Monthly Archives: February 2012

Like Him, I am a writer

27 February 2012

From author Gerard de Marigny:

A writer is born with the soul of an artist.

At birth, an empty vessel, but soon to be filled with knowledge and shaped by history, memories, people, places, and times … from long ago, and those that have not yet come. To express the writer’s soul, craft is studied and technique learned. Art is then created and the writer’s voice emerges.That voice can be as subtle as a whisper or as loud as thunder from the heavens, yet both can be heard with the same clarity.

A writer’s heart beats the same as the hearts of others, yet it races when an idea is born; it breaks, expressing someone else’s pain; it leaps for joy when it’s exposed honestly; and it bleeds continually, though the body remains healthy and alive.

Link to the rest at Gerard de Marigny

Why writers need agents: 4 pros weigh in

26 February 2012

Longtime consulting editor Alan Rinzler asks four experienced agents several questions:

Literary agents are still the gatekeepers for authors seeking traditional book deals.

That’s the bottom line, despite all the big changes in publishing, says Candice Fuhrman, an agent with many New York Times bestselling authors in her corner.

“As long as publishers are buying books and paying advances, agents have a role.”

. . . .

Are you finding that acquiring editors and their management are more risk averse than in the past?

Candice Fuhrman: Most definitely.  Since the economic crisis began in 2008 we’ve seen a decline in advances.   This is true even for the “high-platform” authors.

Andrea Brown: We don’t see our end of the business (children and YA) as risk-averse. Maybe some of the advances have been lower in 2011, but publishers still want books and are willing to pay for them.

Andrea Hurst: They absolutely seem to be. What used to be a sure deal for us is often rejected.  A writer can have a great platform, polished manuscript, a compelling story, and still not receive an offer.  It can be hard to judge just what publishers want now.

Bonnie Solow: In our experience, if you represent books that promise powerful content along with strong marketing platforms, publishers and editors will compete to acquire them.

. . . .

What do you say to writers who are considering self-publishing?

Candice Fuhrman: In many cases I say GO FOR IT!   It’s never been a better time for self- publishing; there are so many options for sell your own e-book.  With most major publishers still only paying 25 percent of net for e-book sales, most writers can do better on their own.  Of course they have to be marketing demons — but that’s the case no matter who publishes you. Although many agents are becoming “jacks of all trades” with self-publishing authors, we could be called something else — such as a publisher or a production person or a marketer.

Andrea Brown: Some authors we’ve worked with have also done indie self-published e-books but don’t seem to make any money with them. The market is overwhelmed with titles — many badly written or edited — and writers find it’s tough to market. We do tell writers that if their book will be difficult to sell the traditional way (or we do not think we can place it), to go ahead and self-publish — but they must do it well and plan to spend lots of time to market.

Andrea Hurst: For many authors, this is a very viable option today.  Indie publishing, especially with e-books, offers a way to get your book directly in the reader’s hands.  It is still important to have a high quality product and market your work. Many agents I know are diversifying what services they offer and how they will work with authors seeking nontraditional publishing options.  Our agency consults with self-publishing authors through the whole process, offering professional editorial, design and evaluation services.

Bonnie Solow: Self-publishing is a viable option for many writers. There is no barrier to entry and authors can enjoy the satisfaction of maintaining full creative control with an accelerated release schedule. For authors who are entrepreneurial and who can access their readers through online marketing, speaking engagements, and so on, self-publishing can be the right route to take. In the long-term I do think agents will be more and more involved in helping clients self-publish… At this stage, however, authors who come to me are not interested in self-publishing. Instead, they want to enjoy the myriad benefits that come with being published by a major house.

Link to the rest at The Book Deal

I don’t have a photograph

26 February 2012

I don’t have a photograph. I’d give you my footprints, but they’re upstairs in my socks.

Groucho Marx

10 Rules for Writing Numbers and Numerals

26 February 2012

From Daily Writing Tips:

2. Spell small numbers out. The small numbers, such as whole numbers smaller than ten, should be spelled out. That’s one rule you can count on. If you don’t spell numbers out it will look like you’re sending an instant message, and you want to be more formal than that in your writing.

3. No other standard rule: Experts don’t always agree on other rules. Some experts say that any one-word number should be written out. Two-word numbers should be expressed in figures. That is, they say you should write out twelve or twenty. But not 24.

. . . .

6. Centuries and decades should be spelled out. Use the Eighties or nineteenth century.

Link to the rest at Daily Writing Tips

I am a thief, a plagiarist. I am not an author.

