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Tuesday, March 31, 2009

John Austin Replies:

Did you look up Barbara's qualifications? You might ask her a few questions...I sent you one of her links: www.nextlevelworkshop.com

Frances Jeanne Says:

A problem (or more than one!) I have experienced in my relatively brief effort to find the "right" knowledgeable professional with insight (and contacts) to help with revisions is that each has his or her own literary baggage that influence their recommendations. At this juncture, I am tempted to follow the suggestions of several professionals who want me to go on the road and spread my message with live audiences. As you know, Shingles has LAID ME LOW FOR ALMOST 5 MONTHS. I'm slowly emerging from the Ashes!
Thanks, John for keeping me in the Loop!

John Austin Replies:

I'm with you 100%...I made up my mind some time back that I was going to try to get your professional input on my book when I finish the first draft...I have had a complete book proposal and a query letter completed for some time (my book is a narrative nonfiction) but, I have not sent anything to anybody yet. I have chapter one (6,710 words) completed and some of chapter two...I wanted to write more on this project, Havana Harvest...When Cuba Was Naughty!, before I sent it out to professionals...But, perhaps you could give me a little constructive input just by reviewing what I already have...I am having trouble getting any work done lately...Seems like there's always something!

The only thing I have done with my work is submit excerpts to writers' sites like http://www.writingforums.com/ and www.authorsden.com , etc for "some" feedback.

I am also thinking of submitting chapter one, Key West...Erotic Awakenings in Paradise, to a magazine for possible publication...If that materialized it would certainly give my motivation a shot in the arm!

Barbara Rogan Replies:

Yes, and I would never say it's necessary to take classes or work with an editor to get published; I myself didn't do either of those. But writers do need to work seriously on their craft before they can hope to be published these days. I'm afraid that the days of pros recognizing "raw talent" and developing are gone, if they ever really existed. It's the economics of the thing. Time is an agent's most precious commodity, and there's never enough of it. Are they better off spending that time working with and selling first-class writers with a track record, or working with a writer whose work shows some promise but who hasn't yet shown that he can write a publishable novel? Talent is just a part of the equation: an essential part, but a relatively small one.

John Austin Replies To Barbara Rogan

you are absolutely right about having a knowledgeable professional with insight (and contacts) help with revisions...I suspect that many new writers are cash strapped (especially in the current environment) and push ahead without such expenditures to save as much money as possible and just "take a chance" that their rustic writing may be picked up by a publisher/agent that will recognize raw talent (should they possess it...and most think they do...right or wrong) and be willing to work with them...

Barbarba Rogan Said:

Well said and no kidding--it''s a major Catch 22. Although it's not quite true that literary agents only want clients with an offer in hand. They find their clients through referrals from other clients and from publishers, and through their own slush piles. But they certainly are looking for work that's flawless and ready to sell, and it's hard for writers to achieve that level without professional feedback, so there's your real Catch 22. And (with apologies for tooting my own horn, but now you've got me going) that's precisely the reason I offer the services and classes I do at www.nextlevelworkshop.com. The evaluation service is to let readers know what agents and editors are probably thinking as they read your work, the reasons they'd give for rejecting if they had time to finish reading (which they don't) and to explain (which they also don't.) And the "Revising fiction" class is meant to address the problem that I hear over and over from agent friends: that work they're seeing is just a revision or two short of acceptable. Most aspring writers, in my experience, don't really know how to go about revising their novels; they'll re-read it endlessly, change a word here or a line there, and that's it: no attention to the big-picture items like plot, pacing, characterization. It's become a bit of a mission for me. No one can make a silk purse out of a sow's ear, but there are plenty of mss. out there that could benefit greatly from a savvy eye and the writer's willingness to keep working long after he writes "The End."

Frances Jeanne Said:

Very similar to the "circus" that mechanics go through when unions won't let them be members unless they have a job and companies won't hire them unless they are union members. Basically it is a vested interest's selfish, "lazy" game of screening out those who are unknown. I'm sure the real economic threat that all businesses are currently experiencing is an added factor.

