Good Practice Guidelines for New Agenting Services

25 November 2014

From the Association of Authors’ Agents, an association of British agents:

In recent years, the industry has diversified significantly. Whilst members continue to serve authors by selling rights in their work to third parties and to be paid by commission for such work, many literary agencies are now offering a wider range of services to clients than they used to and a broader framework of good practice is required.

 These guidelines to which members of the AAA are required to adhere are not intended to amend or replace the terms of the Code of Practice, which remains paramount. Members are reminded that an agent has an overriding fiduciary duty to act in the best interests of their client at all times.

 1. Members shall clearly set out in writing their terms of business with regard to all services offered to an author, for example in a client agreement or in an addendum to an existing client agreement. Where appropriate, members shall explain clearly what services they offer, for example what processes they undertake when assisting a client to self-publish.

. . . .

4. When a member, in assisting an author to self-publish, agrees to terms with any retailer on the author’s behalf, they should first draw the author’s attention to the terms and conditions and emphasise any clauses of particular interest or relevance, for example any exclusivity requirements or pricing regulations. The member should ensure that the author understands the implications of what they are signing (and that such terms and conditions may be subject to change without notice) and what other options are available and should suggest that the client may wish to take third party advice from the Society of Authors or a lawyer.

5. When a member assists a client to self-publish, they may be required to agree to certain obligations, to make warranties and to grant certain rights to retailers or to distributors which would usually be made or granted by the author or publisher and not by his or her agent. If the member is required to make such agreements on his/her own or on the author’s behalf, he/she shall first of all draw the author’s attention to and explain the details of the proposed agreement and obtain the author’s written permission to make it. If appropriate, the member shall transfer certain of such warranties and obligations (such as that the work is not libellous) to the author by written agreement.

. . . .

 11. When members assist authors to self-publish, they shall not act in any way which would prevent or deter an author from resigning from their agency on notice. The written terms for such arrangements should include reasonable provision for the author regaining control over all aspects of their self-publishing in the event of the author resigning from the agency, including provision, if the author asks for their work to be ‘un-published’ from a retail platform, for the member to serve notice to that effect without delay subject to any exclusivity period entered into with a third party with the author’s original consent.  In the event of an author resigning from the agency the member shall return to the author all documents and property originally given to the member by the author and documents prepared by the member on the instruction of the author although the member is of course free to retain copies of contracts they negotiated.

. . . .

 13. No member shall engage the services of a client for example as a writer-for-hire or a co-writer or co-owner of Intellectual Property or copyright, or licence rights from a client, without declaring to the client in writing any proprietary or profitable interest stemming from such an arrangement and should suggest that the client may wish to take third party legal advice prior to making any such formal agreement with the agency. If the member should have a profitable interest in a contract beyond normal commission arrangements as set out in the client agreement, then the member may not charge commission on the client’s share of the earnings from such a contract.

Link to the rest at the Association of Authors’ Agents and thanks to Diana for the tip.

How To Tell If You Are In a Regency Romance Novel

25 November 2014

From The Toast:

1. You are either a virgin or a sad and lovely widow whose husband was lost at sea. You are spirited, but still passing ladylike.

2. Your father is away in the colonies protecting his tobacco interests, or a bumbling idiot, or a gambler. His character flaws lead to you becoming betrothed to a man you’ve never met.

. . . .

 8. A notorious rake catches your eye at a fashionable social function. His brocaded—though not foppishly so—waistcoat betrays his unimaginable wealth. His eyes smolder like sapphires pulled from the inferno itself. He raises his glass to you with a ravenous smile.

. . . .

10. You have a secret, potentially scandalous alter-ego, such as authoress of smutty literature or highwayman. Your true identity is under heated debate by the Ton. In your spare time you give baskets of food to the poor and practice the pianoforte and/or mandolin.

11. You are proposed marriage to by no less than three vicars every Tuesday. You refuse them with delicacy, then weep into the rosebushes on the east veranda. Your heart belongs to another.

12. A wealthy and influential harridan disapproves of you and makes sure everyone within earshot knows it. You don’t give a fig what she thinks. You flutter your fan defiantly.

Link to the rest at The Toast and thanks to Scott for the tip.

