Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year! . . . Now Back to Work!

Happy New Year to one and all! And what a year it has been. Last year at this point I didn't have an agent, I certainly didn't have an editor, and the dream of a big book contract was a memory I was quickly accepting was simply unrealistic.

There are two things this year has taught me. One is that dreams do come true. The other is that it is a heck of a lot of work!

I have worked harder on writing in the last year than I have ever worked before. And that is only slightly more than I worked the year before and--if others' experiences are like mine--slightly less than I will work this year.:)

There's a line in a song from the musical My Fair Lady in which the lazy father of the heroine says, "With a little bit of luck someone else'll do the blinkin' work."

Well, honey, that's not how publishing works . . . or doesn't work, as the case may be.:) (Hehe, I think I'm funny.:)) I have told my husband many times over the last month and a half, "I have the best job in the word!" and I do. But I sense a lot of work in my future. And that's okay.

I'm also looking forward to many exciting firsts next year. My first ed letter, my first pass pages, my first galleys, my first cover art, and possibly my first ARCs (although that might not be till early in 2009.) How cool is that? Other firsts I'm going to have to deal with? My first deadlines, my first book that I have to write under contract. But there are lots of friends and other things to help me out. Like my first writers conference at which I get to meet Pat for the first time.

So I guess it's time to roll out my writing resolutions!

First and foremost, I resolve to meet every deadline I'm given this year. No exceptions.

Second, I resolve to get the first draft of my books two and three finished by the end of December next year. Not polished or anything, just first draft.

Third, I resolve to be a good author. To gracefully accept edits and look for their potential. To let my agent handle the business end of things and my editor, the creative. To pick my battles and hang on only to things that are absolutely crucial and trust the rest to the professionals. I really want to have a reputation of being a professional, easy to work with author.

Hmmm, I guess that's about it for this year. I have lost of resolutions for 2009, but I'd better wait till the end of 2008 to list them. I guess that could be number four: live in the future and enjoy this part of the ride. I'll never get to do it for the first time again.

How about you? Did you have a good year? Are you resolved to have a better year next year? What are your goals?


Friday, December 21, 2007

The Loveliest Day And More Sub-Rights

I gotta tell you, I just got back from the most enjoyable afternoon I've had in a long time. I am in Phoenix for Christmas (yea!) and I scheduled a lunch with Stephenie and I had such a great time. I had a fabulous steak and this decadent brownie with about three cups of whipped cream on top (Mmmmmm!) and then we walked through Barnes and Noble and talked about books (you're shocked, I know.) Particularly about the gorgeous covers that Harper Collins tends to come out with and hopes that mine will be just as good.

There's something about cavorting with other authors. Instead of having to explain all of the lingo when you are trying to explain some aspect of publishing to normal people (because after all, we know authors are far from normal;)) she just nodded and the conversation continued smoothly. I got some good advice, some tips, gave a little advice of my own, and talked about myriad personal aspects of out lives to boot. I have not had such a nice visit with a friend in a very long time. I love having friends in the publishing industry. "Co-workers" as I joked to my father-in-law, but there's definitely some truth to the phrase.:) Anyway, I had a great time.

Okay, so now we are on to the lesser known Sub-rights and I will admit to not knowing nearly as much about these as the language rights, so if you have better info or I get it wrong, please correct me.:) I will, however, direct you to this entry by agent Kristin Nelson which is quite informative. (Actually, I recommend her entire Agenting 101 sequence even if you do have an agent. You'll find it on her right-hand sidebar.)

Sub-rights are basically all the versions of your book that are not actually a book. Audio and dramatic rights are the main two although there are others (like the right to make parts of your book into a calendar. Who knew?!) The nice thing about these rights is that although they are not typically big money-makers (with the exception of dramatic (film and TV) rights which can swing either way) they are great as bargaining chips. For example, something that you will not see in my PM announcement is that as well as World English Rights, I also sold Audio rights to Harper Collins (my books going to be an audio book, yea!). Why? Well, HC made an offer for X amount and asked for World Rights and for Jodi to take the book off the table. Jodi laughed (well, not really, but in the fantasy in my mind she laughs;)) and said, uh, no, you need to give me Y amount and you can only have World English Rights. They came back and said fine, you can have Y amount, but we want Audio too. And then we had a deal.

