Wednesday, July 29, 2009

The paper sculptures of Su Blackwell

A friend (thanks, Nell!) points me to this amazing article in the Telegraph about an artist named Su Blackwell who creates paper sculptures from the pages of books—-inspired by the books themselves. Be sure to check out the slideshow. The next time I find £5,000 lying around unused, I’m definitely going to have to get one!


Monday, July 27, 2009

Sara Zarr answers some Proust questions

Sara Zarr is the author of the National Book Award Finalist Story of a Girl, Sweethearts, and the forthcoming Once Was Lost (October 1). She's also been contributing to some great anthologies, including Does This Book Make Me Look Fat? and Jesus Girls: True Tales of Growing Up Female and Evangelical (September). She's included in the just-published Geektastic: Stories from the Nerd Herd, edited by Holly Black and Cecil Castellucci, and featuring stories by M.T. Anderson, Libba Bray, and Scott Westerfeld, among many other YA stars. Sara's contribution, "This is My Audition Monologue," is a darkly comic theater-geek story that's a departure from her other published work, but one that her fans will relish.

- What do you regard as the lowest depth of misery?

A low-carb diet.

- What is your idea of earthly happiness?

Living in the moment with no shame about the past or fear for the future.

- Who are your favorite heroes of fiction?

Anne Shirley, Jurgis Rudkus, Ramona Quimby, Frankie Addams, Jean Valjean...there are more.

- Who are your favorite characters in history?

Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Moses fascinates me. Anne Frank. Martin Luther King, Jr.

- Your favorite painter?

I hate doing favorites - especially considering I probably haven't been exposed to 80% of the painters from all of time and space. I do love Van Gogh. Though I'm never sure how to pronounce it.

- Your favorite musician?

Not a fair question, Proust! You can't exactly compare Mendelssohn with Lily Allen. Right now I'm really into David Mead, who is sort of Simon & Garfunkel-y and Beatlesque all at once.

- Who would you have liked to be?


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

The etiquette of submitting to an agent

Last week, I was left in a rather difficult spot on a submission. The author hadn’t given me the entire history of the project from before my involvement, and my approach to the proposal would have been quite different had I known more. Our job is to represent the author, but we can’t do that effectively without having all of the necessary information. It was a frustrating situation, only because it could have been avoided.

I began to think that we really need some kind of a list -- an etiquette list, if you will -- of things authors should and shouldn’t do when looking for and then signing with an agent. Here is what my colleagues here at Dystel & Goderich and I have come up with:

- First and foremost, read the agency’s submission guidelines. You can easily find these on their website. If they don’t have a website or guidelines, consult other resources.

- Make sure to query one and only one agent at each agency. A pass from one agent will be a pass from the agency as a whole but if all of us get the same query, we all will turn it down without reading it. (This is true for most, but not all agencies. Again, be sure to consult submission guidelines for each agency.)

- Please tell us up front in your query if you have been recommended by someone we know.

- If you have had books previously published, give us the title, publisher and year of publication.

- If you have previously submitted the material to publishers either through another agent or directly you must tell the agent you are now submitting to. This information is critical.

- Be sure to include all of your contact information with your query. Nothing is more frustrating than reading something great and not being able to contact the person who sent it.

- Unless you have an offer from another agent, do not follow up on queries. If you haven’t heard from us in six to eight weeks, please resubmit.

- Do let us know if you have queried us before, especially if we have read a manuscript of yours. The more we know, the better.

- Conversely, if we turn down your work more than once and haven’t asked to see the next submission, it is probably not a good idea to submit to us again. We remember names of those who submit to us and you will probably be wasting your time by continuing to send us material (unless of course we have encouraged you to do so).

- If we pass on your project, please don’t ask us to recommend other agents. If we think someone else is more appropriate, we’ll let you know in our response.

Most of what I am saying here is common sense, but I am glad to have spelled it out. Following these simple rules will make our jobs – yours and ours – easier and probably more successful.

- Jane

Thursday, July 16, 2009

On book events

Some handy advice for authors about book events, from the excellent HarperStudio blog, The 26th Story. Always remember that as an author, booksellers can be your greatest allies. It’s been more than 6 years since I stopped working at Barnes & Noble, but I still remember the authors who were nicest to me when they came in for any reason--whether for an event or just to sign stock or see their books on display--and I always talked up their books to anyone looking for a recommendation.


Wednesday, July 15, 2009

More on digital publishing

It seems that there's more news in the realm of digital publishing every day. Whether it's publishers partnering with or Hachette giving away books for free on their site, things are moving at a rapid pace.

On Monday, WSJ ran an article about Sourcebooks not releasing a big fall title of theirs on ebook simultaneously with the hardcover. Their fear is that they'll lose hardcover sales, and the agent on the book, Richard Curtis (who I might mention is an epublisher, himself), agreed. Robert Gottlieb also chimed in, saying he doesn't allow simultaneously ebook release if at all possible (and with his biggest clients, I'm sure that can be controlled), comparing that to releasing a movie and DVD on the same day. And Random House still hasn't announced it if will release Dan Brown's latest in ebook, and I have a feeling they won't. Unfortunately, I think these guys are missing the point. This isn't the same argument as when to release a paperback. At this point, with ereaders costing what they do, readers who have invested in them are going to buy the ebook or nothing else. I truly believe they're losing sales by not making the book available, and it's a shame. Kassia Krozser has more to say about this on her blog, too.

At the Digitalist, the Pan Macmillan blog, they make an interesting argument for DRM -- or at least a certain kind of DRM. Thoughtful and concise, it's worth a read. As they mention, simplifying DRM is all about making the customer happy.

As always, I love to hear your thoughts!

- Michael

Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Mediabistro’s daily media news feed this morning linked to a fascinating website from a company called Wanted Technologies that tracks supply versus demand for a number of occupations in various metropolitan areas. I’m a bit unclear on how accurate this might be for “writers and authors” since “technical writers” is a separate category—and hiring isn’t quite the same thing for book authors, at least, that it would be in most other professions. Nonetheless, if you’re looking to pick up and move to find work as a writer or author, your best bets are apparently the northeast, California (Bay Area or southern), Seattle (no surprise judging by our client list!), Chicago, Milwaukee, Atlanta, southern Florida, Texas, St. Louis and Kansas City.

And can any of our many clients in the Seattle area tell me why the demand for actors is so high there? Is it because the supply of actors is low because everyone in Seattle is a novelist?