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By: Adrienne Crezo,
Blog: Guide to Literary Agents
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Craft & Technique
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BY KELLY JAMES-ENGER
I’ve been writing about making money as a freelancer for well over a decade now. I have written five books, dozens of articles and hundreds of blog posts about the subject. I get many questions, and lately many of those have been about the field of ghostwriting. What is ghostwriting? How lucrative is it? How do I get started?
The fact is that any competent writer can ghostwrite as well—as long as you understand the additional responsibilities that come with ghosting. There’s a growing market for talented ghostwriters, so I encourage freelancers to consider whether their personality, background and experience make you a good fit for the field.
Your clients’ needs may vary, but I believe that successful ghostwriters must have the following attributes:
Confidence. Confidence is a key to ghostwriting success for several reasons. First, a confident ghost is more likely to get clients—when they trust in your abilities, they’re willing to hire you to write their book or blog post. Second, your confidence in yourself will make your job easier when it comes to creating a piece of writing that sprang not from your own ideas and brain, but from your client’s. Finally, you have to have enough confidence to recognize that you can write without a byline—and that any praise your piece, whether an article or book, receives will be directed to and accepted by your client—not you. If that idea makes you uncomfortable or resentful, ghosting isn’t for you.
Creativity. It’s a rare client who simply wants to dictate his thoughts and have me write them up for him. (And that’s not really ghostwriting, but transcribing.) A ghost does much more than that—she may be called on to conceptualize, organize, research, edit and rewrite. As a freelancer, you’ve no doubt come up with story ideas, organized articles or book chapters and come up with new approaches to subjects you’ve written about that before. You’ll use those same skills when you ghostwrite.
Flexibility. When you write your own piece, you do the research and writing. When you ghostwrite for a client, though, you may need information—whether written or in the form of phone, email, or in-person interviews—directly from that person. If he’s not available when you need him, you may have to push back a deadline or move forward on another part of the project that doesn’t require his immediate input. If you’re working per your client’s deadlines (and not, say, for a traditional publisher), then he may not feel the pressure to complete the project—which means you fall behind (and don’t get paid for your work). Understanding that when you ghost, you may at the whim of your client is key to ghosting.
Ability to organize. If you’re working on a short project, this is less important. But consider, for example, ghosting a book. That requires that you organize the information you receive from your client, research you perform on your own, different drafts of chapter, and other relevant information. I like to use manila folders for book projects, and set up a folder in Word to hold all of the various research and chapters; your methods may vary but the key is to manage information, drafts, and emails in a way that works for you.
Publishing knowledge. If you’re ghostwriting shorter pieces like articles and blog posts, this is not a great concern. However, if you’re going to ghostwrite books for clients, you should have some books under your belt already. If you have published your own books with traditional publishers, you have an understanding of the industry that will benefit your clients. And if you’ve self-published with a print-on-demand, or POD, company, that knowledge will help clients who choose the same option. Ghosts who have done both—traditionally published and self-published (whether in print, or with e-books, or both)—have a huge advantage over ghosts who are great writers but know little about publishing today. In my opinion, the more experience you have with books, the more valuable you are to a client, and the more potential you have as a ghostwriter.
Ask yourself honestly whether you have these five essential attributes. If the answer is yes, then consider adding ghosting to your freelance repertoire.
Kelly James-Enger is a longtime freelancer and the author of more than a dozen books including Goodbye Byline, Hello Big Bucks: Make Money Ghostwriting Books, Articles, Blogs and More, Second Edition; Six-Figure Freelancing: The Writer’s Guide to Making More Money, Second Edition; and Dollars and Deadlines: Make Money Writing Articles for Print and Online Markets.
You can find more from Kelly James-Enger on Twitter (@ImprovisePress), Facebook (Improvise Press), and her website, improvisepress.com.