Honestly, I have no idea what Jodi is going to do with the other rights. I just don't think my book is calendar material.:) (Actually, we've already had a couple of nibbles on dramatic rights, but Jodi and my new film agent, Kassie, have decided to wait till the book is a little further down the editorial assembly line before they officially shop it about Hollywood.) But it's nice to know that if the opportunity arises to exploit some of these rights, they are still mine to sell.

So, quick question, what books are on your Christmas list this year? I saw tons of good ones at B&N today!!


Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Do The Math

Okay, we're going to clarify some things from the comments because I made some assumptions that clearly left people confused. (I can only imagine what lurkers are thinking!)

Now, I personally share Holly Kennedy's opinion that is is *almost* always better to have your agent sell your foreign rights rather than your publisher, if they have the capability to do so. However, I do say *almost* because there are definitely exceptions. Here's where the math comes in. Also, you will see Jamie's point about double dipping in terms of royalty percentages.

Okay, let's say you get an offer from your publisher for 10,000 dollars. (Nice round number). They want North American rights. (For the sake of this entry we are going to say that the unimaginable happens and they agree to pay out your advance in one lump sum. If that doesn't sound strange to you, go here and read how advances are generally doled out.)

Here's how the numbers work: $10,000 - (15% or $1,500)= $8,500 to the author.

Now your agent sells $10,000 worth of foreign rights. She and her co-agent split 20% of the advance which means: $10,000 - (20% or $2,000)= $8,000 to the author.

Foreign Rights plus NA rights combined= $16,500. Savvy?

Good, because now we're going to complicate things.:)

Next Scenario: The publisher wants World Rights and is willing to pay $20,000 for them. Again, we are in dreamworld, so they pay out the $20,000 in one lump sum and your agent takes his/her cut.

$20,000 - (15% or $3,000)= $17,000 to the author.

Now wait a minute. It looks like the author who sold World Rights is actually coming out ahead. Why don't I just advocate selling World Rights? Well, we need to get a little further into the process. Thinking caps on. (Hehe, my third grade teacher used to say that all the time.)

Let's compare apples to apples and say that the publisher was also able to sell $10,000 worth of Foreign Rights.

Thats $10,000 - (20% or $2,000 for the publisher)= $8,000 that the publisher sends to your agent. Now the agent will take his/her fifteen percent commission (and this is where Jamie's comment about double-dipping comes in.)

$8,000 - (15% or $1,200)= $6,800 for the author as opposed to the $8,000 the author who only sold NA rights received for their foreign rights. So in the end, it would actually take the second author $1,200 worth of royalties more to make the same amount of money despite the fact that they got $500 more in the beginning.

However, this is a scenario where all things are even. Do you remember in the last post where I said there should be a reason to sell World Rights? Well, there definitely are some.

Let's have some more scenarios, and we're going to up the ante since higher numbers are often involved when agents and authors are negotiating for World Rights.

A publisher offers $50,000 per book for NA Rights for three books. $150,000 - (15% or $22,500)= $122,500 for the author.

The agent is able to sell an additional $150,000 worth of foreign rights. $150,000 - (20% or $30,000)= $120,000 to the author.

That makes $242,500 to the author. Nice, huh?

However, let's say the Publisher really wants World Rights, and they are willing to pay for it. They offer $175,000 per book for three books. Weird number you say? Watch and see.

$175,000 X 3 books= $525,000

You see what just happened? We just got into the "major deal" range. By doing so, the publisher has just made a huge amount of buzz. You can consider them to have paid for advertising. There are many overseas companies who will make a bid to buy foreign rights sight unseen if they know the books have sold for over half a million dollars. Because of this, the publisher in our scenario was able to sell not $150,000 worth of foreign rights, but because they have an excellent FR department and the additional buzz, they are able to sell $300,000 worth of foreign rights.

