Monday, May 27, 2013

When Exclamations Go Bad

I recently had some serious communication issues with John when trying to give him the password to my HBO GO account, which led to him texting me this: 

You know, you really abuse exclamation points.

That, when strung together with a comment my author Dan made awhile ago about how I always sound happy even when I'm supposed to be griping, made me go back through my old blog posts and a bunch of my emails and read them all together to gather evidence.

And, well...John and Dan are right.

I sound like a cheerleader.  It's embarrassing to discover that you have a noticeable quirk, and now I feel like I'm going to consciously try to tone it down every time I communicate something to someone who is not my mom (because she's even peppier than I am).  

For instance, you might notice that there are no exclamation points in this post!  DAMN!  Okay, one.  I mean, two.

Moving on: The Backspace conference was this past Friday and it was a lot fun and very intense (I had lots of one-on-one meetings scheduled back-to-back).  It was, however, the mark of the end of my hectic schedule for now, which means I can rest up a little bit until BEA starts on Thursday.  I CAN'T WAIT and already have an empty backpack ready by the door (You have no idea how hard it was not to include an exclamation point there).

I am also going to be working with a lovely new client, Beth Ellyn Finkelstein, another winner of my girly teen fiction contest held on Love YA.  We have been brainstorming on revisions for her YA manuscript, THE INTERN DIARIES for a couple months now, and I am happy that we are going to be officially working together.  I realized that I needed to offer her representation when I found myself enthusiastically talking about her project during a coffee date with an editor from HMH--clearly my brain already assumed that I was representing her.  

So yay for Beth Ellyn, and yay for BEA, and yay for changing my punctuation habits (but maybe not yay quite yet for not sounding like cheerleader).

Monday, May 20, 2013

Hating on Haters :P

If you read my profile on Google+, you know that I wrote my first hate post late week after reading David Gaughran's blog bashing literary agents as the most evil people of all time.  The hatred has semi-simmered away with the passing of an entire week, and now what I'm mostly left with is argumentative confusion.  At first, I wasn't sure if I wanted to continue my negativity and write an entire blog post about this, but I think that this is a big topic of conversation and would be interested to hear if people think I'm crazy or not (although we know that I do have high psychopathic traits).

I do not understand hating on agents.  I always thought that people thought of us as advocates and editors and friends who believe in them and want to see them succeed.  I know that I feel 100% invested in the careers of the authors I work with and their books.  I definitely don't work with people only to take my 15% of the pie (which, by the way, is NOT an exorbitant amount!  I don't work at the restaurant because I like the service industry, people!).  

Me answering phones at the restaurant.

I also think it's silly to proclaim the publishing industry dead and gone just because self publishing is flourishing.  The traditional publishing model is changing, yes, and that is something that is exciting and scary, but just because people can publish without an agent or an editor nowadays doesn't always mean that they should.  For one thing, unless you have the network of contacts an agent has--not just within publishing houses, but with foreign rights agents, film agents, audio book agents, etc.--and also an intimate knowledge of publishing contracts (and you can't cover this base by just hiring any old lawyer who knows about intellectual property rights), you will not always be giving your book or your career the best opportunities.  Mr. Gaughran mentions the fact that David Mamet will be self publishing his next book as a marker that the tide has turned away from traditional publishing, but don't you think that Mr. Mamet can do this and most likely do it well because of the fact that he already has established connections within the industry and a huge readership that was built on his traditionally published works?????

Yes, you can publish on Amazon and with their publishing packages, but do you really think that publisher's marketing, publicity, and sales teams just sit around and stare at manuscripts until it's time to put them in book/e-book form for their pub dates?  One commenter on Mr. Gaughran's blog crows about his self-published book selling extremely well, citing a 20,000 copy world wide sales figure.  I'm sure that the many people who have bought this book have enjoyed it, but the sale of 20,000 copies worldwide for the life of a book is NOT an example of how self publishing clearly triumphs over traditional.  Twenty thousand readers is probably equivalent to the population of Long Island, and when you think of that in terms of the world population, it is a drop in the barrel.  The people behind the scenes at a publisher's do so much that influences the reach and accessibility of your work.

Of course, there are incredibly successful self-published books such as FIFTY SHADES OF GREY that have sold equally to their popular, traditionally-published counterparts.  But when I even mention the title FIFTY SHADES OF GREY, my brain shudders because that trilogy so desperately needs a critical editor it makes my head hurt.  

Which brings me to my final (not really, but I don't want to rant forever) point: You can do it yourself with the help of evil genius Amazon and spurn the agents and editors who you feel you can do without.  But when you're placing Amazon in the shoes of these agents and editors, I think a big question to yourself is why you are replacing people who are extreme book lovers with a faceless corporation?  

We are agents and editors not because we want to be leaching thieves, but because WE LOVE BOOKS!  We love well-developed characters, unexpected plot twists, scintillating romance, and imaginative settings.  We understand that obscure reference to Caliban in your third chapter and also know that perhaps it needs to be drawn out more in later scenes to develop a strong theme that your readers will connect with.  We additionally know (again because we are book nerds) that a YA novel with a similar idea was published recently and might help you brainstorm an edgier take on other Tempest-like motifs so that your book stands out in the market.  

Okay, this post is getting way longer than I wanted it to be, but the moral of the story is that AGENTS ARE NICE AND ALSO USEFUL.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Sleep All Day

This is about all I have the energy to do:

Many lunch meetings planned for the next couple weeks, as well as the Backspace conference!  Also have a LOT of requested manuscripts to read, not to mention some author revisions that I've been dying to dig into.  Oh yeah, and working at the restaurant pretty much every night. 

Oh, Jason, if only I could sleep all day.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Lots of Editors and Lots of Food!

The Old Stone House Soiree last week was a complete success!  Brianna and I had a great time meeting editors who are currently considering her project and also finding more editors who would like to read it. 

It was interesting getting to meet Brianna and spend almost four days with her.  I talk to my authors on the phone all the time, but getting to meet them in the flesh is always more fun.  Turns out we have a lot in common: we are both short, love Greek mythology, and are into exploring/traveling.  She is also a total foodie, and going to the restaurant with her was a blast.  Everyone there was incredibly nice; the managers sent out all kinds of extra appetizers and sides, so we had more delicious food than our stomachs could handle!

I got to try out dishes that I normally never would have picked (or thought I'd like!).  For instance, we had an appetizer called the Yellowfin Tuna and Avocado Roll, which is raw tuna wrapped around lots of avocado and it was AMAZING.  I have never liked fish and certainly not raw fish, but that was one of the best things we had.

While she was here, we walked around Chinatown and Little Italy, and went to the NYPL, Grand Central and plenty of other places around the city as well.  I got to show her around my neighborhood in Queens, too.

Lots and lots and lots of walking. 

I enjoyed her visit and also had a fantastic time when my other author Gabrielle was in New York for a couple days.  Just so you're aware, this is an open invite to all of my clients: I love it when you come visit me!!