Tag Archives: editors

Pick Your Friends, Your Nose & Your Agent/Editor

This past weekend, we had the pleasure to attend our God Daughter’s confirmation.  Close family friends since the summer Dear Hubby and I got married, we adults have been through the births, baptisms and first birthdays of a total of seven kids.  Their oldest graduated three years ago.  Ours does in three weeks.

We’ve been blessed to have had such a wonderful and unfaltering friendship between our two families.  In fact, our collective kids consider each other cousins.  In this respect, we’ve proven the old adage wrong–you can pick your family.

Another myth I’d like to dispel is that writer’s can’t pick their agents, editors or publishers.  I believe we writers can become so starved to see our writing validated that we send queries or submission packages out to any and every breathing professional in the publishing industry.  We don’t consider the long-term impact of accepting offers from less than stellar representatives in the writing arena.

Due diligence, my friends.

Our quasi family has the same morals and values as we have.  They value family and faith.  They respect their children and have strong relationships with them.  They are kind and compassionate, honest and filled with integrity.  They’re fun-loving and generous.  They are the kind of people I’d choose for family.

Similarly, this kind of compatibility is possible within the publishing industry if we choose to do the work.  We must research our options, talk with agents and editors before signing with them and discuss future goals to make sure we’re all on the same page.

CAT’S GUIDE TO PICKING YOUR PUBLISHING PROFESSIONAL

  • KNOW YOUR NEEDS: Create a list of what you want and need from your professional.  Promotion, editing, submitting, validation, publishing, Best Seller sales…the list is endless, and specific to each writer.  Know what YOU need and want and why.  It may be vastly different than the writer in the next computer over.  And that’s a good thing.
  • RESEARCH: Sales, clients, policies.  Dig deep to find out what peeps are really saying.  And what they aren’t saying.  Go beyond Google and don’t be afraid of what you might find.  If you find yourself reluctant to read the dirt, then you’re not ready to pick your professional.  You need to KNOW what you need to know.
  • MATCH YOUR NEEDS TO YOUR RESEARCH: It is completely irrelevant what everyone else is doing and who they’re doing it with.  What’s important is how your professional fits with your needs and desires.  These things should fit together like puzzle pieces.

Once you figure out who you want and why, you can begin courting your professional.  Make your contacts meaningful.  Be a professional yourself.  Work harder and smarter to build a relationship with your chosen few.

What’s important to you in a publishing professional?  How do you research your prospective professionals?  How do you court them, and have you been successful in your endeavors to pick your professional?

Curious minds want to know.

There’s More than One Writing Box

Youngest can’t play football at recess.  There are certain rules that must be followed and one (or more) of the kids playing failed to follow them.  The result was that ALL the wanna-be quarterbacks got banned from throwing the pigskin for the rest of the week.  (Tears in the morning flat-out stink, by the way.)

Hardly seems fair, that whole guilt by association, punish the masses for the destruction of the few, if-they-look-the-same-smell-the-same-act-the-same-in-the-same-box-they-must-all-go.

Yet, we writers  are just as guilty of this as the Recess Nazis are.

Newbies, we think, and stuff them all into a category of must-need-more-work.

“Agents,” we say, and dismiss them as dream killers even as we beg for their attention and mercy.

Publishers, pshaw!  We all know they hate writers and secretly delight in penning form rejection letters.

Self-pubbed?  Garbage.  All of them.

Or not.

As much as we hate to be stuffed into boxes, we should not seal another’s fate with packing tape and cardboard.  We need to remain open-minded and realize that it is the Few who give the bad name to the Many.

So, today, I ask that you break down the box and recycle it.  Let the non rule-breakers play ball.  Pick up a self-pubbed book with fresh eyes.  Encourage the newbie who might just know more than you.  And for heaven’s sake, don’t let a rejection by one agent/editor spoil your good will toward the others.

I’ll admit that I used to feel a fair amount of disdain toward Agent-Only publishing houses.  Then I learned a few things and realized just how much slush gets sent to agents and editors–and what that slush actually looks like.  My respect level rose tremendously.

I used to hate the whole vampire/werewolf thing.  Then I read Sisters Red by Jackson Pearce.  Uhm, definitely out-of-the-box-amazing.

When I was a kid, I thought teachers lived to make recess as boring as possible.  “Don’t run!”  “Don’t bounce that ball!”  “Stop swinging from that bar, you’ll break your leg.”  Seriously, what did they want from us?  A little Kum ba ya?  A coma…?

What are/were some of your preconceived notions about writing, publishing and literature?  Are the judgements fair, or is it time to rethink some things?

Curious minds want to know.

A Second Helping of SCBWI Love

Wow!  Fourteen hours of speakers and sessions, good food and friend-making is…just wow!

Big Picture Book Industry Tip: Your story must be started by page 10.  If you are still writing details and your MC isn’t on his/her journey, then consider a rewrite.  More from Candace Fleming at a later date.

Editor Allie Brydon speaks on sloshing out of the slush pile.  Her big tip on writing for kids?  “Write simpler, not simplistic.” 

Editor Molly O’Neill presented the business side of the industry.  Her mantra, “Write your own story, not someone else’s.”  And no, she doesn’t mean churn out memoirs.  She simply means that writers need to be original in their own works.  We need to find our own stories and storytelling from within us.

Diane Muldrow, Editorial Director of Golden Books/Random House and author, recapped the amazing history of children’s literature in America.  If you don’t know it, study it.  You’ll have a much deeper understanding and appreciation of what it means to write for kids. 

