Sunday, March 08, 2015

Week in review March 8, 2015

I think Julie Weathers really summed up my thoughts on the comment community here when she said this on last week's WIR: "I love hanging out with y'all. No matter how bad the day is, I can' count on you to pick me up. What a great crew."

Turns out that if want to be kissed all we have to do is eat jam, and Poor Dead Jed will step up to the task:
"I hate both vegemite and marmite. Horrible evil stuff. Did date someone in my early twenties who always had it on her toast for breakfast, and then expected me to kiss her goodbye when we left for work. Heck, no. Eat jam instead, and then I'll kiss you."

On Monday the topic was money, and the various forms of shenanigans that contracts can have. 

Doranna was quite correct that the lag between when payments are slated and due, and when they are actually received can be a brutal wake up call. I spend entirely too much time tracking down money my authors are owed.

Sara inquired if it was wise to set up an LLC and get an employer identification number to use as your tax ID  rather than a social security number.  I think it's very smart to do that. Keeping your income and expenses separate from your personal finances is a smart business move. And this is a business.

Sunliner asked about royalties. "If a book sells, for example, $20, how much of that reaches the author's pocket?"

It depends on your contract. If you're paid a royalty based on the cover price, say 10%, then for every book sold you're credited $2.00.

Remember that books can be returned, so that number can change over several royalty statements. 

Often royalties are based on net amount received by the publisher: Books are sold to bookstores at a 40% discount, so a bookstore pays the publisher 60% of the cover price ($12.00) for each book, and your royalty is calculated on that amount.

There are a MYRIAD of ways to set up royalty percentages. All of them are listed in you publication contract. Make SURE you understand that contract before you sign.  I've seen publisher boilerplates with some pretty awful royalty clauses, but I've negotiated them out.

french sojourn asked why I hadn't included film money in the post.  Most books don't get optioned, and most options don't get picked up.  If a film deal comes along, it's gravy.       

It took wildly bestselling Lee Child YEARS to get Jack Reacher on the screen. His books had all been optioned for years, but the film business makes book publishing look like a kid's lemonade stand.

Film money is paid out differently than books: you get a lump sum for the option and the option runs for a specific amount of time. Once the option expires, it can be renewed or shopped again.

The percentages kick in when the film is actually getting made. And those percentages are negotiated at the option stage, by the kick ass books to film agent I hope you have.

I have one of the best guys in the country right now (he did the deals for DIVERGENT and THE DUFF) and he's made LOTS of deals for my guys, but none of it is on the screen…yet.

As for how does a two-book deal translate: when you option books for film,you option rights to the characters. Thus you're locking up all the characters in a series with a film deal. So, there's no difference between one or a dozen books if they all feature Felix Buttonweezer, Kale Chef to the Stars.

S.D. King asked "If an author does not earn out the advance, is that person blackballed in the industry?"

Not even close. A book can break even AND turn a profit for the publisher even if the advance is not earned out.  I like to have my books earn out because it means the book is selling well, but I'll take that hefty advance check too thank you very much!

On Tuesday we revisited the tar pit of comp titles.

Susan Bonifant rightly pointed out that "how a title does in the marketplace" is something to consider. Since most of you don't have access to that kind of data, the thing to focus on is what M.B. Owen said ""tell the agent what the experience of reading the book will be like."

And Colin is permanently living in Carkoon now. Send sunscreen.  LynnRodz, Kitty, and Janet Rundquist, not to mention Christine Seine, are hellbent on joining him. We'll need a branch office there soon.

Wednesday we shot the moon on traffic. The topic was being controversial in your blog postings. As usual your comments and insights helped me refine and revise my opinion on this.

Kitty pointed out what can happen when commenters go feral: 
I used to read another really good lit blog but quit when the blogger tip-toed into politics one day and all hell broke loose in the comments. She didn't say anything offensive, but it generated an ugly civil war amongst her readers. By the end of the day, she deleted the whole post and promised never to inject her personal political views again. I kept checking her blog periodically, but finally quit because that one incident had soured the blog, like a rotten apple in the bin.