By: Elizabeth Gorney,
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By Jan Willer
Social media and other technologies have changed how we communicate. Consider how we coordinate events and contact our friends and family members today, versus how we did it 20 or 30 years ago. Today, we often text, email, or communicate through social media more frequently than we phone or get together in person.
Now contrast that with psychotherapy, which is still about two people getting together in a room and talking. Certainly, technology has changed psychotherapy. There are now apps for mental health issues. There are virtual reality treatments. Psychotherapy can now be provided through videoconferencing (a.k.a. telehealth). But still, it’s usually simply two people talking in a room.
Our psychotherapy clients communicate with everyone else they know through multiple technological platforms. Should we let them “friend” us on social media? Should we link to them on professional networking sites? Is it ok to text with them? What about email? When are these ok and not ok?
Social Media Explained (with Donuts). Uploaded by Chris Lott. CC-BY-2.0 via Flickr.
Some consensus is emerging about these issues. Experts agree that psychotherapists should not connect with current or former clients on social media. This is to help preserve the clients’ confidentiality. Emailing and texting are fine for communicating brief messages about the parameters of the session, such as confirming the appointment time, or informing the psychotherapist that the client is running late. Research has shown that emotional tone is frequently miscommunicated in texting and email, so emotion-laden topics are best discussed during the session.
How do we learn about new people we’ve met? In the past, we’d talk directly to them, and maybe also talk to people we knew in common. Now everyone seems to search online for everyone else. This happens frequently with first dates, college applicants, and job applicants.
Again, contrast this with psychotherapy. Again, two people are sitting in a room, talking and learning about each other. When is it ok for a psychotherapist to search for information about a client online? What if the psychotherapist discovers important information that the client withheld? How do these discoveries impact the psychotherapy?
No clear consensus has emerged on these issues. Some experts assert that psychotherapists should almost never search online for clients. Other experts respond that it is unreasonable to expect that psychotherapists should not access publicly available information. Others suggest examining each situation on a case-by-case basis. One thing is clear: psychotherapists should communicate with their clients about their policies on internet searches. This should be done in the beginning of psychotherapy, as part of the informed consent process.
When we’ve voluntarily posted information online–and when information about us is readily available in news stories, court documents, or other public sources–we don’t expect this information to be private. For this reason, I find the assertion that psychotherapists can access publically available information to be more compelling. On my intake forms, I invite clients to send me a link to their LinkedIn profile instead of describing their work history, if they prefer. If a client mentions posting her artwork online, I’ll suggest that she send me a link to it or ask her how to find it. I find that clients are pleased that I take an interest.
What about the psychotherapist’s privacy? What if the client follows the psychotherapist’s Twitter account or blog? What if the client searches online for the psychotherapist? What if the client discovers personal information about the psychotherapist by searching? Here’s the short answer: psychotherapists need to avoid posting anything online that we don’t want everyone, including our clients, to see.
Ways to communicate online continue to proliferate. For example, an app that sends only the word “Yo” was recently capitalized to the tune of $2.5 million and was downloaded over 2 million times. Our professional ethics codes are revised infrequently (think years), while new apps and social media are emerging monthly, even daily. Expert consensus on how to manage these new communications technologies emerges slowly (again, think years). But psychotherapists have to respond to new communications technologies in the moment, every day. All we can do is keep the client’s well-being and confidentiality as our highest aspiration.
Jan Willer is a clinical psychologist in private practice. For many years, she trained psychology interns at the VA. She is the author of The Beginning Psychotherapist’s Companion, which offers practical suggestions and multicultural clinical examples to illustrate the foundations of ethical psychotherapy practice. She is interested in continuing to bridge the notorious research-practice gap in clinical psychology. Her seminars have been featured at Northwestern University, the University of Chicago, and DePaul University.
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In this video blog post, I talk about questions you should ask a potential client for book illustration jobs, whether they be working at a publishing house, or a self publishing author. It is important to have good communication to weed out potentially bad jobs, and to know exactly what the client is expecting.Here is my affiliate link to the book I mention in the video, Business and Legal Forms for Illustrators by Tad Crawford
Clients like to torment their agent too. This is from one of the Fabulosity who lives in Mexico in the winter. Yes, I am inquiring about the availability of guest housing!
