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By Michael Blair QC, George Walker, and Stuart Willey
Almost every day has brought a fresh story about investment markets, their strengths and weaknesses. Misreporting of data for calculation of LIBOR, money laundering with a whiff of Central American drugs trading, costly malfunctioning of programme trading mechanisms which brought the trading company to its knees, reputational damage inflicted by as yet unsubstantiated accusations of illicit financing in breach of international sanctions… the list goes on and on.
Toronto Financial District. Photo by Alessio Bragadini, 23 June 2009. Creative Commons License.
And this has all been on top of the recent history of the so-called credit crunch
and the self-inflicted wounds that have beset the banking industry over the last five years, with consequentially a savage public backlash of distrust and dislike of bankers and banks. This has affected the banking fraternity as a whole, even though those that caused the damage to their banks, to the shareholders and in the end to the taxpayers, were a small sub-set only of the banking workforce.
The list of problems, for firms, and in some cases for their customers as well, prompts some reflections about the role of investment markets in our society and about the relationship between markets and their regulation. Some years ago, in the latter part of the last century, it was fashionable for academics and practitioners alike to put their trust in the strength and reliability of market mechanisms. The experience in earlier decades of the hard discipline of the money markets no doubt added to this. For example the humiliation of the forced departure of the United Kingdom from the former European Monetary mechanism (EMU) in the 1980s reinforced the beliefs of many in the power of the markets as a way of finding and pricing out inefficiency and restoring a new equilibrium at a different point on the scale.
To the majority, therefore, the proper role of regulation at that time was essentially limited to cases of market failure. Most of the work in the public interest could be done by the markets themselves. They might, of course, need some help from the regulators to ensure proper disclosure, with a view to sufficient, and non-discriminatory, access by market users and commentators to market information. But if there was “sunlight” in the market, then that more or less guaranteed the “hygiene” of its mechanisms. From that concept came “light touch” as a means of describing a system of financial regulation that basically left it to well informed markets to function for themselves.
Not all agreed at the time with this general approach. There were honourable exceptions, whose only consolation since has been the (frequently best left unsaid) phrase “I told you so at the time”.
How things have changed since then! A rapid U-turn in public and political thinking has brought demands for sterner and more intrusive regulation. The insidiousness of human greed and of lack of foresight is now widely recognised and needs to be restrained. The market economists now accept that there is a real, and central, role for discipline, including both its punitive and its deterrent aspects as well as the benefits it brings in excluding the dangerous from the playing field altogether. The change has even led our politicians to embark on structural change to restore a previous splitting of retail regulation from the upper reaches of financial services. The case for this change has been based on a hope of better focus of the two new bodies on the two sectors, though the underlying motive appears more to be a desire to change something simply because it is thought to have failed.
Splitting in the public interest also seems likely to be required in the major banks as well. The “Vickers” reforms look set to require the banking industry to function in two separate ways, with required distance between the investment banking arms and the general consumer-based borrowing and lending functions.
Another consequence is that “enforcement” is once more central to the world of regulation, rather than seen as a stick kept, as far as was possible, in the cupboard for occasional use only in the most serious circumstances.
We have now arrived at a new post-crisis period of great challenge but also of potential opportunity. We seem to be set for a number of difficult coming years, during which the markets will be dominated and constrained by austerity, continuing uncertainty and risks of instability. But markets and economies tend to recover over time. We must hope that the politicians, central banks and regulatory authorities have learned all of the necessary lessons from the recent crises to prevent instability or, at least, better to manage and contain the risks of it.
Michael Blair QC, Professor George Walker, and Stuart Willey are the editors of the new edition of Financial Markets and Exchanges Law. Michael Blair QC is in independent practice at the Bar of England and Wales specialising in financial services. Previously General Counsel to the Board of the Financial Services Authority. Queen’s Counsel honoris causa 1996. George Walker is Professor in International Financial Law at School of Law, Queen Mary University of London and is a member of the Centre for Commercial Law Studies (CCLS). He is also a Barrister and Member of the Honourable Society of Inner Temple in London. Stuart Willey is Counsel and Head of the Regulatory Practice in the Banking & Capital Markets group of White & Case in London. Stuart specializes in financial regulation focusing on the securities markets, banking and insurance.
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The post Understanding and respecting markets appeared first on OUPblog.