The Strand’s Stand: How It Keeps Going in the Age of Amazon

25 November 2014

From Vulture:

Walk into the Strand Book Store, at East 12th and Broadway, and the retail experience you’ll have is unexpectedly contemporary. The walls are white, the lighting bright; crisp red signage is visible at every turn. The main floor is bustling, and the store now employs merchandising experts to refine its traffic flow and make sure that prime display space goes to stuff that’s selling. Whereas you can leave a Barnes & Noble feeling numbed, particularly if a clerk directs you to Gardening when you ask for Leaves of Grass, the Strand is simply a warmer place for readers.

In the middle of the room, though, is a big concrete column holding up the building, and it looks … wrong. It’s painted gray, and not a soft designer gray but some dead color like you’d see on a basement floor. Crudely stenciled signs reading BOOKS SHIPPED ANYWHERE are tacked to it. Bookcases surround the column, and they’re beat to hell, their finish nearly black with age.

This tableau was left intact when the store was renovated in 2003. Until then, the Strand had been a beloved, indispensable, and physically grim place. Like a lot of businesses that had hung on through the FORD TO CITY: DROP DEAD years, it looked broken-down and patched-up. The bathroom was even dirtier than the one in the Astor Place subway. You got the feeling that a lot of books had been on the shelves for years. The ceiling was dark with the exhalations from a million Chesterfields. There were mice. People arriving with review copies to sell received an escort to the basement after a guard’s bellow: “Books to go down!” It was an experience that, once you adjusted to its sourness, you might appreciate and even enjoy. Maybe.

. . . .

Why is there still a Strand Book Store?

In large part because of Fred Bass. He’s pretty much the human analogue for the store’s gray column. His father, Ben, founded the Strand around the corner in 1927, and he was born in 1928. Ask him about his childhood, and he recalls going on buying trips on the subway with his father, hauling back bundles of books tied with rope that cut into his hands. (“Along the line, we got some handles.”) Ask him about the 1970s, and he’ll tell you about hiding cash in the store because it was too dangerous to go to the bank after dark. He’s 86, and he still makes buying trips, though mostly not by subway. “Part of my job is going out to look at estates — it’s a treasure hunt.” New York, to him, “is an incredible source — a highly educated group of people in a concentrated area, with universities and Wall Street wealth. The libraries are here.” Printed and bound ore, ready to be mined.

Four days a week, he’s on the main floor, working the book-buying desk in back. Stand there, and you’ll see the full gamut of New York readers. Critics and junior editors, selling recent releases. Academics. Weirdos. “Book scouts,” who pan for first-edition gold at yard sales and on Goodwill shelves. They walk in with heavy shopping bags and leave with a few $20s. Usually fewer than they’d hoped: The Strand rejects a lot, because unsalable books are deadweight. Whatever arrives has to go out quickly. “Our stock isn’t stale,” Bass says. “You come in, and there’ll be new stuff continually.” Slow sellers are culled, then marked down, then moved to the bargain racks outside, then finally sold in bulk for stage sets and the like.

. . . .

Those new books are also profitable because of a source almost unique to the Strand: broke editorial assistants. When the Strand buys their review copies, it pays about a quarter of the cover price, sometimes less. They’re indistinguishable from new, and the Strand sells most of them as such. (When Bass buys from wholesalers, he generally pays about 40 percent of list.) Publishers hate this gray market but accept it; one book publicist I know cringes when she sees her press releases peeking out of copies at the store. Bass shrugs: “I tell them it’s the cost of doing business.”

. . . .

The Basses have also tapped into New York’s great subsidizing resource: the global rich. If you’ve bought $15 million worth of living space on Park Avenue, it probably has a library, so what’s another $80,000 to fill those shelves? Make a call to the Strand with a few suggestions — “sports, business, art” — and a truckful of well-chosen, excellent-condition books will arrive. (Fred recalls that when Ron Perelman bought his estate on the East End from the late artist Alfonso Ossorio, the Strand had just cleared out Ossorio’s library; Perelman ordered a new selection of books, refilling the shelves.) In more than a few cases, the buyers request not subject matter but color. In the Hamptons, a wall of white books is a popular order, cheerfully fulfilled.

Link to the rest at Vulture and thanks to Karen for the tip.

Barnes & Noble Has a Plan to Make Physical Books Popular This Black Friday

25 November 2014

From Slate:

Instead of competing head on with Amazon this Black Friday, Barnes & Noble is looking to offer something that the online retailer can’t. The bookstore announced today that come this weekend, it will sell 500,000 signed copies of the latest works from 100 prominent authors. On the non-fiction side, authors include George W. Bush, Hillary Clinton, Malcolm Gladwell, Neil Patrick Harris, and Amy Poehler. In fiction, Dan Brown, Jodi Picoult, and Donna Tartt are among those taking part.

