AUT on GALLEYCAT Tuesday, Oct 13 2009 

All Unquiet Things got another shout-out on the interweb, this time as a pick on GalleyCat. Check it out:


AUT Is A Sales Rep Pick Tuesday, Oct 13 2009 

Shelf Awareness was reporting on the titles that sales representatives’  were choosing as their favorites at the Pacific Northwest Booksellers Association trade show and wouldn’t you know it, All Unquiet Things got a shout-out:

“The Random House people spanned the spectrum of genres with their picks. Dandy Conway chose All Unquiet Things, a literary YA thriller a la Veronica Mars, written by Anna Jarzab (Delacorte, $17.99, January 2009).”

Publicity Wednesday, Oct 7 2009 

Anna has a publicist!  We have about four months left before All Unquiet Things hits the stores, which means that it’s time for Random House to start spreading the word.  That’s not to say that nothing has been happening on the publicity front until now, simply that the tempo will be picking up.  Even before Anna’s publicist had a name and an email address, AUT was already being pushed for reviews by RH.  As all of you know we’ve had galleys or ARCs for AUT for a while now and RH has already been sending out these bound advanced copies for reviews to publications like Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal, and the New York Times Book Review. ARCs were also mailed to publications with longer lead times as well as some online outlets. Now it’s about follow-up and more direct promotion.

 In-house publicists are typically assigned about three to four months before a book releases and it’s their job to build early buzz for a book. Sure, they’re also involved in promo activities after the book comes out, but most of the publicity efforts are concentrated in the few months leading up to a book’s release since there is only a small window when the book will be in the spotlight as a “brand new book” and they want to capitalize on that time – if you’ve watched the shelves at your local bookstore switch over, you know what I mean.  Publicists do anything and everything from developing pitches for media outlets (radio, TV, print, online) based on information provided by the author, submitting finished books to media outlets, facilitating bookstore events, producing author videos and much more.  So the first thing that Anna’s publicist has to do is get as much info about Anna, which means that Anna is now facing the daunting task of filling out an Author Questionnaire.  Filled with questions from “How Would You Describe Yourself” and “What Are Your Hobbies” to “Are You OK With Public Speaking”  the questionnaire is designed to help publicity get a sense of who they’re dealing with so that they can exploit any interesting and exploitable factoids to the media or  understand if the author they’re working with is an agoraphobic, which for the record, Anna is not. 

We’ll keep you posted on what happens next….

Banned Books Week Tuesday, Sep 29 2009 

September 26 to October 3 is Banned Books Week.  According to the ALA this week serves as a celebration of the freedom to read (and publish!!).  It’s sometimes easy to forget that there are still those who would want to limit our access to information as well as regulate what can be read and written!  Here are the top 10 challenged books for 2008 (read one today!):

  • And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
    Reasons: anti-ethnic, anti-family, homosexuality, religious viewpoint, and unsuited to age group
  • His Dark Materials trilogy, by Philip Pullman
    Reasons: political viewpoint, religious viewpoint, and violence
  • TTYL; TTFN; L8R, G8R (series), by Lauren Myracle
    Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited to age group
  • Scary Stories (series), by Alvin Schwartz
    Reasons: occult/satanism, religious viewpoint, and violence
  • Bless Me, Ultima, by Rudolfo Anaya
    Reasons: occult/satanism, offensive language, religious viewpoint, sexually explicit, and violence
  • The Perks of Being a Wallflower, by Stephen Chbosky
    Reasons: drugs, homosexuality, nudity, offensive language, sexually explicit, suicide, and unsuited to age group
  • Gossip Girl (series), by Cecily von Ziegesar
    Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited to age group
  • Uncle Bobby’s Wedding, by Sarah S. Brannen
    Reasons: homosexuality and unsuited to age group
  • The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini
    Reasons: offensive language, sexually explicit, and unsuited to age group
  • Flashcards of My Life, by Charise Mericle Harper
    Reasons: sexually explicit and unsuited to age group
  • Canadiana Tuesday, Sep 22 2009 

    You all know that I hail from Canada, right?  There are some absolutely fantastic books being published up north!  The Giller Prize Longlist was announced today. Here are the books up for the $50,000 CND prize (the shortlist will be announced October 6th):

    Margaret Atwood for “The Year Of The Flood.”
    Martha Bailie for “The Incident Report”
    Kim Echlin for “The Disappeared”
    Claire Holden Rothman for “The Heart Specialist”
    Paulette Jiles for “The Colour Of Lighting”

