Thursday, March 31, 2011

Another Children’s Editor Weighs In

STATUS: Is if Friday yet? Dang. Not yet…

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? TAKE MY BREATH AWAY by Berlin

On what she’s looking for. And I’m loving this list. I’d be happy to see queries from writers for anything she mentions. Bring it on.

1. Contemporary YA where the heroine is not a victim.

2. Witches, MG or YA, dark or light

3. SF YA

4. Multicultural SF or fantasy

5. Humor

6. Strong novels with gay protagonists

7. Steampunk

8. Novels with the perfect blend of literary and commercial that will get starred reviews, win awards, and land on the Times list.

Oh that’s not asking for much! I’m getting right on that last one. *grin *

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Who's Got Problems? Dorchester Has Problems

STATUS: I’m listening to Chill on XM. This station is new to me. Do I feel calmer? Hum…

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? TAMELESS by Yonderboi

Sadly, Dorchester Publishing has been in the news again recently. I’m sure most of you have already seen the headlines as it certainly is not a secret that Brian Keene called for a boycott of the publisher because unauthorized editions of Keene’s digital editions were being sold after the rights had reverted to him.

I can confirm that the same has happened to several NLA authors whose rights had also reverted.

In response, Dorchester vows to make it right.

Last Thursday, I was on a conference call that detailed Dorchester’s current financial situation where I also brought up this issue.

Currently they are paying royalties owed to what they call “currently active Dorchester authors” (ie. authors whose rights Dorchester currently has under contract and can exploit). I also received confirmation that those payments are happening on a weekly basis.

However, Dorchester owes a tidy sum of back royalties to what are called “non-current inactive authors” (ie. authors whose rights have reverted) and as of Thursday’s call, there is no plan in place to pay these past royalties owed.

I imagine that this is partly what CEO Bob Anthony is referring to when he mentions that they’ve needed to prioritize cash flow and in the end, one can hope that Anthony’s vow that “all authors will be paid in full” will come to pass.

Given past actions by the company, Mr. Keene and other authors remain skeptical.

Friday, March 25, 2011

Congrats NLA RITA Finalists!

STATUS: This is how I like to start my morning.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? HOW WE DO by The Game Ft. 50 Cent

Not all the finalists have been notified so I’m hoping we might hear some more news as the RWA website doesn’t update until the finalist has been reached.

Still, we are super excited to say HUGE CONGRATS to…

Simone Elkeles for RULES OF ATTRACTION--Young Adult Romance

And to

Sherry Thomas for HIS AT NIGHT--Historical Romance

Both of these authors won the RITA award last year so if you haven’t picked up one of their amazing novels, what are you waiting for?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Joe and Barry Talk Role of Agents

STATUS: I think my phone receiver might be permanently glued to my left ear. For the last two days, I’ve literally averaged about 6 hours on the phone.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? ANTARCTICA ECHOS by Vangelis

If you haven’t read the conversation between Mr. Eisler and Mr. Konrath that might be posted everywhere by now, I highly recommend it. It’s long but it’s also a very interesting read regardless of your own personal sentiments on the subject of self-publishing and Eisler’s decision. There is also another interview up on The Daily Beast that sheds a bit more light on his decision.

As I know both Barry and Joe, they probably won’t mind my pulling out an excerpt from their conversation and resposting it here. This section touches on what they see as the potential evolving role of the literary agent:

Barry: To turn a manuscript into an actual book and get it into the hands of a reader, we still need an editor, line editor, copyeditor, proofreader, jacket copy writer, bio writer, cover art designer, and digital formatter. Plus there are various marketing and sales elements, too. You manage all these functions yourself, and this is one way in which I’d argue that you really are, if not exceptional, then at least unusual.

Joe: I wouldn’t disagree with that.

Barry: So as legacy publishing dies out, where will other writers turn to for assistance with the critical functions I mention above?

Joe: We’ve talked about this before.

Barry: I know. I was trying to prompt you in an unobtrusive way.

Joe: Right. Okay, unobtrusively, I think agencies will morph into what I call E-stributors.

Barry: I agree with the concept, even if I don’t like the nomenclature.

Joe: You don’t like “print,” either.

Barry: Not when you’re talking about paper. There’s paper print and digital print. I think the better distinction is between paper and digital.

Joe: I know, I know. Anyway, E-stributors will be a combination of publisher and manager, handling all the elements you mention above for authors who don’t want to manage those elements themselves. The ones that do it well will probably be able to make a good case for keeping their 15% cut.

Barry: As opposed to legacy publishers, which are keeping 52.5%.

Joe: Yes. Hard to see how legacy publishers will be able to compete with the digital model being adopted by agencies. They’d have to morph into E-stributors themselves, which would be a huge challenge given their attachment to a paper infrastructure. More likely, you’ll see the most entrepreneurial editors jumping ship and joining agencies.

