Thursday, December 17, 2009
The productivity, the writing output, of bestselling authors is much greater than the average writer’s. They have the discipline to get up each day and produce high quality work. They don’t wait for the muse to tap them on the shoulder. Some authors’ annual literary production is phenomenal, such as Nora Roberts who often comes out with two extremely popular books each year— year after year. Or Catherine Coulter, who has produced more than fifty bestsellers so far in her career.
Sunday, November 08, 2009
Ten Things That May Surprise You.
What separates the publishing industry elite, the bestselling authors, from all the thousands and thousands of writers who aspire to someday make the bestseller lists? It turns out that writing talent is not the only separating factor; in fact it may not even be the most important factor.
1. Perseverance Is Key
Nearly all bestselling authors faced the same struggles early in their careers that less successful, even unpublished authors, face. Immediate success is rare. One distinction of bestselling authors is that they do not get as discouraged by lack of early success. They persevere. Their desire to succeed is enormous. Bestselling authors often have to demonstrate the patience and stamina to write a number of books before achieving notable success.
Monday, October 26, 2009
A bad agent can be worse than no agent at all.
Types of things to watch out for with agents:
- Charging the author a fee up front, to be accepted as a client. Can be called a reading fee, or a monthly “office expenses” charge. The best agents, and most successful ones, only charge a percentage fee of royalties the author earns, typically 15%. Suppose a realtor charged you a fee to come over and tour your house before getting the listing? How quickly would you show that realtor the door. . .
- Charging back unusually large “postage and copying fees” to send out an authors’ work. One crooked agency accepts almost every client that contacts them, but in the fine print of the contract they charge “postage and handling” of up to $10 per submission they send out on your behalf. It doesn’t cost $10 to send a letter and a sample chapter of a book to a publisher. This company makes a fortune from these fees whether or not they actually successfully market any of their clients work.
- Directing authors toward specific editing services or giving authors’ names to these services. Sometimes they even own the editing service. Some agents make a significant portion of their income from referral fees from these services.
- Terms in Agency contracts with writers vary widely. Must be read carefully. Not standard at all.
- The agent contacts publishers pretty much at random. The agent’s value to you is in the relationships they have with publishers, so that if the publisher hears from them, they know the book is worth taking a look at. Ask to see copies of rejection letters that come back from publishers. If it looks like just a form letter response, rather than a letter you would send to an acquaintance, you can bet the agent may be just picking names out of a directory of publishers.
- Puts forth a weak effort or gives up on the client’s project after a few months. You have a right to ask how active the agent is going to be. How many publishers are they going to contact, how will they follow up? You also have a right to periodic reports as to whom they have contacted and the results. You must determine how much time and attention they are really going to give you.
Another reason it is imperative to have a reputable agent is that the publishing house typically pays the agent, who deducts their “cut” and sends the remainder it to the author. It’s a frightening thought that a less than honest person gets their hands on the money you’ve earned from sweat, blood, and even tears.
Dee Power, MBA, was born on the East Coast and grew up on the West Coast. She started her writing career in the second grade by writing a Thanksgiving Day play that debuted before many appreciative parents.
Monday, August 03, 2009
Again the query letter should be no more than two pages. Trying to distill all the plot and characters of a complex novel down to a few paragraphs can be agony. But again, everyone is in the same boat. So don’t worry if your first draft doesn’t read quite right.
Þ Emphasize the challenges the main characters face, and how they overcome them.
Þ The protagonist/antagonist conflict. Drama is conflict.
Þ “Put the characters up a tree, throw rocks at them, bring them back down.”
“Character drives plot, not the reverse.”—F. Scott Fitzgerald
Describe your writing background, publishing credits, or educational level. Along with any specific reasons you are the best person to be writing this particular book.
Dee Power with Brian Hill are the authors of The Making of a Bestseller: Success Stories From Authors, and the Editors, Agents and Booksellers Behind Them, Attracting Capital From Angels, Inside Secrets To Venture Capital and the novel, Over Time. You can reach her through her website, http://www.BrianHillAndDeePower.com
Wednesday, July 29, 2009
To Be or Not To Be: Published
With the advances in technology these days, print on demand specifically, anyone can become “published;” if published is defined strictly as written material that is accessible to the public.
Many authors who have chosen the publish on demand (POD) route, insist on sharing the title of published. It’s true their books can be bought on internet sites, can be ordered in bookstores, although they are not, as a general rule, stocked by bookstores, and are available as bound physical copies, mostly trade paperback.
But isn't there more to being published than being available to the public? Are these authors really published or have their books just been printed? After all, no third party has objectively reviewed their work and deemed it marketable. No publisher has risked their resources, through paying an advance, printing several thousand (or in the case of a small press – several hundred) copies, and devoting marketing efforts to promote the title.
The publishing industry seems to consider publish on demand books second class citizens as well. Many newspapers will not, as a matter of policy, consider POD books for review. Quite a few authors' associations, The Author's Guild to name one, don't accept POD books as qualification for joining. Acquisition editors at publishing houses and literary agents don't consider a publish on demand book a writing credit.
Many bookstores including Barnes and Noble will not stock POD books. Yes, you will find a few copies in bookstores here and there. Bookstores want to support local authors.
I asked Michael Powell Will books published by POD publishers ever reach the mainstream of the bookstores?
Michael’s answer: “No. While the physical appearance of these books has improved over the last few years, the quality of the inside content hasn’t. There’s no recognizable imprint of a house, you don’t know what you’re getting. There is no editor to vet the book, there is no sales staff in place, no catalog, no distribution system, the sales terms aren’t the norm. I don’t think those types of books will ever make it outside the ‘local author’ or ‘regional book’ arena.
It’s not that I begrudge the status of published to any other writer. Or that I believe there are only so many publishing slots available, and I have to elbow the other writers out of the way, a dance of musical chairs for books if you will.
Just because a title has been accepted by a commercial publisher doesn’t mean that it is necessarily better than any other specific self published book. And not all good books eventually find a publishing home.
There is almost a backlash from publish on demand authors, a bitterness, or jealousy, of commercially published authors. I’m not sure why.
Co-author of The Making of a Bestseller: Success Stories From Authors and the Editors, Agents and Booksellers Behind Them and several other books.