    Jeanette Lynes for “The Factory Voice”
    Annabel Lyon for “The Golden Mean”
    Linden MacIntyre for “The Bishop’s Man”
    Colin McAdam for “Fall”
    Anne Michaels “The Winter Vault”
    Shani Mootoo “Valmiki’s Daughter”
    Kate Pullinge for “The Mistress Of Nothing”

    Summer Reading Friday, Sep 11 2009 

    I was away from the office (and the computer and the blog) in one way or another for all of August. All that airplane travel allowed me to put a dent in my “for fun” reading pile.  Here are the highlights:

    The Help by Kathryn Stockett – I have to admit that I was hesitant to pick up this book. I kept seeing reviews everywhere and when I read that Stockett worked in the New York magazine world, I thought “well that explains it.” But curiosity got the better of me and boy was I happy it did.  The Help is one of those books that you can’t put down, but kind of want to so that the characters and writing stay with you as long as possible. Here’s a quick summary : After graduating from Ole Miss with a degree in English, Eugenia “Skeeter” Phelan returns to her parents’ cotton farm in Jackson. It’s 1962 and the civil rights movement is underway, but she is largely unaware of the tensions gathering around her town. When her best friend makes a political issue of not allowing the “help” to use the toilets in their employers’ houses, she decides to write a book in which the community’s maids — their names disguised — talk about their experiences. Aibileen and Minny share the narration with Skeeter in an unsparing portrait of the conditions of black servitude a century after the Civil War.  PW called The Help “Assured and layered, full of heart and history, this one has bestseller written all over it.” And I couldn’t agree more!  I was particularly impressed with Stockett’s ability to give a unique and compelling voice to every character in the story, from Skeeter, who’s curiosity and strength set her down a path she never imagined, to Aibileen, who has raised 17 white children, and from Minny, who’s sharp tongue gets her in trouble with her white bosses, to the Junior League members who trust their maids with their kids, but not their silverware.

    Catching Fire  by Suzanne Collins – This is the second book in The Hunger Games trilogy and resumes right where the first one left off.  Here’s a summary : Against all odds, Katniss Everdeen has won the annual Hunger Games with fellow district tribute Peeta Mellark. But it was a victory won by defiance of the Capitol and their harsh rules. Katniss and Peeta should be happy. After all, they have just won for themselves and their families a life of safety and plenty. But there are rumors of rebellion among the subjects, and Katniss and Peeta, to their horror, are the faces of that rebellion. The Capitol is angry. The Capitol wants revenge.  I absolutely loved The Hunger Games, but it took me a while to warm up to Catching Fire.  First there was the recap element to contend with (you know, where Katniss has to tell you about her life and hunger games experience incase you haven’t read the first book), but I also didn’t love Katniss as much as I did in the first book.  In The Hunger Games she’s assertive, skillful, driven and vulnerable. Here’s she’s a bit wishy-washy about who she loves and what she stands for.  But in a way that’s par for the course.  Catching Fire is more about the politics of The Capitol than about Katniss’ personal life so we get a lot more of Katniss trying to navigate socio-economic climates than we do her pondering her feelings. Once the action heated up, however I was hooked and the set up for book three was stellar.

    Going Bovine  by Libba Bray – I was captivated by the cover for this book.  The design is hipster cool and features a cow walking around with a Travelocity garden gnome under its arm – how rad. Here’s a brief note : All 16-year-old Cameron wants is to get through high school—and life in general—with a minimum of effort. It’s not a lot to ask. But that’s before he’s given some bad news: he’s sick and he’s going to die. Which totally sucks. Hope arrives in the winged form of Dulcie, a loopy punk angel/possible hallucination with a bad sugar habit. She tells Cam there is a cure—if he’s willing to go in search of it. With the help of a death-obsessed, video-gaming dwarf and a yard gnome, Cam sets off on the mother of all road trips through a twisted America into the heart of what matters most. Although I found Cameron at times uninspired (he sometimes sounded more like a clichéd teenaged boy than I would have like), once he set off on his road trip, I became totally engrossed in the book.  Cameron’s journey takes him to New Orleans in search of a universe-hopping physicist by way of a smoothie-drinking cult and Florida Spring Break populated with fame seeking teens. His journey is crazy, hilarious, heartwarming and sad and it’s as much about finding a cure as it is about finding himself. And that’s what makes the book work – it’s an emotionally-based quest story. Cameron is surrounded by a garden gnome, a punk-rock angle and in possession of a magic trumpet and Bray makes all of it feel totally believable, exciting and necessary.

