Publisher and Author.

And another key factor, at VP and HS, the books are available for wide distribution via traditional sales outlets just like a traditional publisher.

None of these things are true at Harlequin Horizons (or whatever they are calling it now).

And the most egregious part of Horizons? The fact that Harlequin planned to refer rejected authors to this option as a “viable” alternative.

As RWA, MWA, SFWA have all pointed out. That’s not legitimate publishing, it should not be advertised as so, and it’s just plain wrong.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Friday Funnies

STATUS: I’m done for the night.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? LANDSLIDE by Dixie Chicks

Considering all the chatter over the last two days, today has been relatively quiet. SFWA (Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America) did issue a statement. You can find that here.

Also, the Ashley Grayson agency blogged with their response.

On a wholly different note, I have a Friday funny—sort of. Do you remember my blogging about an Eddie Murphy movie being shot on our street about two summers ago? For two days in a row they had the extras and the movie crew filming. Sara and I remember it vividly as a car alarm kept going off incessantly. With our windows open on a nice summer day, it was all we could hear for two days running.

Can’t imagine why if you don’t remember. That was a year and a half or two years ago. I only remembered a couple of weeks ago when my husband said he caught the film while on an airplane trip.

The movie is called IMAGINE THAT and no, neither Chutney or I are in the film. In fact, I can’t imagine what they were doing on our street for all that time because in the film itself, there is a brief flash of the front façade of our office in the SH Supply Company building in the scene where Eddie Murphy is fumbling in his briefcase for something while driving. About 10 seconds later, the car drives down the alley behind the building.

Exciting stuff I’m telling you. Grin.

There is one big scene where Mr. Murphy dances on a concrete wall and there is a beautiful lit up staircase behind him. This leads to the bridge that goes over the railroad tracks and into lower downtown. Very noticeable by the bridge support which looks like a ship’s mast. (You can actually see that scene in the movie trailer.)

Well, that takes place right in front of the Platte River Park where Chutney and I often go walking on nice days.

Anyway, highly amusing to watch a movie set in Denver and in Lodo where our office is located.

I’m out. Have a great weekend.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Harlequin News Flash

STATUS: Sara’s first day back in the office. Totally fun.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? SHAKE THE DISEASE by Depeche Mode

This just in (literally five seconds ago) from Donna Hayes, CEO of Harlequin.

Harlequin was very surprised and dismayed to receive notice late yesterday that the RWA has decided that Harlequin is no longer eligible for RWA-provided conference resources. We were even more surprised to discover that the RWA sent a notice to its membership announcing this decision, before allowing Harlequin to respond or engage in a discussion about it with the RWA board.

Harlequin has been a significant supporter of the RWA for many years in several ways, including:

• financial sponsorships at the annual conference
• sending editors to the national and regional chapter conferences throughout the year to meet with and advise aspiring authors and participate in panel discussions on writing
• celebrating our authors, most of whom are RWA members, annually with the largest publisher party at the conference.

It is disappointing that the RWA has not recognized that publishing models have and will continue to change. As a leading publisher of women's fiction in a rapidly changing environment, Harlequin's intention is to provide authors access to all publishing opportunities, traditional or otherwise.

Most importantly, however, we have heard the concerns that you, our authors, have expressed regarding the potential confusion between this venture and our traditional business. As such, we are changing the name of the self-publishing company from Harlequin Horizons to a designation that will not refer to Harlequin in any way. We will initiate this process immediately. We hope this allays the fears many of you have communicated to us.

We are committed to connecting with our authors and aspiring authors in a significant way and encourage you to continue to share your thoughts with us.

Sincerely

Donna Hayes
Publisher and Chief Executive Officer
Harlequin Enterprises Limited

And earlier today, Mystery Writers Of America Board of Directors weighed in:

Recently, Harlequin Enterprises launched two new business ventures aimed at aspiring writers, the Harlequin Horizons self-publishing program and the eHarlequin Manuscript Critique service (aka "Learn to Write"), both of which are widely promoted on its website and embedded in the manuscript submission guidelines for all of its imprints.