I can’t say enough about Lin Oliver.  I sat by her at lunch and she’s sweet and charming and concerned and caring and supportive and amazing and…well, you get the picture.  Did I mention she’s also the co-founder of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators?  Yeah, that was totally cool!

I’ve learned oodles today and can’t wait to digest it all. 

It’s also ten thirty and I have another five hours of conference tomorrow followed by a seven hour drive home. 

Time for bed!

PS.  I’d love to totally dish on my agent cuz he rocks my socks off.  We had several delightful, insightful and just plain fun conversations today.  Can’t wait to listen to him present tomorrow. 

PPS.  Can I just say wow?!?!?!

When to sell your writing. When to pawn it.

Last night Igot sucked into the show, “Pawn Stars”, with DH.  It was more intriguing than the book I was trying to read.

The premise is to highlight the great treasures people bring in to sell.  The pawn shop owner seemed to have integrity and called in professional appraisers for items that might have been of significant historic or financial value. 

One guy popped in with a bar of gold.  After Granny passed away, the fam was going through her estate and found a hidden bar of golden goodness.  Pawn Shop Owner’s eyes bugged.  He held the bar and said, “Eh, you’ve got about $24,000 worth of gold here.  But…”

Yeah, the crusty white stuff on the bottom of the bar?  Coral.  The 1500’s bar was from a ship wreck.  Apparently, Granny and Grandpa hid the gold during the depression to save it from Roosevelt and his gold ban.  This little gem was found almost forty years after the ban was lifted in 1974.

The surviving family had no clue of its existence prior to dividing the estate.  The appraiser valued it at roughly $48,000.  Pawn Shop Owner bought it for $34,000–cash.  Gold Guy walked away with crisp $100 bills and a slight scowl.

Other people brought in worthless junk that Pawn Shop Owner wouldn’t touch.  Only one person with an offer walked away with her goods.  When Pawn Shop Owner didn’t settle on her price, she packed up and went home, believing she could find a more lucrative deal somewhere else.  One dude brought in his $100 artifact and walked out with a grin and $1,500.

Of course this got me thinking about the road to publication.  The process is really no different.

Fair market value (manuscript worth) is an estimate.  The real price is not known, can never be known, until the product is sold.  Anything is only worth something if someone is willing to buy it.  Period.  We might write up the cure for cancer, but unless someone will ante up cold hard cash for it, the formula remains worthless.

Take Gold Guy for example.  He wanted the entire $48,000 for his ship-wrecked gold.  Who wouldn’t?  After all, if it’s “worth” that much, why not pocket that much?

What Gold Guy needed to understand was that Pawn Shop Owner had the connections to sell the gold bar–something Gold Guy didn’t have.  Also, PSO was taking a gamble by purchasing said gold bar.  He still had to sell it and make a living in the meantime. 

Chances are Pawn Shop Owner will walk away with a hefty chunk of change for his effort.  But he has to work for that change.  He has to contact his buyers, haggle over a price and sign on the dotted line.  He may only sell the bar for 41 grand.  This can take time, energy and money.  In the interim, he has to pay for the lights, heat, rent, employees and those little trinkets that he loses money on. 

My assessment: Gold Guy wanted the full value–which can never be valued until after the final sale.  He was disappointed, yet sold anyway because on some level, he understood he couldn’t move that kind of artifact on his own.  Seriously, what’s he gonna do, sell it on ebay?  And get raked over the coals by someone with less integrity than the Pawn Shop Owner?

If we are smart, we will follow Gold Guy’s path.  We will realize our limitations within the industry and defer to the expertise of those more seasoned and better connected.

But sometimes we are like the lady who walked away.  We want what we want–ie, sell it now to the biggest publishing house in the world and get it on the NYT Best Seller List, yesterday.  We get grumpy when we our demands get turned down.  We pack up our manuscripts, shout invectives (from the comfort of our home) and covet our runaway debut novels because we know something great when we see it.  Even if the agent doesn’t.

If we are in that 2%, we are surprised to have our writing’s worth validated.  We hit the right agent who hits the right editor backed by the right marketing department that wants the publisher to print.  We hit the jackpot and end up turning our $100 worth of paper into a $1,500 advance.

Agents have the contacts that we don’t have.  They have the experience in negotiating contracts.  They have a far better understanding of the market value of our work.  Editors have a marketing department, and publishers have the cash for printing.  They can get our books on shelves where we simply cannot.

We need them as much as Gold Guy needed Pawn Shop Owner.  He could have taken his gold bar and gone home.  He could have told everyone he had a bar of golden goodness worth $50,000.  But really, until he had cash in hand, Granny’s hand-me-down gem was as worthless as our unrepped manuscripts.  

Conversely, he could have pawned it (left it sit in the shop until someone paid his $48,000 price) and paid a preset commission.  In this respect, he could have pocketed more money–whenever someone with a cool $50,000 stumbled into the store.  In other words, without active marketing, the gold could have sat unsold for an undetermined amount of time–and maybe even forever.  

Some publishing options sound frighteningly similar to this last scenario.  Unreputable agents and publishing companies can tie up manuscripts and rights and return little or no profit to the author.  Sometimes “repped” and “pubbed” manuscripts sit on the shelf collecting dust.  Self-publishing can work if writers are astute about the industry and know how to find buyers on their own.  Often, it fails and writers are left holding a gold bar with no customer base.

So, in the game of pawning your writing, how do you know when to sell or when to pack up and walk away?  At what point do we list our writing on ebay?  Do we go straight to the publishers and bypass the Pawn Shop Owner so we can keep a bigger cut, or do we trust in the value of an agent to have the better contacts?

All P’sOV are welcome here as long as comments remain respectful.

~cat