    Query Letters Thursday, Aug 27 2009 

    Yikes!  It’s been too long between posts, I know.  Summer has a way of doing that to me. One minute I’m in the office, the next I’m in New York, then the next in Canada visiting my family.  Where does the time go?

    It feels like October in Chicago today – it’s raining, it’s cold, it’s not biking weather.  I really do feel like I should be shopping for pencils and notebooks for school.  The advent of fall always brings with it a renewed sense of purpose.  You’re back from vacation, feeling rested and ready to take on the world.  For some of you that go-to-it vibe might mean finally sending out query letters for your manuscript.

    A great query letter is priceless and deserves your undivided time and attention.  In short, it should contain an engaging, but concise, description of your project, information on the length and genre of your work and a little bit about you, the author.  There is no quick and easy formula for a great query and I know from experience that authors sometimes find it difficult to condense their manuscripts into a few paragraphs.  So if you’re not sure how to go about it, try writing flap copy for your future book.  If someone were to pick up your book in a bookstore, what would the back cover say? Which books did you buy after reading the flap copy? Why and how did they hook you? 

    Once you have a great description it’s time to do your research. You want to make sure you’re approaching the right agents for your work. A great place to start is The Association of Author’s Representatives . You can search their agent database for the best matches for you. Make sure to visit agency websites in addition to your research on AAR to find the latest on the agency’s submissions guidelines. You can find Browne & Miller’s here.

     Finally, I’ve polled staffers at Browne & Miller about their query letter pet peeves. Some of them might seem like no-brainers, but if they’re being mentioned it’s because they happen more often than we’d like!   I hope this helps!

    1. “Dear Sir/Madam” or Dear Terribly Misspelled Agent’s Name— this opens your letter with the implication that no research has been done with respect to the intended agency. In the wake of the internet, this is unacceptable!  Query letters are about making an impression and getting the agent’s name right is a great place to start.

     2. “I see this as an excellent film”— great, then write a screenplay. While crossover potential is nice and something all agents/editors keep in the back of their heads, the book must first work as a book.

     3. “My book is a mix of many genres” – it’s important for authors to know what they’ve written and though it may be true that you’ve incorporated a variety of elements into your novel, chances are it still falls comfortably into a category.  On the flip-side, please don’t say that your book will be the next Twilight!

     4. “No book like this has ever been published” – up to 200,000 books get published every year in the US, are you sure you’re ready to stand behind that claim?

    5. Submissions for genres/areas we don’t represent – most agents are quite clear about what types of projects they do and do not handle. Sending them a query for a project that’s out of their interest zone is a waste of everyone’s time.

    6. Submissions that do not meet our guidelines – make sure your approaching agents appropriately. Check to see if they accept emails, if they open attachments.

    7. No contact info – don’t forget to include a self-addressed, stamped envelope (SASE) if you’re submitting snail mail queries or an email address or phone number with your submissions.  Wouldn’t it be horrible if an agent was really interested in your project, but had no way to get in touch with you?

    If you think I missed something on this list, let me know! Good luck!

    Cover controversies Monday, Jul 27 2009 

    Back in April, I was able to borrow an ARC of Justine Larbalestier‘s Liar to read from a coworker. I’d been really excited about Liar since Justine mentioned it on her blog, and it really did live up to my expectations–I loved it, and I can’t wait until it officially comes out so that I can talk to people about it. It was so good, you guys!

    The only thing I didn’t like about Liar was its cover. Aesthetically, it didn’t appeal to me–the girl on the cover is striking (the size of those eyes! It reminds me of Little Red Riding Hood: “Grandma, what big eyes you have”, etc. etc.), but the B&W (ironic!) just didn’t do it for me, and I personally hate that neon green color the type is in. I much prefer the Australian cover.

    n317254Bloomsbury (American) Liar cover

    liarozAllen & Unwin (Australian) Liar cover

    Apart from the cover just not being to my personal taste, as soon as I started reading the novel, I realized that the girl on the cover was absolutely not physically representative of the main character/narrator, Micah. Micah has very short, curly hair and is of mixed race–half-black, half-white. Moreover, her identity is so…fluid, so difficult to nail down, that a photograph isn’t of much use to anyone. Justine has an idea of what Micah looks like to her, which she mentions in a very thorough, honest post about her misgivings regarding the book’s cover and her opinions on the issues it raises–particularly white-washing on YA book covers.