Given my current job *grin *, I wanted to spotlight it and ask, what else do you think would make an agent worth their 15% in a model like this? I have a feeling I’m going to find the answers very fascinating.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

News Flash: Google Settlement Rejected

STATUS: Talk about chat in the blogosphere. Rumors has it that internet ePublishing phenom Amanda Hocking might be on the verge of accepting a 7-figure deal with a major traditional publisher and traditionally published Barry Eisler is foregoing SMP deal and moving to digital only.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? SYMPHONY No. 3 –LARGO by Gorecki with Royal Philharmonic Orchestra

In the other big news flash of the day (she says facetiously) is that the Judge Denny Chin rejected the Google Book Settlement. In the end, he said is main issue could be ameliorated by changing the settlement from an opt-out process to an opt-in.

As this issue hasn’t been actively discussed in 13 months, I suggest reading the article and re-familiarizing yourself with all the arguments, issues, and objections. This case is definitely not dead. I imagine we’ll see a something new put forward in the not so distant future. As Judge Chin points out, such a settlement would give Google an unfair competitive advantage (definitely not a news flash for anyone following this case), and Google won’t want to let go of that easily.

In an interesting side note, Scribd has the rejection filing posted in its entirety for reading on their site. This alone might underscore Judge Chin’s position on unfair advantage.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Absolutely No Need to Apologize!

STATUS: TGIF! I will not have to work on cleaning up files because of the computer conversion. We are done!

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? TAKE IT EASY by Eagles

Today Gail Carriger and I received an email from her Japanese translator apologizing for the delay in getting a copy of the Japanese cover art of SOULLESS to us.

She was emailing because the illustrator was currently in an evacuation camp but trying to finish it and because the Japanese editor on the project had also been impacted and hadn’t been able to be in the office.

Good Heavens. There is no need to apologize.

But this to me is an example of the incredible Japanese fortitude. In the face of dire circumstances caused by one of the biggest earthquakes on record, they felt the need to send us an email—and with an apology to boot!

On our end, we were just relieved to hear some news that they were safe. We have not gotten a lot of information on our Japanese counterparts as of yet.

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

What Editors Are Looking For

STATUS: It’s almost 8 pm and I haven’t left the office yet. That pretty much sums up the day.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? EVERYBODY WANTS TO RULE THE WORLD by Tears For Fears

I have to say that all your comments on my last blog entry about the Best Query Ever made me laugh and laugh. Much needed when 160 emails in my inbox mysteriously disappeared during an email migration to the cloud.

Talk about cleaning up your TO DO list in one fell swoop. Luckily the emails were finally recovered. My tech person was much relieved too!

A children’s editor reconnected with me today. In her email, she outlined what she was dying to see. I LOVE when editors do that. Sometimes as agents, it’s easy to get tunnel vision just based on what we are seeing. So if you are an editor and you’re reading this, don’t hesitate to email me your current wish list. I love hearing from you and since I’ll be heading to NY for BEA and doing my monthly stay, now’s the time to ping me.

But back to what editors might want. From this email, it was nice to see that she was not looking for apocalyptic YA (she might be an exception there) but she’d love to see the following:

Southern-set novels

Novels with authentic characters that transform

Psychological thrillers

Mg horror (oh heck yes is what I say!)

SF (sweet!)

I have to say I’m on board with that. I’d be open to any and all of the above.

And as always, this editor would love a “stunningly-written book with a great hook.”

Rather goes without saying… *grin *

Wednesday, March 09, 2011

Best Query EVER!

STATUS: An illusion of spring time here in Denver. It’s going to be in the 60s several days in a row. Oh, here comes spring fever.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? NOWHERE FAST by Smiths

As you folks know, recently we did a big computer conversion here at the office. As part of the conversion, we’ve been migrating to a new email/CRM program that we are quite excited about. As part of the process, we’ve been cleaning out old saved email folders from our query inbox.

Well, Anita had a folder where she saved some of the best email queries NLA has ever received. And I’m sure you guys realize that I’m using the word “best” euphemistically here.

We unearthed one that is just too good not to share.

This query was for a memoir about the author’s life long relationship with his um… his um… his Johnson, summer sausage, ding dong, one-eyed monster.

Folks, I can’t make this stuff up.

His had a separate personality and was the cause of his interesting career (and no, it wasn’t in THAT business).

Best yet? It was time to let him out of the closet and present him to the world in the first book of a trilogy. Yes, you read that right--a trilogy.

The only question that remained, according to the query letter, was whether the world was ready for it.

Only you, dear blog readers, can answer that question!

Monday, March 07, 2011

Winning The Publishing Lottery?

STATUS: The great thing about rainy days and Mondays is that you don’t mind working when that is the case!