Mystery Writers of America (MWA) is deeply concerned about the troubling conflict-of-interest issues created by these ventures, particularly the potentially misleading way they are marketed to aspiring writers on the Harlequin website.

It is common for disreputable publishers to try to profit from aspiring writers by steering them to their own for-pay editorial, marketing, and publishing services. The implication is that by paying for those services, the writer is more likely to sell his manuscript to the publisher. Harlequin recommends the "eHarlequin Manuscript Critique Service" in the text of its manuscript submission guidelines for all of its imprints and include a link to "Harlequin Horizons," its new self-publishing arm, without any indication that these are advertisements.

That, coupled with the fact that these businesses share the Harlequin name, may mislead writers into believing they can enhance their chances of being published by Harlequin by paying for these services. Offering these services violates long-standing MWA rules for inclusion on our Approved Publishers List.

On November 9, Mystery Writers of America sent a letter to Harlequin about the "eHarlequin Manuscript Critique Service," notifying Harlequin that it is in violation of our rules and suggesting steps that Harlequin could take to remain on our Approved Publishers list. The steps outlined at that time included removing mention of this for-pay service entirely from its manuscript submission guidelines, clearly identifying any mention of this program as paid advertisement, and, adding prominent disclaimers that this venture was totally unaffiliated with the editorial side of Harlequin, and that paying for this service is not a factor in the consideration of manuscripts. Since that letter went out, Harlequin has launched "Harlequin Horizons," a self-publishing program.

MWA's November 9 letter asks that Harlequin respond to our concerns and recommendations by December 15. We look forward to receiving their response and working with them to protect the interests of aspiring writers. If MWA and Harlequin are unable to reach an agreement, MWA will take appropriate action which may include removing Harlequin from the list of MWA approved publishers, declining future membership applications from authors published by Harlequin and declaring that books published by Harlequin will not be eligible for the Edgar Awards.

We are taking this action because we believe it is vitally important to alert our members of unethical and predatory publishing practices that take advantage of their desire to be published. We respect Harlequin and its authors and hope the company will take the appropriate corrective measures.

This e-bulletin was prepared by Margery Flax on behalf of MWA's National Board of Directors.

The fun continues. I did speak with a Harlequin Editorial Director this morning. She couldn't say much (as you can imagine) but I was able to voice some concerns--specifically about eRoyalties at Harlequin going into the future.

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

And I Thought The Furor Was Bad Yesterday….

STATUS: Who can get work done when there is so much Harlequin gossip flying around?

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

Then today can’t even compare. I think Harlequin has just gotten the smack down.

I have not confirmed this rumor yet, but a fellow agent just emailed me to say that RWA revoked Harlequin’s recognized publisher status. Uh… that means no Harlequin author can enter the RITAs.

Let me tell you, the emails are flying fast and furious among the agents.

And RWA just sent out this announcement:

RWA Alert: RWA Responds to Harlequin Horizons

Dear Members:
Romance Writers of America was informed of the new venture between Harlequin Enterprises and ASI Solutions to form Harlequin Horizons, a vanity/subsidy press. Many of you have asked the organization to state its position regarding this new development. As a matter of policy, we do not endorse any publisher’s business model. Our mission is the advancement of the professional interests of career-focused romance writers.


One of your member benefits is the annual National Conference. RWA allocates select conference resources to non-subsidy/non-vanity presses that meet the eligibility requirements to obtain those resources. Eligible publishers are provided free meeting space for book signings, are given the opportunity to hold editor appointments, and are allowed to offer spotlights on their programs.

With the launch of Harlequin Horizons, Harlequin Enterprises no longer meets the requirements to be eligible for RWA-provided conference resources. This does not mean that Harlequin Enterprises cannot attend the conference. Like all non-eligible publishers, they are welcome to attend. However, as a non-eligible publisher, they would fund their own conference fees and they would not be provided with conference resources by RWA to publicize or promote the company or its imprints.