    On the one hand, I wasn’t necessarily bothered by the photograph, because I never took it to represent Micah specifically (since it is completely obvious from her description that it cannot possibly be) but rather the act of lying, idea of the liar in general. On the other, I get Justine’s frustrations, and the confusion of readers who look at the cover, then listen to Micah, and get stymied by an unintentional layer of unreliability in a book already narrated by a wildly unreliable source. I’m sort of baffled by the way Bloomsbury disregarded the physical disparity between the girl on the cover and the girl in the book. Didn’t they think people would notice, or say something, or care?

    I think it’s sort of ridiculous to have a photographic cover if the publisher isn’t going to at least approximate the look of the narrator/main character, because that’s what a reader is going to reasonably expect. And, as public opinion has proven in this case, a photographic cover was unnecessary–everybody loves the Austrialian version, which is graphic and completely intriguing.

    I’m not saying that photographic covers are all bad (although I do think that conventional wisdom about books with teens on the cover selling better is specious, since you hear the same thing about iconic covers–I think bestsellers are made of a lot of things, the cover being only one aspect of that, and then the covers themselves have many different qualities that make them successes and it cannot be boiled down to one blanket statement like “photographic covers sell better” because that is just a straight up logical fallacy)–after all, the cover of my book is photographic and I love it, and it has been a huge hit with everyone I’ve spoken to. I’m just saying that they should be used responsibly. Maybe readers shouldn’t assume the person depicted on the cover is the narrator/main character/even author sometimes, but they often do, and it is what people do, not what they should do, that should be taken into account when attempting to please them. (This also goes for what they like, not should like, which are obviously two different things as well.)

    Naturally, John Green weighed in on this, and as always he’s right. “[T]he job of a cover,” he writes, “is not to get the book to the broadest audience but instead to get the book to its best audience…The pretty girl cover will sell more at point of sale, but will it sell to the people who will like the book and recommend it to their friends? That should be the first question about a cover.” I really wish he wouldn’t go about pronouncing publishing dead/dying, though. Who is that helping?

    As for the idea that photographic covers with people of color don’t sell…I’m not even going to dignify that with some sort of lengthy long-winded response. You guys! That’s simply ridiculous, not just because I highly doubt that there are any actual facts or statistics to back up such a claim, but also because it smacks of pre hoc racism, which I cannot abide.

    If you were wondering, the model on the cover of All Unquiet Things is physically approximate to how I imagine Carly, but again, I see it more as representative of an idea that the book delivers on (dead girl, mystery) than a photograph of her.

    Ditching the Manic Pixie Dream Girl Wednesday, Jul 22 2009 

    When it comes to love stories, I really believe we’re in a vicious circle. There are a small handful of “love stories” that we see played out over and over again, in the movies, in pop songs, on television, in books, and most of them, if you step away from your ingrained expectations of what a fictional love story should look like, aren’t actually about love. Imagine that!

    One of the most infuriating romantic tropes is, of course, the Manic Pixie Dream Girl, so called by The Onion and written about ceaselessly this past year (often paired with the word “scourge”, imagine that). John Green wrote about it when his latest book, Paper Towns, was released. That book is specifically about a boy learning to really see his dream girl for who she is, not what he thinks she is or wants her to be. Which, you know, thank God, but not only do we need books about people realizing that their romantic object is a person with an internal life, but we need books who just won’t engage with the trope at all.

    I saw 500 Days of Summer recently, and while I loved it dearly, it has a Manic Pixie Dream Girl infestation, which was one of my main problems with it. You spend so much time with Tom (Joseph Gordon Levitt) and his friends–you even learn a bit about the internal life of his boss, who isn’t even that many scenes!–but you never really know anything about Summer. The movie has an odd message, and I don’t think it’s completely unaware of its MPDG problem, because part of Tom’s journey is learning how not to idealize Summer or try to transform her, just using the powers of his imagination, into someone he should really be with. But still. I left the theater saying to my friend Nikki, “For once I’d just like to see a romantic comedy about two normal people.” And Summer doesn’t really fit the bill.

    So of course Nikki sent me this Daily Beast article today. In it, Doree Shafrir (formerly of Gawker, currently of the New York Observer, whose work is always interesting–she broke the Hipster Grifter story, after all!) says:

    [M]en find these women utterly bewitching. And why wouldn’t they? They’re the ultimate unattainable muses. They never make any demands; they never nag; they keep everything operating on a level of fantasy. It’s like they’re women who read The Rules while listening to Elliott Smith. (See also: the girl in the band, who is often the ultimate ingenue.) And of course, it’s not difficult to see the appeal…She’s always just out of reach, making herself scarce at crucial moments and artfully dodging any…questions about whether they’re boyfriend and girlfriend.

