Archive for the ‘publishing’ Category

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Self-publishing and ebooks

February 24, 2011

Going into the Austin SCBWI chapter’s annual conference this weekend — it was great, by the way — I was curious to find out how middle-grade novels are selling in ebooks, as that’s what I write. I’ve seen lots of articles in the Publishers Lunch enewsletter saying that ebook sales are rocketing in adult books and even taking off in young adult, but I suspected that middle-grade was behind. According to Egmont‘s Elizabeth Law, I was right. She said they’re not seeing noticeable ebook sales in middle grade.

Anathema book cover

Megg Jensen's self-published YA novel Anathema

Even though MG is slower to this technology, it’s great to see ebooks being embraced so quickly. As I wrote in January, sales of ereaders were stellar for the Christmas season, with many places selling out. Although I still love — LOVE — physical books, whether a book is printed on paper or eink, it’s still a story. And if this new technology is enticing more readers to stories, that can only be good.

The new technology also is changing the publishing landscape. With ebooks, it’s easier than ever — and less expensive — to self-publish books. Author J.A. Konrath has written about this extensively on his A Newbie’s Guide to Publishing blog. He had gone the traditional route before he started publishing his books on his own as ebooks, but he gives good arguments of why that doesn’t matter. YA author Amanda Hocking is an example, selling more than 185,000 ebook copies of her self-published novels.

Now, I’m not saying all writers should stop submitting to agents and editors of traditional publishing houses and go it alone. There are definite advantages to being signed by an agent and getting your work published by someone else. Let’s face it, most writers are not so great at the business end. And throwing an ebook on Amazon or Barnes & Noble or wherever doesn’t automatically mean it will sell; there’s marketing, publicity … oh, and the book should be good (editors are invaluable) or repeat sales won’t be much.

But the advent of ebooks has made it easier for writers to take the publishing of their work into their own hands, and blogs and social networking make it easier to build publicity.

YA author Megg Jensen is trying just that with her novel Anathema. And so far, it looks like she’s off to a great start. The book launched on Tuesday, and as of Wednesday, she had already sold 50 copies. She’s hosting a contest right now where people can guess how many books she will have sold by March 11, and the main prize? An ereader. Now that’s what I call promoting future business.

What do you think? Would you be willing to read a book if it’s self-published, either in print or as an ebook?

Write On!

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Save our libraries

March 23, 2010

Revision update: Still on chapter 21 of 30 because yesterday, I spent the day working on my synopsis so I could take it to our critique group last night. Then our critique group was canceled. Oh, well. At least I’ve got the synopsis done. Back on the book today.

With the economic crunch all around, libraries are being hit hard all over. In the last few days, I’ve seen so many posts about this, I wanted to share them.

Libraries are the way that many of us fell in love with books. I still love going into a library and seeing all those shelves after shelves of books. They support the publishing industry not only by buying books, but also by creating readers who go on to buy their own books. And, librarians are a wealth of knowledge. I recently wrote about how one local librarian helped me in my search for a book with beautiful language. So, check out these links below, and if there’s anything you can do to help these libraries, or any other libraries, please do.

On her blog, author Tina Nichols Coury has an editorial about saving the Los Angeles Public Library from former librarian turned award-winning writer Susan Patron. And this SaveTheLibrary.org website details the problems that library is having.

Writer Beverley BevenFlorez also has been blogging about the Los Angeles Public Library.

And writer Carl Schwanke wrote about the problems hitting his local public library system in Charlotte, N.C.

Writer Jennifer R. Hubbard is doing something about the problem, and we can too. Jennifer is running a blogger challenge today through March 27 where bloggers donate money to libraries for every comment they receive on their blog. So click over to Jennifer’s blog post here, write a comment, and then click over to the participating blogs (the list is on Jennifer’s post) and write a comment on their blogs too. Each comment will help raise money for needy libraries.

Get commenting!

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Dreams do come true

March 16, 2010

Manuscript update: Started my new final round of revision yesterday. The last round was the make-every-word-great round, after going through plot and scene revision rounds earlier. So this is the polish, the I-want-to-make-sure-every-word-is-still-great-and-I-didn’t-type-something-weird-last-time round. I’m excited, and plan to be finished in a week or so. Fingers crossed.

