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Viewing: Blog Posts Tagged with: Career, Most Recent at Top [Help]
Results 26 - 50 of 84
26. Perception v. Reality

I have a friend who runs a retail store, and in the course of a conversation I asked what her bestselling items were. She laughed and said that until recently she would have been convinced it was the red bracelet, but after running reports just the night before she was shocked to learn that not only was she wrong, but so wrong that the biggest seller wasn't even on her radar.

The only thing she could attribute her mistake to was perception v. reality. Because she had recently sold two red bracelets and heard many other customers comment on how lovely it was, she was convinced it had to be a hot item. Thanks to inventory tracking software, however, she's always able to keep on top of the truth about her business, something that makes the difference, a big difference, in success versus failure. If she had ordered based on perception she would have a backlog of red bracelets and hardly enough yellow necklaces, her true bestseller, to meet demand.

Understanding the importance of reality is important for any business owner to be successful, and that means you too, authors. It's so easy to get caught up in the letters we receive from readers and the good reviews for our books. Those are the things that keep you writing and excited about your work, but five people writing to tell you that your series is amazing and asking for more books does not mean your series is a bona fide success. It's simply your perception of how successful the series is, or should be. The reality can only be seen in your numbers. Five people aren't going to make a book a bestseller. Heck, they aren't even going to make it worthwhile to self-publish. However, it is quite possible that five people could write to you, begging for more, and 50,000 more buy your book. Now you have numbers and numbers are reality.

Let's face it, reality is often one of the hardest things to face, but facing it head-on is what will help you achieve the success you want. Facing reality means you know what your career looks like, and knowing the truth can help you make decisions, the right decisions, about your future.


15 Comments on Perception v. Reality, last added: 8/1/2011
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27. Editorial Director

As Grace reported a few weeks ago, I was promoted to the position of Fiction Editorial Director. I've been asked by different people what this means in terms of my day-to-day job, so I thought I'd briefly outline it here.

-I am now overseeing our Middle Grade and Young Adult lists. The "Fiction" in my title is a bit misleading, as technically I would also oversee MG and YA nonfiction, but as we publish very little nonfiction at Little, Brown in general, we thought it was cleaner to just say "Fiction". This means running the novel portion of editorial meeting, approving which projects go to our acquisitions meetings, and then giving my recommendation at that meeting. Overall, I'm tasked to help shape our fiction list in terms of balance of titles (literary vs commercial, MG vs YA, making sure the books we sign up don't compete directly with each other in terms of subject matter, etc.).

-I will still be editing picture books (I couldn't give that up!), but my focus will be on MG and YA.

-Instead of just one person (my assistant) reporting to me, I have three other editors as direct reports. This means approving more paperwork (expense reports, contract requests, etc.), reviewing copy and P&Ls, etc., more annual performance reviews, responding to MG/YA-related requests/questions/emails, and so on.

-In general, I have more meetings, including attending jacket meeting in its entirety (rather than just for my individual titles), list planning meetings, and weekly updates with each editor.

-Because of my increased administrative duties, I may eventually have to tighten my own title list, and potentially acquire fewer books. I haven't passed any of my books on to other editors yet (I love all my books, so it's hard to give any up!), but I may in the near future. I do want to say that when deciding which projects to pass on, I'm mainly looking at which books are a good fit taste-wise with another editor, and which projects I feel another editor could manage as well or better than myself, especially considering my own increased workload.

I'm excited about the challenges of the new position, but I will say that I never really had this job as a career goal (and those of you who know me know how much I love goal setting!). There are some editors who want to be publisher some day. I've never been one of them. To be perfectly honest, I would have been happy being at the Executive Editor level for a long time--maybe for the rest of my publishing career, because the editing part of my job has always been my favorite. But at the same time, when this opportunity presented itself, I weighed my options, and it felt like a good move for me, a job where I could still do the editing I love, but also learn the business side a little more, to mentor more, and to help shape a list.

We'll see what this new position will bring!

5 Comments on Editorial Director, last added: 7/12/2011
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28. austinkleon: Cartoonist Ivan Brunetti in his studio Kidd, who...


Cartoonist Ivan Brunetti in his studio

Kidd, who says Brunetti’s relative obscurity is due mainly to the fact that he’s not much of a self-promoter, has been badgering the cartoonist to submit a book proposal for more than a decade. “He doesn’t have a defining book. That’s a big moment for a cartoonist,” Kidd said. “And Ivan has a masterpiece in him; it’s just getting him to do it.”


0 Comments on austinkleon: Cartoonist Ivan Brunetti in his studio Kidd, who... as of 1/1/1900
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29. Moving in New Directions: The Freedom to Create New Paradigms

Last night my partner brought me flowers and tools: diagonal pliers to replace the ones he broke, and joint pliers because mine do not work very well. Another woman might have offered an evil eye for a gift of tools, but for me it was perfect.

