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Dispatches From The Publishing Front


Inside the Editor/Agent

by Erin Brown

All authors need agents. Period. There, I said it. I won’t take it back, and you can’t make me. I’m sure there are a few of you reading this who think they’ll do just fine without one of those 15% grabbers, so I’ve put together a short quiz. If you answer “yes” to even one of these questions, you’re absolutely right: you do not need an agent. So stop reading because your book is certainly already published. 

A)   You attend book signings and parties at least once a week, during which you mingle with high-powered editors over canapés and champagne (and yes, the editors have to be willing to speak to you for more than two minutes).

B)   You fly to New York at least four times a month to treat editors to $200 meals in order to learn their likes and dislikes (oh, and for some reason, these editors actually take your call and agree to lunch).

C)   You are well-versed regarding the ins and outs of foreign rights, audio rights, serial rights, advances, royalties, auctions, preempts, subsidiary rights, and how to interpret mind-boggling legalese. You’re also adept at negotiating for days, possibly weeks, until you get the best deal for your novel (a first time author would never just take what’s offered to them in the overwhelming excitement of finally getting published, right? Right???) more...


When Do You Know You're an Author?

by Donna Alward

I started to think about this a lot when someone posed the question on their E-harlequin.com blog.  When do you know you’re an author? 

Webster’s dictionary defines an author as a “writer of a literary work (as a book).”  According to this definition, one needn’t sell that work to be considered an author.  You only have to write it.  There you go…validation straight from Mr. Webster himself.  more...


Quotation Punctuation

by Cherie Tucker

This came from a reader, and it is a punctuation problem that troubles many:
Can you address the whole quotation and where the punctuation goes?  It’s so counterintuitive to me to put the comma within the quotes in a sentence like this: 
I was reading a story, “The Lottery,” when my sister burst into my room. 
Since the comma isn’t a part of the title of the story, it makes more sense to me to have it outside the quotes.  I think the British do it that way, don’t they?
At any rate, it’s a common mistake that I would love to read about…


The Romance Report


Featuring Jane Porter

Last night I was on a flight from San Jose to Seattle, and the man next to me was one of the founding fathers of Microsoft.  I didn’t know what he did when we started talking, so we talked books.  He loves to read, and when I mentioned that I was an author and that I wrote commercial fiction for women he asked, “Like Danielle Steele?”  I said no, that mine was different, more contemporary with themes relevant to today’s woman.  “Like Anita Shreve, then?” he tried.

This man was really easy to talk to because we’re two peas in a pod.  He’s a software nerd.  And I’m a book nerd.  And we’re both passionate about books. 

As the plane descended he made some recommendations of books I should read and I madly scribbled down the titles and author.  I love hearing what people love to read.  I don’t want to read “just okay” books.  I want to read books that thrill and delight, books that transport, books that comfort, books that warm, encourage, surprise, and possibly heal.  We all read for different purposes and I’m delighted to be joining Author with a column devoted to the genres I love to read and write:  romance and women’s fiction. more...


How to Build a
Book Tour Audience

by Paula Margulies

Many authors are leery of doing book tours, not only because it's expensive to travel across the country, but also because it's difficult to create a good-sized audience. How can a relatively unknown writer hope to guarantee crowds at signings? Here are some suggestions to help put listeners in the chairs (and hopefully ring up sales):

Sign in Cities Where You Know People

Sounds obvious, doesn't it? Believe it or not, I've had clients insist on appearing in cities like New York, Chicago, or Washington, D.C., when they don't know anyone there. Being an unknown makes setting up signings difficult in the first place, but if you go to a city where you don't know anyone, chances are you'll have a hard time filling the seats.   more...

The Horse Ate an Alligator:
Follow the Rules... unless you don't want to.


by Jennifer Paros

Recently I was teaching a writing workshop at an elementary school for their Writers In Residency program.  Part of the opportunity was to work with kindergarteners. One day, I sat with one of the classes and we started making up a story.  I asked them to pick an animal as a main character.  The group agreed upon a horse.  I asked them where the horse was going.  They said: a farm.  I asked them what the horse was doing.  They said: eating.  I asked them what the horse was eating.  And one little girl, filled with enthusiasm, shouted out, “The horse ate an alligator!”   more...



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