I will say that this is the bloggers dereliction of duty. I believe that the blog keeper has a responsibility to wrangle the comments. Commenters can be crazy, off-topic, lima bean lovers, but they CAN NOT insult or belittle the other commenters.  I delete those comments as soon as I find them. I delete the ones that are intentional, and the ones that aren't. We may be wild and crazy here, but by godiva, we will be civil.

Which is exactly Colin's point here
 "truly amazes me what people come out with on Twitter sometimes. I've "unfollowed" well-known writers not because I disagreed with their views, but because they expressed their views so disagreeably."

Susan Bonifant has the best summation of this ever "People can fall so deeply in love with being seen, and lose all awareness of how they are being viewed."

Thursday we talked about sales rates.

Joan Kane Nichols's agent story made my blood boil:
 "Several years ago, I had an agent who was sending around a children's middle-grade novel I had written. He sent it to six editors. It got some nicely written rejections, but still rejections. The agent then sent me an email saying, basically, we're through. Sorry, couldn't sell the book, you're no longer my client. Needless to say, I was devastated.'

I saw a very similar thing happen this summer with an author pal of mine I met through the ChumBucket. I was appalled when his agent pulled the plug after one round of what seemed to be half-hearted submissions.  This is the kind of info that should be shared publicly on places like AbsoluteWrite and QueryTracker etc.  If an agent chooses to conduct business like this, authors should know. Also, this is something an author should ASK about ahead of time.

Christina Seine's hiking story makes me think she'll like the nice rolling desert out at Carkoon.

Amy Shaefer (logging in from Paradise) summed this all up very nicely: 

I think this falls under the heading of Bad Math. Selling books is not a random draw; we don't all have an equal chance of being published (or repped, for that matter). Whether a book sells or not depends on so many things: its quality, persistence on the part of the author to get it to agents, persistence on the part of the agent to get it to editors, publishing climate, subject matter, genre, current trends, and plain old good timing, to name a few. Yes, you can calculate what percentage of writers actually sell their first book, but don't expect it to be meaningful information. In the end, it is just another pointless thing to fret about. Go forth and write something fantastic.

And just cause my ego requires me to add to Amy's second comment about speedy sales: the fastest time from submission to offer I've ever had was five hours.  It was a helluva day let me tell you.

And then the comments veered right off into cookies, not the data kind, which meant I spent the rest of the time reading and laughing. And thinking of baking cookies.

Friday the topic turned to referrals within agencies. 
Jenz asked 
So when you reply with "Agent X here at FPLM might be a better fit," I may then query that agent and personalize with "JR suggested you may be a good fit"?
I had something like this happen at a conference, an agent just suggesting a few names. I know that's not a referral, but I was never sure if I should include that in the query, or how to word it if I did.

The best way to word is use the exact or closest possible words the first agent uses. Thus if I say "Agent X might be a better fit" you say "I queried Janet Reid for Nostrums of Carkoon" and she suggested you might be a better fit.

Or "Janet Reid suggested I try you when I met her at the Conference on Carkoon Exiled Writers last Tuesday.

Julie Weather's paper eating horse story is yet another small delightful story. And did you notice the names of those beasts?

Eileen made me reach for the smelling salts when she mentioned she'd be querying with Fifty Shade of T-Rex. But at least it's not "plane porn" an idea so weird I'm glad Stephanie mentioned it.

Saturday the discussion was resubmitting after extensive revision. 

Dena Pawling told us
"last week I sent my primary CP an email. “It's ready! Yay let's celebrate, it's finished and it's ready! So now I'm procrastinating lol”

My CP gave me the pep talk. It's a wonderful story, she said. You need to send it out, she said.

Last week, instead of working on individualized query emails to the agents on my A-list, I made some changes to my blog.

My CPs and my freelance editor say it doesn't, but my main fear is whether it starts too slow.

I think we need to collectively encourage Dena to get this puppy in the mail THIS WEEK.  She should report next Sunday on how many agents she queried.  And just to get her properly motivated she should be required to query ME as well.