Sometimes the wind of change comes swiftly and unexpectedly, leaving an unsettled feeling. RWA takes its role as advocate for its members seriously. The Board is working diligently to address the impact of recent developments on all of RWA's members.

We invite you to attend the annual conference on July 28 - 31, 2010 in Nashville, TN, as we celebrate 30 years of success with keynote speaker Nora Roberts, special luncheon speaker Jayne Ann Krentz, librarian speaker Sherrilyn Kenyon, and awards ceremony emcee Sabrina Jeffries. Please refer to the RWA Web site for conference registration information in late January 2010.

Looking forward to seeing you at the Gaylord Opryland!

Michelle Monkou
RWA President
RWA Alert is a publication of Romance Writers of America®,


I have to wonder. Did Harlequin not think there would be a strong response? I'll keep you posted if I hear anything more!


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Exploitation or Empowerment?

STATUS: Only 205 emails in the inbox now. I’m making headway!

What’s playing on the iPod right now? MY EVER CHANGING MOODS by Style Council

So Harlequin is causing quite the furor today. Last week they announced a new ePub imprint called Carina to potentially compete with ePublishers like a Samhain or Ellora’s Cave with royalties of 30% of retail price on copies sold (which by the way, should piss off any Harlequin authors who are being traditionally published by that house as their eRoyalties suck).

Then this week, they announced a self-publishing arm called Harlequin Horizons partnering with Author Solutions (not unlike what Thomas Nelson announced about 2 months ago using Author Solutions as well). Now prospective authors can pay to be published by Harlequin and have access to that Harlequin name.

So here’s my question. It’s quite the revenue machine. Is this exploitation of romance authors who have been rejected by Harlequin but now have an opportunity to “publish” and a possible entry into traditional Harlequin publishing via a strong self-pub sales record (according to the Horizons website) or is this simply another option that empowers authors to get their work out there?

As an aside, I can’t help but think that more books published (and in the marketplace) is not what the industry needs. It already can’t support the number of books currently being published in any given year.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Really Good Might Not Be Enough

STATUS: Ugh. I’ve got 300 emails in my inbox.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? HAMMER AND A NAIL by Indigo Girls

I have to say that I’ve been shaking my head a lot lately. This market is just brutal.

Today I wrote a rejection letter to a really talented author. Previously published, had a really good manuscript but I honestly didn’t think I could sell it so passed on offering representation.

You know things are bad when as an agent, I’m passing on really good novels because currently I believe that really good might not be good enough in today’s market.

I really hope another agent takes it on and proves me wrong in a heartbeat. Is it odd to say that I’ll be really happy for the author if I see the sale announced on Deal Lunch? I’d really like to be proven wrong. I’d prefer it!

Friday, November 13, 2009

When The No-Compete Clause Comes Into Play

STATUS: TGIF! Have a great weekend. I plan to.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? CAN’T GET YOU OUT OF MY HEAD by Kylie Minogue

Currently, Publishers consider non-multimedia electronic rights as part of the “standard” package of the grant of rights when buying a work from an author.

For years, I often held electronic rights (back when publishers weren’t paying attention to it) but now, publishers will walk away from deals unless eRights are granted. Very few authors, especially the new or the debut, are willing to walk away from an offer over a right that makes up such a small percentage of current overall sales—at least in today’s world. Who knows about 10 years from now.

But here’s another interesting tidbit. Let’s say you are successful in keeping electronic as a reserved right. Publishers are getting stricter in the language they are using in the no-compete clause of the contract and that language may make it impossible for you to exercise that reserved right.

I’ve talked about the no-compete clause here in my Agenting 101 series.

But just to jog your memory, here is a sample of language from a no-compete clause in a publishing contract (and since I lifted it from my previous entry, this language is easily several years old).

“During the term of this Agreement, the Author shall not, without written permission of the Publisher, publish or permit to be published any material based upon or incorporating material from the Work or which would compete with its sale or impair the rights granted hereunder.”