As long as my bedroom will not be shared by this fine fellow:
and the transportation is not courtesy of this ensemble
but I might even room with Mr. Lizard and get hauled around by The Family Ox to see this
"I kissed a girl, and 10 yards away a Buick exploded."
Talk about enticing!
Who cares what the article is about, or even who wrote it ... just tell me what the hell happens next!
Enticing is EXACTLY you what you want in a query letter, and in the first pages of a novel.
But if you, like me, do want to know what happens next, here's Phillip dePoy's essay on Theatre in Atlanta.
There's a wonderful post at Crimespree by Steve Ulfelder on Five Albums That Changed My Life. I always like getting a peek into my clients lives this way, but the real revelation was the last album.
Here's what Steve says:
Joe Ely – Satisfied at Last
"This is art by a full-grown man examining his life with, by turns, bemusement and sadness and pride. Ely lists his regrets great and small; he considers God and the afterlife; he tells stories with economy and heart. Every number is perfect.
Here’s the highest compliment I can pay: If Conway Sax, my series protagonist, were one hell of a talented musician, this is the record he would write. In fact, I hereby declare “I’m a Man Now,” the album’s next-to-last song, Conway’s theme:
I’m a man now, I ain’t no kid
I done some things I never should have did
I paid the price – my weight in pain
I’m a man now, I’m free of shameI’ve been a runner for decades. I was once pretty serious about it, but I find myself running less and slower. For the past few years, if you want the truth, I’ve done nearly all my running at the local middle-school track, and only in warm weather.So on the one hand, my runs are a sad sight: a fiftysomething man scuffling around, logging 12-minute miles.But boy, do I love that track, my town, the view. There are the pretty ballfields, of course, and a wetlands area below. There’s the handsome school itself. And on every lap, I catch a glimpse of the steeple of my longtime church.To run laps in a place you love. To run them slower and slower as the years pass. To reflect and recall and regret as you run, and to laugh at yourself about all of it.I listen to Joe Ely as I run. I believe he would understand."
Steve's next novel in the Conway Sax series SHOTGUN LULLABY will be published on May 14. You can pre-order it here
Myles Knapp gets his arm twisted.
Gotta love it!
Here's the story.
For those readers who've been here FIVE years or more, you'll remember my non-trip to the Alaska Writing Guild conference in August 2009.
For those of you who don't, here's a blog post that will give you a sense of my wrath
In 2010, I was invited to try again. This time I wrested the planning from the travel agent, and booked myself on a flight to Seattle, then on to Anchorage on the Monday before the conference. By god if there was going to be a repeat of 2009, I was going to be ready!
Of course, there wasn't. I got to Anchorage five days before the conference. The conference organizers, kind and generous souls that they are, offered to take me on explorations, trips, tours, hell, they'd have found polar bears to pet if I'd asked.
Instead, I closeted myself in my hotel room and WORKED! I kept telling them I wasn't there for a vacation, only to make sure I actually GOT THERE.
And it was absolutely worth it. The Alaska Writing Guild conference was where I met Lee Goodman and first read his novel INDEFENSIBLE.
I will never forget the moment I looked up from reading his manuscript and realized "holy shit, this guy is the next Scott Turow!"
I was fortunate that Lee signed with me.
I was delighted when editor Emily Bestler agreed with me.
And this week, I was overjoyed when PW gave INDEFENSIBLE a starred review. I'm damn proud I had a hand in helping this book have a life.
These are the moments an agent lives for.
Sentences like this just make me happy happy happy to represent Kari Dell.
"... a hill on Meriwether Road (named after Mr. Lewis, who toured this area less extensively than he'd planned thanks to the Blackfeet)."
Does this look just slightly wrong to you?