Barnes & Noble says the effort has been in the works for more than half a year, with each author signing thousands of copies of their books for readers. “Some went beyond their signature to personalize the books,” the chain notes in its release. Mo Willems, a children’s book author and illustrator, sketched the head of one of his characters in signed editions.

Link to the rest at Slate and thanks to Laura for the tip.

Royalties, Oh Royalties, Wherefore Art My Royalties?

24 November 2014

From author Dan Meadows via The Watershed Chronicle:

“It is our hope that Hachette, in light of the loyalty its authors have shown throughout this debacle, takes this opportunity to revisit its standard e-book royalty rate of 25 percent of the publisher’s net profits.” Roxana Robinson, president of the Authors Guild

So here we are. Hachette has a deal. Simon & Schuster has a deal. They have the pricing responsibility they wanted. Amazon has its “specific financial incentives” to compel them to use that power to price lower. Now we’ll get to see just how badly publishers want to institute a price-based windowing system for new releases (I’m setting the over/under on new release ebook prices at $16.99. And I’m taking the over.) But what did writers get out of this? I’m glad you (rhetorically) asked, because nobody else seems to be.

I’ve read all the coverage I can find and, as far as I can tell, the sum total of what writers got from this is that Hachette writers will have preorders reinstated and be back on two-day shipping. That’s about it. Oh yeah, there’s all the sales they lost during the past seven months. They’ve got that, too. There’s no Macmillan-like pool of recompense for those folks; no extra royalty payout for the damage done to their business. And they’ve got the hit yet to come from all those lost sales when their next contract rolls around. But at least, like the Robinson quote above, they’ve got hope that possibly Hachette (and others) maybe might take some time to reconsider their ebook royalty rates, if it’s not too much trouble. Because loyalty. My dog is loyal, but if I screw with his food, he bares his teeth and growls. I don’t screw with his food. Loyalty unrespected is subservience.

The blatantly obvious here is that anyone who thought writers would get anything but screwed on this was deluded. Especially after their authors interjected themselves into it in, bluntly, the stupidest possible way. They threw all their weight behind one side, not coincidentally, the side that needed them and they had leverage with, and asked nothing in return. Now we’re told they did it out of loyalty as if that’s some kind of honorable thing and not horribly misplaced naivete. Now we’re told authors are going to try to get better terms.

. . . .

If you can’t even consider paying me a fair (or even just slightly higher) ebook royalty without it triggering fears of going under, does that make you more or less attractive to me as an author? You’re leveraged so thinly that fair recompense to writers can threaten the very existence of your company? What’s the upside for me to sign with you? A “quality” product no one buys or a product they do buy but I don’t reap fair reward for?

. . . .

“Questioned on author earnings, CEO Tom Weldon said that Penguin/Random House was always looking at how much authors were being compensated, but for the moment the 25% digital royalty rate would not be changed.

“Authors are, alongside readers, the foundation of our business,” he said. “We are always, always looking at our commercial arrangements with authors to make sure they’re fair and equitable. With e-book royalties, firstly and most importantly, the business model is as clear as mud. Rather than arguing about what slice of the cake we should distribute, we need to work out how big the cake should be.”

There you go, fair and equitable and the rate would not be changed. Get a load of that last sentence. We need to work out how big the cake should be? What the hell does that even mean? Is he talking about pricing? Is it a more ominous suggestion of further attempts at limiting the ebook market itself to a certain market share? Or even more ominously, is he talking not about how big the whole cake is but deciding how big the portion of the cake is that your portion comes from? The cake is a pretty big one, dude, I think portions are an appropriate topic of discussion at the moment. Look at how he phrased that, too: “Rather than arguing about what slice of the cake we should distribute…” They’re planning on keeping the whole damn cake and then deciding what tiny sliver they can afford to slice off for you. Do you need any more evidence that they see the proceeds from your book as “their cake”? Funny how they’re not waiting to work out how big the cake should be before touting the increased profits they’re reaping from this particular literary confection. But let’s not argue about it. Then they might actually have to address the issue rather than keep enjoying all that delicious extra cake they’ve got. Did you catch him wiping the crumbs from the corner of his mouth as he said “fair and equitable”?

