Friday, September 25, 2009

An interview with Artemis Fowl creator Eoin Colfer, author of the forthcoming And Another Thing

Here's a great video interview with Irish writer Eoin Colfer that we ("we" being myself and the fine folk at Hyperion Books) put together while we were all at San Diego Comic-Con in July. In this interview, Eoin talks about why he finally said yes to Douglas Adams' widow Jane Belsen when she asked him to write a new book in the Hitchhiker's Guide series. (You can also see the funky wallpaper of the hotel we all stayed at right behind Eoin's head!)

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

The four winners of the Backspace Agent-Author Seminar Scholarship Contest announced!

Without further ado (because Joanna and I are literally wiped out from reading and re-reading so many great queries and page samples!), the four winners of the 2009 Backspace Agent-Author Seminar Scholarship Contest are:
Susan Moger
Edgewater, MD
YA | 75k words | Title: Grace at War

Lisa Iriarte
Celebration, FL
Sci-Fi | 100k words | Title: Assassin's Nightmare

Lori Walker
Santa Barbara, CA
YA | 69k words | Title: Sugar Beet Hearts

Nikki Loftin
Austin, TX
Middle Grade | 34k words | Title: Escape From Comportment Camp
The four of you will be receiving a scholarship to attend the 2009 Backspace Agent-Author Seminar, taking place on November 5th & 6th at the Radisson-Martinique Hotel in New York City.** Someone from Backspace will be in touch with you shortly to discuss the details.

Joanna and I both look forward to meeting all of you in person in November!

**The scholarship does not cover transportation cost to NYC or hotel stay. If you are unable to use your scholarship, please let me know as soon as possible.

Congratulations to all our winners, and a heartfelt thank you to everyone who had the courage to enter the contest!

I love selling books by debut authors!

Some very good news for the week:
Scott Tracey's WITCH EYES, pitched as Smallville meets a gay Romeo and Juliet, in which a deadly supernatural feud between two powerful witch dynasties becomes dangerously complicated when the eldest sons of the two rival families unexpectedly fall in love, to Brian Farrey at Flux, in a two-book deal, by Colleen Lindsay at FinePrint Literary Management (World English).
Go congratulate Scott, why doncha?

(And yeah, this one really does just scream "Fanfic me, please!!!")

And you can read an interview with Scott here.

The world's worst pickup artist.

A friend forwarded this to me and I've been laughing like an idiot for ten minutes now. Guys? This is NOT how to approach a woman for a date. (Trust me on this.)

Guest blog: Agent Marlene Stringer talks about author self-promotion.

My colleague agent Marlene Stringer is the founder and managing agent of The Stringer Literary Agency LLC, and loves to see the creative ideas her clients come up with to promote their books. You can follow her Twitter feed here.
What’s the Deal with Book Promotion?

Every so often I’m asked my opinion of book promotion by authors, and a lot of the same ground is covered. Some are intrigued by the idea, and can’t wait to get out there. Others are the exact opposite, and have no desire to participate.

One writer on Twitter recently complained promotion isn’t his job. His job is to write wonderful novels, not go out and shill. He prefers to write, hand his manuscript over to an agent, and his work on that particular book is done. The rest all happens as if by magic – you know, those busy elves at night?

What a life!

If only.

As an agent I see hundreds of queries a month, and a minute percentage of those go on to make it all the way through the gauntlet of the publication process. With the odds of a chance at publishing so small, why wouldn’t a writer who has the opportunity do everything possible in order to assure his book’s success?

I have helped authors put together marketing plans, and coordinate with outside or publishing house publicists. Every author, book and promotion plan is different, and must be comfortable for the particular author in order to succeed. Every author can do something to help a book’s success.

What is promotion about? Promotion is the vehicle(s) you choose to help your book stand out from all the others published in a given month. When readers don’t know a book exists, they can’t buy it! If you choose to see promotion as an evil to be avoided at all costs, so be it. If you see it as a fun opportunity to meet potential readers and booksellers who will help sell your book, that’s great. It can be a positive and enjoyable experience if authors pick what’s right for them. However you see promotion, it is part of the contemporary publishing landscape, and it is here to stay until something better comes along.

There are all sorts of possibilities for book promotion, and if you’ve been around the publishing block for any length of time, you’ve seen them. Websites, book tours, blogs, social networking, television and radio interviews, contests, conventions, postcards, trailers, costumes, you name it, there’s something for every personality type, taste, and budget, and a new idea every day. If you’re not the type to dress up and attend a 19th century gala, you can attend a writers’ conference and sit on a panel. You can choose to do book signings, or speak at local libraries or schools. If you can afford it, you can hire a private publicist to help get the word out. If not, your house publicist is a tremendous resource, and can help you maximize the options you choose.

Publishing doesn’t happen in isolation. It is a group venture. Besides you and your book, your partners include your agent, your editor, your publicist, the sales force, etc. Everyone must do his share of the work to help make a book a success, and promotion is part of that work. However, as the author, this book has your name on it. If it is your goal to be a professional author, defined as one who earns a living from writing, then you’d better help sell the book. Every time a publisher takes on an author, they take a chance. Not just with the advance paid, but by using a slot that might be filled by any number of publication-worthy books. This is the opportunity you’ve waited for, and by assisting in the promotion process, you demonstrate your goal to succeed to the publisher. If your book doesn’t earn out, it will be difficult to prove to the publisher (or any publisher) why you deserve another shot if you haven’t helped sell the last book!

Promotion is not only about the book, it is about the author. It is about branding. Look at the most successful authors on bestseller lists. Some are publishing phenomena, true. Others, however, have built very successful careers over time by writing good books, reaching out to their readers, and employing successful promotion techniques. If you get the chance to be one of them, instead of rejecting it out of hand, decide how you can tailor your strengths into building a promotion plan that works for you.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Some great news!!! (And why we love Backspace!)

Due to the enormous volume of great entries in the Backspace Agent-Author Seminar Scholarship Contest, the awesome people at Backspace: The Writer's Place contacted me this morning to let me know that they have decided to very graciously donate TWO ADDITIONAL SCHOLARSHIPS for the contest! That means we'll be announcing four scholarship winners next week instead of two!


Thursday, September 17, 2009

Our president is a nerd. It's official.

Backspace Agent-Author Seminar Scholarship winners...

...will have to wait until next week!

The fact is that we got SO MANY entries (more than 600) for this contest that it's taking us a lot longer to read through them all to pick the two winners. So, to make sure each entry gets a thorough read, we're pushing back the date of the announcement until next week, September 24th.

Sorry for the wait, folks, but nice to know that there are so many enthusiastic writers out there!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Writers are also readers: A cautionary tale.

The following statement was written about screenplays but is absolutely true of any kind of writing:
It rarely takes more than a page to recognize that you're in the presence of someone who can write, but it only takes a sentence to know you're dealing with someone who can't.

(By the way, here's a simple way to find out if you're a writer. If you disagree with that statement, you're not a writer. Because, you see, writers are also readers.)
And this is also true:
I was dying to find something positive to say, and there was nothing. And the truth is, saying something positive about this thing would be the nastiest, meanest and most dishonest thing I could do. Because here's the thing: not only is it cruel to encourage the hopeless, but you cannot discourage a writer. If someone can talk you out of being a writer, you're not a writer. If I can talk you out of being a writer, I've done you a favor, because now you'll be free to pursue your real talent, whatever that may be. And, for the record, everybody has one. The lucky ones figure out what that is. The unlucky ones keep on writing shitty screenplays and asking me to read them.
Read the rest of this great Village Voice piece by writer/director Josh Olson.