Monday, January 31, 2011

A Contract Whine

Status: The high tomorrow is going to be 3 degrees. Oh Joy. And Chutney will still not thank me when I make her wear her fido fleece.

What’s Playing on the XM or iPod right now? HEROES by David Bowie

I think this is definitely more of a whine than a rant. I’m finally negotiating the new Macmillan boilerplate because just recently I sold a novel to that publishing house. And yes, I know that they implemented that new boilerplate many moons ago. Even though I reviewed it at that time (to see what I was in for) it’s not relevant until the first negotiation happens at that house. Although many of our boilerplate items were transferred into the new Macmillan contract, so much of the language has changed (or new clauses created), it might as well be brand new.

So to be generous, I reserved 4 hours to give it a solid read and to write up my requested changes letter. After 2.5 hours of diligent labor, I had only hit page 11 of the 28 page contract.

Oh, this is going to be fun one to negotiate.

Friday, January 28, 2011

Friday Funnies

STATUS: Even though it’s Friday, I’ll probably be a little late in getting out of here tonight.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? THE GREEN ROOM by Wayne Gratz

Although this isn’t a “funny” per se, it’s more like a cool item. One of NLA’s Australian clients, Cheryl Hingley, had her novel LA CREOLE adapted into a musical.

Here are excerpts from the performance at the Comedy Theater, Melbourne, Australia.



We are also happy to report that Cheryl’s application for a grant from the New Musicals Australia was accepted. How cool is that? Now the musical will go through workshops and a 40-minute fully-funded performance in Sydney this March 2011.

If you live Down Under (and I know I have plenty of readers in that country), you might want to check it out.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

The Great Contract Delay?

Status: Freakish. It’s going to be 60 degrees tomorrow in Denver. Uh, winter, what is that?

What’s Playing on the XM or iPod right now? ALWAYS ON MY MIND by Willie Nelson

In the last 6 months, there has been a radical shift in the amount of time it will take to complete a publishing contract. At first, I chalked it up to the new contract boilerplates publishing houses are feeling the need to implement. Any time an agent has to pretty much negotiate from scratch, it’s going to take a lot more time to establish a new agency boilerplate that is fair and reasonable for the author.

But that’s not always the case. For example, for one recent deal, it took (literally) three months to get the first draft of the contract—and the publisher had not changed the boilerplate. Having recently done 4 or 5 contracts with this house, I rather assumed this latest one was going to be a quick process. It took 6 months before the author signed the final contract.

And it’s not like I’m snoozing at my desk. This is after repeated calls, emails, follow up, and constant nagging on my part to prod the process along.

Agent job description: Nag.

Trust me, I didn’t know that was part of the job qualifications when I got into this biz.

For another contract from a publishing house that has always been very prompt in the past, I was stunned to have to wait 4 weeks between responses. (By the way, I responded within 3 days from any communication from the publisher; it was not languishing on my desk.)

It’s enough to make you wonder if it’s me! So I started bringing it up in conversations with other agents I chat with. Lo and behold, they had the same complaint!

So I don’t know what’s up. Are the contracts departments besieged? Understaffed? Combination of of things? Is this the great contract delay conspiracy? If you’ve recently sold a novel, get ready to hurry up and wait in order to sign on the dotted line.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Fun Facts On NLA Clients—Take 5

STATUS: I think my telephone’s handset is permanently glued to my left ear. Way too much phone time over the last few days.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? THE LOVECATS by The Cure

Wrapping up the fun facts tonight!

Mari Mancusi—It took me over two years to convince her publisher to buy the fourth book in the Blood Coven Vampire series. Then they did, repackaged the back list with new covers and now the series is doing great and we are up to having recently sold book eight!

Lisa Shearin—who has well over 100,000 copies in print for her Raine Benares series had a ton of passes while on submission for MAGIC LOST, TROUBLE FOUND because the editors didn’t like the “fun voice.” It wasn’t the “norm” in fantasy.

Shanna Swendson—Gets regular royalty checks for her Enchanted Inc. series even though the first book published more than 5 years ago. Talk about evergreen!

