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Topics - Stacey Cochran

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eBooks / Kindle Scout - $1500 Advance
« on: November 03, 2014, 03:44:45 pm »
Hey, folks, I need your help. My novel Eddie & Sunny is in the brand-new Kindle Scout program. Kindle Scout is a program designed to give an unpublished novel 30 days to drum up as many nominations as possible. The books with the most nominations are given close consideration of a publishing contract with an Amazon imprint, a $1,500 advance, and 50% royalties on ebooks for five years.

For the remainder of November (2014) you can see my novel Eddie & Sunny here:

Please nominate the book. It only takes about three seconds.

How to Publish a Book / How to Get Published
« on: September 02, 2014, 05:03:53 pm »
Having interviewed hundreds of traditionally published authors over the past decade, I have seen two essential pathways to publication with a traditional publisher.

1) You find a literary agent who wants to represent your work, and that literary agent sells your book to an editor and a publishing house.

2) You self-publish your book and it sells enough copies (10,000+) that it interests an editor or gives evidence to a literary agent to use in selling a subsequent book to an editor.

What other pathways have you heard of that led to a book deal? What are the specific steps a writer takes to make a traditional publisher want to contract with an author?

Fascinating data released from Author Earnings comparing the latest trends between self publishing and traditionally published ebooks.

The bullet points:

  • Big-5 publishers are massively reliant on their most established authors to the tune of 63% of their e-book revenue.
  • Roughly 46% of traditional publishing's fiction dollars are coming from e-books.
  • Very few authors who debut with major publishers make enough money to earn a living - and modern advances don't cover the difference.
  • In absolute numbers, more self-published authors are earning a living wage today than Big-5 authors.
  • When comparing debut authors who have equal time on the market, the difference between self-published and Big-5 authors is even greater.

To read the full article, visit:

Interview with the Authors / Robert Gregory Browne Interview
« on: June 29, 2014, 03:50:44 pm »
Interview with Robert Gregory Browne

HOW TO PUBLISH A BOOK: Well, so first let's start with your new company Braun Haus Media. What are you looking for from writers? And why did you decide to start it?

ROBERT GREGORY BROWNE: I started it in order to publish my own books. It's that simple. At first it was just a publishing name for Amazon and others to list. I felt and still do that it's much better to have a "publisher" listed. But since I was publishing my own books I thought, why not expand a little, make it a formal publishing company. So I'm working on setting up an LLC and have a couple of projects lined up for late this year and hopefully early next and after that we'll see what happens. If things work out well, I'll expand further and open the house up to submissions, offering authors a MUCH better royalty structure than they're likely to get with the big boys. But we aren't there yet.

HOW TO PUBLISH A BOOK: A lot of traditional publishing folks (in the press at least) keep arguing that eBook publishing is destroying publishing. Clearly you disagree and see the new publishing frontier as an opportunity like none other in recent history. Is it possible that both sides are right in this argument? What do you think of how the New York Times pitches Amazon as the evil villain and traditional publishing as the hero? See for example Hachette Chief Leads Book Publishers in Amazon Fight 

Is the New York Times piece objective journalism?

ROBERT GREGORY BROWNE: First, how could anything that opens up opportunities to people like me (meaning authors, who, you know, actually create the product) destroy publishing? And how can a technology that embraces a generation raised on computers and offers a convenient - and pleasing - way to deliver content be BAD for publishing?

And let's face it, publishers are making a LOT of money from ebooks, so what's the complaint?

When someone in traditional publishing says that ebooks are bad for publishing, what they're really saying is: our way of doing things is headed down the drain and the more this new technology makes us irrelevant, the less chance we have of making a living. There is a long history of creatives being dependent on middlemen to get their work to the public and those days are disappearing and so, eventually, will most of the middlemen. It's just the way of things.

But that doesn't mean that publishing is being destroyed. I'll still be publishing. And so will many many others. And there will always be authors who don't want to do it all, so they'll come to guys like me who will be offering them a great royalty. And big publishing will likely always have the blockbuster writers - unless they all get wise and realize they can make even more money by directly selling their books. But I don't think that's likely to happen anytime soon.

The bottom line is that ebooks are simply a new way of delivering content. That's all. Publishing will be fine.

As for Amazon, the company that stirs things up is always cast as the villain. And the New York Times is establishment publishing. So, of course, they'll demonize Amazon. It's all pretty ridiculous, but people go crazy when their livelihoods are threatened. Can you really blame them?

HOW TO PUBLISH A BOOK: CBS Television and Sony Entertainment produced a television pilot of your novel Kiss Her Goodbye. How did this pilot come about and what was the experience like seeing your novel translated into a pilot?

ROBERT GREGORY BROWNE: Here's how it happened. Producer Carl Beverly (Justified, Elementary) was in a bookstore and happened across an anthology I was in called KILLER YEAR, which was edited by Lee Child. Carl read my short story, liked it, and decided to read one of my books. He choose Kiss Her Goodbye, loved it and contacted my agent to see if the rights were available. He also wanted the rights to the short story, BOTTOM DEAL, which I now publish under my Braun Haus imprint, but it had already been snatched up at the time by another producer.