Monday, March 30, 2009

stinginthetail said:

I found literary agents won't touch me because i don't have a publisher interested, but publishers won't touch me because i don't have an agent, who won't touch me because... and so it goes round. It's the Catch-22 of publishing, lol.
March 30, 2009 9:10 PM

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Multi-Agent Interest: Research Conclusion

After querying several knowledgeable resources it seems literary agents will not do a damn thing for you until they get you under contract! And this includes representing your work to publishers who are the ones that would bid for your work if interested.

Literary agents do not bid to "represent" you; they get a good project from an already signed client in front of several publishers who then bid on the work...(this is important because it will determine the size of your advance...and the agent's take!)

However, should several agents ever call you simultaneously and offer "representation"...pick the one you feel has the best track record and treated you the best on their phone contacts...After all when they were interviewing you over the phone...you were also interviewing them!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

More on Multi-Agent Interest

The more-than-one-agent-calling-you scenario is further explored at the AgentQuery website: http://agentquery.com/writer_or.aspx with an actual agent input symposium at: http://www.agentquery.com/symposium_thecall.aspx ...which is linked off the first link page article above.

This scenario DOES happen and how to act and what questions to ask and NOT ask is important info to have when that first agent phone call arrives.

Read and digest...and good luck on your representation!

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Frances Jeanne Scott Says:

Perhaps I am way too cynical, but I think such a scenario in today's economic panic is highly improbable - unless you have brought 8 babies into the world simultaneously and garnered media attention! Of course miracles can occur, and if it happens to you, John, Mazeltov!!! Were I in that situation, I'd hire an astute, reputable, literary lawyer to negotiate the best deal Such expertise is well worth the cost.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Multi-Agent Interest

Should you get into the enviable position of getting several literary agents wanting your work...how do you handle them?

The agents don't know how many other agents you have queried...so should you tell them you have others interested (I understand these "reject spewing" individuals have themselves a very thin skin) or not? How do you determine which agent would most probably get you the best deal?

I'm guessing you just go by track records and rep of the agency...But, would playing one against the other likely gain you any advantage?

I am researching the answers to the above questions and will publish my findings later...BUT, if any professional stumbles upon this blog and can answer the questions, I would appreciate!!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Publishing Rights...Know Them!

I think writers should be aware of the most common publishing rights they probably will encounter when a publisher contracts to buy their work. Ray Succre published a list of these rights a couple of years ago in his old blood and ink blog...I think it is now defunct or has been renamed. I have copied his list below:

Electronic Rights vs. Print Rights: The internet changed everything. We all know it. It seems almost silly to point it out. With the internet came the vast sweeping world of electronic rights (Oh, these existed before, certainly, but the internet brought them into the mainstream, everyday speech of editors who chose to work online). Some publishers differentiate between Electronic Rights and what they call Online Rights, or Internet Rights. For instance, they believe that issuing your poem as an electronic document on a CD to be electronic rights, but posting your work on their webpage would be Internet or Online rights. I don’t know if this is of legal concurrence, and I don’t think they know either. The general term is Electronic Rights.

First Rights: This is the most common right you’ll grant, as a writer, in the small press. Relegated to the FIRST time a distinct piece of writing is published in any accepted format. This includes letters to the editor, magazines, websites, blogs, even your own personal site. Writing a poem on a cinder block and throwing it through an editor’s window, however, is not an accepted form of publication, so that poem would be free to offer elsewhere for First Rights, still. You can grant this right once, and once only. After First Rights have been used or granted, even by yourself, you can never grant them again. Any subsequent printing will be a reprint.

1. First Electronic Rights: Same as above, but distinctive in the manner of electronic print. A publication asking for this is a publication asking to print the poem online or in an electronic format (In a CD issue, a .PDF file, .CBZ, etc...) for the first time. If it’s been printed elswhere online, no dice. Again, you can grant this right once in a piece’s lifetime. It is possible to grant a publication First Electronic Rights, and then later grant First Print Rights to an alternate magazine, provided these specific rights are in transfer. If you’ve transfered the more basic First Rights, with no specification, you’re on shaky ground trying to resubmit it as a First publishing in an alternate venue.

2. First Print Rights: These are First Rights with a specification toward print, and not electronic mediums. We’re talking paper and ink. Well, I once received a magazine made of plastic, but same basic idea. If you print someone’s poetry in blood on sandpaper and publish it in the public arena, that’s still Print, baby.