26 February 2012

From Dear Author:

So an RWA member, the treasurer of the Kiss of Death RWA chapter no less, is found to be plagiarizing. Name is Kristal Singletary aka Kay Manning | K.S. Manning | Payton Bradshaw.  The first signs were revealed by a fan of Liz Fielding who reported to her that “La Maison Romance” by Kay Manning, a free download on Smashwords, appeared to be a copy of Liz Fielding’s story “The Cinderella Fantasy”.

. . . .

Ms. Manning has commented and provided an apology:

I’ve gone back and forth on how to address this for several hours. A personal blog post would not be seen by enough people. Nor would a response to Ms. Fielding’s blog. When Dear Author posted this blog, I felt it was the answer I’d been looking for. I couldn’t find a more public place than this.

To all the authors, publishers, and editors I stole from, I am sorry. There is no excuse. All distributors have been notified and those I couldn’t take down/remove myself are being removed by the third party as soon as possible.

To all the authors, publishers, and editors I’ve met and known over the years, I am sorry. I know you will never forgive me and you shouldn’t.

To anyone associated with the Kiss of Death Chapter, you can be assured that all funds relating to the chapter are well managed and controlled by a dedicated President and Board. I have not had access to any accounts where wrongdoing could have occurred without their immediate and swift action.

Finally, so there is no misunderstanding. I am a thief, a plagiarist. I am not an author.

Link to the rest at Dear Author


Book Is Judged by the Name on Its Cover

26 February 2012

From The New York Times:

Patricia O’Brien had five novels to her name when her agent, Esther Newberg, set out last year to shop her sixth one, a work of historical fiction called “The Dressmaker.”

A cascade of painful rejections began. Ms. O’Brien’s longtime editor at Simon & Schuster passed on it, saying that her previous novel, “Harriet and Isabella,” hadn’t sold well enough.

One by one, 12 more publishing houses saw the novel. They all said no.

Just when Ms. O’Brien began to fear that “The Dressmaker” would be relegated to a bottom desk drawer like so many rejected novels, Ms. Newberg came up with a different proposal: Try to sell it under a pen name.

Written by Kate Alcott, the pseudonym Ms. O’Brien dreamed up, it sold in three days.

Ms. O’Brien and Ms. Newberg had cannily circumvented what many authors see as a modern publishing scourge — Nielsen BookScan, the subscription service that tracks book sales and is at the fingertips of every agent, editor and publisher — with a centuries-old trick, the nom de plume.

. . . .

Doubleday has 35,000 copies in print after two printings, said Todd Doughty, a spokesman for the publisher. That gives “The Dressmaker” a major head start over “Harriet and Isabella,” Ms. O’Brien’s previous novel, which was considered a flop. It has sold 4,000 copies, according to BookScan, which tracks about 75 percent of retail sales of print books.

. . . .

The rapid rise of e-books has thrown out the old rules of traditional publishing, and publishers have been more conservative with advances than in the past.

“I have friends who are getting one-fifth of their last advance for new books,” Ms. O’Brien said.

. . . .

After the 13 rejections last year Ms. Newberg sent the manuscript bearing Kate Alcott’s name to Melissa Danaczko, an editor at Doubleday, part of Random House.

“I realized that the book was not being judged on its merits,” Ms. Newberg said. “It was being judged on how many books she has sold. I needed somebody who couldn’t look on BookScan. And no, I didn’t feel guilty at all.”

Ms. Danaczko, 28, who said she had seen the 1997 movie “Titanic” perhaps a dozen times, instantly loved Ms O’Brien’s dramatic retelling of the disaster and its aftermath. But when she was piqued by curiosity about her unknown author and typed “Kate Alcott” into Google, nothing significant popped up.

“I guess I hadn’t really thought about the possibility that she might be working under a pen name,” Ms. Danaczko said. “I was operating under the assumption that she was somebody Esther had pulled from the slush pile or was an old friend.”

Link to the rest at The New York Times and thanks to M. for the tip.

