Thursday, February 21, 2013

Pub Rants Has Moved!!

STATUS: You'll have to check out the new location to see how I'm feeling. *grin*

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now?  At the time I wrote that blog, it was ANNA SUN by Walk The Moon

I've been blogging since 2006.

That's 7 years!

I haven't made a change in all that time. Yes, sometimes I'm slow. Time to embrace something new.

I've just finished my first new entry at the new location and now I'm kind of wondering why I waited so long. Wordpress is kind of awesome.

All the posts you know and love have migrated over to the new home. We have more sidebar items to add (such as my Query workshop on the blog) but that's coming. And now that it's finally finally done, I'm going back to being a blogging maniac. Part of my problem in 2012 was knowing we were working on the new website and the new blog home etc. I really just wanted to start afresh. New blog look. Maybe even a new blog approach. It's 2013 by gosh.

So don't leave comments here on blogspot. Head over to the new site, check out my latest post and comment over there. I'd love to see feedback on the new Pub Rants. And I'm always game for blog topic ideas.

And don't give me the same old same old Qs. So much is happening in publishing and in the digital realm right now. Give me the questions you wish an agent was answering right now.

See you over at the new site soon!

Pub Rants new home:

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Where Kristin Discusses The Importance Of Metadata

STATUS: Caught the crud on my way back from New York over the weekend. It's not helping with my catch-up efforts.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now?  EL SUENO DE LA HIJA DEL REY by Savina Yannatou

As many of you already know, I was in The Big Apple last week speaking at Digital Book World. After Mike Shatzkin's interview with me and Hugh Howey, I sat on a panel with my fellow agents Jane Dystel, Steve Axelrod, and Jay Mandel.

My question was this: "What should Publishers be learning from authors who are self-publishing?"

My answer was twofold:

1) Authors who are successfully self-pubbing release a lot of content and a variety of content regularly. For example, one of my authors publishes 2 novels a year but also publishes short content in between the major releases to keep the momentum going. Also, successful self-pubbers do a VARIETY of content. If one work is building (and therefore more appealing to the audience), then the author will set aside the other content and focus on what is building momentum. Because the author is in full control of the publishing, she can make that decision quickly and immediately act on it.

Publishers need to find a way to do the same.

2) Second, success is all about the metadata. Most editors input the metadata tags when the author contract is submitted and then don't think about it again. Well, that's not what successful self-pubbers are doing and that's not what we do at NLA digital either. We are constantly tweaking.

For those of you wondering what the heck is metadata, these are the descriptive tags included in product description and in a lot of cases, embedded in the content file itself of electronic books, that allow a novel to be searchable and discoverable on distribution venues such as Amazon, BN, and Kobo.

I tell a great story about what was unfolding, literally, the week of DBW.  And now I can share it with you. Some enterprising videographer filmed me while speaking (so thank you BookMarketingAME). The video starts a little shaky but evens out. Hear it for yourself.

And here is the visual I didn't include at DBW but can share with y'all via the power of my blog. *grin*

The author's editor is the true heroine of the story for being persistence with her internal team to get the metadata fixed.  Within 12 hours of it happening, voila! This title was not even showing up in the top 100 or even the top 250 in ranking in this category until the fix.

And yes folks, that's the importance of Metadata in a nutshell.

Tuesday, January 08, 2013

What I've Said No To Lately

STATUS: It's 6:30. I can finally start on my actual To Do list for the day. Oi.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now?  BETTER WEATHER by Good Old War

Who says agents don't read in December right before closing? My colleague Sara offered rep to two new clients right as we were closing. She landed them too! It happens. I'm not sure I added those to the Stats. I need to update.

Not to mention, I miscounted my NYT bestsellers. Oi! I forgot the Manga SOULLESS edition which hit #1 no less. Smack forehead.

But if you are curious, I read 16 sample pages the week before we closed. That's a marathon for me.

And here's a general idea of why I passed on all those requested submits:

-- Really inventive retelling of a well-known fantasy storyline. I liked the writing but I didn't love where the story went so wasn't right for me.

-- Author had recommend from current client. Read. Enjoyed the sentiment of the story but wasn't won over so passed.

-- Author soon to be published by one of the Big 6 publishers and looking for new rep. Thought the writing was lovely but this particular story didn't engage me. I have a fairly full client list so I'm very conscious about who I would take on. I'd have to be in the place of "I'll die if I don't rep this."

