Lesson I've Learned

Monday, March 31, 2014

This past week, I sent out five submissions - whoa, right?  That kept me very busy!  I have my fingers crossed for those authors (three of whom are being sent out for the first time), but I also am much more relaxed about it than I've been in the past.

Submitting is still a lot of fun, but one thing I've learned is that it is very rare (for me, at least) to get an offer from someone in the first round of submission.  Maybe that is because I haven't agented long enough yet or am doing something wrong, but I have a feeling that it is just because finding the right editor is a lot like finding the right agent: it takes time and lots of revisions.



I can't even think about how many rounds of submissions my authors with deals went through...guys, feel free to chime in the comments section if you remember your number!  

This may sound disheartening, but it's just part of the process.  Publishing is (obviously) a business, but there are so many subjective parts to it that it's really more of a relationship in a lot of ways, and it can take time to find the right fit.  I used to be much more antsy about submissions and deals, and while I do get frustrated when it takes an extra-long time to hear back from people (cough, Brianna!), other than that, I've become much more laid back about the process.  Which I think might actually frustrate some of my authors.



Agent: "Don't worry about a thing.  Every thing gonna be all right."
Author: "ARGHHHH."

Besides still being scatterbrained/busy, which I think is just going to be a part of my life from now on from the looks of things, and sending out submissions, not much happened this past week.  I was working at the restaurant during the weekend, so I unfortunately missed two important things I wanted to attend, one of them being John's nephew's christening.  But I am taking a mini-break during the first week of April, so that will be great!

Oh, and I am VERY excited that Jessica is going to be going to BEA this year!  Dan and Susan might be going as well, and if that happens I might have to do some kind of Carrie's clients breakfast.  Or maybe make t-shirts!

Front

I'm a Busy Bee

Monday, March 24, 2014

I think all this being busy finally caught up to me because I was tired this past week!  Lots of things to stay on top of, lots of things to read, and lots of things to do.  I spent most of the week convinced there was something I was forgetting, and remembering phone dates in the nick of time.

In the midst of all this, I was very excited to receive ARCs for Susan's book on Monday when I went into the agency, and thought they looked great!

Arc front cover

I'm also over the moon about an offer I got last Friday from Skyhorse for Erin Peabody's amazing MG non-fiction proposal for A WEIRD AND WILD BEAUTY: THE STORY OF YELLOWSTONE, THE WORLD'S FIRST NATIONAL PARK.  Go, Erin!

In other news, Emily and I are working on spiffing up the website, and I am going to be helping out creating content, updating different parts of the site, and be an admin for Prospect's Google+ page!  I actually really enjoy doing this kind of stuff, and feeling like I am doing something positive for the agency - I just wish it wasn't so hard for me to find time to do it.  

I think it's sort of similar to the fact that I enjoy cleaning and doing laundry , but find it frustrating to have to find time in my week to squeeze it in.  This past Saturday was a rare day when I didn't have plans with friends, family, or John, so I let myself catch up on things like cleaning and deciding which clothes I wanted to donate, etc.  I know, I'm a weird child and my mother's pride and joy :)

Not to her step-mother, of course, but I am sure that Snow White was also a mother's pride and joy.

Last thing for now: if you want to put a smile on your face, check out Prospect's new Prospect Portfolio.  I just love everything our illustrators do, and Teresa did such a great job putting it together!

An Even Better Week!

Monday, March 17, 2014

So John stole my copy of Zainab's memoir for himself, but it doesn't really matter because I had no time to read it this week!  I was talking to my best friend Sarah and telling her that I felt so scatterbrained and not sure why and she responded, "Really, Carrie?  You don't know why?"

She's right, I do know why.  Lots of fantastic things were jammed into this past week...and I may even be forgetting some.  But the highlights were that I signed two new clients, Taylor and Tara, and unofficially signed another (he has a waiting period between leaving his current agency and signing with anyone else), and that I have a new deal to report!


