Friday, December 17, 2010

A Year In Statistics--2010

STATUS: Uh, ask me tomorrow morning. Still working to try and wrap stuff up.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? SLEIGH RIDE by Babyface

This week has just been crazy with no time to blog. Nobody wants to go into the holiday season with a bunch of stuff still outstanding and cluttering the desks. I know authors who have submissions with us wouldn’t mind an answer either. So, our goal is to finish everything up by today.

With that in mind, I’ve been hitting the office at 8 in the morning and pretty much every night this week, I didn’t leave until after 8 p.m. (and some evenings not until after 9).

Well, I’m going to have to come in tomorrow as not everything is done but hey, I came close. Blogging just wasn’t an option with everything that needed to wrap up—including 3 deals that I literally was negotiating this week.

Still, I can’t end the season without one more post. The year 2010 would not be complete without my annual Year In Statistics entry so voila! Here it is. Enjoy!

books sold (up from 15 last year and mostly thanks to Sara! Also interesting to note, of the sales I did, all but 3 were deals well into the six-figure range and two were 7+. Sweet!)

foreign rights deals done (up from 53 last year. That’s a big increase. Foreign rights went gangbuster.)

number of new clients (Kristin & Sara combined)

estimated number of queries read and responded to (this is actually down a bit from last year. Last year we averaged around 150/day. This year it was more around 120/day)

full manuscripts requested and read (way up from 55 last year.)

number of sample pages requested and read (down from 1053 of last year)

number of projects currently on submission

tv and major motion picture deals

1.5 million
number of copies in print for my bestselling series this year

number of copies in print for my bestselling title this year

number of copies in print for my bestselling debut this year

conferences attended (also includes BEA and Bologna Children’s Book Fair)

number of New York Times Bestsellers this year

number of career New York Times Bestselling titles

Number of books named to Publisher’s Weekly list of top books of the year

number of physical holiday cards sent

Number of electronic holiday cards sent

number of Starbucks eggnog chai consumed in the last week (sort of embarrassed to admit it!)

number of late nights reading on the couch with Chutney

number of great days loving my job

Have a safe and happy New Year. I’m out! See you back here on Jan. 3, 2011.

Friday, December 10, 2010

2 For 1 Friday Funnies!

STATUS: Today's funnies totally lightened the mood!

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? WINTER WONDERLAND by Dave Brubeck

I think my favorite line might be, “are you ready to have agents hunt you down with pitchforks and stakes?”


And I definitely should have this paying on the iPod: Snark! The Haggard Agents Sing. Brilliant!

TGIF! I’m out to consume more eggnog chai.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

And Since We Are Talking About The BEA YA Buzz Panel

STATUS: I’ve got a holiday party to attend tonight.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? SNOW by Bing Crosby, Rosemary Clooney and Danny Kaye

Looking at the blog entry from June 2, 2010 was a nice reminder that I might want to check in on the titles editors spotlighted at the YA buzz panel at Book Expo and see how they are doing.

Here’s the original list for reference.

PLAIN KATE by Erin Bow—Fantasy

INFINITE DAYS by Rebecca Maizel—Vampire/Paranormal

MATCHED by Ally Condie—Dystopian

FIRELIGHT by Sophie Jordan—Dragon/Paranormal

THE DUFF by Kody Keplinger—Contemporary YA

Well, I can tell you right now that Matched is doing the best out of the gate. In fact, PW just had an article on what an auspicious debut it is. A quick look at Bookscan shows an excellent sales record for the first full week out.

Because of agreement with Bookscan, I can’t list actual numbers but let’s just say if a debut YA novel comes out of the gate over 3000 copies strong, it’s doing really well. And this title is definitely above that. It also hit the NYT list this week coming in at #5.

Crazy sales always confirm that a title was buzz worthy.

In a quick look at the other four titles, all of which were released in August and September of this year, they have, in general, what I would call normal-to-above-average sales out of the gate for young adult titles. FIRELIGHT and INFINITE DAYS having higher sales than the other two, and I think that attests to the paranormal genre holding strong in the young adult market.

From this Buzz panel, at least right now, it looks like Matched wins hands-down as the “break-out” book.

Wednesday, December 08, 2010

How Well Did Kristin Predict?

STATUS: I’m heading over to the Tattered Cover to do some holiday shopping. Yay!

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? CHRISTMAS CANON ROCK Trans-Siberian Orchestra

Oh, I think this might be a fun entry. In a press release from Scholastic, the editors created a list of the top trends from 2010 when it came to Children’s books.

And funny enough, in the Nelson Agency newsletter, I’ve been highlighting a lot of what was “hot” in children’s lit throughout the year. I wonder if my predictions in any way line up.

What do you say? Should we analyze it?

To start, here’s the Scholastic List:

1. The expanding Young Adult audience
2. The year of dystopian fiction
3. Mythology-based fantasy (Percy Jackson followed by series like The Kane Chronicles, Lost Heroes of Olympus and Goddess Girls)
4. Multimedia series (The 39 Clues, Skeleton Creek, The Search for WondLa)
5. A focus on popular characters - from all media
6. The shift to 25 to 30 percent fewer new picture books, with characters like Pinkalicious, Splat Cat and Brown Bear, Brown Bear showing up in Beginning Reader books
7. The return to humor
8. The rise of the diary and journal format (The Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Dear Dumb Diary, Dork Diaries, The Popularity Papers, and Big Nate)
9. Special-needs protagonists
10. Paranormal romance beyond vampires (Linger and Linger, Beautiful Creatures, Immortal, and Prophesy of the Sisters)

In looking at all the newsletters from the past 11 months, here’s what I highlighted was “hot” in our newsletter column:

1. February 2010 newsletter—Dystopian YA fiction as hot.
2. March 2010 newsletter—Paranormal YA US titles hot in translation
3. May 2010 newsletter—I mentioned that I’d be attending the BEA YA buzz panel. I didn’t highlight paranormal romance in the newsletter but I did discuss it on the blog, June 2, 2010 entry.
4. October 2010 newsletter—Dystopian YA mentioned again along with YA SF romance.

