Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Going Public

Status: Most of today I felt like I still had BEA brain. And the Brenda Novak Auction is ending tonight!

What’s Playing on the XM or iPod right now? ROSEALIA by Better Than Ezra

Many weeks before several authors started making headlines about their choice to self-publish, my author Courtney Milan, with my blessing and support (not that she needed it!), had already made that decision. She walked away from an offer on the table from her publisher Harlequin. There were several reasons for this decision but it will come as no surprise that it mainly hinged on the electronic royalty rate that had been offered. It’s no industry secret that Harlequin is well below what has become the “industry standard.” And it’s also not a secret what I think about Publishers’ current industry standard of 25% of net.

What was secret is that Courtney didn’t announce it—until now. Today she launched this new publishing direction with a novella entitled UNLOCKED in her Turner Brothers series that began with Unveiled & Unclaimed which will release in September.

In four short days, I can already tell you two important things about this digital revolution.

1. Pricing is everything. Pricing a title appropriately will move a great number of books in a short period of time.

2. Publishers are under-reporting electronic book sales in any given period on the royalty statements we are seeing.

That's a fact.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

BEA Pics And Sara’s Live Webinar

Status: Dashing out to the subway to be somewhere in 20 minutes

What’s Playing on the XM or iPod right now? Nothing At The Moment

Here is a BEA Pic to tie you over until I can properly write up some entries. Sarah Rees Brennan and Marie Lu at the Young Adult Buzz Panel.


Sara is also giving an amazing Webinar today called HOW TO HOOK AN AGENT WITH YOUR QUERY LETTER. It’s starts at 1 pm Eastern.

I know, I know. Not much advance notice but you can still sign up and participate even if you can’t be there during the scheduled time frame. Writers Digest records it and participants will have access to it at any time at a later date for up to one year. You can still even ask questions that will be responded. No need to miss out if you have a life or work!

Monday, May 23, 2011

BEA Week

Status: It’s pouring rain in New York too. Is there anywhere where it's not raining?

What’s Playing on the XM or iPod right now? WHATAYA WANT FROM ME by Adam Lambert

Dashing off in the next hour to head to Javits Center. It’s going to be a crazy week but I’ll try and report from the floor. I’m armed with my camera.

And some great news to kick it off. Kirkus lists the Top 26 Galleys to grab at the Fair and guess who is on it?

Heck yes!

In a totally unscientific sampling, I gave an ARC of this title to my 17 year old niece who loved it. She cajoled my 14 year old reluctant reader nephew to read it. He spent an entire day, while on spring break, away from playing his favorite video game because he couldn’t stop reading it.

There have only been two other books that did the same for him. ENDER’S GAME and the HUNGER GAMES trilogy.

This is how I know Marie and I might be on to something with this LEGEND trilogy so if you are at BEA, you might want to hit Marie’s signing on Wed. May 25 at 3 pm at Penguin’s booth #3252.

The last NLA book to be chosen as a top galley at BEA was SOULLESS by Gail Carriger.

This bodes well for us!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Tales From The Contract Wars

Status: It’s pouring rain and the temps feel anything like spring but I’m eating ice cream right now anyway.

What’s Playing on the XM or iPod right now? DON’T GIVE UP ON ME NOW by Ben Harper

Today we officially wrapped up our negotiations on the new Macmillan boilerplate contract. It only took 6 months, 2 weeks, and 3 days from start to finish. It was worth it to get a decent contract.

Oddly enough I was excited to sell yet another book to a Macmillan imprint. THAT contract will only take several weeks. All the heavy lifting is done.

Then I get a new Random House contract in. Basically the same except for 2 rather key clauses that come at the very end of the contract but are referenced throughout.

Great. Publishers will certainly let you reserve rights but are now inserting clauses that hamstring the author from exploiting those reserved rights.