There’s nothing easy about finding the right publisher for your work, but here are some questions to ask yourself as you look for just the right home for your manuscript.
Ask These Questions as You Study the Catalog:
- How many (romances/mysteries/biographies/fill in your category) do they publish each season? A market listing can include a wide variety of categories, ranging from adventure to fantasy in fiction and from reference to social issues in nonfiction. Although the publishers market listing may show interest in a wide variety of books, study their catalog to see what they have actually been buying. If you have written a biography and they only produce one a year, this doesn’t mean you should scratch this publisher off your list but they probably shouldn’t be your first choice.
- How would you describe this publisher’s taste in books? When I was looking for romance publishers to interview for an article, I noted that some publishers filled their lists with trendy titles teaming with vampires, werewolves and other paranormals. Other publishers wanted only contemporary. Still others featured covers filled with brocade bodices. A publisher who actively avoids trendy titles may be interested in your romance that another editor passed on because all of the characters were human.
- Is the book part of a series or do they publish only stand alone titles? If they go for series, this is a publisher who knows that their readers want to spend time with specific characters through multiple story lines. Conversely, a publisher who only puts out stand alone’s won’t be the best match for your series.
- Did the titles in this publisher’s catalog first appear overseas? Some publishers fill their lists with books that were initially published in another country. You may have to examine the books themselves to puzzle this one out. Look for a translator and check for multiple copyright dates, including some for country specific rights. A publisher who seems like a perfect match, but fills their list with books published first in Australia or Germany probably isn’t your best choice.
- Last but not least, who are this publisher’s authors? If you find numerous authors with only one or two books with this publisher, you have a much better chance of making a sale than if all of the authors have a long list of titles with this house. Also check to see if the authors are celebrities, professionals writing books in their field, debut authors, or award winning authors. Only you know which category you fall into.
Collect this kind of information and maximize your chances of getting a YES on your submission.
Author Sue Bradford Edwards blogs at One Writer's Journey
Publisher Allen & Unwin recently opened up their Friday Pitch to children's/YA writers. Before making your pitch, make sure you read through all the guidelines carefully. They're not accepting pitches for picture book texts, for example, or poetry or short stories.
Last year I won a giveaway for a copy of a cozy mystery. When the package arrived I was pleasantly surprised to find not just a book but a companion audio disc of the author reading her novel! I stuffed the book onto a shelf and popped the CD into a player. We had a terrific time, this author and I, both in our kitchens. I was cooking dinner; she was baking…and solving a mystery. Not long after that I downloaded an audio file of Sherlock Holmes stories and just recently I listened to the first chapter of an Irish mystery which I can hardly wait to purchase so I can hear the rest of the tale. I’m hooked on audio, and I’m not alone.
According to the Audio Publishers Association 25% of Americans listen to audio books. The demographic is well-educated, median-income consumers who also read more books annually than the average non-listener. The Association of American Publishers states that downloadable audio books accounted for 81.9m in sales in 2010 with physical audio books bringing in 137.3m. And this doesn’t include all those teens attached to their listening devices! Is there a market for audio books? You betcha! Would you like to get in on it?
If you contract with a traditional publisher your agent can make all the arrangements; indie, small-press or self-published authors listen-up.You will need:
A quiet place to record
A good quality studio microphone (sometimes called a pod-casting mic)
Audio recording and editing software
Someplace to market your audio book
Software for recording, editing and converting audio files is available via download and there are several choices. Two of the most popular are Audacity and WavePad. Audacity is free, open source software for recording and editing, it is updated often and you can choose from “stable” versions or Beta versions. WavePad offers both free versions and professional versions. Depending on your computer system and the desired result you might choose to use more than one editing program.
Once your audio file is ready it will need to be available for purchase. Digital Content Center
offer file storage, automated delivery, shopping carts with multiple payment options. CDBaby
works with both digital downloads and physical CDs. They handle distribution and sales to Amazon, iTunes, and other outlets. (Note: iTunes has exclusive agreement with Audible.com and will pull anything labeled “audio book” that isn’t through Audible).
Will offering audio books suddenly make you rich? Not likely, but you’ll gain exposure to readers who may not stumble upon you otherwise. Not every novel is available in audio format, but audio lovers scour over all the novels offered. If they like the audio chances are they will purchase the book, or eBook, and recommend your book to family and friends.