And I have a ton of other facts that will probably never see the light of day but this has been fun to recap.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Fun Facts On NLA Clients—Take 4

STATUS: I have an auction unfolding later this week so busy busy.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? DOG DAYS ARE OVER by Florence and The Machine

Kristina Riggle—literally lives on the street one block over from where my husband grew up in Michigan. Talk about a small world…

Sherry Thomas—English is Sherry’s second language. She didn’t start learning English until she was thirteen years old. If you’ve read her, you’ll know she has a beautiful way with language that’s really stunning.

Linnea Sinclair—came to me via a referral from the amazing Deidre Knight. How cool is that for a fellow agent to recommend an author to then to have that author have such a great career? Deidre and I toast it every time we get together.

Helen Stringer—has a gorgeous British accent and a little known fact is that she has a background in film/tv. This doesn’t happen often but she auditioned for and landed the narrator job to read her own novel SPELLBINDER for the audio book version. She’ll be doing THE MIDNIGHT GATE as well. So if you’ve listened to the books, you are actually hearing her. If you haven’t picked up the audio version, I highly recommend it.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Fun Facts On NLA Clients—Take 3

STATUS: Today was a whirlwind of good news and I actually knocked 2 things off my To Do List. I’m flying high tonight.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? THE WEDGE by Dick Dale

Courtney Milan—next to Chutney, Courtney has the cutest dog on the planet! Seriously, most of you know that Courtney came my way via a recommend from Sherry Thomas but then I met her in person and the Chicago Romance Writers Conference. I was impressed on many fronts.

Paula Reed—is the only client where I found her! I read an article about teachers and Columbine High School in the Denver Post and she was profiled. In the article, she mentioned she was writing a romance so I reached out to her. Now she writes literary historical fiction.

Sarah Rees Brennan—I was the only agent she queried for The Demon’s Lexicon series. Every day I’m thrilled and amazed that it was so!

Kim Reid—I met Kim at the Pikes Peak Writers conference and I think I physically groaned when she said she had a memoir to pitch (she won’t let me live that down!). Her memoir NO PLACE SAFE is one good reason why I’m proud to be a literary agent.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Fun Facts On NLA Clients—Take 2

STATUS: Hey, winter decided to show up, briefly, in Denver today. It snowed. I already miss out near 60 degree weather already.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? GIVE PEACE A CHANCE by John Lennon

The Gals of Killer Fiction (all former Dorchester authors) are giving away free eBooks because finally, it’s their books to give away. Two of my authors, Jana DeLeon and Leslie Thompson are participating. Nothing wrong with the word “free” in this case so you might want to check it out.

And that leads me to back to some more fun facts to share.

Lucienne Diver—was already publishing under a pseudonym when I convinced her to do the Vamped Series in her own name.

Carolyn Jewel—has never missed a deadline (which has me convinced that she has mastered the art of cloning)

Leslie Langtry—was skeptical of literary agents and gave me the most detailed questions I’ve ever received when offering representation. And if you know Leslie, who is probably the author most likely to buy you a beer and hug you, you’d realize just how strange that is!

Marie Lu—was an attendee I met at the Pikes Peak Writers Conference. She submitted sample pages to her first novel which I passed on (sensing a theme here!). Then I took her on for a novel that I wasn’t able to sell. Now her debut YA, LEGEND, is one of Penguin’s big books for this fall. Talk about paying some dues.

Time for bed but more tidbits tomorrow!

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Fun Facts On NLA Clients

STATUS: Ack! Can’t believe it’s 5 already. Where did the day go?

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? CALLING ALL ANGELS by Train

Once an author is established, it’s kind of hard to think of them as having a beginning but every successful author has a fun fact about their beginning. I thought it might be fun to share today.

Gail Carriger—Four years before she sent me SOULLESS, I had read a YA novel from her, passed on the manuscript but sent along a letter with feedback. She remembered that fondly and so queried me with SOULLESS.

Ally Carter—I signed Ally for a novel (adult) that we’ve never shopped.

Sara Creasy—(who by the way was just nominated for the Philip K. Dick Award—HUGE!!!) I made her revise SONG OF SCARABAEUS twice before I signed her and then went on to sell it.