I'm very happy about my new authors because, in addition to be fantastic, they all write in genres that I've been wanting to get into more.  Taylor Zajonc is writing a really gripping action/adventure novel that centers around a salvage diver who kind of reminds me of Brendan Fraiser's character in The Mummy; Tara is a clinical psychologist who Dean introduced to me at Brainwave and who has a great proposal called HOW A HEALTHY EATER THINKS; and my unofficial author was introduced to me via Dan and is a crime/thriller writer.

And I'm VERY happy to announce that Jeff Cole and Johnathon Robson's proposal PARANORMAL PROTOCOLS was picked up by Skyhorse!  You can read about their book in My Deals.  Their ghost hunting group also has a very creepy website that I urge you to check out (in the light of day).  Congrats, Jeff and Johnathon!

In other awesome news, I finished negotiating Sara's contract for UNNATURAL SELECTION and forwarded it on to her to sign, which is always a fun thing to do.  I also talked with the people at Exhibit A about an idea I had for Dan to write a digital-only prequel novella to THE CLEARING that could be used as a giveaway/promotional tool that everyone is very enthused about, so I was very proud of myself for that.

All in all, an amazing agent-y week.  Oh wait, I did forget something!  Dean is going to appear in a video interview for The Huffington Post, where he will talk about MURDEROUS MINDS.  With that, the excerpt in Salon.com, and his upcoming interview with Pia Lindstrom on Sirius XM, I don't think I could ask for better press for him!

Finally, when I went to Brainwave with my friend Shana, she won free tickets to another Brainwave event last Sunday and took me with her.  The talk was called "The Poker Player," and featured a personality psychologist and a professional poker player who is the highest earning female poker player of all time.  

Now tell me: how awesome was my week??

Great Week

Monday, March 10, 2014

Had such a great, busy week last week!  I went to Brainwave at the Rubin and saw Dean speak with Zainab Salbi, and it was absolutely incredible.  My friend Shana came with me and said it was the best discussion she'd ever been to, and I have to agree.  They both offered such interesting insights into the idea of and their experiences with "evil people."  I picked up a copy of Zainab's memoir at the event and am looking forward to reading it.


Dean and Zainab at Brainwave.
I also went out to lunch with Alice Jerman, an editor at Harper.  We met in the randomest of ways: I saw her carrying a tote bag from BEA while I was waiting for a subway and basically just went over to her and introduced myself.  She is so nice, and it was fun to get to learn more about what she is looking for at Harper Children's over lunch.

Those were the two highlights of my week; the rest of the time, I have been pretty busy with the eleven things on my reading list and also with the restaurant opening.  I think I mentioned before that I am still working with the same restaurant group, just at one of their new restaurants, and they officially opened this past week.  I guess maybe I've gotten used to taking things a little easy lately, because the major influx of phone calls and things to do definitely threw me.

Good thing I had a weekend getaway planned.  I went home this weekend and relaxed with my parents and John, and allowed myself to get pampered and looked after, which was just what I needed.  Now I'm back in the city and gearing up to tackle all the things that I have to do!

Happy Publication Day!

Monday, March 3, 2014

In celebration of Dean's publication day this week (March 6!), I wanted to have him talk a bit about MURDEROUS MINDS and also about what it is like to be a non-fiction writer!


So first off, how did you come up with the idea for MURDEROUS MINDS?



When I was ten or eleven, I looked at a book called “The Pictorial History of the Third Reich.” I could not understand Adolf Hitler. He made no sense. He seemed to be a human being but he committed such incomprehensible, inhuman crimes. For years I wondered what Hitler was since he seemed to stand apart from humanity. Later I learned about people who lacked a conscience and a sense of empathy: psychopaths. Although I believe Hitler is more complex than a typical psychopath, the fact that some humans lack empathy and a conscience helped me to understand how one person can do terrible things to others. As psychologists began to publish the results of studies describing biological differences between psychopaths and non-psychopaths, I realized that this might be the beginning of a period of increased insight into the minds of people capable of horrible acts. That progress, combined with the popularity and often misrepresentation of psychopaths in television shows, movies and novels convinced me that a popular exploring the biological basis of psychopathy might be interesting to readers. I assumed other people, beside me, would want to explore the possible reasons some people can do seemingly inhuman things.