Here's a great story
on how that cover came to be this cover
You've seen all the kids with WWJD wristbands right?
WWJD stands for What Would Jesus Do. It's intended to keep you on the straight and narrow path.
Of course, some people have had some fun with the concept.
Well, I now have one that says "WDGS?"
After this post by Gary Corby
, and the other one he did about the Higgs particle,
it's clear that after I read the news my only question now is What Does Gary Say?
45 of the great things about my job are the clients -- smart, articulate, hilarious! Man oh man, I love my job!
I recently received a reply from a disgruntled querier who was unhappy I hadn't taken enough time to consider his query. He knew I hadn't taken enough time because I'd said no to it.
Contrary to his assumption, I'd said no because (1) he didn't tell me what the book was about and (2) later in the query it was clear he was off his rocker.
Which brings me to the value of a query in addition to all the stuff I've been ranting about for years (plot mostly.)
I'm also getting my first sense of whether you're someone I want to work with.
Here's a list of the things I really want to find in prospective clients. I can't alway tell from a query or manuscript if a writer meets these criteria, but it's the starting point:
1. They think I'm the cat's pjs. In other words, they've read my blogs; they think I'm funny. They think I'm good at my job. They want to work with me, and when I call to chat about the book, they're pleased.
This is not to say you should be slavishly effusive cause that makes me insane. I just want you to want me! Not "an agent' but THIS agent.
2. They don't interpret everything negatively. Or if that's their first reaction, as it is with most of us, they've learned some balance and perspective. Queries are rejected for lots of reasons other than "it sux." Books don't sell for lots of reasons other than "it sucked." Agents aren't able to sell things for lots of reason other than "they're idiots."
3. They've got a sense of humor. Almost everyone on my list has a wicked sense of humor. I know this cause we laugh at the same things and crack each other up. A couple of my clients are so damn funny I barely speak when I'm around them cause I'm too busy trying not to pee my pants from laughing.
4. They're ready for the work. They don't rise from their beds bright eyed and bushy tailed like some sort of Stepford/Pollyanna doll. (That's AFTER the coffee IV) But they are prepared to work and do what needs to get done. They may not like it much (promotion is pain) but they're eager to have careers and understand this is one of the requirements.
5. They read. They read a LOT. They read their fellow client's books, they read widely in different genres and they read things they end up telling me about and make me want to read them too.
6. They're generous to the writing and publishing community.
7. They're neurotic and crazy and brilliant. All in the best possible way. They aren't perfect, but they are Fabulous.
You can tell a lot from what people tell you about themselves in a query, and how they respond to rejection (and what they say in blog comments!)
Yes, I am paying attention.
It’s a rare year in which a superabundance of fine horror novels — novels that reward rereading — appears. That said, most years bring at least a handful of novels whose titles can stand to be mentioned alongside Matheson’s I Am Legend, Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House, and King’s The Shining. To this year’s list, add Laird Barron’s The Croning.
One of the great things about spending time with clients at events like Bouchercon or conferences in their hometown is that you find out all sorts of interesting "real people" details.
For example, the Fabulous Stephanie Evans likes her BLTs on "darkly toasted bread." (Me too!)
Fortunately we now have pictorial assistance if needed when we place our order:
Of course, this is from one of my favorite websites THINGS ORGANIZED NEATLY
and I stole it shamelessly.
Corby, Gary. The Ionia Sanction. Minotaur: St. Martin’s. Nov. 2011. c.304p. maps. ISBN 9780312599010. $24.99. M
Mix one part ancient history, one part clever and contemporary banter, and one part action, and you have a top-notch crime caper. Corby brings back his dynamic crime-detecting couple, Nicolaos and Diotima, for their second outing (after The Pericles Commission). Pericles dispatches Nicolaos abroad to Ephesus to return a slave girl who’s really a government official’s daughter and to retrieve a stolen document that should explain why an Athenian diplomat was hanged. The arrogance of Athenian native Nicolaos is quickly dashed when he’s confronted with new customs in this region controlled by Persia. Luckily, the charming Diotima paves the way. Layers of intrigue pile up, and our duo can see that time may run out before they can smuggle critical information—and get themselves—back to Athens.VERDICT The mix of real history with a crime romp makes Corby’s sequel go down easily. The author deftly concocts a Mel Brooks type of history. Highly recommended for those looking for humor with their crime detecting.