With the economy the way it is and all the bad news that has been coming of the publishing industry the last few years, it’s great to see all the deals still being reported by Publisher’s Marketplace. But when it’s a deal for a debut writer, it’s even more wonderful, it’s inspirational.

As I was shutting down my computer last night, I saw fellow blogger Beth Revis had posted the news that her book, Deep Freeze, has been picked up by Razorbill, an imprint of Penguin, for a spring 2011 release. According to Publishers Weekly, Razorbill editor Bill Shrank “said he thinks the book will do for popular sci-fi what The Hunger Games did for postapocalyptic fiction.” Wow!

Beth also scored a three-book deal, which shows the confidence Razorbill has in her writing.

This is fantastic news for Beth, and I’m so excited for her. I also can’t wait to read the book, because it sounds wonderful.

But it’s also exciting news for all unpublished writers. It shows us that despite the layoffs and low financial quarters at publishing houses, editors are buying books, and they are buying books from unpublished writers.

Sure, I’ve heard over and over that manuscripts need to be really polished before they’ll even attract an agent nowadays — hence my new polish round — but if you put in the work, the rewards will come.

Go on, dare to dream, then get to work on making that dream a reality. It will take work, a lot of hard work, but it will be worth it in the end.

Write On!

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Young adult still strong and other links

March 10, 2010

After my vow to stop whining and start doing yesterday, I finished my taxes (even though I did do some more whining about having to do them. 🙂 ) So, I’m so excited today to be back on writing. This afternoon, I plan to work on my query letter. Exciting!

But I digress.

I’m catching up with some blog/email reading and found some interesting newsy tidbits I wanted to share.

First up, a lovely Los Angeles Times story about the strenth of YA. The paper reports that adults are reading YA now — no news to us regulars in this sector — and that Harry Potter started this, followed up by the Percy Jackson series, Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games and Markus Zusak’s The Book Thief — again, nothing new to us — but here’s the nice part:

Where adult hardcover sales were down 17.8% for the first half of 2009 versus the same period in 2008, children’s/young adult hardcovers were up 30.7%.

Yay! That’s worthy of a celebration, I think. Now, I write middle-grade, but the way I see it, is any good news in the children’s section is good.

And why are all these adults choosing YA over fare written for older folks?

Well-written, fast-paced and engaging stories that span the gamut of genres and subjects.

Exactly what we’re striving for.

And here’s a great quote from Lizzie Skurnick, author of the Shelf Discovery collection of essays about YA literature:

“YA authors are able to take themselves less seriously. They’re able to have a little more fun, and they’re less confined by this idea of themselves as Very Important Artists. That paradoxically leads them to create far better work than people who are trying to win awards.”

🙂 Yeah, I agree. We have much more fun.

Another sign of the strength of YA: Lerner Publishing is starting a new YA imprint called Carolrhoda Lab. According to Publisher’s Weekly, the Lab’s launch line will have four fiction titles.

In more news, an independent publishing line focusing on middle grade and YA fantasy and science-fiction that features characters of color, Tu Publishing, garnered $10,000 in donations to launch, and, thanks to the haul, attracted the attention of bigger publisher Lee & Low Books. Recognizing that something great was going on here, Lee & Low has acquired Tu Publishing, and here’s the cherry on top — the donation money is going to be returned to the donators. Nice to see a corporation doing the right thing.

Got any other news to share?

Write On!

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John Green says it’s ok to suck, and other links

March 5, 2010

Catching up on some of my blog reading today, I found a great YouTube video (I can’t display it on here, but check it out at Beth Revis’ Writing It Out blog, it’s worth it) with Looking For Alaska author John Green telling us what NaNoWriMo does:

  1. teaches us discipline because you need that if you’re going to write 50,000 words in a month (Note from me, especially in November. Seriously, NaNoWriMo creators, why did you choose November, which has Thanksgiving and the beginning of holiday shopping?), and
  2. it’s ok to suck in the first draft.

And for all writers who hate to revise, Green says that in all his books, he has cut 90% of the first draft in revisions, and some of the best parts of his book were written in revision. I saw Green talk at the SCBWI summer conference a few years ago, and, funnily enough, he was talking about revision then. So, he obviously really believes in it. And hey, if it works for him and he’s so successful, might be something in that. 😉

Now for some other cool links:

This one is from January but for some strange reason popped up in my Google Reader today. Publishers Weekly has an article on Penguin’s hopes for the U.S. debut of Catherine Fisher‘s Incarceron, and it looks like it’s one of those books children’s book writers should put on their must-read list. I’ve added it to mine.

