Thursday, January 29, 2009


I had a feeling I wouldn't get out yesterday--but I certainly tried. Jon is in Florida helping his mom after a knee replacement and I was scheduled to join him yesterday. "Ah," I thought. "A few brief days in the Florida sunshine will be all I need to get me through the rest of a particularly dicey Pennsylvania winter." I packed my shorts, sunscreen and running shoes, stopped the mail, engaged the cat sitter, and confirmed my flight.

Unfortunately, the dire weather predictions that were playing in the background this week turned out to be 100% correct. When I got up at 6 AM yesterday, we had 4 inches of snow on the ground and the temperature was 22 degrees. Then it started to rain! What IS it about Pennsylvania that it RAINS when it's 22 degrees? Undaunted, I shoveled the walk, cleared the car, and finished packing. I checked out the online flight info every hour or so and my connecting flight to Charlotte, NC was still OK. Before I took my bag out to the car I checked once more--CANCELLED.

I neglected to mention that while all this was going on, I was in the middle of negotiating a deal for one of our clients, one that required some delicacy. Don't they all?

The happy news is that the deal was struck. The author, the publisher and I are happy. I'll tell you all about it after the contract is signed.

I'm not in Florida, but I'm resigned to that. I'm just thrilled about the deal, happy to have a cozy office in which to work, and loving my cup of hot coffee this morning. Oh, and it's a beautiful day today--bright sunshine and all. Now I just have to figure out how I'm going to deal with my totally frozen sidewalk!

Tuesday, January 27, 2009


Go to Author Patrice Sarath reveals valuable writer's insight in this post. And, stay tuned. We'll be featuring the jacket for Patrice's upcoming title in the Gordath series, Red Gold Bridge.

Sunday, January 25, 2009


We had a rather dramatic ending to our work week--we fired a client. Hate that.

Here's what happened:

In the "old days," agents made several hard copies of their clients' manuscripts which they would then mail to eager publishers. Some editors, publishers and agents still work that way. But the convenience of emailing manuscripts is catching on. Now, most of our editors prefer that we email manuscripts to them--usually in RTF (Rich Text Format). So, when we take on new clients, we ask for both hard copy and in an electronic RTF version.

Sometimes editors give us the option of sending either way. We prefer the email version for so many reasons--the salvation of trees, the elimination of many extra steps, plus saving ourselves the cost (constantly escalating) of making copies. So, whenever possible, we email manuscripts to publishers.

I explained this a few weeks ago to a client and asked her to please email her manuscript in RTF. She told me she was "technically challenged" and would have to get help. For the past two weeks we've been emailing back and forth as she and her helpers have been trying to send the manuscript via email. I learned on Friday, after she sent a PDF version, that it was not the technical aspects that bothered the author. It was the fear that editors would steal her work if they had it in an electronic format. I explained that this is standard practice now in publishing. We are working with professional editors and publishers whose ethics forbid such plagiarism. She consulted two "experts" and decided that her work would be in jeopardy if it was emailed to publishers. (Her "experts" are people who are technically savvy, not publishing pros.)

After several weeks of haggling, I told her I was releasing her from our agency contract. I love her book, but it's just not worth the fighting. I fear this kind of stubbornness would replay itself in many other ways during our relationship and life is just too short. We are in the trenches every day with editors and we resent being told how to do our business.

Compare this attitude with our other clients who simply convert their Word document into RTF and send it on to us. The author/agent contract is a collaborative dance. We respect the author's right to question our techniques, and we try to be as flexible as possible. But, the business is changing under our feet. And we pride ourselves on our work to keep up with these changes. It just makes us nuts to be second-guessed on standard publishing policy.

Am I crazy? How do you feel about sending electronic versions of your work to publishers before you have a contract?

Sunday, January 18, 2009


You'll note a new addition to our blog today--a listing of some of our favorite blogs.

Jon discovered Miss Snark a few years ago and we both read her every day when she blogged. Her blog is no longer active, but you should visit her index and see what she wrote about all things important to writers. Miss Snark really set the bar for bloggers. Irreverent, scathing, and hilarious, she told it like it was. Miss Snark was a made-up person. We don't know who she is or even it Miss Snark was a HE or perhaps a gang of agents--that's always been my suspicion because no one agent could have blogged as often and as well as she did and gotten any real agenting work done! Love ya, Miss Snark and miss you very much!

Evil Editor is good, covering everything from an editorial viewpoint. If you don't know him, let me make the introduction. Go see what he has to say!

We'll be adding more blogs in weeks to come and talking about why we love them.

Friday, January 16, 2009


One of our readers made a good point yesterday. This person commented about my post that for us "good writing trumps all." If that's so, said the reader, how do you explain the phenomenal success of writers like Danielle Steel or James Patterson? Let's face it, in my humble opinion, neither of these authors can (as my dear mother would say) write their way out of a paper bag. Yet most every book they write becomes a bestseller. Where's the justice?

I wish I knew. I really don't. I have absolutely no idea how writers like this become so successful. But, using my knowledge of publishing and publicity and a wild imagination, here are a few possibilities.
  • Perhaps they were innovators; did Danielle INVENT the bitchy female protagonist?
  • Perhaps they were selfless self-promoters with inside tracks to powerful media folks
  • Perhaps they had powerful agents and editors who pushed their books to the top of their publisher's lists
  • Perhaps their books satisfy the lowest desires of lazy readers--action, sex, fantasy--and no effort to read!
  • Perhaps they know something the rest of us don't?
Again, I really don't know. It's probably a combination of all of the above and their publishers' dedication to sticking to what works in terms of sales.

Any of you have any other ideas about how poor writers sometimes get to the top of the heap?