So what am I trying to say here? I’m telling you that even if you are able to reserve your electronic rights so as to as to set up your own deal with Kindle or Scribd (or whoever), your publisher could make an argument that sales of your reserved electronic right is materially damaging the sales of their licensed rights.

Ah, I see the light bulbs going off as you get what I’m saying here.

We’ve particularly seen this over the last two years when reserving comic book/graphic novels rights only to fight on the no-compete clause to make it even a possibility for the author to exercise those rights.

Unless you are embroiled in publishing contracts on a daily basis, very few authors make the connection of how these two very different clauses (grant of rights and the no-compete clause) clearly impact each other. Once again, I hope I’ve shed just a little light on it.

And on that lovely note, have a great weekend!

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Bring Back Term of License?

STATUS: Getting the blog done early so I can concentrate on a ton of reading today.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? NINE IN THE AFTERNOON by Panic! At The Disco

I’ve only been in publishing for close to going on 10 years. In light of some agents who have done this job since the early 70s, I’m a baby indeed.

But I have heard that back in the day, Publishers utilized a term of license rather than a term of copyright with an Out Of Print clause.

In fact, all foreign contracts use a term of license (5 years is common), with the exception of UK and ANZ (which stands for Australia/New Zealand) which often use an OOP instead.

What is a term of license? Simply put, a term of license is a clause in the publishing contract that states that the contract will expire 5 or 7 years from the date of the agreement and all rights revert back to the author.

In other words, no matter how well the book is doing, all rights revert on that date unless the publisher and author would like to renegotiate the terms and create a new contract with a new term of license.

Interesting, no?

In this rapidly changing digital age, a return to a term of license might be an attractive alternative. Whatever terms that are negotiated today will have to come up for renegotiating upon term expiration.

Some pros?
--There is a set reversion date no matter what.
--If the book does well, there is the possibility of renegotiation for better terms for the next agreement.

Some Cons?
--Most books, in general, go out of print in about 2 or 3 years via the OOP clause and rights revert. With a term of license, the out of print work could be tied up for 2 to 5 years longer than if there had been a sales threshold that triggered the reversion earlier.
--The next negotiation might be for lesser rates than what you locked in with your initial or previous contract.

Food for thought. Also, I don’t see publishers jumping on the “return to term of license” train anytime soon.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Sales Thresholds in OOP Clauses

STATUS: Contracts and more contracts.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? VIVA LA VIDA by Coldplay

I know I’ve blogged about this before and the info is available under the tag Publishing Contracts but what the heck, it bears repeating. I can add the link under the Agenting 101 headings now for easy access.

OOP stands for Out of Print. Every publishing contract should have either a term of license for set period of years (7 being common) or the contract should have an out of print clause based on a sales threshold.

Sales threshold being the key term here if it’s not a set license period.

Sales threshold means that in order for a book to be in print, it has to sell a certain amount of copies, standard language is around 150 copies, in any accounting period. Most accounting periods are for 6-month periods in the publishing world.

This applies to ALL formats of the work—that would include eBooks.

In other words (and to repeat), the mere presence or the ability to do an eBook or a POD version will not keep a work in print UNLESS the publisher is selling 150 copies or more of any eBook or short run POD version in the 6-month period.

So even in the world of digital versions, the publisher still has to sell at least 300 copies a year to keep the work in print. If they don’t, rights revert to the author.

Remember the whole big snafu that S&S tried to pull last summer but eliminating those crucial last 4 lines of the S&S OOP clause that detailed the sales threshold? Yep, that’s why agents were in an uproar and refused to have clients sign those contracts.

Without that sales threshold, in this digital world, a work would never go out of print. However, with that sales threshold, publishers still have to sell 300+ copies to retain the rights.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Publicists Help Those Who Help Themselves

STATUS: I’ve actually been spending my time negotiating some new deals for current clients. Hey, that’s always good.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? WHAT WOULD YOU SAY by Dave Matthews Band

An often quoted adage (that’s not actually in the Bible) with one little word change to make it apply to what I want to talk about today.