Guide to Literary Agents has an interview with Tamar Rydzinski of the Laura Dail Literary Agency, and Tamar takes books from middle-grade older and she really likes fantasy. She looks like a good one to check out.

And here’s a nice bit of economic news, with a great showing of how wonderful the children’s book world is. Amid all the reports of bookstores closing, Publishers Weekly reports that Michelle Witte, an associate editor with Gibbs Smith is planning to OPEN a children’s book store in Centerville, Utah. Fire Petal Books is set to open its doors next month thanks to some help from HarperCollins Children’s Books editor Molly O’Neill and author Neil Gaiman, who have both provided items for a fundraising auction. The auction ends on March 20, so go to the Fire Petal Books page and check it out to show your support, because we can never have too many children’s bookstores. Good luck, Michelle!

Write On!

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Editor Nancy Feresten on the future of publishing

February 27, 2010

Revision update: Still on chapter 22 of 30, thanks to a car that needed an alignment and wheel balancing (why do these things take so long), laundry and some others. Don’t you hate the way the nitty gritty of life gets in the way of your writing? 🙂 I’ve got eight chapters to do this weekend to keep my goal, and I’m thinking I won’t make it. But I’m going to try.

In my fourth report from the Houston SCBWI conference, National Geographic Children’s Books editor-in-chief Nancy Feresten talks about the future of publishing.

If you missed my earlier reports, Simon & Schuster editor Alexandra Cooper talks about submitting to an editor, including herself; Scholastic editor and author Lisa Ann Sandell talked about making your query letter package stand out; and Balzer & Bray editor Ruta Rimas talked about what makes a great book.

First off, Nancy said that National Geographic has become one of the few major publishing houses to reverse its policy of not accepting unsolicited queries from writers. She said she wants to hear from writers, which is why they’ve opened their doors again. But, she said their team is too small to respond to every query, so they have instituted a policy that they will only respond if they’re interested in your work.

Nancy tackled the subject of the publishing itself, and she had some interesting things to say. Quoting a Kaiser Family Foundation study, Nancy gave these stats:

  • Kids spend 7.5 hours a day with some kind of media, up from 6.5 hours a year ago.
  • They spend 38 minutes a day out of school time with some sort of print media (books, magazines, comics).
  • Most of their time is spent with TV, over videogames, music and movies.
  • Over the past five years, time spent reading books is up, whereas magazines is down.
  • Girls read more than books, which has been a constant in the study for years.
  • If a child watches a lot of TV, that does not correlate with a drop in reading unless the child has a TV in his or her bedroom.

This shows that kids are busy, but as Nancy said, “Our big challenge is to figure out what they want to read.”

She said that studies show that being smart is now more important to children than being popular, a switch from past years.

In non-fiction, children want facts, photos, true unexpected stories and to laugh and have fun.

To that end, National Geographic is looking to publish:

  • Serious reference books that are fun and educational. They’re looking for writers and illustrators for this on a work for hire basis;
  • Innovative narrative non-fiction that are smaller stories, potential award winners. They’re accepting proposals for this, but again, will only respond if they’re interested;
  • Fun reference books, which offer photos, facts and fun at a low price. These will be written on a work for hire basis.

With all the new technology available now, with ebooks, etc., Nancy said the market is changing, but challenges bring opportunities.

There are advantages and disadvantages to both print and digital, but she sees a future when the best of both will be combined for a different kind of market than one we know now. Children will have their own ereader, which will be big enough to accommodate the beautiful pictures in children’s books. Families will go to libraries and see print-on-demand version of books, choose the ones they like best and download them to the child’s ereader. These type of ereaders also will be useful in classrooms, with children having less to carry, and teachers being able to make changes to textbooks as they go along.

No matter how technology changes, however, Nancy emphasized that it will be up to writers to create the future. Children will always want good stories, information and fun. Writers will be the ones experimenting with the best ways to use the new technology to tell these stories in the best ways possible.

Sounds like a great future. What do you think about the future with ebooks?

Check in tomorrow for my final report from the Houston SCBWI conference, with literary agent Sara Crowe.

