Richard Charkin: Dear Literary Agent
publishingperspectives.com – Friday August 12, 2022
Friends and colleagues, I may sometimes have given the impression that I hold literary agents in lower esteem than they feel they deserve.
Indeed, I’ve sometimes lumped together all professions with agency in their names as 10-percenters and slightly below the salt. Think of travel agents, estate agents—realtors in the United States sounds better—talent agents, football agents, all of whom seem to cream off money from unwary individuals and add very little.
Indeed, when I was at Oxford University Press, we were once asked by a distinguished literary agent if he could come to Oxford to meet the editors of the various disciplines in order to offer them choice manuscripts by his authors. We agreed on the condition that he paid us £1,000 [US$1,222] for access to our very busy editors, who had plenty of authors without the intercession of a literary agent. He declined.
How to get your own book published: a step by step guide
theguardian.com – Thursday August 11, 2022
“Atop-of-her-game literary agent tells us she receives about 3,000 submissions a year,” says Joe Sedgwick, the head of writing services at The Literary Consultancy. “Of those, she requests to see the full manuscripts of about 70. Of those writers, she will take on maybe five to 10.”
Faced with these odds, many people who dream of getting their writing into the hands of readers are turning to self-publishing.
Do it yourself
Paul Ilett self-published his first novel, Exposé, in 2014 and sold about 35,000 copies worldwide. He is about to publish his second, Exposed. “Second time around, I haven’t considered anything apart from self-publishing. I am very comfortable being completely in control of my book – its look, content and promotion.”
Why We Need Independent Publishers
newsletters.theatlantic.com – Tuesday August 9, 2022
Along with most everyone I know who works in or otherwise relies on book publishing for their livelihood, I’ve been following the Biden administration’s antitrust case against the proposed Penguin Random House/Simon & Schuster merger. Last week, as John H. Maher of Publishers Weekly live-tweeted us through the opening days of the trial, my timeline was filled with [skull-emoji] quote-tweets of things that many of us aren’t used to hearing folks in publishing say out loud. PRH lawyers have argued that “after the merger, the market dynamic will be just the same,” while the DOJ maintains that combining two of the “Big Five” publishers into one would decrease the number of offers an author might receive, lower book advances, and make it harder for writers to support themselves. In a pretrial brief, the DOJ stated that if the merger goes forward, it “would … give the merged company control of nearly half of the market to acquire anticipated top-selling books from authors”—a point underlined by Stephen “My name is Stephen King, I’m a freelance writer” King when he took the stand last Tuesday. “Consolidation is bad for competition,” he said.
8 Steps to Follow When Writing an Early Death Scene
nofilmschool.com – Tuesday August 9, 2022
Do you want a supporting character's death to be impactful? Then follow these steps!
The fourth season of Netflix's Stranger Things introduced many new characters that we quickly learned to love or despise. While many side characters feel like archetypes rather than fully formed characters, one stands above the rest because of how impactful her story and death were.
Although Chrissy Cunningham’s (Grace Van Dien) story is incredibly short, lasting only a single episode, her impact on the main characters and viewers was undeniable. In five scenes, the audience empathized with Chrissy’s trauma and hardships and even swooned over her blossoming friendship with Eddie (Joseph Quinn), all to watch her die a horrific death.
How did the writers maximize Chrissy’s story to get such a high emotional payoff with her death scene? Schnee breaks down what to focus on when writing an early death scene that has a lingering effect on the rest of the main story, and how you can approach an early death in your next project.
The Art of Accidentally Writing a Thriller
crimereads.com – Tuesday August 9, 2022
Let me start by admitting something that may be a little shameful, a little anathema, on a site like this: I’m not a crime fiction aficionado. Honestly, I read other genres much more extensively. I’ve never read Agatha Christie (gasp!), Lee Child, Gillian Flynn, Harlan Coben, Dean Koontz, James Patterson, John Grisham etc. Sadly, the list goes on. Are you still reading? Am I still invited to this club? Maybe, maybe not.
Let me also say, I fully enjoy the thriller/crime/mystery genre. I love Tana French, Kate Atkinson, and Val McDermid; I especially enjoy thrillers that toe the line between other genres like Julie Phillips’ Disappearing Earth or Jeff Vandermeer’s Annihilation. But I don’t read fiction to watch car chases, solve clues, or guess who dunnit. The truth is, I often don’t really care. Oh man, I AM gonna get kicked out of this club! Let me explain.