Now let's crunch the numbers.

$525,000 - (15% or $78,750)=$446,250 to the author

With Foreign rights we will see the double dipping principle upon payout:

$300,000 - (20% or $60,000)= $240,000 - (15% or $36,000)= $204,000

(Don't add the $204,000 to the $446,250, it doesn't work that way. The $446,250 is all the author gets up front, we'll use the Foreign Rights number later.)

Let's say that in North America, each author sells 100,000 copies of each book (300,000 total) and earns about $2.50 per book. (Yes we could get into hardcover vs. paperback and escalation clauses, etc, but I'm not an accountant.:))

Author A, who sold NA rights has earned $750,000 plus the advance from her foreign rights which her agent sold which equaled $120,000.

Author A has earned a total of $870,000 on three books.

Author B, who sold World Rights, earned the same $750,000 that Author A earned on North American sales, but her royalties from foreign rights equaled $204,000 despite the fact that her publisher and her agent both took a chunk.

Author B has earned a total of $954,000 on three books.

Now I think we would all agree that both authors did ridiculously well, but technically, the author who sold World Rights made more money. Why? Because the publisher saw the value of the World Rights and was willing to pay for them.

When all things are equal, as in the scenario at the top, I say go for only NA or WE rights every time. Keep those foreign rights and have your agent sell them. But when the publisher has a good reason for obtaining those rights, it can pay off and pay off big.

The bottom line? You've got to have an agent you can trust to advise you on decisions like these. They will crunch these kinds of numbers, they know if the publisher had the ability to sell FR better than they do, they know what those foreign rights mean for you. I sold World English Rights to HarperCollins because Jodi advised me to do so. But if she had told me that she thought selling WR was in my best interest, I'd have done so in a heartbeat.

Take the time and effort to get an agent you can trust.

And when you do, trust her.


*I promise, promise, promise to cover the rest of the sub-rights next time, but really, no one wants to move on to film and audio rights after reading through that veritable calculus class.;)*

Friday, December 14, 2007

Sub-Rights--Or Yet Another Reason You REALLY Need an Agent

Alright, today we're talking about Subsidiary Rights, which I know much less about than my agent. On top of that, my brain is kind of foggy because I have the worst cold ever . . . so if none of this makes sense, it might just be me . . . or it might just mean you need an agent.;)

Sub-rights really are fairly complex, but we'll try to simplify it a bit. And we're going to assume we're talking about books rights, since this is my blog and I can, Ha!;) Let's assume you have an agent who is shopping your book and you've received an offer from a publisher. This is where sub-rights start. As anyone would, the publisher wants as much of your book as they can get for as little as they can pay. (I'm not saying this is bad, it's just business.) So generally the publisher will submit a ground-level offer and ask for world rights.

Now you have a choice. First off, you might be asking, what are these World Rights of which you speak? World rights means that the publisher has the right to print your book anywhere in the world and in any language. Sound good? Maybe it sounds bad? Either way, you're right.:) A lot of deals get made for World Rights. It really can be a great deal. The publisher will usually pay more for World Rights and more is generally good:). Also, if you are with an agent who is either part of a very small house or runs a solo operation, they may not have enough foreign rights connections to exploit your translation rights as profitably as the publisher can. (Note, this is not always the case--many solo agents have awesome foreign rights connections.) World Rights are also a great way for your agent to negotiate a higher advance, or maybe more upfront.

However, you don't want to offer World Rights without a good reason. Those are your rights and you should be compensated for them. Several authors I know have sold either North American or World English Rights and been able to sell Foreign Rights so profitably they doubled their original advance from their English publisher. *Story Time!* When HC made their original offer, I didn't even think about World Rights until Jodi said that they had asked for World Rights and she advised me not to give them. Hadn't even crossed my mind. (Personally, I'd have jumped at the first offer and given them whatever rights they wanted. Thank goodness for Jodi.:)) But Writers House has an excellent Foreign Rights department and Jodi didn't think HC had put enough on the table to justify World Rights in light of that, so she advised me not to give World Rights.