Jana DeLeon—For her first book, RUMBLE ON THE BAYOU, had an editor who so wanted to buy her. Got shot down at her house. It sold elsewhere but just recently, this editor asked for every book she’s written since so she would have them on her vaca. Oh yes, we obliged@

Simone Elkeles—had only one offer to buy PERFECT CHEMISTRY. I was afraid I wasn’t going to be able to sell it!

Jamie Ford—When he first submitted HOTEL ON THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET, he had the manuscript entitled THE PANAMA HOTEL. Sounds like it’s set in Latin American. We went through about 100 titles before settling on the one it was published with before submitting it to editors. Now people can’t imagine any other title for it. One bad suggestion was Burning Silk—after the one scene where Japanese women start burning their wedding Kimonos after the bombing of Pearl Harbor.

Janice Hardy—Sold me on her manuscript during the 10-minute pitch session at the Surrey Writers Conference. Right after the pitch appt. I called my assistant (Sara at the time) and asked her to send it to me the minute it came in. She did. I read it and immediately offered rep for it. It’s rare to take on a novel from a pitch session but it happens.

More to come tomorrow!

Monday, January 17, 2011

One Picture Really Can Say It All

STATUS: Today is MLK holiday! I’m only in for the morning and then heading out to do a nice hike as the weather is good here.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? VALENTINE by Kina Grannis

Hey readers. Sorry about the blog silence starting on Wednesday. I had to go out of town unexpectedly for a funeral and there really was not time to write. I actually didn’t even open my computer except on the plane ride to and from.

On a MUCH lighter note. Jamie Ford attended the Pulpwood Book Queens 11th Anniversary Girlfriend Weekend Author Extravaganza!

I pretty much think this picture says it all!


Jamie (on right) with Sam Barry of Rock Bottom Remainders


Need more great shots? Click here.

And if that costume wasn’t enough, we just found out on Friday that Hotel On The Corner Of Bitter and Sweet made the USA Today’s Best-selling Books: The top 100 for 2010 list.

Hotel came in at #84. Huge Congrats Jamie!

For that, I’d put on an Alice and Wonderland costume….



Monday, January 10, 2011

The Slow Build

Status: Winter finally decided to show up in Denver. Eight inches of snow and boy is it cold.

What’s Playing on the XM or iPod right now? 1983 by Neon Trees

One of the things I love the most about repping titles in the children’s world is the very different expectation children’s editors have for a debut author.

In the adult world, sometimes a new writer is treated via the spaghetti test. Let’s throw it out there and see if it sticks. If it doesn’t, time to move on.

In the Children’s realm especially for middle grade, there is an expectation that most successful mg titles will be through a slow build. With this in mind, the publisher expects to support the title for the long run. Now it’s not to say there aren’t successful titles straight out of the gate. There are and trust me, editors are excited and happy about that.

The difference is that they understand that an instant success is the exception to the rule rather than the norm. And this is what makes today’s news so cool.

A year and a half after initial publication, Janice Hardy’s first book in the Healing Wars series is now starting to get recognition.

Finally we can share some big news out of the UK.
THE PAIN MERCHANTS (the US title is The Shifter) has been shortlisted for the 2011 Waterstone’s Children’s Book Prize. This is a big deal. We’ve known for 2 months but couldn’t say anything until today.
We also found out that in the U.S., THE SHIFTER is a nominee for the 2011-2012 Truman Readers Award for the state of Missouri.

The coveted state reading lists—landing on one is usually a sign that a title/series is starting to penetrate the reading market—especially for teachers and librarians.

So huge news—and coming quite a bit of time after initial publication. I’m thinking this spaghetti strand is definitely going to stick!


More Neon Trees music on iLike

Friday, January 07, 2011

Could Be Interesting For Discussion

STATUS: TGIF!

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? TURN YOUR LOVE by Jack Johnson

If you are a regular blog reader, you’ll know that I’ve mentioned JA Konrath’s on-his-own foray into e-publishing and the success he has had. Links here and here for that. The world of publishing is shifting almost daily.

