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."
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.
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.