Exclusive Rights (sometimes referred to as Exclusivity): This involves exclusivity to print. Basically, exclusive rights indicate that a publication can print your work, but for a given length of time, rather than a single first, or one-time printing. The difference is that time is the measure, not simply the act of printing. In order to send your work on to other outlets, if you’ve sold or granted a publication Exclusivity, you will have to wait until the timeframe and conditions of the printing have expired. Most magazines will state in their guidelines this length of time if they ask for Exclusive Rights. In order to grant Exclusivity, the piece in question can not appear elsewhere in the time period agreed upon. If your work is already posted at your website, and you wish to grant Exclusivity for one of those posted works to a magazine, you’ll have to remove the work in question from your site during the interim. If you were to leave it up, it wouldn’t be very exclusive, would it?

Non-Exclusive Rights: The right to print your work, though still allowing you to submit the work elsewhere for reprint. This can be augmented for the electronic medium, as can most rights, and would then be Non-Exclusive Electronic Rights. Obviously, you can not grant exclusivity to another magazine if you have already granted Non-Exclusive rights elsewhere. Exclusivity means it isn’t anywhere else. It’s exclusive.

Perpetual Rights (sometimes referred to as Perpetual Access, and Perpetuity): The right to store your work in an archive or public place for viewing on an ongoing basis. Ever click on ‘Archives’ at the website of a magazine? Perpetual Rights have been negotiated, whether the artists or editors knew it or not. If the magazine in question is using a blog, or something similar, there will most likely be a dated archive, so Perpetual Rights are in play there. There is a more specific form of Perpetual Rights that deals exclusively with archiving, called Archive Rights.

Archive Rights: The right to archive your work. Distinguishable from Perpetual Rights in that they are specific to archival, while Perpetual Rights grant that the work can be exhibited in full view, not just stored in an archive. Most internet publishing that results the publicly viewable storage of work falls into Archive Rights, owing that works published on the internet are considered publicly available, but not generally public domain. The broader Perpetual Rights transfer is utilised more for work that is in the public domain. Your work on microfiche in a filing cabinet is an archived work, but your work in a book at the library, available to the public, is a work in which Perpetual Rights are attached.

One-Time Rights: The second most common right in the small press, and the vehicle for reprints. One-Time Rights, when granted, mean that the publication in question can print your work once, and once only, and you’re work is still free to use however you want. You can reprint the work as much as you desire, and submit it as many times as you prefer, all at once even (provided the magazines you’re submitting to allow simultaneous submission or previously published material). If you plan on using a piece of writing more than once in the same medium, look for publications that are fine with this right.

Reprint Rights: If granted, these indicate that a publisher can print your work for the second time in the work’s illustrious public existence, or even the 487th time, whichever you’re up to. The difference between Reprint Rights and One-Time Rights is slim, and they are often used in place of one another in the small press.

Regional Rights: Somewhat self-explanatory. The right to print in a given region. This right is distinctively for Print Rights, never Electronic, because the internet is an open-ended, global arena. It has no specific region, per se.

Anthology Rights: The right to place your work in anthology of other works. Usually these rights are transferred for ‘Year in Review’ type books, or ‘Best of’ collections, but can also refer to any other kind of collected anthology.

Geographic Rights: The right to print in a specifically defined geographic location, for a given time, exclusively. Can be the same as Regional Rights, but Geographic Rights are usually reserved for very broad areas, I.E. a country or province. For instance, a magazine asking Geographic Rights for Wisconsin is asking that they be the only publication in Wisconsin, for a given time, to have the work in question available for print. Unless otherwise stated, you could still conceivably submit elsewhere outside of the geographic area outlined, provided you haven’t transfered other pertinent rights, as well.

Translation Rights / Language Rights: Refers to the right to print a translated work, or a version of the work in a specific language. If you translate a poem from a famous Inuit writer into Mauritanian Creole, you can publish it as a translation, under the transfer of these rights. These were created to help diferentiate who owns what work. You, in the abovementioned example, didn’t write the Inuit poem. You translated someone else’s work, therefore you can’t transfer writes based on the original, only your language translation of it. Some magazines demand that, if you submit a translation, you provide the original as well as the permission of the original’s copyright holder.