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? TIME & TIDE by Basia

As you folks know, as an agent, I’ve pretty supportive of self-publishing. I’ve discussed JA Konrath and his efforts on my blog and provided links to his blog. I’ve taken on self-published authors--even way back in 2004 when it was not the “cool” thing to do. I’m not remotely threatened by the transformation that electronic books are creating in the publishing realm and the opportunities it creates for some debut authors who don’t go the traditional route.

In short, I’m fairly levelheaded and sanguine about this whole topic but I have noticed a rather worrisome trend as of late. There seems to be a rather skewed perspective that ANY author can make it rich, be successful, if they just eschew traditional publishing and forge ahead in the electronic world.

It’s as if these voices completely forget about the amount of marketing and promotion that successful self-publishing authors such as Konrath, Doctorow, McQuestion, and Hocking have done. It’s like they have the assumption that all these authors did was throw some manuscripts up on the web and the money just started rolling in. On top of that, there’s an attitude that these authors stuck it to the publishing man—a finger to the perceived “gatekeepers” of the industry.

I thought Amanda Hocking did a thoughtful post on this that is definitely worth reading.

And I just want to add one other thing. Regardless of whether an author self-publishes or pursues traditional publishing, some writers just win the publishing lottery and their books become major successes.

We honestly don’t know why that sometimes occurs; and even more telling, why it sometimes doesn’t occur—even for some really good books. It’s basically a mystery. (And of course I know every blog reader can point to one book they think is totally awful and was a big success. Truly a mystery!)

So yes, I totally believe that statistically, some authors will self-pub and become great successes with huge numbers. They have, in essence, been one of the lucky ones to win the publishing lottery.

Friday, March 04, 2011

Friday Funnies

STATUS: Plan to work most of the weekend so it doesn’t feel like a Friday really.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? FRIDAY ON MY MIND by The Easybeats

Today’s entry is compliments of my Mom. Nothing to do with publishing but it certainly made me laugh—never a bad thing to do when going into the weekend. Enjoy!

Thursday, March 03, 2011

And I’m Still Talking About Derivative Works

STATUS: My goal today is to work through ALL emails in my inbox. I probably have 8 hours of work ahead of me just on that. It’s very sad when I get a little behind on it.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? WHO’S CRYING NOW by Randy Crawford

I do find it funny that when I talk about contracts, I get the fewest number of comments to the entry. Now I understand that folks may still be reading the blog entry even if they aren’t commenting but I do equate number of comments with general interest in the topic.

But I’ve got one more entry on derivative works before I lay this topic to rest (for a little while anyway). And that’s to talk about fiction. For me, I rarely do nonfiction so I wasn’t as worried about the ramifications of this clause in regards to that. It’s also more conceivable to figure what could be considered a derivative work in the NF realm.

I do fiction. So I’m particularly interested in what might be considered a derivative work in this realm. I had a sneaky suspicion that I already knew.

And I was right.

For fiction, it could be conceivably argued that a comic book or graphic novel is a derivative work based off of the original novel.

Not that I agree even remotely. But it could be argued and that’s exactly what I did not want to hear.

Because to make it clear whether it would or would not be considered a derivative work, my guess is that would have to be challenged and determined in a court of law.

Once again, let me add my disclaimer that I’m not a copyright attorney, and I’m not dispensing legal advice or legal opinions here. These are simply my musings on how this clause could be interpreted.

Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Let’s Continue Talking About Derivative Works

STATUS: Two years and two months after initial publication, HOTEL ON THE CORNER OF BITTER AND SWEET cracks the top 10 again on the NYT list. Time to celebrate.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? YOU NEEDED ME by Anne Murray

I can tell by the overwhelming number of comments on my last post that discussing copyright is definitely whipping my blog readers into a verbal frenzy.

How many of you used the copyright act as a sleep aid on Monday?

But I do think it’s worth continuing the discussion. As I mentioned Monday, I could see how derivative works could be created for nonfiction work.

For example, and this is just off the top of my head and probably not the best example out there but I think it will give you a sense, is to think of a nonfiction work on decorating for the holidays. In this work, let’s say there is one chapter on table place settings. The publisher than decides to take one aspect of holiday place settings from this chapter and create a whole new gift book on holiday place settings.

That would be a derivative work, created by the publisher and they would own the copyright (at least according to this clause 6.b. in the Macmillan contract.)

In talking to my lawyer, we discussed at length how a derivative work could be a book trailer. Definition of derivative work is based on one or more pre-existing works, such as translation, musical arrangement, dramatization, fictionalization, motion picture version, sound recording, art reproduction, abridgement, condensation, or any other form in which a work may be recast, transformed, or adapted.

In talking with Macmillan, this is an example they gave as something they could create that would be covered under this clause 6.b.

More on fiction tomorrow. Hopefully I won’t run out of time.