Friday, August 28, 2009

An urban fantasy book giveaway bonanza!

I think it's time for a book giveaway here at The Swivet, and today I'm giving away a quardruple bundle of urban fantasy/paranormal romance goodness to one lucky winner!
All you have to do to win is leave a comment and recommend one great urban fantasy or paranormal romance book you've read this year. (YA UF or paranormal recommendations are also welcome!) Winner will be chosen randomly by alchemy and math. (U.S. only, please! Sorry!)

Contest closes on Thursday, September 3rd. Winner will be announced on Friday, September 4th. Good luck!

Monday, August 24, 2009

Thank you!

To the mysterious unknown person(s) responsible for nominating The Swivet for Best Publishing/Industry Blog for Book Blogger Appreciation Week, thank you!

But I have my own list of favorite Publishing/Industry Blogs, so if these folks are nominated, I say go vote for one (or all!) of them, because they're invaluable resources to writers and readers, and frankly, they all talk about their cats a whole lot less than I do:
  • Best Agent Blog: A tie between Jessica Faust's Bookends Blog and Rachelle Gardner's Rants & Ramblings. Both are must-reads for me everyday.
  • Best Editor Blog: Hands down, the best insight into how an editor's thought process works and what his or her day is like is to be found in Moonrat's hilarious Editorial Ass blog. I never miss this one!
  • Best Book Review Blog: My favorite place to go for reviews and features on books that aren't your everyday fare is Colleen Mondor's wonderful Chasing Ray.
  • Best New General Publishing-Related Blog: Undoubtedly my favorite new industry blog is Follow the Reader, hosted by Charlotte Abbott and Kat Meyer. Here you'll find in-depth interviews and feature-length pieces about challenges the book and publishing are facing.
Those are just a few at the top of my list. What are some of your favorite book industry-related blogs?

Arbitrary backlist policies on the NYT bestseller list?

Publishers Lunch noted today that Julia Child's Mastering the Art of French Cooking - a backlist title for nearly fifty years - has reached the top of the New York Times bestseller list.

Now, step with me into the Wayback Machine if you would. It's time for a lesson in publishing history:

When Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy was in theaters several years ago, both the mass market AND trade paperback editions (published by Del Rey Books and Houghton-Mifflin, respectively) of The Hobbit and the various editions of the Lord of the Rings were selling more than enough copies to warrant being listed on the NYT bestseller list. However, the New York Times refused to list any of the books in the series, stating categorically that they do not list backlist titles on the bestseller list.

This is absolutely true: the NYT doesn't list backlist on their bestseller list.

Unless you're Robert Ludlum.

Or Jane Austen.

Or Julia Child.

Sunday, August 23, 2009

When real life gets in the way of agenting...and why it should.

The plan: spend all weekend finishing a copyedit for a client's book, and get caught up on queries from the open submission period in August.

The reality: spend all night Friday moving my belongings out of my room, which was in the process of being flooded. (For the fifth time since December, by the way. Because of the roof that our landlord refuses to fix. Much like he refused to turn on the heat in December until we threatened to withhold rent.) So, like yesterday, today will mostly be spent on documenting and throwing away the waterlogged books and papers, then multiple trips to the laundromat to rid my clothes and bedding of the disturbingly brown water that came through the roof. Then trying to clean the room. Which will most likely flood again next week, so really a Sisyphean endeavor at best.

(I did read and respond to more than 100 queries last night, by the way, so the night wasn't a total wash.)

Why am I telling you this? Because sometimes - a lot of the time, frankly - new writers seem to think that an agent's job is a 24/7 occupation. That we should be reading queries and partials to the exclusion of all else in our lives. That we should not have outside hobbies. That we should not blog or Twitter. That we should not write our OWN books. (Quite a few agents I know are successful authors.) That we should not see movies or read books for fun. That we should not have husbands or wives or kids or pets or personal lives. That we should not take sick days or personal days or vacation time. That we should not work other jobs in order to be able to pay the rent while we try to build up a client list for a career that does not include a salary or health benefits. That we should not take time off when we have a personal emergency like, say, your roof opening up and dumping gallons of rainwater on your head.