Today Writer Beware talks about a series of recent articles in the news about self-pubbing and the importance of context. Konrath and Strauss both add nice analysis to the on-going dialogue so wanted to share the link.

2011 is going to be one interesting year I think!

Thursday, January 06, 2011

Every Topic Under The Sun

Status: New Macbook at home is messing with the font size on blogger. I’ll keep fiddling.

What’s Playing on the XM or iPod right now? SECRETS by One Republic

I’ve been blogging for four years going on five. Some days, it just feels like I’ve covered every topic there is to talk about in Publishing. Most questions we receive have already been answered once on the blog and can be found in the archives.

Seriously, some days when I’m walking Chutney to work, I’ve gotta dig deep for a blog topic. *grin* But in all my years of agenting, NLA has never given a first pages workshop. Now I’ve done an occasional one at a conference but never through the blog or the agency directly.

Which is why Sara decided to take it on! Remember when I decided to do a Writers Digest Webinar a couple of months ago? We got great feedback and participants said it was valuable.

So given the positive response, Sara decided to give a webinar she has long wanted to entitled START YOUR STORY RIGHT. And the bonus? After the webinar, you get to submit the first 3 pages of your manuscript for a critique to see if your opening pages make the cut.

When we did the query Webinar, we had over 200 participants and we read every query submitted for critique. That took hours.

I think she might be crazy but hey, if you’ve ever wanted feedback on your opening, here’s your chance!

Click here to register for Sara’s Webinar.


Wednesday, January 05, 2011

21st Century Whack-A-Mole

Status: I conked out early yesterday before I could blog.

What’s Playing on the XM or iPod right now? WHITER SHADE OF PALE by Annie Lennox

In this digital age, pirating is lightning fast. Mari Mancusi’s NIGHT SCHOOL literally went on sale yesterday and within hours, you could illegally download it in a pirated digital edition. We clocked it.

And even though it feels futile, like 21st century whack-a-mole, authors can’t afford being complacent when it comes to pirated digital downloads. Literally.

Best defense is to track via something like Google alerts then notify the publisher. Most have a division that notifies infringers and gets the sites removed. (Yes, I know a new site will appear within a day but it still disrupts them.) If there are advertisers on the site, notify them of the copyright violation. I know that legit advertisers have pulled out of sites that are violating the copyright.

Also important is to educate fans. A lot of young people, in the age of napster, see it as a victimless crime. It hurts the livelihood of artists and that is a detriment to all of us in the long run.

If fans abroad are having trouble legally downloading an edition, check with your publisher or agent on where the digital edition is available and get proactive on disseminating that information. At some point, even loyal, ethical fans can get frustrated enough to buy the non-legal version. I get that so do what you can to help the situation. In general, publishers are moving on territory restrictions and availability issues but they are having trouble keeping pace with almost weekly change.


Monday, January 03, 2011

The Query Spammer

Status: A bit of a rough start to the year as I’m home with a sore throat. Too much relaxing over the holiday I guess!

What’s Playing on the XM or iPod right now? BETTER MAN by Pearl Jam

Happy New Year! And welcome back, hopefully, to a nice year of generally uninterrupted blogging! It’s my New Year’s resolution.

If you sent us a query while we were closed, I apologize for having to send out the autorespond and making you resend. Really, it’s for our sanity. Can you imagine coming back to work and facing over 2500 queries?

Daunting to say the least. Much better for us to have a clean query inbox and start afresh on Jan. 3. We did get a little slammed today (no surprise). If I were a writer, I’d wait and send next Monday when we are back to normal levels. However, if you did send, we are reading them now.

That is, all except for one person’s query. Lately we have what we call a query spammer. For 2 months straight, this writer has sent the exact same query every single day. At first, we sent our general NO response. Now we just delete.

The person took a break at the end of November but now they are back. It certainly has our attention but not perhaps in the way the writer intends.

I admire persistence as much as the next person but here’s the difference. If this writer significantly rewrote the query or gave a fresh take on the story, then it’s worth our reviewing again. But the same query, day in and day out, for months on end is just spam and gets an auto-delete.

Happy Writing in 2011!