Nominations for the Agatha Awards have been announced and I gotta tell ya, I'm pretty much thrilled to bits to see Stephanie Jaye Evans in the Best First category! And what LOVELY company she has there!
Agathas are part of the Malice Domestic convention, a convention for readers of traditional mysteries. It's a wonderful event, held every year around the same time, near Washington DC. If you love to read delicious cozies, wickedly charming procedurals, and just good books in general you'd have a good time here! (This isn't a craft conference--no panels on how-to. It's just your favorite authors and more!)
Best First Novel:
Faithful Unto Death by Stephanie Jaye Evans
A Killer Read by Erika Chase
A Scrapbook of Secrets by Mollie Cox Bryan
Iced Chiffon by Duffy Brown
Lowcountry Boil by Susan M. Boyer
The Diva Digs Up the Dirt by Krista Davis
A Fatal Winter by G.M. Malliet
The Buzzard Table by Margaret Maron
The Beautiful Mystery by Louise Penny
The Other Woman by Hank Phillippi Ryan
Books to Die For: The World's Greatest Mystery Writers on the World's Greatest Mystery Novels by John Connolly/Declan Burke
Blood Relations: The Selected Letters of Ellery Queen, 1947-1950 by Joseph Goodrich, Editor
More Forensics and Fiction: Crime Writers Morbidly Curious Questions Expertly Answered by D.P. Lyle
Double Cross: The True Story of the D-Day Spies by Ben Macintyre
The Grand Tour: Around the World with the Queen of Mystery Agatha Christie by Mathew Prichard, Editor
Best Short Story:
"Mischief in Mesopotamia" by Dana Cameron (Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine)
"Kept in the Dark" by Shelia Connolly (Best New England Crime Stories 2013: Blood Moon Anthology)
"The Lord is My Shamus" by Barb Goffman (Chesapeake Crimes: This Job is Murder)
"Thea's First Husband" by B.K. Stevens (Alfred Hitchcock Mystery Magazine)
"When Duty Calls", by Art Taylor (Chesapeake Crimes: This Job is Murder)
Best Children's/Young Adult Novel:
Seconds Away by Harlan Coben
The Edge of Nowhere by Elizabeth George
Liar & Spy by Rebecca Stead
The Code Busters Club, Case #2: The Haunted Lighthouse by Penny Warner
Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein
Best Historical Novel:
The Twelve Clues of Christmas by Rhys Bowen
Dandy Gilver and an Unsuitable Day for Murder by Catriona McPherson
Murder on Fifth Avenue by Victoria Thompson
An Unmarked Grave by Charles Todd
Elegy for Eddie by Jacqueline Winspear
Here's a piece of a recent post by Kari Dell, one of the Fabulosity:
Since joining the board of directors at our local historical museum, my views on memoirs, family histories and even diaries have changed tremendously. I'd always thought of these things in one of two ways: either you had to live a big, important life to be worth writing about (aka, selling) or it only mattered to your family. Now I've seen how these personal accounts of a normal life can be a treasure trove for historians.
Rather than blathering on, I'm going to refer you to one of the masters, William Zinsser, whose book On Writing Well is considered a touchstone for non-fiction writers. This article from The American Scholar is a wonderful read: How to Write a Memoir
From that article I condensed this nugget, a bit of advice any writer in any genre should heed:
"When you write...don't try to be a writer....Be yourself and your readers will follow you anywhere. Try to commit an act of writing and your readers will jump overboard to get away."