After all, to quote the Poor Dead Jed 
"There can never be enough tweaking in the world to convince a writer that their novel is truly finished and completely perfect. But at some point you have to stop and say, "enough is enough, this is ready to send." And then send it."

and then GingerMollyMarilyn mentioned apple fritters and man oh man, I started thinking about my upcoming trip to Portland and Voodoo Donuts.

Which means next week's blog posts could be a bit less organized and on-topic than normal. I'll be there for Left Coast Crime which means a lot of meetings, a lot of time in the bar, and a lot of slinking around in the book room looking for new stuff to read.

It was 66 in Portland yesterday, and I've still got snow on my fire escape here in New York. Tuesday can't come soon enough.

I started a couple of really good books this week but mostly I'm back to reading full manuscripts. I know that's good news for those of you who've been waiting awhile.

My favorite link this week is this about barcodes on library books.

Daylight Savings Times sucketh.


Susan Bonifant said...

Me, on the phone with my mother when The WIR comes up: "Okay, yup. Okay.Can I call you back?"

One of the things I love about this post is reading highlight comments that can get lost in the busier threads, or missed if I'm reading quickly or making a cat toy at the same time.

I know I really appreciated Colin's comments last week about ranty bloggers/tweets...a big pet peeve of mine.

And Dena, you and I have identical stories on procrastination. Time to send that baby into the universe and let it report back. Breathe.

Janet, xo and thank you.

Jennifer R. Donohue said...

Yeah, Dena, send that puppy out this week!

I'm up to 8 pending agent subs, 1 rejection. I think it was a form? My general rule of thumb is if I'm not sure, it's a form. But it only took one day, so at least said agent was prompt.

Novel submitting feels very different form short story submitting. Now that I've got both in the chute, it's wracking myriad nerves.

It snowed overnight here in Central New York (just a picturesque dusting), but I guess it's warm enough for ice to fall off the side of the house, which is agitating the dog, as she doesn't know why I don't care that ice is falling off the side of the house because IT MUST BE DANGEROUS whine whine whine.

Stacy said...

A book can break even AND turn a profit for the publisher even if the advance is not earned out.

Is that because the author is receiving the agreed royalty rate while the book earns against the advance?

Jed Cullan said...

Another great Week in Review. Dena should definitely get to sending those queries out this week, and report on them all. I kinda disagree with the Sharky that one of those queries should be going her way. It shouldn't be just 'one' of them, it should be the very 'first' query sent.

Megan V said...

*grabs pom poms*
Give me a B! Give me an E!
Give me an S! Give me a T!
What's that spell? Best! Best!
Put your MS to the test!
Send those queries Dena!
Don't let those agents rest!

But really Dena, you should put your latest manuscript out there. There's only one way to find out if you'll succeed and that's to try. Plus, I want to read any book you've written.

Dena Pawling said...

I think we need to collectively encourage Dena to get this puppy in the mail THIS WEEK.

Well, um, actually all of the agents on my A-list accept email queries, which is what I was planning to send. May I have QOTKU permission to send email queries?

She should report next Sunday on how many agents she queried.

My RWA meeting is next Saturday, and I was actually hoping to send out the queries starting next Sunday.

And just to get her properly motivated she should be required to query ME as well.

Would LOVE to! But honestly I was hoping to wait for your next Chum Bucket, for three reasons: 1) it is more likely that it would be a personalized rejection, 2) it would be quick, and 3) I have a question about my query that I want to ask before I send it to other agents, which I suppose I should just send you as a Query Question but it seems to me more specialized instead of general interest to your blog readers, and there is NO WAY I would ask it as a regular query. But since there's no Chum Bucket on the immediate horizon, I guess I'll have to consider changing my plans.

All of which is to say, yes I'm still procrastinating lol

angie Brooksby-Arcangioli said...

Yes Dena, don't procrastinate. Are you afraid of success?

Janet, please post a photo of an apple fritter sweating in the souther sun.

Unknown said...

I love WIR.

Colin always has something good to say.