    Maybe it’s because I’m not a guy, but I don’t have any interest in the darling young ingenue type of character, or any character who doesn’t have an internal life outside of her significant other.  The girls and women I write are the exact opposite of characters like Summer, or Natalie Portman’s Garden State character (Sam–and I had to look that up, which isn’t a good sign), or Kirsten Dunst in Elizabethtown.

    I’m working on a book right now where my main character is extremely cranky (for good reason, although she could stand to bring it down a few notches, and she will) and uncompromising, and her love interest, while a good guy who truly cares about her, isn’t at all perfect or handling the situation in a perfect way. That’s what interests me–not “perfect” characters who break each other’s beautiful, ineffable hearts in devastating but inspirational ways, but flawed characters who make each other miserable but also make each other laugh, who take things out on each other but who also take up each others’ causes. Ideal love objects are for people who can’t grow up and refuse to give up their fantasies, or erroneously believe that they can make their fantasies a reality.

    That’s what I loved about Paper Towns. Q spends many years pining over Margo, taking her physical reality and turning her into some paragon of perfection. And she plays into that a little, I won’t say that she doesn’t. People like to be admired and doted on to an extent. But what Q and Margo both learn is that sustaining the illusion is comes at the cost of engaging with real people on a real level, and it doesn’t sit right with either of them.

    Nobody who has read All Unquiet Things has, as yet, told me that Carly is a Manic Pixie Dream Girl, but I’m sure that day will come, because there is a point, at the very beginning of Neily and Carly’s relationship, where she seems to be. By being comfortable in her own skin, she gives him courage and strength and reassurance, and he needs that, but things get real fast and Neily gains and learns more from Carly after the scales fall from his eyes than he ever would have if he’d always seen her as this perfect girl.

    Like I said, this happens fairly early in the story; I think there’s a period in all relationships when you only see the stuff about the person that you like, because that’s all they’ll show you, but eventually truth will out and people, unless they’re sociopaths doing an excellent job of hiding their nature from you (which some people are), prove themselves to be flawed creatures. Sometimes you still like them, sometimes you don’t.

    The problem with the proliferation of the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope is that seeing it over and over again on screen and in literature reinforces it in our mind, so that not only do we look for that in our real lives, we also feed it back into our art, which continues the cycle. I, for one, am done with all that noise. Give me real people over ideal people any day.

    Money Wednesday, Jul 22 2009 

    I went through the awesome list of question we received during our AUT ARC giveaway and pulled this one out: john green has brought a lot of attention to advances vs. royalties lately on his blog. i haven’t seen any agent comments there, so i’m wondering what your thoughts are.

    This is another great question that had me considering the perfect way to answer for a few days. John Green  isn’t the only one who has been talking about advances on his blog.  Susan Beth Pfeffer  has also offered her thoughts and broken down the advance and royalty aspects of publishing on her blog. Even the media at large has weighed in on what and how authors are paid. For example, Boris Kachka wrote an article for New York Magazine last fall about the end of the publishing industry and in it he talked about the pros and cons of huge advances.

     All of these blog posts and articles have opened the flood gates to so many questions and issues related to how authors get paid and how books make money.  So much so, that I’m worried I will overlook something crucial in my answer.   Still, I’d like to give it a try.

    Here we go:

    First off, I’d like to talk about how an agent gets paid.  Most agents are members of the Association of Authors’ Representatives (AAR), which means that they adhere to the association’s cannon of ethics. This cannon states that agents cannot charge reading/evaluation fees to clients or potential clients.  I’m telling you this because I want to underline the fact that an agent’s financial compensation is directly tied to that of their authors. We don’t make money unless our authors make money.  As Susan Beth Pfeffer pointed out in her post , agents typically get 15% of what an author makes domestically.  We’re talking advances, royalties and any domestic licenses (audio, for example).  Percentage breakdowns vary for foreign and film licenses, but for the purpose of this post, let’s stick to domestic advances.  Agents will get 15% of a huge advance, or 15% of a small one, or 15% of any royalties earned after a huge or small advance is earned out. 

    Now I’d like to address a few things that these other posts and articles have mentioned: huge advances (good, bad or no big deal?), advances and how they relate to the marketing of a book (if you get more money upfront, will a publisher spend more money on promotion?), advances vs. royalties (is it better to get a bigger advance or earn more royalties?), what agents look for when making a deal (is money all that matters?) and the more royalty-focused publishing model (it’ closer than you think).