If You’re Going to Self-Pub a Book, Get an Ereader

26 February 2012

From author Deanna Knippling:

One thing I do know, though: the experience of reading ebooks is not 1:1 for reading paper books and probably affects people’s purchasing habits.  So if you’re thinking about epublishing, even if you’re dead-set against the ebook-reading experience and want to stay with print books, you should:

Get an ereader

Before you start selling ebooks, get an ereader.  Heck, they’re cheap–get several and write them off on your taxes.  Spend at least a month reading books on your ereader.  JUST on your ereader, if you can manage it.  Here are your goals for that month:

  • Download several books from your local library, if ebooks are available.
  • Download a THICK book from your ereader’s online store.  Maybe even a boxed set.
  • Download 20-30 free ebooks from your ereader’s online store.
  • Figure out how to read an ebook in the bathtub (hint: wrap the ereader in a freezer bag).
  • Download several books from Project Gutenberg.
  • Scroll through the Smashwords home page until you see at least ten books that you’re tempted to buy.
  • Download 20-30 free ebooks from Smashwords.
  • Cruise through the ebook store for your ereader and find one book that you can’t resist buying at $.99.
  • Do the same, but for a $2.99 book.
  • Again, do the same with an ebook $9.99 or less.
  • Finally, go nuts and buy a book that you’ve been planning to buy, regardless of the price.
  • (You might want to consider doing similar things on your smartphone, if you have one: try Aldiko and the Amazon and Nook apps, try the Overdrive app and set it up for your library.  You should download those things from your app store, by the way, not online.)

Buying books on an ereader isn’t like buying a print book.  With print books, you have to consider both price and space.  Generally, you have to pay for print books, and you generally have to pay more than $.99, even at Goodwill.  (Mine are usually $1.)  And regardless of whether or not you pay for a print book, you always have to keep in mind that a print book takes up shelf space at your home (or chair space, or floor space, or space on top of your kids’ heads if they’re especially flat).

Link to the rest at

Cover Design is Key

25 February 2012

From Indie fantasy author Ty Johnston on Publetariat:

Some might argue covers are not important, that what is behind those covers is what’s truly important, but they are missing the bigger picture (quite literally, when you think about it). Even if you believe good covers are not important, you would be hard pressed to argue that a bad cover can be helpful.

. . . .

A good cover can hold a reader’s attention. Even if a reader passes on your book the first time around, a solid cover might draw them back again. A great cover can stick in a reader’s mind, and that can propel a reader to pick up your book at some future point.

Also, while there are those who might believe covers do not sell books, the truth is a good cover could be the tipping point for customers. If a reader is on the fence about whether or not to purchase your book, a good cover might just be the thing to convince them.

. . . .

First of all, you need to keep in mind you are not designing only a book cover. You are also designing an e-book cover and an icon that has the potential to be seen by millions across the Web. Remember that word “icon,” because what you want your cover to be is iconic. You want it to stand out from the crowd, to draw the attention of customers and readers.

In my opinion, simple is better. Yes, there are plenty of complicated, artistic book covers out there that look good in a bookstore, but how many of them look good on Amazon or Smashwords? How many of them are even legible on a website? Most aren’t, so simple is better.

. . . .

Also, when it comes to e-books, you don’t really need a lot of small, extraneous type on your covers. I know authors love their blurbs, but unless you have one from Stephen King, it’s really a waste to put it on an e-book cover because it won’t be seen. Any type on an e-book cover beside the author’s name and the title should serve some purpose that helps the reader make up their mind whether or not they want to read the e-book. Information I deem relevant would include a blurb by the likes of Stephen King, obviously, but also could entail whether or not the e-book is part of a series, whether it is a short story or novella, etc. Skip putting a price on the cover, because prices can change.

Link to the rest at Publetariat 

From the moment I picked your book up

25 February 2012

From the moment I picked your book up until I laid it down I was convulsed with laughter. Someday I intend on reading it.

Groucho Marx

How Publishers Bolster Their Bottom Line by Retaining Film Rights

25 February 2012

From The Hollywood Reporter:

Sharp-eyed moviegoers at the Sundance Film Festival in January might have noticed an unfamiliar title card before the Bruce Willis comedy Lay the Favorite: Random House Films, the movie production arm of the venerable book publisher.

Get used to it. While books long have been prime source material for movies (six of this year’s nine best picture Oscar nominees started as books), publishers traditionally have not participated in the development process or shared in the profits. Scholastic and Little Brown, for instance, make money from Harry Potter and Twilight only through book sales, not their billion-dollar box office.

But that’s changing. Facing financial pressures from everything from the rise of self-published e-books to Amazon’s move to become a publisher, Random House and another “big six” publisher, Macmillan, have set up in-house film divisions to bolster their bottom lines.

. . . .

Millions in producing fees and backend profits are just one side of the equation. Functioning as producers, they hope, will give publishers a voice in the marketing of films that could yield higher book sales.

Link to the rest at The Hollywood Reporter

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