Well, guess what? An agent's job is just that: a job. One that s/he is really only obligated to spend 40 hours a week on. But the reality is that for most agents, 40 hours a week working on agenting is considered a part-time job. Most of us - myself included - spend about 70-80 hours a week doing our job. And unless we are lucky enough to have an employed spouse or partner, we also work other jobs to pay the rent. (My good friend and agent colleague Diana Fox has an excellent blog post about this, by the way. You should read it.)

Somewhere in there we need to find time to do things that the rest of you may take for granted: do the laundry, buying groceries, paying our bills, taking the pets to the vet, going to the doctor, seeing friends and family, and - yes - move books and furniture out of a flooded bedroom.

The fact is? Real life - friends, family, pets, one's own mental and physical well-being - always comes first. As it should for everyone, no matter what your occupation.

Just so we're clear.

Friday, August 21, 2009

Win a scholarship to the Backspace Agent-Author Seminar in NYC!

Yeah, this is gonna be the best contest ever!

The good folks at Backspace (an incredible online writers community THAT YOU SHOULD JOIN IMMEDIATELY! GO! NOW!) have donated two (TWO! COUNT 'EM! TWO!) scholarships to their upcoming Backspace Agent-Author Seminar for a fabulous Swivet contest.

The Backspace Agent-Author Seminar - held on November 5th & 6th - is two full days of workshops, panels and small-group breakouts with more than twenty of my coolest agent colleagues (people like Holly Root, Michelle Brower, Janet Reid, Stephany Evans, Scott Hoffman, Jeff Kleinman, Jason Ashlock, Emmanuelle Alspaugh, Joanna Stampfel-Volpe and Diana Fox, to name just a few). It's a chance to have your query read and critiqued and to have agents see the first two pages of your novel. The conference itself is held at the Radisson-Martinique in Midtown Manhattan, walking distance from Penn Station and virtually every subway line in NYC. (If you were to pay for the seminar yourself, by the way, it would be $500! I told you this was the best contest ever!)

So how do you enter? Pay attention:

First, two caveats:
  • First: You MUST have a finished novel that is ready to query. No exceptions.
  • Second: The scholarship covers admission to the conference only, not travel or hotel expenses. If you're coming from outside the New York-area, bear this in mind.
  • Third. The contest is open only to fiction (any genre, adult, YA or middle grade) and narrative non-fiction manuscripts.
  • Fourth: Your humble judges? Myself and my inimitable and completely awesome colleague Joanna Stampfel-Volpe of the Nancy Coffey Agency.
  • Fifth: That was way more than two caveats.
The Rules:
  • One entry per person, please.
  • Print out your query letter plus the first two pages of your finished novel, the same two pages that you want to have critiqued at the Backspace Agent-Author Seminar. The query letter should be single spaced; the two pages of your manuscript should be standard manuscript format: 12-point type and double-spaced. (Remember, only the first two pages, even if it ends mid-sentence.)
  • Mail your entries (yes, on paper, with a stamp - no email entries for this contest!) to my attention at FinePrint Literary Management, 240 W. 35th Street, Suite 500, New York, NY, 10001.
  • Your envelope should have the word BACKSPACE marked prominently on the front so that I know it's a contest submission.
  • Although you are welcome to submit projects that you'd like us to consider for representation, do understand that your contest entries won't get a response. Only the two winners will be hearing back from us.
  • Don't include an SASE; it'll be a waste of a stamp. (See above.)
  • Don't call or email to follow up on your entry. Trust in the U.S. Post Office. They've been doing right by your mail for 150 years.
  • If you do call or email to follow up, your entry will be disqualified and a voudou priestess somewhere in the wilds of the Louisiana bayou will ensure that you get a nasty rash in an unspeakable place for at least a year.
  • Entries must be postmarked by Friday, September 4th. Entries received with a postmark later than September 4th will be disqualified.
  • The two winners will be announced on Thursday, September 17th.
Thanks so much to the wonderful and supportive faculty at Backspace for making these scholarships possible. I'm sure the winners will put them to good use!

To read more about the Backspace Agent-Author Seminar, click here. And to read a full list of the agents who will be attending, click here.

Good luck, everyone!