Link to the rest at The Watershed Chronicle

Here’s a link to Dan Meadow’s books

For him it was a dark passage

24 November 2014

For him it was a dark passage which led to nowhere, then to nowhere, then again to nowhere, once again to nowhere, always and forever to nowhere.

Ernest Hemingway

Anne R. Allen’s Blog

24 November 2014

From author Anne R. Allen:

We get lots of questions from new writers who have spent time in forums and online writers’ groups where they’ve been given advice by other newbies. Some of that advice is fine, but a whole lot is dead wrong.

Unfortunately, the wrong stuff is usually delivered with the most certainty.

That’s because the most ignorant people are generally the most sure of themselves. This phenomenon has been scientifically proved. It’s called The Dunning-Kruger Effect. Nobel Prize winners David Dunning and Justin Kruger of Cornell University did a study in 2000 that proves the least competent people really are the most likely to overestimate their own competence.

. . . .

Here are eight bogus “rules” I’ve heard recently.

1) When writing something inspired by your own life, every incident must be told exactly as it happened, or somebody will sue you.

If you know somebody is likely to sue you if you include them in a memoir, it’s safest to disguise them with a name-change. Better yet, fictionalize your story. For advice on how to fictionalize a “true story,” read Ruth Harris’s great post on the subject from earlier this month.

But even if you’re writing a memoir or a piece of creative nonfiction, you still have to craft it into a story with an arc. That’s a story with an inciting incident, conflict, and resolution. That’s never going to be exactly “the way it really happened,” because real life is a meandering journey, not a tidy story. Plus real life has lots of boring bits. Do NOT include them if you want anybody to read your book.

A memoir has to tell a story. That means it has dialogue and scenes. You can’t help putting less than accurate words in people’s mouths unless you recorded every word ever said to you.

For advice on how much “truth” to put into a memoir, here’s an enlightening post from Jane Friedman: How True and Factual Does Your Memoir Have to Be?

She points out how subjective all memory is, so no one person’s memory is going to provide 100% absolute provable facts.

. . . .

5) Head-hopping is necessary if you have more than one character in a scene.

You don’t need to tell us what everybody is thinking in every scene. That only confuses the reader. Good writers can show the reactions of other characters through the eyes of the scene’s point-of-view character.

After all, you’re seeing your entire life through the eyes of one point-of-view character: you. And you probably know what’s going on. Or think you do.

Learn to use body language, facial expressions, and dialogue to let us know how key characters are relating to the action.

The exception is a story told from an omniscient point of view, which is not the same as head-hopping. Omniscient POV uses a god-like voice that knows everything. You’ll often see it in high fantasy, which is told in a “bard’s” storytelling voice.

An omniscient voice also works well in a humor novel, because it makes the story sound like a stand-up comedy routine. Carl Hiaasen does this brilliantly. So does Dave Barry.

But be aware omniscient POV in most genres seems old-fashioned, is hard to pull off, and is often taboo with agents.

. . . .

6) All internal monologue must be put in italics.

I’ve even seen this in guidelines from small publishers. It’s not wrong, but it’s not the norm.

Putting internal monologue in italics is a convention that comes from mid-20th-century pulp fiction. You especially see it in thrillers. Some literary authors, like William Faulkner, also experimented with it. Some contemporary authors like to use italics to show alternate points of view. I’ve seen both Terry McMillan and Marian Keyes do this. They’re both brilliant authors, and they used the device well.

But italics are on their way out. I’ve seen agents say in their guidelines they won’t read anything that’s italicized. That’s probably because italics are harder to read and cause havoc with electronic formatting, especially for ebooks.

These days, writers generally use the “deep third person” point of view that allows for inner monologue without dialogue tags.

Link to the rest at Anne R. Allen’s Blog

Here’s a link to Anne R. Allen’s books

Self-Publishing Reaches the Summit

24 November 2014

From Digital Book World:

I recently took part in New Generation Publishing’s annual Self-Publishing Summit in London, now in its third year. It is always a good opportunity to stop and consider how the self-publishing sector has evolved.

. . . .

The traditional versus self-publishing argument is finished

At the first Summit in 2011 there was a lot of anger in the room, and not just from the panelists having to work on a Saturday. There was a sense of writers scorned with traditional publishing being painted as elitist, out-of-touch, arrogant, dismissive, and either redundant or on its way out of business. That sentiment was probably best summed up as, ‘I didn’t want to be traditionally published anyway.’