This seems to be the latest fashion.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

21st Century Evolution Of The Agent’s Role

STATUS: As it’s almost 8 pm here and I’m still at the office, you can guess my status. I’m getting ready for Book Expo so there hasn’t been a lot of extra time for blogging.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? I’M IN THE MOOD FOR LOVE by Barbara Streisand

I can’t say I have all the answers to this one but I can very clearly tell you what it WON’T be. I’m not on twitter but I’m still in the loop on a lot of things and there has been a lot of discussion around this blog posting.

So I’m just going to state my stance in very clear terms.

1. Agents roles will indeed transform but I’m willing to go on the record and say that we will never need to charge a reading fee or for editorial services in order to be an agent in this new publishing world.

2. I believe, and I’ll be talking about this in more detail in later blogs, that agents and agencies opening publishing divisions as part of their agency is a conflict of interest. Plain and simple. One can’t be an agent and a publisher at the same time.

3. I do believe that agents have a role in the ePublishing realm and I have definite opinions on what that role should be and I promise I will share it but not right at this moment.

Soon though.

Friday, May 06, 2011

Friday Funnies

STATUS: You don’t want to know.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? KNEES OF MY HEART by Jimmy Buffett

I’m doing everything but laughing at the moment. Right now our ISP Server is down and our submissions database is offline. Argh! Supposedly any incoming or outgoing emails are being saved on the back up server until it’s up and running again. And I hope to goodness the database is on their backup server as well or we are going to be in trouble.

If you were planning to query or submit, hold off until next Monday, please, as we are migrating to a new ISP host on Sunday. We actually had this planned but of course was waiting for the weekend when the transition would be the less inconvenient. Go figure that our current provider would have problems this week of all weeks. Talk about bad timing.

We did a whole tech conversion in February and these are just the final pieces that we need to put in place so my apologies for the inconvenience.

So I really need a laugh on this Friday. This video doesn’t have anything to do with publishing but it did make me laugh uproariously. It’s compliments of my assistant Anita. Since I haven’t done funnies in a while, I hope it does the same for you. TGIF! Have a great weekend.

Thursday, May 05, 2011

Because It’s May

STATUS: It’s going to be in the 80s for the weekend! I’m so ready for that kind of weather.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? ROCKET MAN by Elton John

And Springtime can bring out the best in all of us.

Every year I participate in Brenda Novak’s On-line Auction for Diabetes Research. This is a cause close to my heart. My best friend, brother-in-law, and my six-year old nephew all have juvenile diabetes. This is personal for me.

So, I’m always delighted to support Brenda in this charity event, which happens every May. And although I can’t really compete with Celine (did you see that auction item!!!!), I am offering something new this year for a very lucky highest bidder.

Not only am I auctioning a 30-page read with a 5-day turnaround, the auction winner also gets a 30-minute follow-up phone convo with moi.

No really, this is exciting….

And if the winner skypes, we can even do the follow up call via video.

I’ll even put on lipstick and sit Chutney on my lap to say hello as well.

Really, does it get any better than that? Don’t answer that.

But I’m not the only one offering cool items. Sara is also doing a read and a follow-up call.

Jamie Ford is going to buy you lunch and personally show you around Seattle’s China Town where his novel Hotel On The Corner Of Bitter And Sweet is set.

NLA author and former ICM agent Maggie Marr (who writes for TV by the way) is offering a screen play evaluation. She knows her stuff and here’s your chance if you are a screenwriter.

Anita, my assistant, will critique your query letter. Sherry Thomas is also jumping in on the query game. She helped Courtney Milan and look where that got Courtney.

Miranda Kenneally and Simone Elkeles are critiquing YA manuscripts. Laurence who is currently on submission and runs a terrific writer critique group here in Denver is also jumping in on the critique action as is Janice Hardy of the wonderful Healing Wars Trilogy. These folks are top-notch on giving feedback. You don’t want to miss out.

And there are lots of autographed author copies to boot.