Embrace who you are.

I learned a long time ago that I don’t fit in the usual boxes. To some people, like my sister, my having nine careers in thirty-four years seems flighty and unfocused. Others see my ability and willingness to shift lanes as adventurous. For me, it has just been the natural progression of my life.

“Life is either a daring adventure or nothing.” Helen Keller

So often we become stuck in society’s boxes of what is acceptable or what is required of us to move forward. Almost every writer experiences these judgments at some point. When leaving a well paying corporate job to work from home. The stigma of following a creative passion versus a good business position. The credentials needed to fulfill a dream.

A friend once told me, “If God gave you the inspiration you are already qualified.”

The world is in a topsy-turvy state. We are in a flux where no one decision is the “right” one. Work for yourself or someone else? Stay in the business world or pursue creative drive? Print publications or eBook? What kind of platform works best and is FaceBook really necessary? With the economy constantly shifting, the benefits of long-term employment no longer secured and conventional marketing loosing ground society has no choice but to roll with the shifting sand.

Don’t be stressed, be happy!

This chaotic state offers us the gift of choosing our own way, the space to create new paradigms. It is as if a big, dry-erase pad is sweeping through all the old, tired models and leaving us with a big, blank board. The only question is…

What will you place on it?

by Robyn Chausse

0 Comments on Moving in New Directions: The Freedom to Create New Paradigms as of 5/8/2011 2:26:00 AM
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30. Earning Money from Self-Publishing

So far this week I’ve covered why people might want to self publish (and when they shouldn’t), and I’ve offered a step-by-step guide to the process. One big question remains—how can you turn a self-published book into a success story?

Since I just released my books, I can’t claim success yet. If you want to follow along with my story, I’ll be reporting updates on my personal blog on Wednesdays.

In the meantime, I can tell you my plan. First though, some comments from experts:

On the Behler Blog, Lynn Price acknowledges changes to the industry, but offers a warning to self-publishers: “The big advance money is drying up and the big guys aren’t buying the kinds of books they did years ago.… [However] It’s one thing to heed the call to the battle cry and chant ‘death to publishers!’ and quite another to actually go out and do it. And be successful.”

Self-pub superstar Amanda Hocking adds her own warning: “Traditional publishing and indie publishing aren’t all that different, and I don’t think people realize that. Some books and authors are best sellers, but most aren’t. It may be easier to self-publish than it is to traditionally publish, but in all honesty, it’s harder to be a best seller self-publishing than it is with a house.”

On the other side, Joe Konrath writes adult mysteries. He started in traditional publishing but has become totally gung ho about self-publishing. He sees no reason why anyone would want a traditional publishing contract today. On the other hand, he fully admits that success takes a big dose of luck. He often features guest authors sharing their success stories. These are primarily adult genre authors, but it’s still interesting to see what people do—and often how little difference a big publicity plan makes.

Along with luck, Joe says you need a well-written book, a great cover, a strong blurb describing it, and a good price point. He considers the e-book ideal $2.99, the lowest price at which you can get Amazon’s 70 percent royalty rate (it drops to 30 percent for cheaper books). You can judge my covers for yourself and check out the description and sample chapters of the writing at my Amazon page. Now let’s run some numbers to figure out that price point.

The Eyes of Pharaoh coverI can price my work as a $2.99 e-book and make $2 per book with Kindle’s 70 percent royalty rate. My traditionally published books are available on the Kindle, but at $5.99 for each of the Haunted series (the paperback price) and $8.80 for The Well of Sacrifice (hardcover price $16). I don’t get many sales that way, but many people complain that e-books are overpriced. (For an explanation of why, check out this post by former agent Nathan Bransford.) With The Eyes of Pharaoh and Rattled, people may be more likely to try the lower-priced books.

POD copies will be priced higher, because of printing costs. I can price Rattled at $7.99 which earns me $.92 for

2 Comments on Earning Money from Self-Publishing, last added: 3/18/2011
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31. Ypulse Essentials: 'American Idol' Greatest Hits, Career Trumps Marriage For Young Women, Clearasil Sticks With 'Skins'

Look for an "American Idol" (greatest hits album to drop on March 15, featuring popular singles from stars that got their start on the show — Kelly Clarkson, Carrie Underwood, Adam Lambert, and more…though unfortunately missing is Jennifer... Read the rest of this post

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32. Fun Facts On NLA Clients—Take 4

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.

10 Comments on Fun Facts On NLA Clients—Take 4, last added: 1/28/2011
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33. 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.

9 Comments on Fun Facts On NLA Clients—Take 3, last added: 1/24/2011
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34. 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. (For the history, click on this link.) 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!