I'm going in the Dena cheer leading squad. Having said that, I didn't make the cheer leading team, but I did make the dance team. Maybe I'll just dance instead. I may still have my Pink Panther tail around here somewhere.

Jennifer, good job!

We're rehashing my query on B7W again. That exploding sound you hear is my head.

It must be springtime. A bunch of manuscripts are hatching all shiny and polished and ready to hit the nethers. Poor Kim Lionetti is about to be blessed with historicals.

In my defense, the horses did have proper names, Cowgirl is WW Ryonstone Cowgirl because her grandfather is World Champion Windy Ryon. Nickel's registered name is Five of Cash going back to her grandfather World Champion Dash For Cash. Diamonds--Diamonds Are Nice, father Diamonds Are High.

Anyway, most of the time it was, "idiot horse" and they all answered to it.

Christina's hiking story resonated with me. That was the perfect analogy.

"And just cause my ego requires me to add to Amy's second comment about speedy sales: the fastest time from submission to offer I've ever had was five hours. It was a helluva day let me tell you."

And there go the rolling armadillos. Wow.

Well, back to torturing characters or something.

carlaR said...

Good luck, Dena! Let us know how it goes.

Mister Furkles said...

I have one of the best guys in the country right now (he did the deals for DIVERGENT and THE DUFF) and he's made LOTS of deals for my guys, but none of it is on the screen…yet.

What I'd love to see on the big screen: Avery Cates.

Kate Larkindale said...

Just do it, Dena! You know you want to...

Lizzie said...

You could write a novel in the time it takes to wait at Voodoo. Try Blue Star doughnuts and, on the same block, Cacao drinking chocolate. All Powell's COB adjacent.

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

I borrowed that from Niiiiiike.

Still lovin' the WIR.

karennwrites (Karen Nunes) said...

I tried to post this earlier, but my computer's been fickle this week. That said - Dena, I was in the same place as you are now. Then a friend and I sent three line pitches into a contest. I received a request for more. that was the kick in the pants for me to pour a shot of Patron and press send. I'm terrified and exhilarated at the same time. But win or lose, I took the leap.I'm in your corner!

Amy Schaefer said...

+1 to Mister Furkles and Avery Cates.

Dena, your excuses are weak tea. Come join us in the delightful fairyland that is Querytopia. To borrow from Dr Seuss and I Had Trouble in Getting to Solla Sollew

Dena's going to the City of Query Quaroo,
on the banks of the beautiful River Wah-Hoo,
where they never have rejections!
At least, very few.

Colin Smith said...

Dena: For crying out loud girl!!! QOTKU just invited you to query her. No, she told you to query her. How many other agents have said, "Hey Dena, send your query to me!"??

Treat it like a Chum Bucket and send that bleedin' query to her NOW. NOW. This is not the time to be all lawyerly and analytical. Just send your query, ask your questions, and be sure she knows how to contact you. :)

Don't wait until next week. Send to Janet NOW. NOW. And that's now as in NOW! :D

Julie: You are too kind. I'm glad someone thinks I have something worthwhile to say. :)

Carolynn: Did you see my Flash Fiction Friday post on my blog this week? :)

Colin Smith said...

Oh, and Dena, if you think I'm being presumptuous and speaking for Janet--I'm just applying what she has said. BE BOLD! She asked for your query. Send your query and your questions. Don't wait for Chum Bucket. And if Janet complains, tell her I put you up to it. She can come to Carkoon and chomp on my toes. :)

Colin Smith said...

One other thing I meant to comment on:

"Which means next week's blog posts could be a bit less organized and on-topic than normal."

There's usually a topic? Oh. I'll have to watch for that... ;)

DLM said...

Go, Dena, GO!
Go, Dena, GO!

Well, or SEND, Dena, SEND! :) Via email, yes.