    Huge Advances

    Authors need money to live and a bigger upfront advance might mean more opportunity to do so comfortably.  But truthfully, one book and one advance does not a career make.  For every author who sells well and can quit their day job to write, there are many more who can’t. And publishers have long ago stopped viewing advances as a salary for writers. This is more poignant since debut fiction is typically sold on a completed manuscript, which means you’ve (probably) already balanced a job and your writing for a number of years! Your average advance (and by that I mean advances that are not the result of a bidding war between many houses or are not negotiated by agents in any way) is based on a publisher’s past success with similar projects and how well they think the project in question will sell. For the most part, it’s guesswork. Informed guesswork, but guesswork still – and right now publishers are being rather conservative.

    Agents want their authors to be well compensated, no doubt.  But let’s put the concept of what a manuscript and an author’s time and talent are worth aside and look at advances from another perspective. We live in a time when authors can’t escape their sales numbers.  These numbers are now electronically monitored and readily available to editors/publishers/agents.  Though they are not 100% accurate, they are accurate enough to provide a sense of how well a book is selling.  This means that unearned advances and low sales are, to an extent, public knowledge.  Sure, a good agent can work around them, but there’s only so much we can do. We are currently living in tough economic times and low sales and unearned advances can translate to demotions for future advances. 

    Now let’s look at huge advances from yet another perspective: some authors simply don’t do well with the pressure of bigger advances. More money to earn out and more books to sell might equal more sleepless nights, more panic and less writing.

    Advances And Marketing

    It can be argued that the more money a house spends on a book, the more they will spend to promote it.  That’s not necessarily true.  When we hit hard economic times, one of the first things to get cut at publishing houses is the marketing staff and budget, which means that there is less money to go around, period.  There is also a double-edged sword associated with higher advances since publishers are now looking for authors to become more involved on the marketing side of their book’s journey. This means everything from blogging to hiring an outside publicist, all of which costs money or time (some might say that time = money). Also, check out John Green’s editor debt breakdown  for another take on the subject.

    Advances vs. Royalties

    Is it better to get more money upfront or earn out a smaller advance? Both John Green  and Boris Kachka  make interesting and valid points regarding this issue and I won’t reiterate their arguments. But, from an agenting point of view, let me just say that we have more leverage for future books when an author earns out an advance than when they don’t.

    What Agents Look For

    I think that agents sometimes get the bad rap of middlemen who push for big upfront payments, take their 15% and don’t worry about the future of the book.  Nothing could be further from the truth as far as I’m concerned.  I’m not saying that there aren’t wheeling and dealing agents out there who live and die by the financial aspects of a deal, there must be. But most of the agents I know are committed to growing an author and maintaining a long-lasting relationship with their clients. To that end we want to make the right deals for our authors so that they are in the best position to sell as many  books as possible.  I’m not going to pretend that money isn’t part of the right deal. It is. We want our authors to get paid what they’re worth and we want them to be well compensated for their effort, time and talent.  We also like it when many publishing houses are interested in an author’s work and we have an auction.  But we don’t want our author saddled with the pressure of earning out an “unearnoutable” advance. That’s why we look for more than money when we make a deal. We also look for the right editorial fit, the right marketing support and, most importantly, the right environment for the book to reach audiences. Remember, there is no sure-fire approach to making a best-seller on either the advance or marketing side. Trust me, we’ve looked.

    The Royalty-Focused Publishing Model

    There are some in the publishing industry who are trying to take a new approach to book publishing. One such imprint is HarperStudio, a part of HarperCollins.  Here is a breakdown of their mandate as it appeared on Shelf Awareness on January 26, 2009 :

    -The HarperCollins division wants to sell to as many accounts as possible on a nonreturnable basis.

    -It is offering authors lower advances than many New York houses in exchange for a higher-than-usual share of profits and is signing up titles with “constituencies” and built-in marketing and media opportunities.

    -HarperStudio aims to market and publicize titles and authors online as widely, creatively and effectively as possible.

    -The division wants to encourage buyers of its books also to buy the audio and e-book versions of the same book for just a few additional dollars.

    You can also check out the publisher’s website  to learn more.  Will it work? It’s hard to say. But, P.S. In the spirit of full disclosure, I can’t help but mention that HarperStudio did pay a reported 1million dollar advance for a 10 book non-fiction deal in April.

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