5 Comments on Fun Facts On NLA Clients—Take 2, last added: 1/21/2011
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35. 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!

20 Comments on Fun Facts On NLA Clients, last added: 1/21/2011
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36. Strictly Agent Territory

I’m curious about the opinion you and Kim have about the rise in e-books and the rights therein. Is this an issue authors should pay closer attention to, or is it strictly agent territory—or perhaps, is it the responsibility of both parties?

There is nothing in this business that is “strictly agent territory.” As the author and owner of your business (your author brand), it is imperative that you learn about the business and keep yourself apprised of what is going on. When I look at those authors who have truly achieved success, there is one thing all of them have in common, and that’s knowledge of publishing as a business. That doesn’t mean they necessarily understand every clause in a contract (a smart author also surrounds herself with smart people), but she does make an effort to understand the contract as a whole, the rights she’s licensing to others, and what the options are for her career. She works as a team with those smart people she’s hired, which means she has conversations with her agent about the contract and the rights that are being licensed, she discusses design and style with her website designer, and she works hand in hand with her publicist to come up with the next brilliant publicity idea.

So the answer is a resounding: It’s the responsibility of both parties to understand and seek knowledge about not just digital rights, but all rights as they pertain to the book.


1 Comments on Strictly Agent Territory, last added: 11/29/2010
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37. Building Your Career on Kindle, the Published

Yesterday I shared some of my thoughts on unpublished authors self-epublishing as a way to launch their careers. Hopefully I was able to present a fair and balanced portrait of my thoughts on the subject. Today I want to continue that discussion by looking at what self-epublishing can do for published authors.

Just as unpublished authors see Kindle and other self-epublishing opportunities as a way to launch a career, published authors see self-epublishing as an opportunity to keep books that might have gone out of print in print or publish books that haven’t yet been published.

There’s no doubt this can be a wonderful opportunity for many, and we’ve seen some of those success stories right here at BookEnds. Angie Fox posted about her own experience in her blog post Taking Charge of Your Career, and author Bella Andre has responded to her readers by self-epublishing some of her erotic romances. That being said, neither of these authors made the decision to self-epublish lightly. Both carefully considered why they were doing it and worked very, very hard to ensure that the product they were putting out was just as good as, if not better than, any book they’d ever written or published traditionally. Most important, they have continued to keep their author brand in mind and are always working to make sure that their next book is always better than the last, whether it’s been self-epublished or traditionally published.

When it comes to readers you are only as good as your last book, and by last book I mean the last book they read. So even if your most recently written title is the one coming out from Big Name Publishing House, the one readers will remember and base future buying decisions on is the one they last purchased. So while self-epublishing can be an exciting way to move those books out from under your bed, you need to consider whether that’s the best decision for your career.

Let’s look at it his way: You have a series of historical romances you’re publishing with Publisher XYZ and they’re doing great. Your career is on the rise and readers love you, so you start thinking of all of those paranormal romances you wrote years ago. You still love those books and why wouldn’t your readers? They’ve made it clear they can’t get enough of you. So you dust them off and send them out to self-epublish. But those books aren’t as good as your historical romances. You might love them, but let’s face it, you’ve grown a lot in the last 10 years and the reason you are having so much success is because you’ve worked hard to perfect your craft. You also have an editor who works hard with you. You constantly praise her for her brilliant mind and editorial eye. You can’t say enough about how good she makes you look, but obviously if you’re self-publishing she won’t be involved with this book. And it shows. Of course readers snatch up your books because they love you, but they’re disappointed. The books aren’t what they’ve come to expect from you, and now they feel like they’ve wasted their hard-earned money and time reading books they found unsatisfying. Your next historical romance is published and sales drop. Your publisher can’t figure it out, they blame it on the cover, but the truth is that the readers have moved on. They don’t want to risk wasting more money or more time so they’ve found another author to follow.

Is this a doomsday scenario? Yes, it is, and I realize that, but it seems we’ve read so many stories lately about authors making millions by self-epublishing that I wanted to use an extreme example to remind you not why self-epublishing is bad, because I don’t think it is, but why you need to carefully consider what you’re putting out. It’s not the fact that you self-epublished your paranormal romances that’s the problem, it’s the fact that you’ve decided to put out a product that simply wasn’t as good a

21 Comments on Building Your Career on Kindle, the Published, last added: 11/24/2010
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38. Choosing a Career Path

I finished my first novel, a humorous women's fiction (chick lit), earlier this year and began querying agents. I received my fair share of rejections off the bat, and I began to think that part of my problem is that chick lit has taken a drastic dive in popularity. But, as I had spent a year of my life writing the blasted thing, I persisted. In the meantime, I started and almost finished my second novel, a modern day Bonnie and Clyde that would probably appeal to the YA market.