If you are a published author, one of the smartest things you can do when it comes to marketing and promotion is to be a squeaky wheel without the annoying squeak.

In other words, how can you politely keep yourself on the publicist’s radar without coming across as disappointed, demanding, or annoying?

One thing Lindsay and I have been working on with our clients is our weekly or bi-monthly reports of what the author is doing to promote their recent release.

It’s a great way to constantly be having a dialogue with the in-house publicist. All the publicists we’ve worked with have been really appreciative. It allows them to talk about the author in the next meeting, maybe even spotlight something cool the author has done, and it often helps the publicist make requests on the author’s behalf.

So take a moment to think about the last time you sent your in-house person a lovely report on all the amazing blog appearances, local signings, conference events, etc. you’ve been doing?

Never too late if you have some nice summaries to share—even if your book isn’t a new release.

This is just part of the reason that together, Mari and I were able to revive interest in her Blood Coven series and get that fourth book under contract. We constantly kept Berkley in the loop on all the things Mari was doing for those books.

Monday, November 09, 2009

Never Give Up…Never Surrender! Guest Blogger Mari Mancusi

STATUS: Sorry about no blog entry on Friday. The whole day got away from me.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? A KIND OF MAGIC by Queen

No doubt, I’ve been on a ranting streak for awhile. For a nice change, how about a blog entry on a midlist series getting a second life. Let’s talk about something positive today rather than more of my righteous indignation. Grin.

Here is Mari Mancusi. Author of the YA BLOOD COVEN vampire series—originally started years ago, before the craze, but now have new covers and a new floor display in Borders.

Never Give Up…Never Surrender!

I know I can’t be the only author who mutters the Galaxy Quest creed every time the publishing industry throws me a curve ball. This particular time was three years ago, when I got an email from a fellow author, published by the same publishing house that did my Blood Coven Vampires series.

“They’re not picking up anyone’s options!” she lamented.

Shocked, I frantically called Kristin and she started to do some digging. Turns out, the author was right. My publisher was basically fading out their YA line and concentrating more on their core business of adult romance.

My series was basically DOA before the third book had even come out.

I was devastated. Though I’d written other books, none meant as much to me as my little vampire series. And I hated disappointing all my loyal readers who, after Book #3 - Girls that Growl - was released, kept begging for more. But what could I do? Kristin went back to the publishing company to ask again and again, but they kept saying no.

Of course, I could have given up then and there. After all, I’d just gotten a new children’s publisher and was under contract for two hardcover books at a much higher royalty rate. I could have easily moved on and said goodbye to my blood coven vampires. To my twin heroines, Sunshine and Rayne.

But the series meant too much to me for that. And it meant too much to my readers who kept begging to know what happens next. So I kept pushing. I started a “Save the Blood Coven” campaign in which I got readers to help spread the word and get bookstores and libraries to stock it. I did videos, I enlisted a street team, I encouraged my readers not to let the big corporations decide what they got to read.

And so the sales continued, slow but steady, over the next two years. And every day I’d have new teens write to me and say they’d just recently discovered the series. But though the publisher kept reprinting the first three books, they also kept refusing to buy book #4.

Then, out of the blue, something strange happened. My editor from Germany wrote me an email, asking about book #4. She said she didn’t care if the US published it or not. Would I consider writing it just for them?

I decided to do it. Namely because it allowed me to continue writing my beloved series. And Kristin and I schemed for alternative ways to get it to a US audience. Maybe a small publisher would see the Bookscan numbers and see it as an opportunity. Maybe we could sell it POD since I already had a fan base. Or I could give it away as an e-book. Somehow – someway – I was determined to get that story to my readers, no matter what!

But before pursuing those more drastic options, Kristin decided to go back one last time to my US publisher, to see if they’d changed their minds. After all, the Twilight movie had just swept into theaters and vampires were hotter than ever.

