Wednesday, July 28, 2010

RWA—Orlando, Florida (Day 1)

STATUS: Spotty blogging this week (as if you couldn’t already tell) but I will try and pop on when I can to send on any inside scoop.

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

Monday was crazy as I tried to wrap up anything that could be finished before leaving for Orlando. Yesterday was a travel day so spent the time on the plane getting lots of reading done! I sat next to a lady also heading to RWA who had both a Kindle and the Apple iPad with her. She let me play with that new iPad.

Oh, I like shiny things and was much enthralled. Did it make me want to run out and buy one? Yes and no. Mostly to me, it’s just an oversized iPhone without the capacity to call someone. So I liked it (of course I did) but I think I’m going to wait for the next generation before contemplating a buy. I’d like it to be smaller (something easier to fit in a purse) and to be honest, I still want an unbacklit screen for big chunks of my reading. It’s just easier on the eyes for long stints that we agents end up doing. Nice if iPad could create toggle switch so we could have it both ways. The iPad itself is nice eye candy though.

And I would judge that my seat row companion was in her fifties (if I had to make a guess). So interesting.

Since I just got to Orlando late last night (and just had dinner with one of my clients), I haven’t got any good juicy gossip from RWA to start the blogging week.

Instead, you get lame picture of the Swan & Dolphin hotel on the Disney compound.

As added bonus, Ally Carter had a great turn-out in Boulder. 75 people. The next day she went to St. Louis where 170 fans showed up for her reading. Wow. Go St. Louis.

So here is Ally with a NLA Colorado local author Kim Reid who came out to show support. How fun is that?

Friday, July 23, 2010

Ally Carter In Colorado

STATUS: Sorry! You know it’s a tough week when I can’t find 15 minutes to squeeze in a blog. RWA is next week in Orlando. Probably don’t need to say more.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? LOVE MY WAY by Psychedelic Furs

I’m going to start today’s entry with a totally non-publishing related rant. All I want to say is that just once, I want to walk to work in the morning without seeing some male stranger’s underwear. Seriously people, pull your pants up or use a belt. This isn’t complicated because if you don’t look like a ripped athlete or Calvin Klein underwear model, then it’s not sexy. It’s just underwear (and not all that attractive at that!).

I don’t think I’m asking too much here…

But in fun news for ONLY THE GOOD SPY YOUNG, Ally Carter in the flesh is coming to Colorado (Boulder to be exact) this Sunday, July 25. I’d love to see you there and come say hello.

Barnes & Noble
Crossroads Commons
2999 Pearl StreetBoulder, CO 80301303-444-0349

Here’s the link to check out the event and to get more info!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Another Reason To Nail Your Query Pitch Paragraph

STATUS: Blogging before noon! That means I’m head of my To Do list.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? YOU’RE ONLY LONELY by JD Souther

There is an interesting trend I’ve noticed lately in publishing. I think it has to do with the tightening of budget and the laying off of staff (actually, I’m just speculating that is the case.)

More and more lately, my clients and I have been practically writing our own cover copy for upcoming releases. Lately, it’s been clear that the copy writer has maybe seen just a brief synopsis of the plot before coming up with copy. By the way, this is not unusual. There is no way a copy writer could read every single book he/she has to write cover copy for. Still, in my mind, you don’t have to read the entire manuscript to be ready to write good copy. You really only have to read the first 30 pages of a novel to knock it out (and that’s easy enough to do even if the copy editor has 30 or 40 books to handle).

As I’m typing, I realize that this entry might sound like a complaint but it’s not. I actually prefer when the author and I are intimately involved and really get a say in the copy text (especially if the first draft we’ve received is really bland or just off).

So it’s more of an observation—as something I’ve noticed in the past 6 or 7 months. You folks are going to hate me for this but yet another reason to nail your pitch blurb paragraph in your query letter. You might actually be called upon to significantly contribute to the final copy that will go on your book jacket. You might as well master the craft now…

Monday, July 19, 2010

Public Knowledge Now

STATUS: Mondays. I wish we could have Tuesdays without the Mondays.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? PLEASE COME TO BOSTON BY Dave Loggins

For those of you who might not have seen the news, Romance Writers Of America (RWA) has declared that Dorchester cannot attend the 2010 RWA conference in Orlando next week because of past due contractual and financial obligations.

I won’t comment further except to say that I’m glad this is now "public" knowledge and that RWA has taken a stand on it.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Friday Funnies

STATUS: It's supposed to be 100 degrees here in Denver tomorrow. Say what?

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? BLUE BOSSA by Joe Henderson

To counter balance any perceived insensitivity from yesterday, today’s “funny” is more serious but I like it all the same. I always respond to clever.

Enjoy and have a nice cool weekend…

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Better Left Unsaid?