-- a fellow agent who doesn't rep anything in the children's realm who sent this author my way. Obviously I'm going to read quickly. Story just wasn't for me. Def. a taste thing.

-- Another author previously repped but changing agents. Cool steampunk world but ultimately I couldn't connect with the characters.

-- Awesome fairy tale retelling/zombie story but alas, I thought it needed too big a revision.

-- Author I met a conference. Some lovely writing for a historical novel but ultimately, too literary. I needed to be more plot-driven so wasn't right for me.

-- Current NLA author sent this writer my way. I found a lot to like with the submission. Great world building but it was a romance and I just didn't feel the passion. Wouldn't surprise me if this author landed with some other agent.

-- Multicultural YA with an inventive premise. Fun but the setting didn't make a lot of sense to me.

-- Submission from a teen librarian and aspiring writer. Love that! This one was close but ultimately a no.

-- Another previously published author. Arthur legend type set up. Was burned in the past on this kind of concept so would have been a hard push for me. Better for the author to have someone fresh on the job.

-- MG fantasy. Crowded market. Well done but I didn't think I could champion.

-- So a previous work from this writer. I even remembered it. It was historical and a "new adult" work but I didn't think it was right for me despite this becoming a hot trend.

-- Multicultural dystopian with India as setting. Very cool! But having LEGEND by Marie Lu, I'm pretty careful on what I'll take on for dystopia. But I can see this author getting some interest.

Monday, January 07, 2013

Agenting in 2013

STATUS: I spent 7 hours in the office yesterday revamping our text content for the new website. We are so so close to launching. I can't wait. The new site is awesome. The new blogging medium is going to be hot!

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now?  GOT YOU UNDER MY SKIN by Frank Sinatra

Next week I head out to New York to speak at the 2013 Digital Book World (DBW) Conference. I'm rather honored to be sitting on a panel with the illustrious Jane Dystel (who  has repped a half a dozen successful self-publishing authors) and Steve Axelrod (who just recently did the first publicly announced print-rights only deal for his client Belle Andre).

I'm working on my talking points so I'll have something intelligent to say. In this company, I had better! Ms. Dystel represented President Obama for his first book for goodness sakes.

She also recently did an interview for DBW entitled AGENTS UNWILLING TO ADAPT WON'T LAST. Worth a read as I could see myself saying every answer she gives.

Agents who haven't already embraced assisting clients to make their books digitally available are behind. What started off as an added service to assist authors in finding their audience (as part of the evolving role of agents in this rapidly changing digital landscape) has fast morphed into being a necessary service to offer. As Ms. Dystel so aptly points out, it's now, more than ever, our job to help writers connect with audiences.

In whatever medium, form, channel, or type of deal necessary.

In one year, I'm astounded at how fast the gross revenues are growing for authors who opted to publish through NLA's digital platform. Even authors who are digitally publishing on their own use our digital platform for venues they can't have direct access to. Those venues don't have the advantage of being as big as Amazon (hands down the largest seller of ebooks) but even with these "smaller venues" revenues are growing from several hundred dollars a month to several thousands a month in just a few short months.

It's a bit crazy to watch.

Two authors of mine have comfortably quit their day jobs because of their digital publishing success. And who knows, maybe I'll be contracting print-only deals for them, like I did for Howey, in the not so distant future.

Agents -- if you haven't started, the time was yesterday to jump on this bandwagon as I'm fairly certain, it won't be going away.

DBW Panel: Straddling The Models: Authors Choosing to Both Self- and Traditionally Publish.

Thursday, January 03, 2013

2012 Year End Stats!

STATUS: Off and running. Need to play catch up on everything that wasn't completed by Dec. 19 when I headed out for winter break. And I'm so close to finishing up the text for the new website so we can finally launch!

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? BITTERSWEET by Hoodoo Gurus

Happy New Year! I hope your 2013 is off to a raucous start!

I've got contract work aplenty. Sara has an offer on the table and signed somebody new literally as we were closing. The query inbox is crammed with 341 queries from folks who wanted to send in December but couldn't because we were closed to queries that month. 

books sold (slightly down from last year).

foreign rights deals done (up from 65 deals last year).

number of new clients (5 for Kristin and 9 for Sara). Updated to 11 for Sara --she signed two authors right as we were closing for the year!