By Robyn Chausse
Thank you to Scott Swift of darktimetales for sharing his experience.
When I teach my 8-week Write for Magazines e-course, I get a lot of students who turn in great ideas about parenting teenagers, and some who want to write about grandparenting. Their ideas are unique. Fresh. Interesting.
The problem? There are no good markets for these ideas.
For example, there are very few magazines that target parents of teens. Most parenting magazines focus on moms of babies through toddlers. Parenting: The School Years skews a bit older. Family Circle — a notoriously difficult market — does target moms of tweens and teens. But do you want to spend all your time on a pitch that has one potential market — and one that’s hard to break into at that?
The same goes for grandparenting articles. The only magazine I know of that aims at that age group is AARP. Well, there is a magazine called GRAND, but the last I heard they charged writers $10 to review queries.
(Of course, I’m not the ultimate expert on the magazine market, so maybe there are other publications out there that are for grandparents or moms of teens, that accept queries and pay well. But I don’t know of any.)
My strategy when I want to pitch an article is to come up with ideas first and then find markets for them, instead of finding a market and then brainstorming ideas for it. (Both ways are valid and it’s a matter of personal preference.) Without a particular market in mind, you’re likely to come up with some ideas that seem great but that have no selling potential.
And that’s fine. If you’re brainstorming correctly (as Diana Burrell suggests in her Become an Idea Machine e-course), you’re coming up with tons of off-the-wall ideas anyway. Some of the duds are obvious, but some of them — not so much.
The trick to weeding out the ideas that have no markets is to become a voracious reader of magazines and really learn what’s out there. You need to read magazines that are not on the newsstands, magazines that are outside of your usual areas of expertise. You need to read magazines until your eyeballs hurt, and then read some more!
That takes time. Until you’re at the point where you have a good feeling for what’s out there, you can research markets before writing up your query. Have an idea you love? Check out the newsstands, look in Writers Market, Google your topic plus “magazine,” and go through the Yahoo directory of magazines. Post a general description of your topic on a writer’s forum you frequent and ask the other participants for markets. (Keeping it general lessens your risk of idea theft.)
Finally, if you find there are no markets for your idea, you can tweak it for an audience where there are a lot of markets. I like to tell my students that the ideas you come up with when you brainstorm are just seeds of ideas anyway — rarely does a perfect idea pop fully-formed into your brain.
Whatever you do, don’t fall in love with an idea and write up a pitch right away without finding at least a few potential good markets for it. [lf]
You know, in my quest for an agent, I've done a lot of research into what literary agents are looking for in fiction. Sure, some say they want a "fresh take on this and that," but what is it they're really hungry for, I wonder...what with fiction being such a broad category; adult, YA, middle-grade, genre, etc..
So it begs the question, if an agent specifies (and I use the term loosely), their desire to represent "fiction," are we to assume that their decision to omit the word, "genre" means no genre fiction?
Speaking of genres, there's one I especially love: urban fantasy. You know, I went to the bookstore the other day, and I scoured the juvenile section for something that combines these two great tastes that taste great together: middle-grade and urban fantasy, and unless I missed it (and please let me know if I did), I couldn't find anything. There was a slew a books with alternative "historical" accounts, books dealing with pirates, and surprise, books set in magical lands with names sure to test the palate of the most ravenous lexophile.
Note: If it's hard to pronounce, it's hard to remember. Never a good thing.
Then I strolled over to the YA section, where I was enthralled by the amount of YA urban fantasy out there. But what I found odd, was the lack of middle-grade urban fantasy in the previous section.
So why is this such an untapped market when it's such a great combination? I mean, the possibilities alone...
For instance, my novel, a middle grade urban fantasy is the first in a series about a boy who, after discovering a city built and powered by magic, goes on to train as a detective in this magical world; a place where technology IS magic, where the vehicles fly and must be refueled at enchantment stations, and where cell phones and televisions are made of water, etc...
I truly think kids would love this. I think they'd love the opportunity to walk in the shoes of characters that--though they exist in a parallel world--they can still relate to them; and at the same time, readers will no doubt look at the world around them and remember what those characters use in their everyday lives each time the readers go about their own lives in similar ways.
So, again, I have to ask why it's not a wider market? Anyone read anything lately that falls into the realm of middle-grade urban fantasy? If you have, please share; I'd love to read it too.