STATUS: The day started with a laugh, it’s going to be great.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? SMILE by Lonnie Plaxico Group

I know I’m going to get lambasted for posting this link and by mentioning that in reading these blog posts, I snorted my iced chai this morning but I’m going to share it anyway.

Some days, this is exactly what we agents are thinking when we read some of the odd query letters we receive.

And yes, I know, not all writers are as savvy as my blog readers and we really shouldn’t think it funny but trust me, if we didn’t have a sense of humor some days, we’d go nuts…

The July 13 entry might be my fav.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Bookscan Is Great—Except When It’s Not

STATUS: I’m sure I don’t have to say that yesterday was a little hectic.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? SIMPLE DAY by One Eskimo

As an agency, we have a subscription to Bookscan and every Wednesday, we send out a sales reports in Excel spreadsheets to each of our clients for their published titles. (FYI--Nielsen is a subscription service that captures point-of-sales information from certain retail outlets.)

This sounds great. Real sales numbers! Except not every retailer reports to Bookscan. Some key accounts like Costco do report but other key accounts like Walmart do not.

Which means that Bookscan is not a whole picture of how a title is doing.

So over the years, I’ve created our own system of calculating how accurate it is by comparing the royalty statement sales to the Bookscan number sales and capturing the percentage difference.

For some genres, it can be off by 50 or 60%. That’s a lot. The numbers for literary fiction tend to be a bit more on target as Bookscan seems to capture about 70% of sales for this segment.

Why is this important? Well, if you are a midlist author looking to move houses, well, guess what numbers the editors are looking at in order to base a decision of whether they want to offer for you or not? You guessed it. Bookscan.

And if that number is only capturing 50% of the sales… I have to firmly argue the actual sales numbers and sometimes, that doesn’t matter. The house will often make a decision based solely on those Bookscan numbers. Hugely frustrating as you can imagine.

By the way, Bookscan does not currently capture digital point-of-sales. Yeah, that’s going to need to change as more and more sales are done digitally in the upcoming years. And yet another problem with Publishers deciding that Bookscan is a reliable reflection of sales…

Monday, July 12, 2010

Gratuitous Chutney Shot

STATUS: It’s a crazy Monday and I haven’t posted Chutney pic in ages.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? DON’T FORGET by Brett Dennen

Today our client Courtney Milan was in town so we went to lunch. Knowing that Chutney likes to hang at the office, Courtney brought her own fur baby, Pele, to keep her company while we went and got some Thai noodles.

After a minute of furious growling, how dare another dog enter her domain, Chutney decided she really liked Pele and they spent the rest of the time snuggling on the couch together. (Couldn’t catch that shot!)

But here they are at the park post lunch.

Yep, I’m holding treats so I have their undivided attention… Clients and pets are always welcome at NLA.

Friday, July 09, 2010

Friday Funnies

STATUS: Off to early start today…

What’s playing on the iPod right now? HOMETIME by One Eskimo

So charmingly tongue and cheek—even if all I can say is “ouch.” Talk about tapping into an author’s greatest fear….

Maybe a second career has a folk singer?

Thursday, July 08, 2010

Why You Can’t Buy An eBook In English Outside The U.S.

STATUS: Oh, I’ve got a lot to accomplish today.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? LIFE IN TECHNICOLOR by Coldplay

A couple of weeks ago we got an email from a rather upset reader in Denmark. He wanted to buy Gail Carriger’s SOULLESS as an eBook in English for his eReader. According to this fan, he is Danish but reads most of his novels in English. He could see that it was available in the US without a problem but why couldn’t he buy it?

I imagine this fan is not the only non-US resident with this question so I’m going to tell you why he can’t buy the US English eBook version in Denmark (or wherever outside of the US). And yes, we did send a letter to this person explaining why.

It’s a sticky situation folks. As eBooks have global capacity in the English language, the reason why it may or may not be available resides in the initial rights/territories granted to the publisher when the deal was made for the print edition.

I know, not exactly what you wanted to hear when you live in Timbuktu and you just want to buy the dang eBook. Doesn’t the author and the publisher get the money?

So let me see if I can explain more clearly because trust me, it’s causing headaches for agents, for authors, and for publishers, and there is no easy fix-it solution.

If I sell Title X for North American rights only, then that means the US publisher is only allowed to sell its English version in the US, Canada, US territories (aka Philippines etc), and non-exclusive in select countries in the rest of the world (clearly listed in the contract). Print or ebook. The reason for this is that we want the ability to sell English to UK or ANZ (Australia) separately and UK/ANZ insists on certain “exclusive territories” for its print and electronic edition.

Are you starting to see the problem? If UK/ANZ hasn’t been sold, then no eBook version in English is available in let’s say Denmark because Europe is considered exclusive to UK in terms of selling the English edition.