In recent weeks, I have had several agents respond to my first query, asking to see partials and fulls, and one offer of representation.

My question is this: Should I abandon my second novel for now and start writing some more humorous fiction in order to build a following? Or should I finish my YA ms. and then switch back to chick lit? I hate being confined to one genre, because after spending a year writing in one style, it is very tempting to try something new. But I don't want to confuse my fans (assuming, of course, that I get any).

The simple answer to this question is that you need to talk to your agent if you choose to sign with one. Personally, I think there’s definitely a correlation between what was once chick lit and what people are writing as YA now. We’re seeing a lot of former chick lit authors go in that direction. However, yes, it could be a problem if you’re published as a women’s fiction author and suddenly switch to YA, unless you feel that you could write two books a year, let’s say, and do one of each.

If you choose to sign with an agent, or are considering signing with one, this is a discussion you should have before signing. Find out how the agent envisions your career and what she thinks about your two directions. Having this discussion may help you decide if she’s the right agent for you or what you should be doing.


9 Comments on Choosing a Career Path, last added: 11/10/2010
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39. This Crazy Career

Attempting to build a career out of kids' writing sometimes seems like a folly, especially when I receive a royalty statement like yesterday's. Ack.

But to offset that:

1) The practical, prolific Jan Fields has an excellent article up called,
"When You're in This for the Career." It's full of great reminders and tips about being flexible and surviving industry turndowns like the one we're in now. Thanks, Jan!

2) Congratulations to Lisa Willman, who followed the approach in my self-paced workbook, Writing Children's Nonfiction Books for the Educational Market. She's got a contract writing materials for Carson-Dellosa (and with the number of packets she sent out, I won't be surprised if she has more contracts soon). And congratulations to Lisa Amstutz, who took my online class on the same topic and now has two books coming out with Capstone. 

3) I recently sat in a bookstore paging through a bunch of great children's magazines, reading all the poetry. So many great pieces, and I was especially pleased to see a lovely one in Cricket called, "When I Knock on the Sister Door, It Opens," by April Halprin Wayland.

I am recharged. At least sort of. :>)

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40. Advice for Younger Writers

What advice would you give to your younger self?

I’ve always wanted to be a writer. Always. But wanting to be a writer is probably a lot like wanting to be a baseball player. Or a movie star. A lot of people want it, but most will settle for something else.

One thing that sets me apart from other people is I’m determined. Some might say stubborn. I’m also relatively patient. When I want something, I go after it. And I don’t give up until I get it.

That doesn’t mean I don’t have doubts. I’ve had a lot of doubts about my writing through the years. There have been times I wondered if I was wasting my time…times I considered giving up…times I wished I could look into a crystal ball and see whether I was ever going to get anywhere. Would I ever get published? Would I ever publish a book? Would I ever publish a book with my name on it rather than someone else’s? Would I ever publish a series? That’s what I really wanted to do…publish a series of my own.

Now that I’m more than twenty years into my writing career, I know the answers to those questions. If I could actually talk to a younger version of myself at various points my life, and offer some advice, this is what I would say:

Dear 21-year-old Dori,

Dori at 21

Dori at 21

You’re just starting your adult life. You’re married, but you don’t have any kids yet. You’ve just made the decision not to go on to graduate school. Instead you’re going to be a children’s book author! Part of you is wondering if you’re making the right decision. Don’t worry…you are. But you won’t really know that for a while yet. And even when you do know it, some of the reasons why it was a good decision will surprise you.

So what are you working on? An eight-book picture book series called Plato Goes to Obedience School. Wow. Eight books, huh? All about a cocker spaniel who goes to obedience school. You don’t realize this yet, but you don’t have enough story there to sustain one book, much less eight. You’ve got the start of a character, but no plot. No. I’m sorry, you really don’t.

Let me ask you this: What does Plato want? What is he willing to do to get it? What is he going to DO in each of these eight books to move the story forward? Where’s the conflict? Where’s the adventure? Where are the high stakes? You need to read A LOT more picture books if you think you want to write picture books. You need to learn the elements of a good story. In fact, maybe you should think about writing just one good story at this point. It’s too early to be thinking about a series.

I know you really want to write a series. But trust me, you’re not ready. And Plato Goes to Obedience School is NOT series material. By the way, six-year-olds don’t even know who Plato was, so you might consider changing the name of that dog. Yeah, I know…that’s really your dog’s name, but nobody cares. Please, do me a favor. Don’t send that series proposal out. Just keep reading, keep writing, keep learning. One day you will publish a series of your own. It’ll even be a series about dogs! But it’s not going to be Plato Goes to Obedience School. It’s just not. Put this away and don’t ever show it to ANYONE! You still have so much to learn…


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41. A Publishing Tale

I can’t believe I almost forgot to tell this story!