I queried SEVEN agents on Friday night, and have reached the end of Agent Query's algorithm for histfic-repping agents. Right now, there are about two dozen queries out and theoretically viable (though, to be honest, I don't think I've ever gotten a request to read after a week has passed since sending a query), and haven't gotten a request to read in over a month. It's got me all woodlandy and giddy, and I bought a dozen Russel Stover marshmallow eggs today because that's what you need when you're all "where do I go to research MORE agents to submit to!???" and woodlandy and stuff.

Just as a side note to the WIR, I have also become entirely addicted to Jed Cullen's blog. Today's fun facts about Willie the Bastard are OSUM.

Am I the only vain-assed twerp who reads the WIR half hoping I can blush once it's up and say, "Aw, gawrsh, 'twarn't nothin'" about any quote that I might have gotten in there?

In conclusion: I have just been kneaded AND nestled by Gossamer the Editor Cat. Whose first appearance here (I think) was upon Daylight Savings last year:

Okay, I will shut up now. *Conk*

Colin Smith said...

Diane: How could anyone not blush and "gorsh" at being mentioned by QOTKU? I'm sure we all enjoy that moment of attention. We are woodland creatures after all. :)

Of course, I probably get a nod just because I say too darn much. :) Sorry if it annoys people that some days every other comment is one of mine. I do have a life, and I manage to do work at the day job. But this is how I chat with you all, and it's a nice break when trying to debug code. :)

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

Sinister laugh, wrings hands, chants, Colin, Colin, Colin, how did you figure me out?

Lima beans on the menu?

Absolutely, 'means' for a kill.

Colin Smith said...

2Ns: Yay! I'm glad you enjoyed the story. The Lima Bean Murders... now there's a novel waiting to be written. And we have an antagonist already: the dreaded and feared 2Ns!! :D

Jed Cullan said...

DLM, I get goose bumps when the Sharky mentions me, and it happened twice today. I had to headbutt a lima bean jus to prove I wasn't dreaming.

And thanks for the awesome comments about my blog, cheered me up no end. Would love to do a NF humorous history book, or a humorous On This Day In History book, like an expanded version the tweets I do, but as Janet has said before, if you don't have a platform, or are an expert in your field, you stand little chance of landing an agent for non-fiction. So I'll keep on doing it for fun until I become famous. :-)

Colin Smith said...

Jed: As I understand it, "platform" can mean nothing more than "a lot of people read my stuff." Expertise not essential. Especially for tongue-in-cheek or humorous work. Keep doing what you do. The most important thing is that you enjoy it. :)

Dena Pawling said...

~~Dena: For crying out loud girl!!! QOTKU just invited you to query her. No, she told you to query her. How many other agents have said, "Hey Dena, send your query to me!"??~~

Colin, I can count on you to cut right to the chase! And 2 or 3 others actually broke out the pompoms. I feel the love lol

Dear Ms. Reid:
I'm querying you because (1) you asked me to, and (2) Colin Smith told me I'd be an idiot if I didn't.

[No, I did not write that as my first line lol]

Okay I drafted a query email to QOTKU. I reviewed her query guidelines from this blog and her agency website, wrote the email, and revised and proofread and obsessed over it more than I do when filing a brief in federal court.

Question: What's the difference between God and a federal judge?
Answer: God doesn't think he's a federal judge.

Anyone interested in reading the main portion of the query, it's on my blog

The entire query, from “Dear Ms. Reid” to “Thank you for your time and consideration” is 246 words. And I pasted the first 5 pages into the email, as indicated in her instructions.

Yes, Colin, I included my question at the end of the query.

And yes, I did click “send”. OMG I clicked SEND! I'm hyperventilating now lol. I'm gonna be refreshing my email inbox every 2 seconds :)

Current lifetime stats:
Queries sent: 1
Rejections: 0
Partial/full requests: 0

Colin Smith said...

Dena: *HUG* Well done! I'm so proud of you!! Welcome to the tribe of woodland creatures. You are now a full member. 2Ns will carve your name in the member tree. Just don't ask where else that knife has been... :)

Carolynnwith2Ns said...

YEE HAA Dena you did it !
On pins and needles for ya.
Good job.
Once the snow melts I will trek to the tree of woodland creatures and carve (with my special knife)you name wayyyy at the top, because at the top is where you belong.