Excerpt Rights: Needs little explanation. The right to excerpt from something you’ve written. A line from one of your poems that has a ‘famous quote’ kind of feel, maybe stuck under the masthead of a magazine... that’s Excerpt Rights in play. Excerpt Rights in the poetry small press are more common with interviews, in which a magazine not connected with an interview you’ve done, wants to reprint several of your responses. If you wanted to take a paragraph of this post and publish it in an essay on rights transfer, you’d be asking me for Excerpt Rights.

Work for Hire Rights: A little trickier. Employed to write material, or by comission, without the protection of copyright. This transfers the copyright ITSELF to the publisher, and they don’t need to mention your name ever. They can do whatever they please to or with it, and easily state that someone else wrote it, if they desire. You were just the human word processor, and nothing more.

All Rights: Danger, Will Robinson! Danger! This is exactly what it sounds like. Similar to Work for Hire Rights, All Rights mean you sell the work, forever and in all ways. The difference is that most Work for Hire Rights are negotiated before the writing takes place, as with some freelance work and on occasion, columnists, whereas All Rights are usually transferred for already written pieces. You wrote it, you sent it, they like it, they want it... forever. It doesn’t belong to you anymore. Whatever the publication wants to do with your work, if they’ve been granted All Rights, is their decision. You have no say at all in it. They don’t have to attribute it to you, and they can even say they wrote it. They have All Rights.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Something Wrong With blogger.com??

Several people have informed me that when they have tried to comment on this blog that their comments do not take...Sorry. Am checking out.

That is why I have had to relay some comments by others. I do this at times anyway when I want a comment to be readily viewable on the main blog board where I post myself...

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Jeanne Scott, A Past Teacher, Says:

I am in your corner rooting for you to attain all your goals. I also feel that it would be a plus to publish the first chapter of your book in a magazine to gain some attention to your work.

Saturday, March 7, 2009

My Book Excerpt:Self-Publish or Sell To Magazine?

Looking into submittal requirements of magazines for possible publication of chapter one from the book I'm writing, I discovered that they pay low and many buy "all rights."

Well, I am not selling ALL my rights to my material (I couldn't publish later in final book form) and I definitely am not enamored with low pay rates! So, I am researching the self-publishing route for my book excerpt. I have signed up for an account with Amazon.com to perhaps handle the formatting and title cover page. I am also reading about Lulu and other on-line "print-on-demand" outlets...

Will keep you posted...

Thursday, March 5, 2009


Sitting here with a completed query letter, book proposal and one-and-a- half chapters for the book I'm writing...Thinking about publishing chapter one as an excerpt somewhere...and submitting the query letter to agents.

If the response to the query is good and some ask for the complete book proposal it would certainly power up my motivation!

Monday, March 2, 2009

Bigger Book Advances...An Insider's View

Let's talk about book advances and how they are likely calculated and how we can make them bigger!

In my research of this topic I came across an excellent article by Alan Rinzler, a veteran book publishing insider, that offers private editorial services to writers and agents. Author list includes Toni Morrison, Hunter Thompson among others.

If we are fortunate enough to get to this point where a publisher wants our work, the following article details how they calculate our advance, usually based on projected first year sales, and steps we can take to increase the advance amount: http://www.alanrinzler.com/blog/2008/10/14/how-to-negotiate-the-biggest-possible-book-advance-9-tips-for-writers/

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Querying Without a Finished Manuscript

Can I really sell the book before I write it? Author Blythe Camenson says: "yes you can." She is the author of 48 or so books about careers, writing and publishing and one of those books is titled: How to Sell, Then Write Your Nonfiction Book. First published I believe in 2002 by Contemporary Books, a Division of the McGraw-Hill Companies.

This seems to go against what most "literary agents" preach! Ms. Camenson says that selling before writing the complete project is a good idea because it will tell the author if there is enough interest in the book to complete it or move on.

She limits this approach to nonfiction books where you need to send in a well thought-out book proposal (including chapter summaries) plus a completed chapter or two to let the agent or publisher know if the project interests them and the writing ability of the author if a newbie.

What do you think??