My official swap partner for Perfect Picture Books by Post was Beth and her homeschooling family in New Hampshire. They chose to send us a Caldecott medal winning picture book set in their home state, Ox-cart Man by Donald Hall, illustrated by Barbara Cooney.
Beth couldn’t have known that right here, right now this is the perfect picture book for us – I’m currently reading M Little House on the Prairie, and as soon as we’d finished reading Ox-cart Man she immediately made a connection between the two. Somehow seeing the life she’s listening to shown in another book really thrilled her and ever since it has been inspiring hours and hours of role play.
Ox-cart Man depicts the rhythm of a year in the life of a New England farmer and his family in the early to mid 1800s. Opening with the farmer packing up his ox-cart with goods he and his family have grown, made and prepared throughout the preceding 12 months, we follow his journey through russet and gold autumnal countryside to Portsmouth Market, where he sells his wares, right down to his ox and cart. Using his earnings to buy a few store goods for his family he returns home to start preparing for the following year’s market, with his first task being to build a new yoke and cart.
The tale is told in a sparse and unadorned manner (for example, barely any adjectives are used), mirroring the family life being depicted. But in the eyes of a 21st century girl it is a tale full of wonder. I think M found it both slightly baffling and rather thrilling to see how much the family makes and grows for itself (even though we make and grow quite a lot ourselves, at least by urban, British standards). Baffling because of the simple lack of “stuff” and the value placed on nowadays seemingly almost valueless items like a single needle, and thrilling because it appeals to every young child’s sense of independence and belief that they can do everything themselves.
Barbara Cooney’s illustrations match the simplicity of the text. They are unfussy, yet full of historical detail and
I'm writing a novel about three 15-year-old high school students who are bullied and come up with creative schemes for solving the problem. The target market is middle grade and young adult. Along with some lighter moments, the story becomes quite dark and violent (before progressing into a happy/satisfying ending). There's swearing, bashing, blood, minor knife violence and a shooting. The violence isn't gratuitous, it's integral to the storyline and assists with raising the stakes throughout each stage of the plot.
Am I writing a novel for a target market that's too young to be exposed to the material? Would the older end of the target market, say 18-25-year-olds, still be interested in reading about 15-year-olds? Have I completely ruled out both ends of my target market, and will publishers reject the book because of this?
My immediate concern when reading this question was not so much whether the market is too young but that your target market is “middle grade and young adult.” You really need to pick and choose. Certainly, I’ve represented a lot of books that have crossed genre lines, and I love books that cross genre lines, that appeal to readers of two different genres, but I think when writing a book you have to essentially choose your market so that you’ve chosen where the book will be shelved.
I also feel that crossing genre lines between middle grade and young adult is trickier than, say, fantasy and young adult or fantasy and paranormal romance. While you might have kids willing to read both, they will tend to be middle grade readers. In other words, you will likely have middle grade readers who read up, but unlikely to have young adult readers who read down.
One of the things I love most about today’s young adult market is that the books cross over to an adult market. Harry Potter and Hunger Games would not have been the huge successes they’ve become by appealing only to a young adult market. They’ve been break-out successes because everyone is reading them, everyone from kids to adults.
Without having read your book it’s difficult for me to say what target market it’s best for or if the material is too heavy for a middle grade audience. My gut tells me that you might have more success with a book like this if you raise the age of the character by a year or two. I’m not sure why exactly, but I don’t always understand my gut, I’ve just learned to trust her and, honestly, to me the book sounds better suited to the young adult market.
As an entrepreneur I frequently am asked for my advice on starting a new business, and while I’ve shared my so-called wisdom with dozens of future business owners, I’m not sure I’ve ever passed it along to my blog readers who, as writers, are all entrepreneurs and business owners.
There are really only two tips I ever pass out, both of which I think can easily apply to any of you in any stage of your writing career.
Tip #1: Give It Five Years
I’m not sure why, but somehow I feel that five years is the magic number. No business grows overnight and a writing career is no exception. When starting a business you need to give yourself time to have and enjoy your successes and then build on them. In my opinion, five years is the time you need to really be able to judge whether or not your business is working. For BookEnds, I know that 2004 was a real turning point for us. It doesn’t mean that we were making it rich by then, but by 2004 I remember feeling as if we had firmly established ourselves as an agency to watch by both writers and editors, we were consistently selling the books we really wanted to be selling, and had taken on clients we knew we could help grow into household names. At five years I knew that we were here to stay.