So write your story, large or small. You never know what value they will hold for those to come.
could not have said it better myself (which is of course why Kari is the writer, and I am the ...not)
INTO THE BREACH!
A Review of Patrick Lee's Breach Trilogy
By guest reviewer
In these days of overhyped, over-marketed, multi-volume mega-series, it's hard to find a series of novels that truly justifies their existence. It's all about branding and stretching stories out to 1000s of pages for purely economic reasons is, sadly, the norm these days.
Patrick Lee's incredible Breach trilogy is the exception to the rule.
Read the full review
In three of the best edge-of-your-seat thrill rides this reader has ever had the pleasure to read, Lee gives us a New Pulp trilogy for the ages. The novels are The Breach, Ghost Country and Deep Sky and all three are lean, mean, thrill machines you do not want to miss.
or, join me in dancing:
Don't miss this chance to come and see Sean Ferrell, live and in-person!
Pants optional of course.
There's an old-fashioned compliment to actors--"I'd listen to him read the telephone book aloud" that I first heard applied to Richard Burton.
The version I apply to writers is: I'm enchanted by their dedication and acknowledgements page.
In honor of the publication day of TRICKSTER by Jeff Somers, here's what reminded me of that compliment recently:
Acknowledgements Every novel has a team of people behind it. First of all, and most important, there is the author, the person who actually wrote it, that is to say, me.
I’d like to start off by thanking myself for all those poor decisions in life that have conspired in complex and unknowable ways to bring me to this junction in my life.
Behind every author is a person who whispers encouragement and dire threats in his ear as he writes, and for me that person is and has been my lovely wife, Danette, to whom I owe everything and who knew I would sell this book, this book you are now holding in your hands, even before I had actually written it— such are the powers my wife possesses. —Let’s see how many commas I can squeeze in here, want to? Commas are fun, and underappreciated, much like writers.
Every author, the guy who actually writes the book, that is, me, has someone in a windowless room somewhere collecting the pennies that cascade in from our crime syndicates and book sales, and also who buys the author drinks, and that person is my redoubtable literary agent, Janet Reid.
Every author, that is, the guy who actually writes the book, which is to say, me again, needs hooligans who tempt him from serious work and encourage him to consume adult beverages in lieu of pious labor, and my hooligans—aside from my aforementioned literary agent, who on many occasions incapacitated me with drink when I should have been home tapping words into a hard disk—were fellow authors Sean Ferrell and Dan Krokos, who so often suggested I spend my time drinking curated whiskeys while viewing Internet celebrity gossip sites, supposedly in an ironic manner, although I suspect the irony was a pose, as I really do enjoy celebrity gossip.
Above and beyond all of these, of course, Olympian and leviathan-like, stands the man who actually signs the contract that sends those pennies cascading to be collected in unused mason jars by my aforementioned literary agent on behalf of me, the author, the guy who actually writes the book, and that person is, of course, my editor, Adam Wilson, whose suggestions and ideas for this book were disturbingly intelligent and interesting, and I thank him for it while simultaneously becoming enraged that anyone might contribute something to my story that I myself did not think of.
Whenever I express these feelings of rage to my aforementioned literary agent she pours two glasses of good Scotch, and at first I think she’s going to have a belt with me but then I slowly realize these are medicinally intended for me. And she’s right, I feel lots better.
Of course, that's Jeff Somers, from his new book TRICKSTER:
Praised by the Guardian for stories that are “exhilarating . . . powerful and entertaining,” Jeff Somers returns with a darkly original urban fantasy series featuring a cadre of mages operating just under the radar of human society.
Magic uses blood—a lot of it. The more that’s used, the more powerful the effect, so mages find “volunteers” to fuel their spells. Lem, however, is different. Long ago he set up a rule that lets him sleep at night: never use anyone’s blood but your own.
He’s grifting through life as a Trickster, performing only small Glamours like turning one-dollar bills into twenties. He and his sidekick, Mags, aren’t doing well, but they’re getting by. That is, until they find young Claire Mannice— bound and gagged, imprisoned in a car’s trunk, and covered with invisible rune tattoos.
