Archives: publishing industry

Honey Girl 9781632204257 (1)

The cover of Lisa Freeman’s latest YA novel, HONEY GIRL, couldn’t be more spot on with this surf inspired theme. The book’s 15 year-old protagonist, Nani, is quickly showcased as a knowledgeable surfer despite the unspoken rule in post-Vietnam era Santa Monica that “girls don’t surf.” The wave on this cover is the beginning of a rip curl–the leading edge of a breaking wave. The colors capture the warmth and richness of the Hawaiian islands–where surfing was (and still is) the stuff of gods.

Lisa Freeman wasn’t the only author inspired by the island and it’s surfing culture:

“In one place we came upon a large company of naked natives, of both sexes and all ages, amusing themselves with the national pastime of surf-bathing.” – Mark Twain on visiting Hawaii

“Shaking the water from my eyes as I emerged from one wave and peered ahead to see what the next one looked like, I saw him tearing in on the back of it, standing upright on his board, carelessly poised, a young god bronzed with sunburn.” – Jack London on surfing lessons with George Freeth

In 1907, the same year that London experienced the water sport, Freeth made his way over to the mainland (California) and brought his surfing skills along for the ride.

How to survive California’s hottest surf spot: Never go anywhere without a bathing suit. Never cut your hair. Never let them see you panic.

The year is 1972. Fifteen-year-old Haunani “Nani” Grace Nuuhiwa is transplanted from her home in Hawaii to Santa Monica, California after her father’s fatal heart attack. Now the proverbial fish-out-of-water, Nani struggles to adjust to her new life with her alcoholic white (haole) mother and the lineup of mean girls who rule State Beach.

Following “The Rules”—an unspoken list of dos and don’ts—Nani makes contact with Rox, the leader of the lineup. Through a harrowing series of initiations, Nani not only gets accepted into the lineup, she gains the attention of surf god, Nigel McBride. But maintaining stardom is harder than achieving it. Nani is keeping several secrets that, if revealed, could ruin everything she’s worked so hard to achieve. Secret #1: She’s stolen her dad’s ashes and hidden them from her mom. Secret #2: In order to get in with Rox and her crew, she spied on them and now knows far more than they could ever let her get away with. And most deadly of all, Secret #3: She likes girls, and may very well be in love with Rox.

Enter to win one of five free signed copies of HONEY GIRL here!

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Categorized: Authors and Writers

If you’re a fiction or memoir lover, you have probably, at some point, fallen in love with a 20-Something title. Three favorites of ours: Donna Tartt’s The Secret History, J.R. Moehringer’s The Tender Bar and one hilariously well-written debut, Girls in White Dresses.

Even if a 20-Something book is written by a 40-Something, it’s still perhaps one of the hardest genres to sell—maybe because its primary audience increasingly reads content on Facebook and blogs, which offer so much dishing-all that, well, why would you need to read it elsewhere? (Ironically, according to this report, Gen Y seems to be leading in terms of overall book buying.)

Do readers want a story that is aspirational but characters who are not always? Very possibly. If the heroine of the novel is too precious, polished, or perfect, makes no blunders, has only happy endings—well, they’re just not so likeable, are they? The best 20-Something characters can be down-on-their-luck and still, with exquisite wry humor, make us laugh. And they’re usually tough, not wallowing in pain the way our 20-Something selves may be.

Agents, receiving more submissions in the history of books than ever before, are seeing more and more proposals and manuscripts written by, or about, 20-Somethings. Before you seek representation, here are a few pointers that might be helpful to consider.

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Lately, I’ve been admiring the craft of representation in my friends and colleagues. One agent with whom I’ve had the opportunity to work has been particularly inspiring. Like many agents, she’s witty, charming, and able to make wise decisions and thoughtfully field questions at an impressively fast page. There’s a subtlety to her manner that I can’t quite describe, except to say that her emails never jar me; never rub the wrong way. Remarkable, because being an agent requires both delivering good news and bad, and often disproportionately. This person has achieved a certain delicacy with both – never over-promising, nor glossing or muddying her words. But what I admire most in said mysterious agent? Read more »

Marketing yourself to find an agent or marketing your book to find a reader are two sides of the same coin. All the same rules apply. If you’re weak on either side…the journey becomes much more trying.

An agent can usually see marketability in a proposal right away. Does this book fall within a greater context of other books that have fared successfully? Is there a clear reader for this book—is that readership wide enough? Is the author well-regarded or well-connected? Where is the evidence of future readers?

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As creative types, those of us who work in publishing and those with MBAs may speak in different tongues, but the way business school graduates are taught to think—analytically, strategically, and always with a mind toward the revenue opportunity—can be valuable in almost any industry. Speaking with MBAs is a complement to the everyday creative, people-y industry of publishing, an industry still largely functioning without predictive data. Maybe we’re getting there.

I was inspired to write this blog immediately and largely unedited when I had breakfast today with an MBA and serial entrepreneur who’s recently gotten interested in the publishing “space,” as they say. As a reader and author himself, he pointed out what he saw to be the Type I and Type II Errors we’re currently making as book consumers.

Type I: You hear about a book, are lured in by a blurb or a book jacket you like, catch the author featured in a media outlet. Excited to read this book, you then find that it really disappoints. You wish you’d spent those hours reading something more enlightening or entertaining.*

Type II: A book, title A, has come across your radar, but you see maybe one Amazon review. On your Goodreads shelves, 3 friends have recommended another book, title B, and you’re seeing that author quite a bit on Facebook, so… you opt for B over A. Title A was actually good, really good – it could have been the next Downton Abby, a sensation – but you passed on the opportunity to read it, and went for something else.

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Too Big to Fail?

Will a Random House/Penguin Merger Stave Off the Amazon Threat?

In yet another sign of the major changes happening in the publishing industry, it was announced Monday that Random House and Penguin have agreed to a merger, creating the biggest global, consumer book publisher in the world, controlling over 25% of the market, according to The New York TimesWitty Twitter comments aside (Random Penguins, anyone?), literary agents, authors and other industry professionals have voiced real concerns about the merger: having fewer publishers to submit to, fewer books, lower advances, and jobs in limbo. (This week, Simon & Schuster announced layoffs and a new restructuring plan.) There were even murmurs that come this Wednesday, Murdoch would make a one billion dollar offer for Pearson, Penguin’s parent company, “terrifying agents and authors,” and possibly causing a bidding war with Random House. This never came to pass. Yet.

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Would you choose a literary agent or publisher based on brand name, or based on their knowledge in new media?

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Suddenly, publishing seems like one big popularity contest. Who was it who said that everything I learned, I learned in high school?

The business of the arts suggests it’s true. When I worked briefly as a music manager, there was one thing that really got me: in a business that was increasingly about touring and media because that was where any money could be made, I started to wonder if being a musician actually meant being a model. Unlike musicians today, writers, fortunately, need not worry too much about superficial appearances, unless a selling point of your book proposal includes being “mediagenic.” Instead, writers benefit because:

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There’s a first rule in becoming an agent: “learn how to manage your client.” This is true of any entertainment agent: when you are invested in someone’s longterm career, you need to allow your client to dream big in the creation process but moderate expectations in the fulfillment of that dream with conservatism, and guide clients to detach themselves from their work as more parties are involved. And encourage that they detach themselves again when they become, as so many artists, the subject of criticism or enjoy the celebrity of fandom–the majority of well-recognized authors experience both, in equal part.

But what about managing your agent or your editor?  Read more »