Write On!

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Editor Alexandra Cooper on submitting to an editor

February 25, 2010

Revision update: On chapter 18 of 30. Getting a little behind my goal, so tomorrow, I’ve got to step up my game.

Alexander Cooper headshot

Alexandra Cooper

In my third report from the Houston SCBWI conference, Simon & Schuster editor Alexandra Cooper talks about submitting to an editor, including herself.

If you missed my earlier reports, Scholastic editor and author Lisa Ann Sandell talked about making your query letter package stand out, and Balzer & Bray editor Ruta Rimas talked about what makes a great book.

Alexandra said she works with picture books, middle-grade and young adult fiction, but not easy readers or non-fiction. The exceptions are a few non-fiction picture books that came out of an idea she had and she assigned to a writer and illustrator.

When considering manuscripts, she takes into account the balance of her list as well as the list of her imprint. She said editors are responsible for bringing in books to add to the company’s bottom line, so they can’t always publish everything they’re passionate about. They will turn down good books if the imprint already has similar books, for example. However, she said, outstanding books won’t be turned down.

Editors want a balance between backlist authors and new authors (looking for writers she can work with again), as well as a balance between commercial and literary books.

Right now, she’s signing more novels than picture books, but it’s cyclical, she said. One of the reasons publishing companies are more cautious on picture books right now is the cost and economy. Color picture books are printed in China, and the weak dollar is making printing costs rise.

Finding an editor is like dating, she said, and as such, writers should want someone as committed to the book as the writer is.

The Internet and conferences such as the SCBWI ones are good places to find out about editors, she said. (And I fully agree. These conferences are great!)

As for the issue of most publishing houses not accepting unsolicited manuscripts except through conferences, Alexandra said a lot of the time it’s because of legal reasons. The company doesn’t want to open itself to a lawsuit if they turn down a book that’s similar to one they’re already working on.

However, she said the first book she acquired was from a query, so they do work.

Check back tomorrow for notes from National Geographic‘s Nancy Feresten.

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Answers to your questions about ghostwriting

February 12, 2010
Author Laura Cross

Laura Cross

Today, I’m pleased to host Laura Cross, author of many ghostwritten books as well as her new Complete Guide to Hiring a Literary Agent: Everything You Need to Know to Become Successfully Published. In January, you posted great questions about ghostwriting (Thanks everyone!), and Laura has some eye-opening answers.

Before we get to them, though, we have a winner for the PDF copy of Laura’s Complete Guide to Hiring a Literary Agent book. The winning question came from Suzanne Pitner. Congratulations, Suzanne! Laura will be emailing you your prize. Enjoy!

And now on to the questions and answers:

DayByDayWriter: How much ghostwriting is done in publishing?

Laura Cross: It’s estimated that more than 80% of published books are ghostwritten.

Karen Strong: I was once approached by a company who wanted me to do some ghostwriting for them, but I wasn’t sure about how much to charge. What is the going rate and what should a writer beginning in ghostwriting charge for their work?

Cover of The Complete Guide to Hiring a Literary Agent bookLaura: Book ghostwriting fees range from $10,000 to $100,00 per project — $10,000 being the very low end and $100,000 usually paid to more established writers (“celebrity” ghostwriters earn $250,000+ per book). Many ghostwriters determine their rates based on how much they can command per hour (based on experience, portfolio and demand for their services). Once you determine your hourly rate, you can translate that fee into a per page rate, a per word rate, or a per book rate (based on how much time it will take to research, organize, outline, write, edit and revise a project.)

So how do you calculate the time needed for a project? Some writers can write one standard manuscript page in 30 minutes, others require three hours. Some can conduct research and organize a project on the topic of neurosurgery in 80 hours, while others need five months. You need to be aware of your own skills and strengths. Over time, you will have a good understanding of how much time is required for any given project. For instance, I know that for most 200-page prescriptive non-fiction books on the topic of business or finance, I require (remember, each writer’s requirements will be different) about 275 hours of time (around 60 hours of research, organization and outlining time, one hour of writing time per page, and one hour of editing/revising time per 15 pages).

Suzanne Pitner: How does a writer get a ghostwriting gig if he or she doesn’t have a published book yet? Are other writing credits enough to land a job?