Lem turns to his estranged mentor for help, but what they’ve uncovered is more terrifying than anybody could have imagined. Mika Renar, the most dangerous Archmage in the world, is preparing to use an ocean of blood to cast her dreams into reality— and Lem just got in her way.
by Kathi Lipp, Guest Blogger
Back in July, I got an email from a woman named Danielle who said she was a producer and was interested in optioning dramatic rights to my first book The Husband Project and possibly making it into a film.
And I bet you want me to do a wire transfer to recover a prince’s fortune in Zimbabwe (and I will double my money at the same time!)
Those kinds of things only happen to other people. You and I know enough to realize that non-fiction books don’t get made into movies, and I'm smart enough to know that those kinds of things don’t happen to me. You and I know there are a lot of people who talk big about what they can do for you and your book. That's why Rachelle and I turned them down. Twice.
But, after I signed contracts last week, I realized those things do happen to me.
After four long months and a lot of agents and producers and lawyers emailing and calling back and forth, a real live movie producer (she is on imdb.com and everything!) has optioned The Husband Project. What that means (before all this, I had no idea) is this:
A production company has the right for the next year to develop a feature film, TV movie or TV show based on The Husband Project, without any other production company being able to legally do the same. Since my book is non-fiction, i.e. there's no story yet, this process will be more involved than with a novel, because the first step is hiring screenwriters to create a treatment (an actual story) from which a screenplay can be written. What it doesn’t mean is that I have a film deal or I can now invest in your new water purification system. The money I’ve made on this option is nothing to retire on. (And when I think of the hours my agent has put into this deal and the pay she's getting, it makes me want to send her large and lavish boxes of chocolates. Check your mailbox, Rachelle.)
What's happening right now is that Danielle (we Hollywood types call each other by first names, you know) has obtained about forty copies of the book (my publisher, Harvest House, has been generous enough to supply most of those copies) and is sending them out to writers and talent as I type. At this point, it looks like they have a director “attached” to the option, someone big enough that while I didn’t know his name, I did recognize – and have even paid movie theater money to see – some of his movies.
The next step will be soliciting interest from a studio, and this is where Rachelle and I sit back and wait for phone calls because other people are handling it. If a studio is interested, that’s when things get exciting, and potentially a bit more lucrative. Whatever happens, I think this whole process is very, very fun. They're talking writers and “talent” and are asking for my input for story ideas. I know this whole thing is a long shot – but a girl can dream.
And to let you know how much of a cool Hollywood-type I really am, every time I talk to Danielle on the phone and she tells me about the next step they're taking, apparently I start squealing like a six year old and she says, “Oh you are just so cute.” My super sophisticated cover is blown.
But hey, I'm actually on the phone with a movie producer, using terms like options
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.)
I finished another client project! A custom-designed header for a website called Computer Savvy Granny
. My client is an older woman who is really technically knowledgeable and gives advice to those that aren't. Check out her site!
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From @Tumblr to TV: How our #Starbucks ‘Trenta’ graphic became an online hit
The week-old editorial above caught my attention because it’s about how an illustration (which the National Post commissioned from Andrew Barr) went viral.
My shock came not when I saw the bigger-than-a-stomach cup, but when I read this line in the Post’s editorial:
The Starbucks graphic was an excellent learning experience for us, in that it was a perfect example of how editorial and graphics can maximize exposure by moving quickly to execute a great concept at the peak of popular interest.
“Learning experience?” Is the editorial staff saying they are just now learning the value and effectiveness of including strong, informative graphics with their stories in order to attract readers’ attention? Shouldn’t they already know this?? Isn’t this fairly basic to editorial publishing? To storytelling?
To the folks at the Post: my apologies if I got this wrong. It just concerns me, as a working illustrator, to think the good people who commission work from us seem to not grasp the full value of what we bring to the table.