Not bad! I actually didn’t talk about children’s fantasy at all but I definitely agree that we have seen a lot of myth-based fantasy stories and just recently I blogged about seeing fairy tale inspired stories—which is kind of in that same vein.

A return to humor is news to me so very interesting. As for special-needs protagonists, I can’t say I’ve seen that many but what I have noticed is stories where the main narrator has a sibling with special needs. Tangential but maybe worth mentioning.

In the October newsletter, I also highlighted that editors would like to see the next John Green. That’s humor and the male voice. That’s not mentioned here but I do think that might trend.

Tuesday, December 07, 2010

Sounding Too Adult

Status: I already know that tomorrow is going to be a 10 or 12 hour day.

What’s Playing on the XM or iPod right now? SILENT NIGHT By Nat King Cole

As the young adult genre continues to do well, it’s no surprise that a lot of authors who write for the adult market might want to try their hand at a YA novel. This evening I finished up a client manuscript and then read a couple of submissions.

Several of them were from authors looking to do just that. I passed on two of them because the writers hadn’t nailed the YA voice. It’s hard to pinpoint and clearly explain to the writer what exactly is off about the voice but ultimately, the character felt too experienced and capable in the story to be a teen.

In other words, the writer had imposed too much of an adult perspective into the narration. It’s a tough balance and all I can say is that for me as the reader, it just feels off or unconvincing. And it’s tough to correct because even a good critique reader might not be able to explain to the writer about how to fix it. I know that if I had to explain it to these two passes, I’d be hard pressed to give concrete feedback the writer would find helpful.

So if you are a writer looking to make that transition, be sure to read a lot in the YA genre and maybe even have a teen or teens on board as part of your critique group. After all, they would know best.

Monday, December 06, 2010

Oh, That Google Thing

STATUS: I’m blogging before 5 p.m. I’ll call this a great day! I demonstrated restraint as I did not have an eggnog chai today….

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? SHEPHERD’S PIPE CAROL by Bryn Terfel

Actually, just one of the many Google things as of late but this one is definitely worth a blog post. Long awaited and much expected, Google announced the launch for Google eBooks (formerly Google Editions).

An eBookstore to rival Amazon and Apple. According to the press release, it is the largest eBook provider offering up to 3 million books for sale and download (many of which are in the public domain). Click here for the article.

According to the president of ABA, this latest game changer can benefit Indie booksellers the most. They now have access to a store platform that will allow them to sell eBooks from their stores (about time!). It’s also the first eBookstore that’s not directly connected to a specific eBook reader. And, according to the release, publishers can sell traditionally or through agency model (see sidebar tag for electronic books for more discussion on that issue.)

Now if we can just get everyone to agree on a specific eBook format… Hey, I can dream, can’t I?

Friday, December 03, 2010

Most Favored Nations

STATUS: Just finished up two contracts today. Always a great feeling.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? CHRISTMASTIME by Stevie Wonder

With all the changes in the publishing world, this might be a buzz word you’ve heard thrown around lately. Agents are often including Most Favored Nation clauses in publishing contracts where it relates to electronic books.

It’s actually an odd term for it but including it often protects our clients. A quick stop at Wikipedia will give you an in-depth definition of the term. It’s most often used in international economic relations. In short, it means that if the US has a most favored nation status with a state, that state will not be treated less advantageously than any other country the US has trade relations with. They would get the same tariffs, quotas, or breaks etc.

And yes, it’s more complicated than that but you just need the cliff notes version for how I want to talk about it. Great. Most Favored Nations. International economics. What does this have to do with publishing and electronic books?

I’m getting to that. There are various ways to structure the clauses but in general, when an agent includes a most favored nations clause, it means the author will not be subject to a less advantageous electronic royalty rate than any other author at that Publishing house.

TGIF! Have a great weekend.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

You Know, That Thing About Google

Status: 15 days until we close the agency for the holidays. Oi!

What’s Playing on the XM or iPod right now? THE CHIPMUNK SONG (CHRISTMAS DON’T BE LATE) by Alvin and the Chipmunks

So right now I’m sitting here at home trying to think up a blog topic. My husband says, “why don’t you write about that new thing with Google.”

There are a million things daily about Google. Which one is he talking about? He says, “you know, the one about copyright.”

Well, that’s narrowing it down a bunch. Not.

My reply, “that would take some research and more brain power than I have at the moment.”

So gratuitous Chutney shot instead. This is what I should be doing right now.

Wednesday, December 01, 2010

Query Trends

STATUS: It was a nice day here so I popped out to give Chutney a quick walk. Now back at the office and will probably be here until at least 7 p.m.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? THE STAR OF THE EAST by Judy Garland

I’m not sure why, but my most popular blog entries (in terms of comments) tend to be when I blog about sample page or query trends.

So back by popular demand, here’s what we’ve been seeing too much of lately in the query inbox (and thank you Anita for compiling this handy dandy list):

1) Retellings of fairy tales in unusual settings (Sleeping Beauty on Mars, Snow White in the future, etc.)

2) Sci Fi stories featuring travel between planets using a Space Elevator.

3) Not really a new trend, but we've been getting a lot of WWII stories (even more than usual)

4) Still way too many vampires and werewolves *grin*

5) Tons of New Age spiritual stuff (a protagonist and her Spirit Guide, various takes on reincarnation, etc)

Not sure how this will help you folks in the trenches but there you have it.