Laura: I ghosted more than 30 books before my first “credited” book was published. You don’t need to have a book published under your own name to become a ghostwriter. Create a portfolio based on your magazine and newspaper articles. If you have not yet been published, collect your blog posts and expand them into full articles or book chapters, or use excerpts from your unpublished manuscripts. Define your specialty (business, health/fitness, memoir, etc.) and market specifically to those clients.

Anita Nolan: I’d like to know how to actually get a ghostwriting or work for hire job. I’ve actually done some work for hire, written for a magazine, edited a couple magazines, etc., but I don’t seem to be able to break through. (The WFH work I’ve done has come to me through friends of friends.) I apply for jobs, hear back that they’ll keep my info on file, but never hear anything more. What is the correct way to approach ghostwriting/WFH publishers, and what are the best ways/places to find out about this type of work?

Laura: I’m not sure what you mean by “ghostwriting publishers”? Most traditional publishers and imprints release books written by ghostwriters, though these publishers don’t often hire the ghostwriter directly. Some subsidiary publishers — who market themselves as “self-publishers” — and vanity presses (such as Authors House) offer ghostwriting services to their customers and keep a list of ghostwriters on file to hire on a per project basis. Approaching these types of publishers is not the best route for establishing a successful ghostwriting career or making a decent living — and is not a path I would recommend.

Most of your best ghostwriting projects will be referrals from literary agents working with experts or celebrities who lack the necessary writing skills to produce a compelling book. If you’re looking for quality, well-paying ghostwriting opportunities you need to connect with literary agents. (You can download a free chapter on “Finding and Selecting an Agent” from my book The Complete Guide To Hiring A Literary Agent at www.GetALiteraryAgent.com.) As a ghostwriter, you approach a literary agent just the same way any other aspiring author does.

Donna Maloy: I am assuming that most ghostwriters are paid a flat fee and therefore don’t have a claim on future royalties. But do ghostwriting contracts reserve any future rights at all — say after the acknowledged author passes away?

Laura: All contracts are negotiable, but with a standard ghostwriting agreement, you do not receive any credit or rights — one reason it’s important to be paid well upfront for your writing services.

Wendy Sue Rupnow: How do I try to get credit for ghostwriting and freelance copy and research on a resume? I was recently rejected because some of my freelance could not be verified. Also, I have attached copies of ghostwriting with applications and a few times was questioned… with authorship. Is this something people try to pull?

Laura: Never, ever disclose you are a ghostwriter on a project. It is unethical, and in most cases you put yourself at great risk for a lawsuit and a diminished reputation. Who is going to hire a ghostwriter who doesn’t stay hidden? If a potential client does not understand that you cannot disclose specific information, then you don’t want to work with that client — it’s never worth the risk. If the client is looking to hire a ghostwriter, he is going to have the same “issue” with EVERY ghostwriter he interviews, because no professional ghostwriter can (nor will) reveal authorship. If a potential client is questioning whether you actually wrote the writing you presented, then he’s questioning your integrity and you’re only going to have trust issues with the client throughout the project. Who wants to deal with that? You choose your clients as much as they choose you, and in this case I would say, “Run the other way… there’s many more choices out there.”  Respect yourself and know your worth — you’ll attract clients who feel the same about you.

Back to the portfolio question. For portfolio samples, you want to be very careful when using ghostwritten material due to non-disclosure agreements. My contracts specify that I may use up to five pages of ghostwritten content for portfolio purposes, without identifying the “author” or book title. You can also create a list of projects you have ghostwritten identified by topic and type of client — for example, “A how-to entrepreneurial book for a prominent business leader”, “A motivational self-help book for a respected psychiatrist”, “A loyalty-marketing book for the CEO of an Internet company.” Put together a client testimonial sheet to submit along with your samples.

Marion Steiger: How should I go about getting a good ghostwriter to help me finish a non-fiction book based on my daughter’s diaries when she was 14 and had cancer? I’m adding sections throughout the diary on thoughts from our family members and our experiences, so it will be a book for young adults and for adults also.

Laura: Hiring a good ghostwriter can be extremely expensive. My question to you is: what is your goal for the book? If you are planning to acquire a literary agent and attract a traditional publisher, then, in order to have the best chance at landing a book deal, you may need to hire a ghostwriter. If you are planning to set up your own publishing company and release the book yourself, then you may wish to consider completing the content and hiring a good developmental and line editor to polish the material — this path will help you save tens of thousands of dollars.