Now, if an agent and author has granted World English or World rights to the US publisher, then there is the possibility for the US publisher to sell its English version world-wide in print or eBook. I say “possibility” as the US publisher may still want to sublicense property to UK or do a deal internally with a sister-UK/ANZ company who will want its version exclusively in certain territories.

So, it’s not just a matter of the author or US publisher giving Amazon or Apple or BN or Whoever a thumbs-up to sell away the English language eBook from their distribution channels in other countries. It all depends on the contract.

And yes, we ALL understand that with the electronic book there is now a greater global market for the English language version that needs to be exploited but with all English-speaking territories wanting to protect their exclusive sales area for their version, it’s a bit of tangle with no easy solution.

And yes, I get that avid readers may simply pirate an eCopy when the legal/legitimate one is not readily available. We aren’t stupid but the industry is not shifting fast enough to implement a quick solution.

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

Only The Good Write Young!

STATUS: So thrilled today.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? THIS IS THE DAY by The The

Actually, I’m not exactly sure what that means except to say that Ally is still young and it sounded like a great title for this blog entry.

All I really want to say is CONGRATS ALLY! On coming in at #6 on the New York Times Series bestseller list and your best out of the gate sales numbers ever!

If any of the reviews on Amazon and BN are to be believed, this is the best Gallagher Girl book to date! We heartily agree.

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Brilliant! Just Brilliant!

STATUS: Just another crazy Monday disguised as a Tuesday!

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? VOLCANO by Damien Rice

As you folks know, we agents receive deluges of queries and sample pages from aspiring writers. One of the industry’s laments is that everyone seemingly wants to be a writer but when we compare that number to the statistics on the number of Americans actually reading books, well, according to studies, the average person only reads 2-3 books a year.

Then I read this tidbit in Shelf Awareness (source Galley Cat), that Tin House Books will require that any writer wanting to submit to them must also include a copy of a receipt that proves the writer has purchased a book recently from a bookstore.

I love it! I wonder. If we required same, would that drop the number of queries we receive? Better yet, could we have the writer prove that he/she actually read the book for said receipt?

I know. Impossible but there’s something about this idea…

Friday, July 02, 2010

A Story The Editor Will Never Know

STATUS: Doing all the crazy wrap-up before the three-day holiday weekend. Yes!

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? LEAVING LAS VEGAS by Sheryl Crow

I’ve mentioned before what I call The Curse Of The Sophomore Novel. For whatever reason, authors invariably trip when it comes to writing the next novel after their debut.

My hypothesis is that the first novel took many years to write, had lots of feedback and many drafts. Then novel 2 needs to be written on deadline and usually in under a year’s time. With that crunch, a lot of talented authors kind of blank on all the great tools they used in the debut novel that made it so good. By the way, it doesn’t matter how talented the author, what genre the author writes in, or how many previous novels he/she has under her bed. More often than not, a new author will whiff on book 2.

Good agents anticipate and prepare for this—which leads me to a terrific article my author Kristina Riggle just sent me from Poets & Writers. Editor Jofie Ferrari-Adler has been doing a series of articles on editors and agents and every one of them is a gem. If you haven’t seen them before, I suggest tracking all of them down.

What this month’s article tackles is best described in Jofie’s own words. He says: “This is a story about literary agents. It’s a story about good literary agents and bad literary agents and, more specifically, it’s a story about the tireless, often intangible work that good literary agents perform for their clients during the period after the contract is signed but before the book is published.”

Interestingly enough, none of the agents in the article tackled the curse of the sophomore novel so I thought I would in today’s post.

As I mentioned, good agents anticipate the curse. I always strongly recommend that I see the sophomore novel before it’s delivered to the editor. In fact, I encourage our authors to send it to me (if at all possible) 2 months before the delivery deadline to the editor. Just in case. Occasionally, the author does just fine and the sophomore novel is great. No intervention necessary. More often than not, the curse has reared its ugly head.

For the story I want to share, the editor (to this day) does not know—and this is why details will remain anonymous. In fact, I should say “stories” and “editors to this day don’t know” because it’s happened more than once and none of the editors know.

Author delivered the cursed sophomore novel. I read and said “good heaven! This won’t do. The poor overworked editor will blow a coronary if we send this on.”

Called author and delivered the bad news. Then buckled down with the author to, literally, rewrite the entire novel in 6 weeks. (The author sent me 2 chapters every 2 or 3 days. I would edit and turnaround in 2 days to shoot it back. Author would send next batch and while I had that, author reworked already edited chapters until entire novel was revised.)

Author delivered wonderful “first draft” of novel to editor on deadline.

Couple weeks later, editor called just to tell me what a pleasure reading the novel was and how the editor has never had such a clean sophomore novel delivered to her before.

I responded with “I know. Isn’t the author amazing?”

And I’m positive I’m not the only agent to have ever done this.

By the way, this only ever happens to an author once. After the sophomore curse, the author never missteps again.

Happy 4th of July! See y’all back here on Tuesday.