So what can you give them if you want to keep your World Rights? The standard answer used to be North American Rights. (That's the NA you see at the end of a lot of Publishers Marketplace announcements.) Jodi surprised me again and told me that she has been doing a lot of deals lately for World English Rights. That means that the publisher can print your book anywhere in the world in English and you are left with all translation rights. Basically that clears up any misunderstandings regarding where the UK is officially and where Canadian rights end and Australian rights begin and other silly things.:) North American Rights are just what they sounds like: the US, Canada, and Mexico. (I'm not sure if this includes a Spanish Translation for Mexico, so if anyone knows that for sure, they can chime in.:))You can also offer things like Audio and Electronic rights (not to mention movie rights), but we'll get into that next time.


Monday, December 10, 2007

Biggest News Ever!!

And it has nothing to do with me.:)

The twelfth Wheel of Time book will come out!! And it will be written by none other than one of my husband's friends, Brandon Sanderson. I have been following this guy's career since before his first book, Elantris came out. He's gained a nice little following and I imagine some of you know who he is. Here's the press release, stolen from Brandon's blog.:)

"Tor Books announced today that novelist Brandon Sanderson has been chosen to finish writing the final novel in Robert Jordan's bestselling Wheel of Time fantasy series. Jordan--described by some as Tolkien's heir--died Sept. 16 from a rare blood disease. The new novel, A Memory of Light, will be the 12th and final book in the fantasy series which has sold more than 14 million copies in North America and more than 30 million copies worldwide. The last four books in the series were all #1 New York Times bestsellers.

Harriet Popham Rigney, Jordan's widow and editor, chose Sanderson to complete A Memory of Light--which Jordan worked on almost daily for the last few months of his life--and will edit it. Rigney said some scenes from the book were completed by Jordan before his death, and some exist in draft form. "He left copious notes and hours of audio recordings," she said. He also revealed details about the end of the series to close members of his family.

Sanderson, who acknowledged Jordan as an inspiration to him as a writer, has established a loyal fan base as the author of three fantasy novels: Elantris, Mistborn and The Well of Ascension (Tor), as well as a YA novel, Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians (Scholastic Press). Sanderson said, "I'm both extremely excited and daunted by this opportunity. There is only one man who could have done this book the way it deserved to be written, and we lost him in September. However, I promise to do my very best to remain true to Mr. Jordan's vision and produce the book we have all been waiting to read."

A Memory of Light is scheduled for publication in fall 2009."

I think it's an interesting choice, and a good one. Brandon is not a super-star, though his popularity has grown with every book he's released and I think that even without this, he would have become a very popular author on his own. But by choosing someone who is established, and yet new to the game, I think that you have an author who will do their very best, but still do it Robert Jordan's way instead of their own way.

So for those of you who have been agonizing about RJ's death and wondering about the last book, you will get satisfaction. (Or resolution at the very least.) And I think they have chosen a great a great author who is truly up to the task.

Congratulations Brandon!!!

(BTW, check out his interview on Dragonmount.)


Saturday, December 08, 2007

The "In" Factor

On Fangs, Fur, and Fey an author named Jeaniene Frost talked about her journey into publication. (It's a good story, you should read it. The perma link is here.) One thing many people ask her (and about anyone who is published) is if they knew someone. Basically, what their "in" was. She goes on to tell her story of knowing no one in and nothing about the publishing industry, doing major re-writes before her agent would sign her, and eventually selling two books to HarperCollins and then three more following that. It's a great story of how work and persistence paid off for her in a big way. I love stories like that. In fact, when people ask how I got my agent, I sometimes feel my cheeks redden just a bit and I tell them I just happen to know a very, very famous author who recommended me to her agent. They smile and say, "Oooohh," like 'now I understand.'