Just give all of us front row seats at the movie screening.

DLM said...

Jed, I think a lot of us here who've become online pals realize a part of what we're doing reading and commenting on each other's blogs (also, note to self - follow Jed on Twitter if I haven't already) is a little bit of a platform. I love reading archaeology, history, grammar, and vintage costume blogs and linking them, but I link them as much as I do because community online is platform.

I only have a bit more than 700 followers on Twitter, and 30 on the blog, but the traffic there has gone from taking 4 years to hit 100k views, to nearly 23k more in like six months. I'm not the hottest thing on the market, but I do work on content and on building relationships here, there, and on Twitter.

That said, I really do love your work. You're on my daily peek list along with a BUNCH of folks here, and those I've followed for years.

Reasons to link your social media in your profiles, y'all! :)

Christina Seine said...

This is Christina Seine here, coming to you live from the exclusive Bean de Lima resort on the sandy shores of the Pit of Carkoon. The weather is gorgeous here, although I have to say there is rather an overabundance of woodland creatures taking up space at the bar. There is much excited talk of the Second Annual Bucket of Chum Writer’s Conference set to be held here in the Fall – should be quite interesting. I’m told one of the locals is currently breeding Aussies to serve as conference volunteers. That would be the two-legged kind, hopefully. They are supposedly planning a rather large pitch session, but since the last pitching here at the Pit of Carkoon involved Han Solo and some chick in a skimpy outfit and a long ponytail (it didn’t end well for conference organizers), I’m not sure I’ll be taking part.

Well, I’ve got to run – I’ve spent the afternoon tracking a troop of Girl Scouts with my binoculars from this awesome vantage point here at the top of a rolling hill. They say they’re out of Lemonades and Do-Si-Dos, but I’m not falling for that old trick. For a bunch of little girls, they sure can run fast…

(PS – Dana, WOOHOO! Good for you! Crossing fingers for you!)

Craig F said...

Hey Colin, hoist one with Jabba and the band for me. I'll get there in a week or two. I would probably be there already if the Queen could find me.

I know I won't be going there next week because I get to go and suck down Chinese pollution and I don't go online there. I had to donate my last laptop I used there to the University of South Florida's cyber program. They still haven't figured out how to fix it.

Dena, take a deep breath and a shot of Scotch. Congratulations on getting started. Don't stop now.

LynnRodz said...

Another great WIR. There are wonderful agents (like our QOTKU) that are so helpful and then there are agents who want things to happen without putting a lot of work or effort into what they do. I agree, writers need to know this information before signing up with someone who isn't prepared to do the work for the long haul. I'm sure it was sweet to make a deal in 5 hours, but I'll bet it was even sweeter to make that deal after 9 years!

I know everyone is pushing Dena to send out her query, but I think she's quite comfortable sharing the Isle of Procrastination with me. The Fear Ferry comes by once a week depending on the weather so she might not be able to set sail this week if there are doubtful skies.

Then again, I may have to kick her off because when a shark makes an offer she can't refuse, well it doesn't happen everyday. Besides, she needs to make a cookie and donut run before returning to the island. Speaking of islands, I'm wondering why I even put myself here. As you well know, Janet, I'll take the desert sands of Carkoon to ocean water any day! Have a great time in beautiful Oregon.

Sam Hawke said...

Well done Dena. That first time you click 'send' is the most stressful but you've conquered that now. Welcome to the trenches!

E.Maree said...

This little lurker is SO EXCITED to find out how Dena gets on! You go girl! :D

The Sleepy One said...

Sorry this is a day late, but I have to mention that when you visit Crimelandia, you should try to see out both/either BlueStar Donuts or Pip's Originals in Portland. As a Portlander who likes Voodoo Doughnuts, I have to say they've fallen behind the pack quality-wise, although they're still the quirkiest.

You don't have to take my word for it--I suggest a taste test.

LynnRodz said...

*Note to self: Read all the comments before you hit "Publish Your Comment" then you don't look like you have no clue what's going on.