And low and behold, they said yes. Not only yes to a fourth book, but also that they would reprint the first three books as well, with shiny new covers for a whole new generation of (vampire hungry) fans!

I think I cried when Kristin told me the good news. She, in return, said that the sale, in many ways, meant more to her than ones she’d made for six figures because this particular sale was a victory. The result of a two year battle that seemed hopeless until the very end. But we didn’t give up. We didn’t surrender.

And sometimes, even in these bad economic times, a story of publishing can actually have a happy ending!

Mari


Visit the series at www.bloodcovenvampires.com






Thursday, November 05, 2009

Why I Don’t Like Net Amounts Received

STATUS: Phone conference in 10 so I’m trying to dash this entry out before it begins.

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

If you read my Agenting 101 entries on royalty statements (see right side bar), you should know why Kristin wouldn’t like net amounts received.

But if you haven’t, then I happy to just rant about it and tell you. There are two main reasons why I don’t like royalties to be based on net amounts received.

1. It’s archaic and currently doesn’t serve much of a purpose as audio and eBooks have a retail price and there are high discount clauses in all contracts so why not simply make the royalty based on retail?

And

2. Agents can’t track net amounts received by the Publisher. The only way we will get that information is if we:

a. audit and therefore look at the books to see what monies were actually received, from what account, for how much, and what were the deductions, or

b. we put a clause in the contract, not unlike reconciliation to print, that allows us to request the information from the publisher at any time and they can print out all the amounts received information so I can determine if what is on the royalty statements is correct.

Ah yes, once again the onus is on me as the agent to be a squeaky wheel, to demand more info, and pry the necessary info out of the publisher to see if the royalty statement is remotely accurate. And this is making a huge assumption that the publishers have the necessary software in place that will allow for this information to be accessed, printed, and shared.

I know Random House has that in place. Do the others? Guess I’m just about to find out because you know I like kicking up a fuss and less is not more for me when it comes to royalty statements.

See how much simpler it would be if all royalties were based on retail price? I’m capable of doing the math easily on royalties calculated via retail price.

Now that we have this big push from publishers to move to 25% of net receipts for eBook royalties, whose going to hurt 10 years from now when eBooks may be the main format and print editions the secondary?

Yep, you can see why I’m in state of righteous indignation all the time as of late. Maybe it’s time we move back to a term of license on contracts instead of Out of Print clauses and term of copyright.

Wednesday, November 04, 2009

A Little Tutorial On The Google Partners Program

STATUS: Time for sleep.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? SELF-ESTEEM by The Offspring

I want to talk about the Google Partners Program as this is not even remotely related to the Google Settlement issue but a lot of people are just plain clueless about it.

So let’s start with defining it. The Google Partners Program is an agreement that Google makes with Publishers to allow book content to be available, previewed, and searched on Google Books.

Since I’m assuming you know nothing, here’s the link to the Google Books Site.

Everyone following along? Great. Then let’s move on. Not every publisher has decided to participate in the Partners program. If a publisher is not participating, then Google Books will only show the cover, give a brief overview, and maybe the inclusion of reviews that can be found freely on the web.

In fact, under the overview, you’ll see the words “no preview available.”

Disney-Hyperion does not currently participate so for an example of the above, if you plug in I’D TELL YOU I LOVE YOU BUT THEN I’D HAVE TO KILL YOU into the Google Books search field, then this page is what you’ll see.

Easy peasy.

Okay, now some publishers are participating in the Partners Program. If that is the case, then under the title overview you’ll see the words “limited preview.” Click on Ford’s HOTEL ON THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET as an example.

Still with me?

Okay, and here’s why I’m doing a tutorial on this subject, some publishers are participating in the Partners program but they are doing so with the ad links turned on.

Simon & Schuster currently participates in the program with the ad links. Click on Kelly Parra’s GRAFFITI GIRL. Look on the left side bar. Do you see the little section that is titled Sponsored Links? See the click through link right below that? That’s an ad link.