Two years ago, two and a half actually, we had an intern named Holly. Holly was (is, actually) smart, ambitious and loves publishing. We really enjoyed having Holly around. Even better for us, and hopefully for Holly, she was here at a perfect time. Near the end of Holly’s internship our assistant announced she was leaving for another job. Since Holly was here, graduating, and looking for a job, it seemed only natural to offer it to her. Unfortunately, at the time we couldn’t bring Holly in full-time and, frankly, I’m not sure she wanted to be an agent. While she enjoyed (I hope) working for BookEnds, she really had dreams of working in Manhattan as an editor for one of the bigger houses.

So we made a deal. Holly would take the job part-time while looking for a gig in Manhattan. We would work together, honestly and fairly. She knew we were looking for someone to take on the assistant role and we knew she was looking for something more permanent. And then I heard of an opening at St. Martin’s, so I sent out an email to the editor. I told the editor of Holly’s brilliance and passed along her resume. In just a few short weeks Holly had the job.

Like many interns and assistants, Holly made sure to load up on books before leaving, taking along books by one of her favorite BookEnds clients, Angie Fox. When Holly started her job she told her boss about Angie’s work. The boss read The Accidental Demon Slayer and fell in love. She called and talked about Angie and I promised that when Angie had something new I would keep her in mind. And I did.

Just this summer I finalized a deal between Angie Fox and St. Martin’s for Angie’s fabulous new series (and yes, I’m purposely keeping you in suspense). Even more exciting, we’ve actually done another deal with Holly for another client. I feel like a proud mama watching her little chick leave the nest.


16 Comments on A Publishing Tale, last added: 10/7/2010
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42. If You Think A Publisher Will Be Filing…

STATUS: First day of fall. Makes me kind of sad. I want summer to stay awhile longer.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? WONDER by Natalie Merchant

…for bankruptcy, what is the best thing an author can do?

My answer? Get your rights reverted before the filing so the books aren’t tied up indefinitely by the court as non-reverted titles will be deemed assets of the company.

By the way, this is true even if you have a bankruptcy clause in your contract specifying that rights automatically revert. Bankruptcy courts don’t perceive it that way and they trump contract clause.

I also suggest you get a full accounting, if you can, of what is owed to you. You want this for several reasons: 1) if you have to file a claim as a creditor in the bankruptcy, you’ll know for how much. 2) you might be able to take the amount loss as a tax deduction (but ask a tax expert first).

9 Comments on If You Think A Publisher Will Be Filing…, last added: 9/22/2010
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43. Careers in Publishing, an Interview

Frequently I receive requests for interviews from writers, newsletters, and students working on papers for class, and I do make an effort to answer as many as I have time for. Luckily, many of the questions are the same from interview to interview, so I can reuse material. Recently, though, I did an interview and wondered why I wasn’t sharing this same information with my blog readers. So from time to time I’m going to post the interviews I’ve been doing here on the blog.

The first is a request I received from a student at Eastern Michigan University. The student was doing a class project on careers and was interested in literary agents and publishing, so here’s what I shared . . .

What's a typical day like for you? I don’t think there is a typical day for me, which is one of the things I love about my job. I don’t think I would do well in a job that was even the least bit predictable.

Each day takes shape depending on the emails and phone calls I need to make or receive. For example, if I get a call from a publisher offering a contract on a book, my entire day, and all my plans, will likely be placed on the back burner as I communicate with the author and editors about the book and begin contract negotiations.

If I receive a panicked email or phone call from a client I could spend the rest of the day working with that client to smooth out the wrinkles in her manuscript or work on revisions.

If I hear from an author who has an offer of representation or a contract offer from another agent or a publisher and I want to get in the game, I will likely have to drop everything to read that material and consider it for representation.

If things go smoothly and I am receiving few emails or phone calls, I could actually spend my day answering interviews like this, reading queries, or catching up on proposals.

Typically, though, I start the day by reading email, checking up on industry news through various different formats like Publishers Weekly, Publishers Marketplace, blogs and Twitter, and then base the rest of the day on what I find there.

What kind of writing do you do as part of your job? I honestly don’t think I do that much writing, but keep in mind I work with writers. It’s hard to say you write when you work with people who write thousands of words a day.

I do keep an almost daily blog, I send emails, I write revision letters to clients and, most important, I write pitch letters to editors to sell the books I represent. These pitch letters, or query letters, are really marketing pieces and can sometimes take hours to craft.

What kind of information do you typically look for on resumes and is there a specific format you prefer candidates to use? I look for experience first. I think one of the biggest mistakes candidates make is assuming their education is the most important thing they’ve done. If you’ve done internships of any kind I would put that at the top of the page; experience shows me that you’re different and more ambitious than anyone else I’m interviewing.