Once you developed the idea for the book, you had to put together a proposal and sample chapters, which is different from what the majority of writers normally do when starting their book.  Can you describe what was involved in putting your proposal together?

I first went to my local book store and bought a book about writing book proposals. I made sure I bought one that had many examples of successful proposals. I examined them all and then wrote a proposal that contained all of the important elements I saw in the successful proposals. But I didn’t follow any other author’s format; I wrote a proposal that I was comfortable with. The audience for the proposal is the agent and publisher. Grab their attention, show them you know what you are writing about, show them you have thought out the entire book (you can change it later), indicate who will read it and why it is different from other related books.

Was it difficult to put together that material without having the book fully written?  And how much do you think the final manuscript changed from what you outlined in the proposal?

It is challenging to outline the entire book. You have to make general ideas and thoughts concrete with facts. But, of course, this should be done anyway before you start writing the manuscript to avoid writing yourself down too many dead ends. I had included in the proposal some narrative elements but after some feedback from my editor, I ended up including a lot more narrative elements and stories to illustrate the implications of research results. I also dropped some chapters and added others. The “heart” of the proposal is in the final manuscript but the manuscript ended up with much more “meat on its bones” than I envisioned in the proposal.

How important have you found platform to be as a non-fiction writer?  Is this something you thought about before beginning the book, or has this become more of a focus after getting your book deal?

I did not have a platform in the sense of “friends” on Facebook or followers on Twitter. I did write some books about mental health on a contract basis, i.e., for a set fee with no royalties. I hated accepting such bad contracts but it demonstrated to potential agents and publishers that I could finish writing a book length manuscript. I had also used my Ph.D. to write about science and medicine for 20 years as a journalist. Now that I have a book coming out, I am more involved with social media.

In order to keep from being too dry or academic, it is important for non-fiction to be as narrative as fiction writing can be.  Do you have a hard time balancing the research and information you include in MURDEROUS MINDS with engaging writing?  How important has your editor been in maintaining that balance?

My editor, Jessica Case at Pegasus Books, advised me very tactfully and knowledgably to increase the narrative elements in the sample chapters I sent her. To my surprise, I found I enjoyed researching, documenting and telling the true crime accounts that balance the scientific explanations. Relating the two was fun too.

Would you ever write a work of fiction?

I enjoyed writing the narrative parts of the book so much, I think I would like to try writing fiction someday. After I get some more non-fiction titles checked off my to-do list, I would like to try to develop one of the various nonfiction ideas and snippets I’ve jotted down.

Any advice you would like to share?

If you enjoy writing, writePrepare a professional proposal and send it out until someone is smart enough to see its value. Keep improving it. Don’t ever believe all agents and publishers know more than you do about the value of your work. They don’t.  Sixty agents failed to see the value of the book “The Help” which became a best seller and a hit movie after one clever agent finally accepted it and sold it without a problem. I went through twenty agents and publishers before Carrie took me on as a client and found a publisher for Murderous Minds. I have friends who gave up after a few rejections. Expect to send your proposal out 20, 60 or 100 times. Unless you are James Joyce, listen to the advice your agent and publisher offer. If they were smart enough to see the value of your writing, they are probably smart enough to offer a few suggestions that will make it better. Everybody, except Joyce, needs an editor.


Check out Dean's website and be sure to buy a copy of his book!  And as I mentioned awhile ago, if you're in the city on March 5, you can go to the Rubin Museum's Brainwave to hear him speak with Zainab Salbi.  Also, Pia Linstrom will interview the author of "Murderous Minds" on "Pia Lindstrom Presents" on Sirius/XM radio. April 1. 1:30 PM.
 
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