And if you aren’t interested in me, lots of agents have donated good stuff. Jessica Faust will be your Agent for a Day (go Jessica!) and Jim McCarthy will evaluate a proposal (and I can vouch that he’s a smart dude). Fellow Denverite Kate Testerman is in the game as well as my nemesis (which I say laughingly as we have similar tastes and are always vying for the same projects) Ginger Clark. And you don't want to pass on getting a read from Barbara Poelle!

In Romance, I adore Kevan Lyon, Natasha Kern, Deidre Knight, Elaine Spencer, and Elaine English so a couple of other good agents to keep in mind.

What are you waiting for?

Ack! I did not mean to leave out Tiffany Riesz who is offering a personalized love scene. Rock on!

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

In The Spring An Agent’s Fancy Turns To…

STATUS: Yesterday Angie and I were reviewing one client’s statement and to sum it up. What a hot mess.

What’s playing on the iPod or the XM radio right now? SWAY by Dean Martin

Love of royalty statements.

Yep, it’s that time of year again. April and October are NLA’s biggest royalty periods which means that the month of May and November are consumed by hours reviewing those statements.

So, in an effort to empower authors about their statements (because I promise you that a lot of agents don’t spend nearly the time they should on reviewing them), here’s another tidbit to file away in your knowledge bank.

If your publisher holds World rights and is selling your titles abroad, it’s important to track where the projects are sold to and when they will be released.

Why? Because if you don’t know that info, how do you know when the monies are supposed to appear on your royalty statements? Also, do you have a copy of the licensing agreement and the latest foreign royalty statement from the territory in question?

Most agents insert a clause in the contract allowing the author to receive such info—usually upon request. Without it, it’s impossible to review a statement for accuracy. What? You gonna just take the Publisher’s word for it?

Considering the number of errors we see in EVERY royalty period, that’s a lot to take on faith.

And there’s another facet to this. If Publisher has World, did they sell UK rights to separate publisher or was it done by a sister house in England? If a sister house, then UK royalties are specified in the US contract and should show on the US statement.

You don’t want to know how many times this information has just been plain missing from the statement or just wrong.

Knowledge is power and as an author, you have a right to a copy of those licensing agreements so ask for them. I would say that in the last several years, NLA has recovered well over $100,000 in missing royalties—money clients would never have received if we hadn’t pestered Publishers about info missing from the statements. In fact just last week, a client got $8000 because we argued that the wrong royalty rate was being used to calculate certain sales listed on the statement. And per the contract, we were right and they paid up. But if we hadn’t pointed it out…

Well, that’s a lot of money to leave on the table.

Monday, May 02, 2011

The Art Of The Blurb Request

STATUS: I think I need more hours in the day.

What’s playing on the iPod or the XM radio right now? OBLIVIOUS by Aztec Camera

(haven’t heard this song in years!)

Most authors remember their humble beginnings and really do want to pay it forward by offering a blurb to a newer writer. They remember vividly what it’s like to be in those shoes! It’s part of the writer’s code.

Even with noble intentions, most writers who experience success end up having to put a moratorium on offering blurbs for a couple of reasons. It can be something as simple as receiving so many requests, it ends up not being physically possible. Sometimes it comes down to politics and the only way to be fair is to simply say NO to everyone that asks.

So just a couple of things to keep in mind if you are a writer requesting a blurb.

1. Make it personal. The blurb requests that are seriously considered come from authors who include a heartfelt note as to why they are making this request to this particular author. Trust me, it makes a difference.

2. Follow the established protocol if one is stated. Authors often publically say that requests must be channeled via the agent or editor (even if you have a personal connection to that successful author). If it’s not publically stated, always offer to go through the agent or editor if that is what the author preferred.

(The hardest part for successful authors is feeling guilty about turning down a request. Some opt to place a moratorium instead just to avoid the complications of feeling guilty or the difficulty of saying no. It’s a terribly awkward place to be in.)

3. If the response is a NO, be professional and gracious. Should go without saying but you’d be surprise at some of the responses received.

Some day (and hopefully soon), you just might be in those successful author shoes facing the dilemma: to blurb or not to blurb!