I also look for candidates with an interest in commercial fiction. I think that for many students there’s a prejudice against commercial fiction or genre fiction. You’ve been engrossed in reading literary books or classics for years, which are great, but as an agent who represents commercial fiction I need someone who loves romance and mystery, young adult and anything that’s new and different.

What is your favorite part of the job? Brainstorming with my clients. There’s nothing I love more than helping shape an idea and create a book.

How did you become interested in this field? The love of words. I studied journalism in college and worked on the college newspaper all four years. I really thought I wanted to be a reporter, but by the time I graduated I knew the newspaper business wasn’t for me, but I wasn’t sure where I belonged

11 Comments on Careers in Publishing, an Interview, last added: 9/21/2010
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44. Questions on Mysteries

An author whose mystery I considered received an offer from a smaller press and had some questions for me before accepting the offer . . .

What are your thoughts on my pursuing this route? Is it worth doing in hopes of landing a big-time agent and/or publisher? Is it better to keep editing and approaching big-time agents? On average, what is a fair advance for a first-time mystery/suspense author w/a large publisher (what's too low?) and how many hardcover units do most first-time authors sell?

Of course the answer to these questions are going to vary widely, but I’ll see what I can do.

Whether or not you go with a small publisher depends greatly on your goals for your book. I’ve often said the same about those who choose to self-publish. Is your goal simply to get published or is your goal to be published with a big house? Certainly there are plenty of stories of authors who started out with smaller presses and moved on to big success with agents and larger houses. One thing that I think I’ve failed to address when this issue comes up, however, is not just how few and far between those successes are, but the time in which those successes happened. Sure, many of you will point to a bestselling author today and remind me that she did it that way, but did any of you consider that she launched her career 20 years ago? Publishing has changed dramatically in the past year, which means it’s difficult to look at something that happened 3, 4 or especially 5 to 10 years ago and use that as your guide.

A small press, heck a large press, does not give you an easy in to landing an agent or publisher. In fact, most often I see it hurting the author. An unpublished author only has to overcome the market and her own writing, a published author has to overcome the sales numbers of any previously published book. Those sales numbers, if low, are going to be a much higher hurdle to jump than any market shifts or agent subjectivity. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again. Bookstores place orders based on sales numbers of previously published books. If your last book only sold 5,000 copies in paperback, they are only going to order 5,000 copies of your book in paperback, and even fewer in hardcover (not that you would likely get a hardcover deal if your numbers were that low). Again, there are always exceptions, but this is the norm and this is what agents and editors will need to consider with any new project. And by the way, 5,000 copies is not enough to please a publisher.

How fair is an advance? There’s not a clear-cut answer to that because it depends on what you’re writing. Since you said mystery/suspense my question would be is it mystery or suspense? In all honesty, there aren’t that many publishers actively looking for new mystery authors. There are more looking for new suspense authors, but they are only looking for a few. Unlike romance, you don’t see many mystery/suspense-only editors these days. It’s a tough market. And how low is too low? Whatever the market supports. A lot of mysteries are published first in paperback; those that are published in hardcover receive higher advances. As to how many copies most first-time authors sell? That number could range from 1,000 to 100,000. The crazy thing about this business is that the extremes are great and so are the variables. A cozy mystery differs greatly from a thriller, etc.

So there’s essentially a list of non-answers for you, but maybe some of my published mystery/suspense readers would be willing to share their experiences, advances, sales numbers. Anonymously, of course.


23 Comments on Questions on Mysteries, last added: 1/11/2010
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45. When A New Project Might Give You The Best Momentum

STATUS: Today was about foreign rights and taxes. One fun. The other not. I’m sure you can guess which is which…

What’s playing on the iPod right now? HOW TO SAVE A LIFE by The Fray

Last week we got a query from a writer who had published a fantasy series outside of the US. This person was looking for new representation to shop the series in the United States. There was only one problem. It sounded like the writer’s prior agent had already done so.

Just to make sure, I wrote the author to inquire about that. The return response listed a wonderful submission list with all the editors I would have gone to if I had repped the project.

This author is between a rock and hard place. The submit list was good and if it was rejected by all those places, there’s only smaller publishers to try and to be blunt, potentially not worth the agent’s investment of time.

I responded to the author to say so. What advice would I give in this situation? As hard as it may be, it’s time to write something new. Go out with a fresh project in the US. If that book does well, then the agent can always go back to that initial series and rekindle interest in a possible buy. (Good sales can do that.)

Unfortunately, this author did not have anything new to share but I did respond again to say we’d be happy to look at new future work.