32,000+ or some big number…
estimated number of queries read and responded to. Down from last year as we closed queries in the month of December.

full manuscripts requested and read (up from 69 last year).

number of sample pages requested and read (up from 618 last year).

number of projects currently on submission

tv and major motion picture deals

2.5 million

number of copies in print for my bestselling series this year

1.2 million

number of copies in print for my bestselling title this year


number of copies sold for my bestselling eBook-only title this year

number of conferences attended (8 for Kristin (including BEA and Bologna Book Fair), 1 for Angie, 8 for Anita, and 6 for Sara)

20  Forgot Manga edition of SOULLESS that hit #1! Smacks forehead. so it's not 19 but 20
number of career NLA New York Times Bestsellers (I actually sat down to count them up. I was surprised it was that many.)

number of books named to Publisher's Weekly list of top books of the year (that would be Sara's THE PECULIAR by Stefan Bachman this year).

number of physical holiday cards sent

number of electronic holiday cards sent

Uh, 30?

number of eggnog chai consumed in the months of November and December. I'm embarrassed to say.

number of late nights reading on my living room chaise with Chutney

number of great days loving my job

Wednesday, December 05, 2012

On The Last Day Of December

STATUS: The usual. I slammed every day as we wind down to the agency closing on December 14, 2012.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? AND A HAPPY NEW YEAR by Mikey Wax

On the last day of December, my true inbox sent to me:

12    Eggnog Chai's a-drinking
11    queries reading
10    royalty statement reviewing
9     checks depositing
8    Foreign deals a-doing
7    Payments a-processing
6     full manuscripts left a-reading
5     contracts done
4     calling clients
3     client fulls
2     pecan sandies

And a Party in the New Year!

A heads up if you aren't on our newsletter circulation or on FB, Nelson Literary Agency is now closed to queries for the holidays. We wanted to make sure we finished reading every query, every submitted sample page, and all the remaining full manuscripts in our queue.

To do that, we closed queries on Monday, December 3. Anything incoming will now get our auto-respond email.

But never fear, we'll be back in full form starting on January 2 2013. We'd be happy to read your query then.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

What Are The Big YA Debut Break Outs in 2012?

STATUS: I need 5 more hours in any day.

What’s playing on the XM or iPod right now? COLORADO CHRISTMAS by Nitty Gritty Dirt Band

Yesterday Sara Megibow and I went to lunch - just the two of us - so we could sit down and process the year. Celebrate what was great. Commiserate on what wasn't. LOL

Of course the conversations came around to what we think is hot or trending. And honestly, I'm not sure I see any clear direction there but I can say in the adult realm it's definitely genre cross-over novels, literary thrillers, and big upmarket literary commercial novels that appeal to women readers and book clubs.

In YA, it's a  bit more murky. In fact, neither Sara or I could think of a single debut author that broke out in a really big way in 2012. (Marie Lu's LEGEND debuted fantastically but that published in November 2011 so I'm not counting it per se…). Maybe CINDER? That title looked to have done well (and pubbed in January '12). 

Certainly many already established YA authors did quite well in 2012 (Green, Condie, Roth, Dessen, Hopkins, Bray, Asher etc.) but I'm not sure I could name a 2012 debut. So I figured I would ask you folks! Sara and I might simply be having brain fatigue.

At this time of year, I always like to look back at the books on the 2012 BEA YA Buzz Panel. The titles were the following:

CREWEL by Gennifer Albin (Dystopian/speculative)
WHAT'S LEFT OF ME by Kat Zhang (Dystopian/speculative)
SKYLARK by Megan Spooner  (Dystopian/fantasy)
SKINNY by Donna Cooner (Contemporary YA)
COLIN FISHER by Ashley Edward Miller and Zack Stentz (YA contemporary mystery)

Looking at the numbers on Bookscan wouldn't suggest that any of them are a breakout - although I'm wondering if it just is a slower build now as dystopian/speculative have been a hot trend for a while.

Now there are two contemporary YAs on that list. I was kind of hoping the trend would swing back in the contemporary direction. Too soon to tell I think. Sara has an author doing well in that realm (Kenneally) as do I (Elkeles) but we need the next John Green or Zarr.

Most likely there is a quiet title out there gathering steam. Any ideas? Put some titles in the comments section.