(Side note: I recommend this route because Marion is writing a narrative non-fiction manuscript. For anyone contemplating writing prescriptive non-fiction, a ghostwriter is not hired until after you’ve landed a book deal from your book proposal and received an advance from the publisher, which allows you to then hire a ghostwriter. Many of my clients hire me to ghostwrite their initial book proposals and then the full manuscript once they have a publishing contract.)

You can find qualified memoir ghostwriters through 2M Communications Ltd. and The Penn Group. I am not an advocate of “bidding” sites for finding quality writers. Yes, you can definitely find exceptional writers on these sites (I’ve found some great clients there myself), but the overwhelming majority of “writers” on bidding sites are utterly inept.

Liz Maxwell: How do you say a polite ‘no’ when someone asks you to ghostwrite for them?

Laura: Well, that depends on why you want to say “no”  — are you saying “no” to ghostwriting or “no” to the specific project? If you’re not a ghostwriter and simply have no interest in ghostwriting someone’s book, you can just tell them you’re not a ghostwriter and that the process does not appeal to you. If you are a ghostwriter but have no interest in the particular project, be honest and tell the client, “I don’t believe I am the right fit for your book.” To create a successful book, the client-ghostwriter relationship needs to be right for both parties.

Ivette Ebaen: Whether the work is fiction or non-fiction, how creative is a ghostwriting job since you have to work within a given structure, genre, style — another writer’s work?

Laura: Ghostwriting is a business – I don’t necessarily consider it a creative job, though there are creative aspects. To stay balanced and keep my sanity while working on ghostwriting projects, I try to include time for more creative personal writing projects. When you’re ghostwriting non-fiction books, generally, your clients are not other writers — they’re usually business leaders, entrepreneurs, or experts who lack the skill to craft a compelling book (that’s why they need you). When you move into fiction territory, you encounter a few author-clients. Obviously, narrative non-fiction and fiction ghostwriting are more naturally “creative” than prescriptive non-fiction writing because you’re creating scenes, and dialogue, and turning points, and crisis, and resolution — but at all times, your goal is to remain true to the client’s “voice” and idea. The job of all ghostwriters is to capture the client’s “voice” and effectively get it on paper (especially if you’re ghostwriting a book for an established best-selling fiction author).

DayByDayWriter: Wow! Great information, Laura. I had no idea such a high percentage of books are ghostwritten. And the pay does sound enticing. Anything else you’d like to add?

Laura: I’d just like to say thank you so much for having me. And thanks to your readers for all the great questions. I hope I’ve been able to offer some insights into the world of ghostwriting for writers who are looking to break into the field, and for those who are considering working with a ghostwriter on their projects.

DayByDayWriter: Thank you, Laura.

If you have other questions for Laura, please post them in the comments. You can also find out more about Laura below:

************************************

Laura Cross is an author, screenwriter, ghostwriter, freelance book editor, and writing coach specializing in nonfiction books and script adaptation (book-to-film projects). She writes two popular blogs, www.NonfictionInk.com and www.AboutAScreenplay.com, and teaches online writing workshops www.ScenarioWritingStudio.com/workshops. Her latest book is The Complete Guide To Hiring A Literary Agent: Everything You Need To Know To Become Successfully Published. You can download a free chapter, view the book trailer, read the full table of contents, and purchase the eBook at www.GetALiteraryAgent.com.

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Mark McVeigh on publishing

February 1, 2010

I spent my Saturday at the fabulous Austin SCBWI conference, which offered a great lineup of speakers. Over the next week, or as long as it takes to cover them all, I’ll post what I heard.

Literary agent Mark McVeigh

Mark McVeigh

First up is literary agent Mark McVeigh, who has his own agency, The McVeigh Agency. Mark knows something about children and the children’s literary industry. He taught sixth grade for four years and was in editorial at Golden Books, Scholastic, Random House, HarperCollins, Dutton and as the editorial director at Simon & Shuster’s Aladdin imprint. There’s a great interview with Mark at Cynthia Leitich Smith’s Cynsations blog.

Mark gave a candid but encouraging talk about the current state of the publishing industry. “There is good news,” he said, explaining that the industry is in a time of transition.