5 Comments on When A New Project Might Give You The Best Momentum, last added: 3/4/2010
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46. Q&A 2010—Round Two

STATUS: The pre-Bologna must-finish-all-stuff-before-I-leave-town rush has begun.

What’s playing on the iPod right now? MERCY by Duffy

I thought I would have a bit more time to blog tonight so my apologies for not tackling a ton of questions this round.

kimysworld asked:
Compared to the first three months of last year, have you received more or less query letters in the first three months of 2010? What are the most common genres? What do you rarely see?

Yes, our query inbox has definitely grown from last year. This time in 2009, we were probably seeing 80 to 100 queries a day. Now it’s more like 100-150. I have no explanation for it. Perhaps we are on more people’s radar?

Most common genres? Young adult, romance, women’s fiction.

What I would like to see more of? Well written query letters. Grin. You knew I was going to say that. I’d say that easily 50% of stuff we get is for nonfiction or something else we don’t represent.

I’d love to see more queries for literary fiction with a commercial bent, middle grade, and more sf&f. I’d like to build in these areas (and yes we are still beefing our list in the above stuff as well.)

Anonymous asked:
If a writer has gained success in one genre (over twenty novels that have made money, helped build a large fan base, and five contracts for five more books) and he/she wants to switch genres after the contractual obligations have been met because he/she always wanted to write mainstream, is this writer starting from scratch again? But more than that, would this writer be taking a huge chance by walking away from a good thing and trying to pursue another?

I’m a little leery about answering this question. There are so many factors that need to be taken into consideration. Also, this is a conversation you really should be having with your current agent. Now having said that, I will try and answer—although my gut tells me that you already know the answers to your questions and perhaps you are simply looking for encouragement or validation as you walk this new path.

Of course the author would be taking a chance by walking away and starting something else. You already know that is the answer. My question is this: does it have to be one or the other? As in do you have to walk away or can you scale back the number of books in that genre in order to give yourself time to work on something mainstream?

Are you no longer passionate about the genre you are established in? If that is the case, then it may not be worth pursuing more books because your heart isn’t in it. What is your financial picture and can you afford to take a risk? Will fans of your current established genre be open to a move in a new direction? Can you live with that fact if the fans aren't willing to follow you?

If you want to be safe, I’d keep a foot in your current genre and then test the waters with a new work that is more mainstream. If your heart isn’t in staying in the old genre than you just have to jump in and try it.

There are many stories where this has been successful for the author and I can probably highlight as many stories of where it hasn’t.

Anonymous asked:
How much of your time do you spend reading query letters versus time spent blogging? I'm just wondering because there are several agents who blog every day and I often wonder where they find the time.

I actually don’t spend a lot of time reading queries. First off, we’ve hired a wonderful assistant named Anita. Her job is to read all queries that come in as we can get up to 150 a day. She sets aside the ones that Sara and I need to review. Given that, I try and check my query email inbox once a week. It usually takes me 15 mi

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47. Illustration Lectures in NY this Week

About a month ago I got an email from Steve Brodner inviting me to a lecture he was organizing at SVA, where we both teach. He was asking me to participate by sending him images of alternative illustration jobs I’d done. I must confess I was a bit confused, although very flattered, because there was no mention of my actually being a speaker. Soon I found out, indeed I wasn’t a speaker, Steve had emailed me among many other established illustrators to put together a slide show that represented a strong reality of where illustration is going today. Moreover, this lecture, he explained, wasn’t going to be only about the speakers (painter and filmmaker James Blagen; comic artist and designer Mickey Duzyj; and illustrator Alex Juhasz), but also about having an active audience of both strong and new voices in the field.

A couple of days later I get an email from Heidi Younger at FIT inviting me to be a speaker on a panel with Yuko Shimizu, Marcos Chin, Zina Saunders and Fred Harper… the next day after Steve’s panel. Damn! I couldn’t turn down sharing a stage with Yuko and Marcos- I don’t know Zina and Fred- so I accepted. Our lecture is titled How I Got My First Job and focuses pretty much on exactly the same concept as Steve’s.

As excited as I was about going to Steve’s lecture, I’m not sure I can shorten my work hours at this huge restaurant project I just started in Long Island and make both lectures, though I certainly have to make mine, or course. What’s also slightly odd about it, for me at least, is that I have SVA written all over me ( I moved to NY to go to SVA, graduated from SVA, teach at SVA), so I almost feel obligated to be there. Oh well… I’m sure it will be packed anyway.

