Friday, February 16, 2007

Do You Want It Hard or Soft?

(That's what she said!)...Er, sorry, that's my homage to The Office. (Jim!!! Pam!!! What are you doing???!!?)

You mentioned in a previous post that getting a hardcover deal was important to you. What are the pros of this? Is hardcover better than trade paperback?

Ooh, goooood question, and I definitely want other people to weigh in with their thoughts.

NO. Let me say first that there's no "better," or "worse." There's really only what's best for your particular book. And in my case, I felt, as did my agent, that hardcover was the right way to release TDLF. How did we reach that conclusion? Well, other books that it was being compared to, such as Good Grief and The True and Outstanding Adventures of the Hunt Sisters, were released in hardcover...and did really well. So clearly, the demographic for my book can and will buy hardcover. Second, hardcover books tend (and I say tend because this is evolving) to get more reviews, and reviews sell books. Third, like it or not, hardcover books are often considered more "prestigious" by people in the industry (and I put that word in quotes because it's a terrible adjective to use, but I'm lacking a better one), and so they might get a bigger push by everyone from your in-house publicist to your sales team to a buyer at Barnes and Noble. (And btw, please know that I'm just passing along what I've heard. I certainly don't believe that my book is any more prestigious or important or whatever than a gazillion wonderful trade paperbacks that I've read.) There's also the fact that, I think, libraries are more likely to order hardcovers than paperback, and libraries can definitely make a dent in your sales. (Correct me if I'm wrong about this.)

NOW. There are also a lot of benefits to coming out in trade paperback. The most obvious is price point. A LOT of people don't want to shell out twenty bucks or more for a book for which there's no guarantee that they'll like. (Though interestingly enough, a book will last you a lot longer than a movie, and these days, tix to the movies for two people are about the same as a hardcover, at least in NYC. Let's not even factor in the price of the evening once you've added in a babysitter and dinner!) I think this is really true for the chick lit market or for first-time writers. You simply might not be able to get people to shell out for an unproven author or for a lighter story. Especially the younger demographic who doesn't have as much disposable income. I think, and this is just my guess, you're also more likely to get book clubs to select trade paperbacks than hardcovers, and book clubs can really bolster sales, especially through word of mouth.

There's also the added pressure of coming out in hardcover vs. trade. I think that the publishing house tends to have greater expectations with their hardcovers, and if you fall short - which you well might, given the price point - your next book deal might be a no-go.

Speaking of reviews (well, I speaking of them in the earlier paragraphs), time for a tiny brag...:)

Booklist just had this to say about TDLF:

"Scotch handles the topic of cancer with humor and hope, never dipping into the maudlin. The changes and realizations that the characters make are profound and moving. An impressive debut."

Anyway, I'd LOVE to hear what other people think about hardcover vs. trade paperback. Please weigh in!

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Get Unboxed!

Hey guys,

I'm guest-blogging today at Writer Unboxed, a fabulous resource for all levels of writers. Actually, I'm not really guest-blogging, I'm now a semi-regular contributor, but you get the idea.

Check it out!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Decisions, Decisions

I'm in the fortunate position of having two agent offers for my novel. I know that you were in a similar position, so how did you decide which one to choose? I have phone calls set up with them later this week, but I'm stressed out about the decision! I didn't think I'd ever find myself in this position, and I have no idea what to do.

First of all, congrats!! You're in a very enviable situation, and your book must be a winner. Whoohoo!