If you were to click on that, your click would generate income that Google would have to pay to S&S and S&S would then have to split with Kelly Parra. On the S&S statements, there is a separate line that clearly details the monies generated from these click-thru ads.

Do you see where I’m going with this?

S&S is participating and reporting. Some publishers, however, are doing the Partners Program with Google, with the ad links turned on, and are receiving income from Google but none of this income is reported on statements and therefore not being shared with the authors.

Ah, there’s the kicker.

In fact, just two weeks ago, I called a publisher because I could clearly see on Google Books that my author’s title was included in the program with the ads turned on. Did I see that income on the statement? Nope. I called.

What did the publisher say in return? “Oh. We did it is a short experiment for 3 months to see how it worked and that should have been taking down by now. Thanks for bringing it to our attention.”

Uh-huh.

I’m now forcing them to remove the ad links if they aren't going to report and to track down the monies and pay the author—even though in general, the amounts are currently negligible. I’m talking around a dollar.

Let’s just call it the principle of the thing. What is negligible today might be real money tomorrow.

I could call because I know how the program works and knew to ask. But if you didn’t know, you wouldn’t even know to ask. Well, now you know. The Google Settlement and the Google Partners Program are two wholly different and separate things.

So have you looked up your titles on Google Books yet? Are the sponsored links turned on? Are you seeing those monies on your royalty statements?

You know what to do.

Tuesday, November 03, 2009

Dirty Word: Comment Moderation

STATUS: I have a lot that needs to get done today. Doing a phone conference in 5 minutes and I’m in the middle of negotiating a deal.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? ROAD by George Winston

This morning I have to say that I’m a little annoyed. I’ve been blogging since 2006. I certainly wasn’t the first agent to start this process (waves to Jennifer Jackson and Miss Snark) but I certainly was early into this game.

And for the most part, I love it. I love being able to rant when I want to and I love how sometimes my blog topics spark an interesting discussion in the comments section. I prefer open forums. Freedom of speech, etc. But for the past 2 months, I’ve contemplated turning on the moderating comments function again because there have been several posters (about 3 of them) who seem to have a personal agenda and regardless of what my specific blog entry is about, these comments hijack the comment section to turn the conversation around to their specific viewpoint on publishing or to highlight, once again, their personal taste regarding what they think is worth publishing and what is not.

Now this certainly isn’t a crime. Everyone is entitled to their own personal opinion but I’m finding that these constant hijacks are completely limiting the possibility of any other real discussion about the publishing industry in the comment section. Not to mention, my blog’s comment section has become a soapbox for a select few individuals.

Sorry, I’m done with that. Sadly, comment moderation is back on. It’s more work for me and it depresses the number of comments people actually want to make but I guess so does a constant soapbox.

As I’ve mentioned on previous blogs, there are plenty of terrific writer chat forums that are excellent vehicles for expressing opinions and having your voice heard. Here are three just to name a few:

Writers Net
Backspace Forums

Absolute Write Forums


Monday, November 02, 2009

Happy Monday Indeed!

STATUS: Holy cow what a morning!

What’s playing on the iPod right now? EVERYTHING SHE WANTS by Wham!

I’m getting no work done because all I’m doing is sitting around and grinning like mad.

Remember back in July when I let y’all in on a little secret about how wonderful my colleague Sara Megibow is?

Well, I’m giddy to report that the baby boy arrived yesterday at 3:25 p.m. on Sunday, November 1, 2009.

Baby Trey is healthy. Sara is doing great. And the new parents are ecstatic and exhausted.

Everything is as it should be!

And if that weren’t news enough, this morning I read about Publishers Weekly choosing SOULLESS as one of their top 100 books for 2009.



And then if that weren’t enough, PW gives PROOF BY SEDUCTION a starred review saying
“Historical romance fans will celebrate Milan's powerhouse debut, which comes with a full complement of humor, characterization, plot and sheer gutsiness.”



All this and HOTEL being on the NYT trade bestseller list for several weeks now, I honestly don’t know what to do with myself. Work? What’s that?

Happy Monday because I’m sure loving it.