Steve Brodner’s Lecture: SVA, 209 East 23rd Street, 3rd FL, Amphitheater. Tuesday 3/23, 6.30-8 PM


FIT: How I got My First Job, FIT, 27th St & 7th Ave, C Building, Robert Lagary Board Room, 9th FL.Wednesday 3/24, 6.30-8 PM. FLYER: http://www.fernandacohen.com/content/images/editorial_384.htm

- Fernanda

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48. The Business of Writing by Sally MacKenzie

The Naked Viscount
Publisher: Kensington Zebra
Pub date: June 2010
Agent: Jessica Faust

Before I was published, I thought of writing as a calling. My stories were my art. I still think these things, but now I understand that writing for publication is also very much a business. My stories are products I’m peddling.

Does that sound harsh? It does grate on me a little, but I try very hard to adopt this point of view when I’m dealing with the business side of publishing. Besides making general good sense, it helps cut down on the psychic wear and tear as my “baby” is evaluated and changed by the publishing/review process.

Let’s look at The Call first, shall we? When I got my first offer, I was ecstatic. My life-long dream had come true. A real, live editor wanted to buy my story. I wouldn’t have paid her to publish it, but beyond that I wasn’t much concerned about money.

Mistake number one. Money is very important, as my lovely editor on the other end of that phone line knew very well. If I’d been agented at the time, Jessica would have pointed that out--but if I’d been agented, the editor would have called Jessica, not me. (When I was touring my publisher’s office with my editor and Jessica once, I asked about foreign copies, saying I was more interested in seeing the covers than the money. Jessica politely pointed out that I was also very interested in the money.)

It’s an editor’s job to acquire manuscripts that will sell and make her publishing house buckets of money. Maybe little tiny buckets given the current economy, but the goal is definitely to land in the black. Yes, she should love the story, but chances are--at least in commercial fiction--she’s offering to buy your manuscript because she thinks it will sell well. Jessica or Kim would know better than I since they’ve been editors, but I imagine an editor’s career is on the line somewhat with every book she acquires. Buying one or two manuscripts that sink like a stone when tossed into the bookselling pond probably isn’t the end of the world, but an editor with enough such stones to build an underwater castle will likely soon be looking for other work.

When calling to offer for your book, the editor may well start off telling you what a wonderful writer you are and how wonderful your book is, but before she hangs up, she’ll mention the advance she’s willing to offer and that might not be so very wonderful. This is where the real business fun begins if you’re a good negotiator. (And this is one reason I have Jessica--I’m more like the dog you meet that will just turn over on her back to get her belly scratched. I am NOT a negotiator.) You won’t be talking about character development or pacing, but about such very important business-y things as advance amount and payment schedule, royalty rates on print and e-book formats, delivery dates, and option clauses. If you reach an agreement, then you’ll get a contract in the mail. Chances are reading that will make your head hurt. (And even though I have Jessica, I always do read my contracts very carefully.)

20 Comments on The Business of Writing by Sally MacKenzie, last added: 6/1/2010
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49. Why Go Into Journalism?: A Video

A few weeks ago I had the honor of attending BEA2010 (no not the BEA that happened last week) which was part of the 2010NAB conference. I was there to celebrate the launch of the BBC College of Journalism Website (COJO) a collaboration between OUP and the BBC. The site allows citizens outside of the UK access to the online learning and development materials created for BBC journalists. It is a vast resource filled to the brim with videos, audio clips, discussion pages, interactive modules and text pages covering every aspect of TV, radio, and online journalism. At the conference I had a chance to talk with Kevin Marsh, the Executive Editor of COJO, and I will be sharing clips from our conversation for the next few weeks. This week I have posted a clip in which Kevin shares why he choose journalism as a career. Read Kevin’s blog here. Watch the other videos in this series here and here.

Click here to view the embedded video.

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50. Ken Wright: The Financial Realities of Your Career: Frank Questions and Answers

Former editor/publisher and now Writers House agent Ken Wright answers any business-related questions from the room. (He notes-he's not a financial advisor.)

Six months before one of his client's book comes out, Ken holds a marketing meeting with his author an their publisher.

There's no rule of thumb on advances. It's market driven. He's not fan of big advances, because of the risk of not earning them out and then not looking like an success to your publisher.

Advances for first time novelists can range from $15,000 to in the hundreds of thousands. He says first-time nonfiction authors would likely get a higher advance than for fiction.

He's a big advocate of promoting your book through school visits, but said that he has a few clients who do a little TOO much of that, which takes away from their writing. Every book and every situation is different, but self-promotion is always important and necessary.

It's OK to take work-for-hire or technical writing or other kinds of gigs if money is an issue. And you don't necessarily need to use a psuedonym--that's on a case-by-case basis.

In addition to the initial negotiation, as an agent, he takes care of sub-rights, flow through (release of money to the author), and contract delays that affect the writer.

Agents definitely increase the response time from publishers. As a rule, he checks in with editors about his submissions every two weeks.

What's a good persentage of your earning to spend on marketing? The rule of thumb is 5%.

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