Why I Chose Travel Writing As My Retirement Career
travelawaits.com – Monday August 8, 2022
I love to work, explore new possibilities, get out of my comfort zone, live a full and exciting life, and hang out with my husband. I chose travel writing as my retirement career so I could enjoy all those things and live a good life.
Dollars, Cents, and Being Left With the Bill: Jillian Medoff on Breaking Up With Her Literary Agent
lithub.com – Saturday August 6, 2022
In 2008, after 13 years together, my literary agent and I parted ways. (To preserve her anonymity, let’s call her Michael Ovitz.) Between 1995 and 2002, Michael Ovitz sold two of my novels, including my debut, Hunger Point. By any measure, our partnership was a terrific success. Michael Ovitz and I were more than just agent-writer, we were mentor-protégé, friends, confidantes. She invited me to stay in her country home. I corresponded with her daughter. She met my parents. We bought each other gifts. “You’re a part of the family,” she liked to say.
Business isn’t emotional, but people are. This is especially true in the highly subjective book industry, where an author’s imagination, manifested on the page, is the product. Michael Ovitz is an attorney, and the smartest, savviest woman I’d ever met, like Ari Gold from Entourage, but with a maternal affect. Near the end of our first conversation, she asked if I had any questions. I was so wowed I could barely speak. “Who else do you represent?” I blurted out. “Can I see a client list?” (This was before agents posted their client rosters on websites, but Michael Ovitz was way-old-school, anyway. She wouldn’t accept electronic submissions, corresponded only by hand on heavy cardstock, and didn’t adopt email until well into the aughts.) “Oh, Jillian,” she said, chuckling at my farm-girl faux pas. “That’s simply not done. Those names are confidential.”
Writing Insights: Why don't agents tell you why they rejected your book?
authorlink.com – Monday August 1, 2022
Many writers ask why agents don’t give more specific reasons for rejecting a book submission. A standard answer is: “not the right fit,” though a submission is in the same genre they represent.
There can be a number of reasons why a literary agent rejects a work. When an agent says a work is not the right fit for them, it may or may not relate to the writing itself.
The agent could have more submissions than they can handle at the time, or they have just sold a similar title, or they know an editor is looking for a particular story angle, and your submission doesn’t fill that story angle. It could be that the agent doesn’t see the work slotting into a particular category they represent. There are different kinds of thrillers, for example. Maybe the agent knows they can sell psychological suspense but doesn’t know where to go to sell a medical thriller. Maybe the agent doesn’t feel the story targets a large-enough audience or the market is glutted with similar titles. It can also mean the agent simply doesn’t have time to thoroughly read your story, but a quick read tells them it doesn’t fit a need. Or, maybe they are tired and just had a bad day. Agents are human, you know. So, don’t take it personally.
5 Creative Cures for Writer's Block
psychcentral.com – Saturday July 30, 2022
It’s stressful when the words don’t come, when you’re sitting at your desk staring at the blinking cursor or the barren page. Minutes feel like hours. Hours feel like days.
Deadlines loom, and you’re still stuck and staring. A kind of dread begins building in your stomach and travels to your throat, and then peaks between your temples. It’s reminiscent of firecrackers exploding.
“Writer’s block, or any creative block, is really about fear,” according to Miranda Hersey, a writer, editor and creativity coach. The fear of not knowing where to start or we’re headed. The fear that we’re not good enough.
Blocks are tough. They can feel big and intimidating and impossible. But where there’s a block, there’s also a way out. Here are five ways to break through writer’s block.
Meet the People Behind Some of Today's Best Small Publishers Specializing in Crime Fiction
crimereads.com – Tuesday July 26, 2022
Bless the small press! We talk a lot about how to make the big publishers accountable and more diverse, but let’s not forget there is another level of publishing where people have the freedom to follow their taste rather than having to justify each book’s profitability. I think most people in the publishing business feel like they could put together a damned good imprint given world enough and time. I do. So I gathered the founders and publishers of some of crime and crime fiction’s best small presses: Paul Oliver of Syndicate Books, an imprint devoted to bringing forgotten authors back into print; Charles Ardai of noir publisher Hard Case Crime; Sara Gran, whose brand-new imprint is Dreamland Books; Gregory Shepard of reissue enthusiast Stark House; Jason Pinter of Polis Books; and the late but welcome addition of Michael Nava of Amble Press. We talked quality, representation, resurrecting old books and conjuring new ones.
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