Friday, December 15, 2006

Holiday cheer.

Before you take another sip of coffee (or beer), you must take a look at Kristin Nelson's stats for 2006--indicating the amount of work an agent (and an agency) must go through to get a handful of high-quality manuscripts. Next time you are annoyed that you got a form rejection for your manuscript, recall Kristin's blog entry and remember how much work an agent does, and that to hold the hand of every aspiring writer would take a team of a hundred agents. Not to mention psychotherapists. Post a thanks/comment on her entry, too, for not only finding and selling some great books, but for taking the time to share her insider knowledge of the business day after day.

Anyway . . .

I'll be (pretty much) on vacation for a while, until after the New Year. So posting will be rather hit or miss. Mostly miss. Publishing really does come to a standstill during the holiday season, so there will likely not be much to discuss. Upon my return in January, though, we've got big things coming--including the 2006 Needle Awards, which will be even bigger and better than last year.

I do, however, have two book reviews to post. So tune in Monday (or thereabouts) for the first one, which is one the best POD titles I've read this year.

And yes, I will be reading lots of submissions while en route to various family gatherings.

I wish one and all the very best of holidays. Be safe, healthy and happy!

Thursday, December 14, 2006

Kitty Kelley, Random House, William Morris . . . and one step away from iUniverse.

Publishers Marketplace reports today that the biography of Oprah Winfrey by Kitty Kelley, which had been making the rounds in New York to no avail, finally got picked up by Crown (Random House) for an undisclosed sum. The interesting thing is how many folks were involved in selling it (Larry Kirshbaum, Wayne Kabak at William Morris) and how close it came to actually going to iUniverse.

From PM:

It took not only her usual agent Wayne Kabak at William Morris to pull the deal off, but also Larry Kirshbaum as "marketing consultant." Crown group Jenny Frost takes responsibility for the buy, and Peter Gethers will edit the book.

At one point this summer, Kelley's reps were said to be seriously exploring a publishing deal with iUniverse since they had been unable to find a traditional publisher brave enough to take the book on.

Welcome to POD, the land of the brave.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

It's a crap shoot. (Heavy on the crap.)

Many PODers (seriously, like, over 200) have asked why I don't review fantasy or science fiction (and I'll say it again--I don't read those genres [in commercially published format] so I cannot be a good judge of what is good; it's not a statement about the genre itself). But more so, folks are asking why I don't review a specific title that's right up my alley (wherever that may be).

The answer is this: Who knows.

All it takes is one sentence to kill a pitch for me, which puts me already in the "dread" cycle. (As an example, I never read THE HISTORY OF LOVE by Nicole Krauss (even though it was recommended by a friend) because I read "spans a period of 60 years" in a review of it.) On the flip side, all it takes is one sentence to do the opposite, too.

Sound unfair? Probably. What do you think I am, Kirkus? I'm just an average person trying to get through the muckiest of sludge and I have preferences just like anyone else.

The typical next question is, "Well, what can I write to grab [a reader's] attention?"

The answer is this: Who knows.

But my very best advice is to write whatever you like most. Don't write chick lit because you think it will sell (especially since the market is in a downturn) or thrillers because you are a man. If it feels good, write it.

If you look back over the culture of entertainment, there have been some successes that no one would have predicted. Who would've guessed a show about nothing would go down as one of the greatest television programs ever, or that a song about a pedophile with a sinus infection would launch a band to stardom, or that a book where 85% of the protagonist's speech is in the form of a stutter would win a national award? And there are countless cases where a perfect concept is introduced but falls completely flat. So, just write what you like writing. The best will rise to the top. Does that mean it will get published?

Don't be silly. Of course not.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Feeling the pain.

Open the POD can and the worms slither out. Jeepers.