Okay, down to business. You've already taken the right steps - namely, but setting up conversations with both of the agents. If you live nearby, you might even suggest that you meet in person - over lunch or in their offices - to get an even better feel for them. When you're on the phone, don't be afraid to ask them questions that will help you make your decision. For example, one of the agents who offered to rep me felt very strongly that TDLF was a trade paperback book. While my current agent (and obviously the offer I accepted!) felt very strongly that it was a hardcover book. And clearly, she was the one I agreed with. Ask them how they plan to shop it around - spread it to a dozen agents or limit it to a few "perfect" matches to begin with; ask them where they see your book falling in the marketplace; ask them how they like to work with authors - filling you in on news when it happens or checking in with you often. Etc. There are numerous other questions that you can (and should) ask...and my guess is that the agents will have different answers and different approaches. The one that falls more in sync with your line of thinking should be the one you sign with, even if the other is a bigger name or someone who you "thought" you should go with. Per my post yesterday, there's no right agent for you until he or she goes to work for you, and you might find yourself surprised to lean one way when you anticipated leaning the other.

The other factor is something far less tangible, and that's one of chemistry. Most authors who have had to choose between two or more agents will tell you that there was just something intrinsic in the way that they clicked with the agent they chose. I know this was certainly true in my case. My agent and I were practically finishing each other's sentences by the end of our phone call...and I knew she was the right one for me.

Good luck whomever you choose!

So readers, ever had to choose between more than one agent? If so, how did you make your decision?

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Any Seattle-ites Out There?

Hey guys,

If you're from Seattle and read this blog, would you be interested in a book signing/reading on either May 23rd or May 29th? We're trying to gauge interest and determine a head count before we book it. (No crowd = no signing.) :(

Feel free to email me and let me know, or you can post here.


How Long is Too Long?

(I'm so glad that so many of you guys want to tag along and post progress reports each Monday - see you then!)

Question of the day: I've been on the agent hunt for a few months, with a little success, but no agent as of yet. My dream agent requested a full about two and a half months ago, and I haven't heard anything back. Should I nudge her or should I just leave it alone?

Well, let me start by saying I think you need to remove "dream agent," from your vocabulary. There is no such thing as a dream agent with whom you aren't signed. Why? Because until an agent goes to work for you, you have no idea if, in fact, he or she really is a dream. I can't tell you how many stories I hear from fellow writers who signed with big names or people who were deemed "dreams," only to discover that these agents were closer to nightmares. Of course you can (and should) aspire to be signed by specific agents - I mean, how else would you conduct an efficient agent search? But so many writers sign with agents who ended up becoming dream agents, agents who respond quickly, agents who sell their work, agents who help them craft their future books, etc - and these agents might not have even been on these writers' top 10 lists. It's what an agent does for you that makes him or her a dream.

Anyhoo, is 2 1/2 months long enough? I dunno. Miss Snark says that it is not - that 90 days is standard in the industry - and that even then, she has loads of fulls that she hasn't read. If I were you (which I'm not), I'd probably check in with the agent, even if it's to get an ETA. I don't think you'll be considered a pest, and hey, if you are, after 2 1/2 months, you should consider whether or not this is a person with whom you'd want to work. Too many writers forget that they do have a tiny bit of power when it comes to finding an agent: namely, they can decide if they're willing to tolerate people who treat them like doormats (not that silence for 2 1/2 months means that he or she is treating you like a doormat, but finding you a pest might be), and if you're NOT willing to work with someone who deems you annoying after nearly three months, then you have your answer about whether he or she is your dream agent.

So...what say you? Would you check in or shut up and wait?

Monday, February 12, 2007

I'm Back In the Saddle

Okay, after a fantastic conversation with my fantabulous agent, I'm diving back into book #2 today. I'm so excited to dig in. She and I brainstormed some new ideas and new directions for the WIP, and just getting a new perspective has really gotten my creative juices flowing.

So...I'll be posting my progress every Monday - letting you guys know how I'm doing and thus, holding myself accountable to really digging in and writing. Oh, and did I mention that my agent is hoping to see a draft in May? Yikes. But a deadline really gets my rear in gear, so this is a good thing.

If you're stymied, try bouncing some ideas off of an objective reader and setting deadlines for yourself. It might really help. And if you want to join me in posting your own writing progress every Monday, please do!

In other news, Publishers Weekly just called The Department of Lost and Found, "a bonbon of a book." (That's a good thing, right?) Yahoo!