So does that mean if you’ve been writing for five years and haven’t sold you need to quit? Not at all. Success doesn’t always mean reaching that ultimate goal, but at five years you do need to check to see your rate of growth. If you’ve been seeking a publishing career (and keep in mind that’s different than writing) for five years and still feel that you are in the exact same place you were five years ago (working on the same book, getting the exact same form rejections and not even finaling in contests), I would ask that you seriously reconsider your business plan. However, if you can see real change in where you are now from where you were five years ago (change in your writing, change in your publishing network, and a string of successes like an agent, or personal rejection letters from agents, full request, or contest wins or finals) then you’re probably on the right path.
Tip #2: Be Ready to Roll with the Punches
When Jacky and I started BookEnds we never dreamed that we were starting a literary agency. We thought we were book packagers. We joined the ABPA and attended each and every monthly meeting to learn as much as possible about book packaging. Heck, just a few short months after starting the business we even made our first two-book deal. If I do say so myself, it was an instant success story. The problem was that book packaging wasn’t quite what we thought it was and, most important, we weren’t enthusiastic about taking BookEnds to the level we needed to to make it the success we wanted it to be.
During the first year or so of business we were also getting a lot of requests from authors to represent their work. Well, guess what: that didn’t seem like such a bad idea. So after a little more than a year, we called an agent friend of ours and took him to lunch to pick his brain and learn what we could about the literary agency side of things. We asked every detail we could think of about agenting, how he started his agency and what we were getting into. Now keep in mind, we weren’t starting with no experience, we already had connections and an understanding of the contract, we just needed to talk to an expert to get tips and tricks. About a week or two after that lunch we made the announcement that we were changing our status from packager to agent and we haven’t looked back since. However, we also haven’t settled in. While from the outside it appears that the agency has remained consistent, from the inside we are continually going through changes and making alterations. For example, what we represent is ever-changing. Certainly in 2001 I wasn’t representing a lot of erotic romance (in 2001 erotic romance didn’t “exist” per se), but I was actively looking for chick lit (something I’m not seeking now). And as many of you know, it wasn’t until fairly recently that I opened up my list to fantasy. Just as a reader’s tastes might change over the years, so do an agent’s, and yes, the market makes its own set of changes. In my mind, to be successful, I need to be willing and able to roll with these changes and make adjustments as necessary. And obviously, it’s proven successful for me.
Does that mean a writer should chase the market? No, never, ever chase the market. What it does mean though is that you need to be willing to roll with the punches. You might sit down with a plan to write fantasy and realize halfway through your book that what you’re really writing or what you’re really good at is romance. So go with that. Don’t force yourself to be a fantasy writer or a literary writer or a mystery writer if you really aren’t. If it seems that romance might be your thing, join RWA and learn about romance. If books are getting sexier and you’re comfortable writing sexy, then go with that, stretch yourself, and I can almost guarantee you’ll find success.
From the local wire service:
Want to make crime pay? Consult your local library.
Police say that was the strategy of 19-year-old Nicholas Paul Macnab of Sandy, who was arrested Feb. 7 after a music teacher claimed Macnab sold a stolen vintage guitar over the Internet.
Macnab was cited for theft and burglary, and a search of his apartment turned up two more guitars, several laptops, three cases of bootleg DVDs, drug-packaging supplies and more than 2,000 pills, including ephedrine, methadone and barbiturates.
And the topper? A Molalla Public Library copy of the book "Money for Nothing: Ten Great Ways to Make Money Illegally." Police said a chapter called "Breaking into the Drug Trade" was bookmarked.
"The pages were pretty dog-eared," said Sandy Police Chief Harold Skelton. "He'd obviously been studying it hard."
Reached at home Friday, Macnab said that wasn't the case. "It was an accidental checkout from the library. It was supposed to be a Nicolas Cage movie called 'Money for Nothing.' Just a bad coincidence, I guess," he said.
Actually, the 1993 movie starred John Cusack.
Macnab said he hadn't actually read the library book and "was going to bring it back with some other stuff." Asked about the other items found in his apartment, he said, "I don't want to comment on that."
The book is now on hold in the Sandy Police Department's property room.