Having an "in" is supremely helpful--I will be the first person to admit that. It is generally a much more effective way to get your foot in the door than the beloved query letter. . . and by beloved, I mean hated and despised.;) But regardless of how fabulous an "in" you have, it can only take you so far.

For example (cracks knuckles) regardless of how great an recommendation you have, if an agent doesn't like your stuff, they won't sign you. Any author worth their salt knows that before they ever give a recommendation. Don't get me wrong, you may get some leeway. Having an agent reading with a positive eye is a great thing, but how positive can you be if the manuscript stinks? (Not that any of your manuscripts stink.;))

Editors are the same way. We all know that tastes are different and what floats one editor's boat may seem old and tired to another. My first book was a traditional fantasy for the adult audience. My "in" loved it, my agent (eventually) loved it. But neither are big fantasy readers. When it was rejected by the editors Jodi sent it to she told me, "What I think is new and compelling, someone who reads fantasy all day every day may think is cliche and unimaginative. That's just how the market is."

With Autumn Wings, however, I really felt like I had written something special. Something different from anything out there, but still with great market appeal. Jodi agreed, and obviously, Tara agreed too. So finally my words were going to be published.

But you know what? I think that if I hadn't had an agent yet, I could have queried and gotten one. I really do. Would I have gotten an agent as great as Jodi? I don't know . . . maybe. Would it have been in time to catch the wave of sales of faerie book we're obviously seeing? Possibly, but probably not. And that is what my "in" got me.

I'm not in any way saying that I was not boosted by knowing a successful author. All I'm saying, is that it can't do everything. So those of you who have an "in," be grateful and use it wisely as an opportunity to present your best work. Those of you who don't, don't worry. If your book is going to shine, it will do so regardless of who you know. . . or, yanno, don't know.:)


Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Rolling Out the Red Carpet!

So few things happen in any person's life that are truly life changing; getting a big book deal is one of them. So, of course, that will be reflected in my blog. I've been thinking about the journey of publication the last week--in particular, my journey as it has been reflected in this blog. I started this blog almost two years ago when I was still agent-shopping. (Ha! I say that like it's as easy as walking down an aisle and picking one.:)) When I signed with Jodi my blog changed . . . matured? Maybe that's going too far. But it changed. It went from the blog of an aspiring author, to the blog of an agented aspiring author. A subtle change, perhaps, but it definitely took my blog in a different direction. I changed some of my links on the side and didn't quote other agents' blogs as much. I started looking for advice about publishers and acquired a couple of waiting buddies. (Hi Michelle and David;))

Well, things are changing again. I'm not an aspiring author anymore; I'm a soon-to-be-published author. That changes everything. (And I suspect another subtle change will occur once I am an honest-to-goodness published author . . . but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it.) And yet it changes nothing. I'm not (I hope) going to lose my still struggling author friends, my daily life hasn't really changed, I'm not becoming rich and famous (Though goodness knows my family seems to think so.;)), and, unfortunately, my children have not turned into perfect angels.:D However, though I;m not running with a new crowd, I would like to spotlight the crowd I've been running with for the last two years. (Some less, some more.) So please join me in rolling out the red carpet for the authors whose books are all coming out the same time as mine. (And there's quite a few! It makes me happy!)

Michelle Zink, Little, Brown -- 2009

Carrie Ryan, Delacorte -- 2009

Jamie Ford, Balantine -- 2009

Cyn Balog, Delacorte -- 2009

Lesley Livingston
, HarperCollins --2009 (or late 2008)

Tessa Dare, Ballantine -- 2009

Sarah Rees Brennan, Margaret K. McElderberry Books (Okay, I admit, I don't know her, but I reeeeeaaaallllyy want to!)

And, of course, Aprilynne Pike, HarperCollins -- 2009

Shoot, I feel like I'm missing someone important . . . if it's you, please let me know.:) If you're someone I don't know but you have a new book coming out in 2009, let me know that too! I'm excited for me, I'm excited for them, and why not add a little more excitement. It's going to be a long 18 months for all of us, we might as well celebrate now.:)