The traditional publishing industry had brought a lot of this on itself and for its complacency alone deserved this kicking. But aside from being cathartic for some writers, I always found this approach distracting and unproductive. Reader don’t benefit from industry mudslinging, and they are ultimately the only ones that really matter.

I noticed it last year but there was virtually no discussion of the opposition between traditional and self-publishing this year. The focus was on options–what is available through all possible routes and how to be as successful as possible through the route chosen. It would appear the post-breakup score-settling is over and the sector has moved on, which can only be a good thing.

. . . .

Quality, quality, quality

This is something I always press home to self-publishing writers I speak with, and it was a point raised (and also rammed through) by several panelists at the event, from editors to successful traditional and self-published authors. It’s one thing to be focused on being a great seller and marketer, but the hardest and most important part is to focus on being a great writer. It is ultimately that and nothing else that will provide self-published writers with long and successful careers.

Readers aren’t interested in how the author published the book. They are interested in quality, looking only for the best book to buy. I also hate the thought of writers with great potential rushing out a self-published book, then seeing it and giving up writing when with a lot of hard work they could have become successful later on.

I hope this point was taken to heart, and I believe it is a work in progress. I for one am going to keep going on about it–and possibly will still be going on about it at Summit No. 60, should mortality allow.

Link to the rest at Digital Book World

Don’t Pay to Self-Publish

24 November 2014

From Joe Konrath:

My name is Joe Konrath, and I write fiction.

I’ve sold over a million books by self-publishing.

You probably were searching for “how to self-publish” or something similar and my blog came up.

This post for all newbie writers considering self-publishing. While it would be extremely helpful to you to take a week and read my entire blog to get a full understanding of how the publishing industry works, here’s the most important thing you need to know:


Now you can certainly pay people to help you publish. Freelancers such as editors, cover artists, book formatters, proofreaders, and so on.

But when you hire a freelancer to assist you, you keep your rights.

That’s very important.

When you write something, you own the copyright. That’s automatic, even if you don’t register with the copyright office.

Copyright means exactly that; you have the right to copy it, to distribute it, to give it away, to sell it. You own those rights.

But if you pay someone to publish you, you GIVE THEM YOUR RIGHTS.


. . . .

The truth is, major presses PAY THE AUTHOR, not the other way around.

I have sold books to major publishers, and was paid hundreds of thousands of dollars, and then I had to hire lawyers to get those books back so I could self-publish them. Because I make 10x as much money self-publishing as I did by selling my rights to publishers.

. . . .

Q: I saw an ad for a publisher. Are they legit?

A: Real publishers NEVER advertise. Anywhere. Ever. Not in magazines, or on Facebook, or in Google Ads. NEVER. If they advertise, avoid them.

Q: I saw a publisher at a writing conference and they have publishing packages that they sell.

A: Run away from them. Quickly.

. . . .

Q: But if I pay this publisher, they promise to get me reviews and get my book into Ingram and…


Q: Why not? What’s the big deal?

A: First, they’ll take your money. Probably hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars. Then they’ll keep your rights, so if your book does become successful, they control it, probably forever.

I know a lot of rich self-pubbed authors. Not one of them paid to be published.

Link to the rest at Joe Konrath

Here’s a link to Joe Konrath’s books

eBooks Could Finally Inch Past Print In 2018

24 November 2014

From TechCrunch:

PricewaterhouseCoopers analysts are predicting (again) that ebooks could soon edge out print as publishers’ most lucrative products. What does this mean? Essentially that a ebook popularity and pricing stabilizes, users will spend more on bits than they will on pulp. The resulting switch could be the final nail in the print coffin.

. . . .

The Digital Reader points out that PwC has been making this same prediction over and over again, year after year. Why? Because at some point they will be correct.

I honestly expected ebooks to overtake print in the US far sooner. The numbers still point to print surpassing ebooks with alarming regularity and print is still wildly popular in Europe. But this will change as cheaper ereaders become available but there is also a generational issue. Kids and older adults – audiences that bookend the book market – are still reading print books as the plethora of 50 Shades, Twilight, and Harry Potter titles at second-hand bookshops can attest. But as parents become more comfortable with leaving a tablet with the kids as they doze off I feel even the first of these hold-fasts can soon crumble. As for older adults this number is chipped away as grandparents and parents become familiar with their kids’ Kindles.

Link to the rest at TechCrunch and thanks to Joshua for the tip.

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