Middle-grade, early chapter books and young-adult are on the verge of breaking out in digital books, he said, adding that he thinks people will ultimately make more money and sell more books in digital. He buys e-books himself, and said that if he likes it, he also buys the hardcover to have on his shelf.

He encourages people, if they can afford it, to buy books, whether digital or print editions, to keep the industry going.

That said, he’s still busy. Mark was late to his presentation because, he admitted, he was working on his speech in another room. He explained that he has been getting up at 7 am and working til 3 am.

He advised that, especially now, writers need to defend their muse. “Rejection is not necessarily a reflection of your work,” he said, pointing out that good books are getting turned down right now because publishers feel that they can’t afford to take any chances.

To defend your muse, he said, be true to your writing. “I want clients who are warriors,” he said. Be brave. And, he said, write every day.

He also said to have tough love in critique sessions and choose writing friends carefully with an eye toward learning to get better.

He suggested writers keep up with what’s going on in the industry, for example, by reading Publishers Weekly, and network at conferences and online, through blogs and community forums. He even said writers can make a name for themselves by creating and posting videos on YouTube, whatever it takes to make yourself known.

Other advice Mark offered:

  • Sign with an agent because publishing houses are becoming less and less inclined to buy from writers who are not agented.
  • After they’ve got a deal, writers shouldn’t turn down paperback original. Despite the fact that some reviewers still refuse to review paperback books, people are buying paperbacks more than any other format right now. “Genius will show through no matter what the format,” he said.
  • Have a good lawyer read your contract.
  • And most of all: “Keep working on your craft.”

Great advice.

Tomorrow, Andrea Cascardi with Transatlantic Literary Agency.

Write On!

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Synopsis helpful links and iPad impressions?

January 28, 2010

Manuscript update: Buried in query letter and synopsis writing hell.

Yesterday, I promised more on synopsis writing today, so here goes.

I went through this already with my first novel, but when I sat down to write the synopsis for my second, I felt like a toddler on uneasy legs. So, I did my favorite procrastination activity: Research. (Just kidding about the procrastination activity. Research is incredibly important and useful and helpful, but I will admit that sometimes I can be a little more meticulous than I need to be when I’m avoiding the writing I should be doing.)

In my research, I found some cool links on synopsis writing, ones I hadn’t found in my original research. Share time:

  • How to Write a Synopsis: Marg Gilks explains why working hard to write the best synopsis possible is necessary (because it’ll be used as a sales tool by your agent and editor) and offers up some good tips on how to write a brilliant one, such as starting while you’re doing the final read of your manuscript.
  • How I Write a Fiction Synopsis: Diana Peterfreund, an admitted lover of synopsis writing (she has to be in a minority there), details how she writes a synopsis—before the book. And she defends herself against all the writers who gasp and think she’s crazy. It’s a fun and thought-provoking read.
  • Writing the Fiction Synopsis: Diana Peterfreund points readers to Kathy Carmichael’s online synopsis workshop, which has some very useful tips too.
  • Synopsis Samples: Charlotte Dillon provides a huge number of sample synopses, most for romance books, but the great thing is, these are synopses that got the said books sold, so they’re priceless no matter the genre.

Got any others you want to share? Paste them into the comments.

And now onto the big news of the week, Apple’s iPad. Sure it sounds all ooh and ahh, but, call me sentimental, I’ve got a special place in my heart for Amazon’s Kindle because it came first. (Not that I own one. I’m still in love with paper and ink.)

Also, I’m not big on the idea of one device taking over the world. I have an iPod — like everyone — but I was THRILLED when Amazon started selling music downloads with no digital rights management that can play on any device. For that alone, I started buying all my music from Amazon instead of iTunes, and the fact that the prices were cheaper didn’t hurt either.

From what I’ve read, DRM for the iPad hasn’t been revealed yet. But with all those major publishers on board to offer their books on the device, I really hope Apple isn’t being too greedy and is playing nice with the industry by allowing ebooks downloaded through iBooks to be read on any player.

What do you think? Future? Gimmick? Scary? Exciting?

Here’s a quote from the New York Times blog posted live from the Apple announcement:

“Isn’t this awesome?” Jobs says. It is, but everything looks good on stage. Nothing ages faster than the future when you get it in your hands.

Very true. What’s next?

Write On!