Having learned my chops in Hollywood, I didn't think much of all this. I knew that very few options turn into anything concrete, but I wasn't about to turn down a little extra cash and there was always slim chance it might really happen. Flash forward a couple months and Carl contacts us to say that CBS loved their pitch and wants a script. One of the producers involved was director Michael Dinner (Justified, Sons of Anarchy, etc., etc.), who decided he'd write it. And he did a hell of a job. He stayed pretty faithful to the book - even used a lot of the dialogue I'd written - and I was pleasantly surprised to find that I loved it. And so did CBS who immediately green lit a pilot episode.

My involvement in the project consisted of receiving an email or phone call now and again, and during filming they invited me out to Chicago to watch. The set was at a lighthouse off the lake, which is where the climax of the story takes place. And I have to tell you, when I saw Dylan Walsh and Michael Rappaport running up a hill toward that lighthouse with a squad of uniformed cops, tears came to my eyes. It's as if every dream I'd ever had about writing had come to fruition at that moment.

I sometimes forget that. I'm living my dream.

HOW TO PUBLISH A BOOK: Your screenplay Low Tide was selected as a winner for the Nicholl Fellowships in Screenwriting Competition in the early 1990s. How did winning this competition prepare you for writing for television? How did you get your foot in the door writing for TV? How important were your collaborations with Larry Brody, and how did you both meet?

ROBERT GREGORY GROWNE: Well, I never really had my foot in the door. Maybe a toe. Brody and I wrote animated action shows like Spider-Man Unlimited for Marvel and Diabolik for Saban, but animation wasn't really considered mainstream television.

Brody, of course, is a television veteran who has been the showrunner or written for just about every action or detective show you can think of from the seventies and eighties and early nineties and I learned a lot from him in terms of pacing and structure. But the best part was the drive to lunch once a week and talks of showbiz and politics and observations about the absurdities of life.

We met when I found out he was the head writer for a new animated show for Fox Kids and I sent him an email telling him about my work and asking if I could send him a script. He said yes, then later called me up and asked me to work with him as a staff writer. And we pretty much hit it off instantly.

I'm not sure if winning the Nicholl really prepared me for writing for television. It's geared toward feature writing and was a wonderful experience, especially since it led to the sale of Low Tide at Showtime and got me into the business. But the preparation for television had more to do with the ten or twelve unproduced screenplays I wrote before Brody and I started working together. But, again, we were writing animation, and that was a whole different animal. Fortunately, Brody was very patient with me while I learned.

Literary Agents / Stacia Decker Literary Agent Interview
« on: November 08, 2013, 05:12:47 pm »
HOW TO PUBLISH A BOOK: How did you first get started in publishing? When did you know you wanted to be a literary agent?

STACIA DECKER: I started as an unpaid intern at LINK: Farrar, Straus & Giroux while I was working on my MFA thesis. When, as an editor, I was laid off in the LINK: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt merger, I started considering agenting as an opportunity to work with the authors I really believed in.

HOW TO PUBLISH A BOOK: When you look back at your time at Harcourt and LINK: Otto Penzler Books, what did you learn about the business?

STACIA DECKER: I learned a lot about the bookmaking and selling process from direct interaction with the sales, marketing, publicity, and production teams, and I learned a lot about book packaging from working with paperback and reprint titles. Of course I also learned about the acquisition process, which is helpful knowledge to have as an agent.

Seeing a relatively small editorial team in action, I came to some of my own conclusions about the importance of a clear editorial mandate and the thoughtful presentation of a cohesive list. As an agent, I think of my client list in some of the same ways I would an imprint - while there's breadth, my list is governed by my tastes and, as such, has a distinct character.

Working with Otto Penzler on his imprint, I also learned how welcoming and supportive the mystery community is. That's one of the reasons I now concentrate on mystery and crime fiction and have tried to build a client list in which my authors feel as supported by their fellow clients as by me and the Maass agency.

HOW TO PUBLISH A BOOK: You represent some outstanding crime fiction writers like Allan Guthrie, Seth Harwood, Declan Burke, Jeff Shelby, and Scott Wolven. What is it about the harder aspects of life that appeals to you?

STACIA DECKER: Some of this is basic escapism. Crime fiction takes readers behind the scenes into illicit trades or worlds that most of us don't experience in daily life and allows us to play out our fantasies and fears. The world, as it's represented to us in the news and elsewhere, is a threatening, chaotic place, and our lives can be filled with mundane anxiety. Crime fiction provides a more visceral, exciting - and yet remote - scenario to worry about and convinces us we could, at the least, survive. It lets us live vicariously through a worldview that is often tougher, savvier, or more comfortable with handguns.

Mystery fiction has traditionally been a moral genre, one that reassures us by reinforcing social norms and restoring order in the end. That said, I'm more interested in stories that blur distinctions between right and wrong, good and bad, and make the reader complicit in some bad actions and questionable decision making. These characters force us into a more nuanced contemplation of morality. They exercise our empathy and call into question our own moral judgment. And they are - to me, I suppose - a more realistic form of wish-fulfillment, one in which we get to break the rules while still struggling against fundamental constraints.

I'm not particularly interested in characters that are extraordinarily smart, attractive, accomplished, fit, and talented in the kitchen, or in scenarios in which our hero has access to all the latest secret agent hardware or the ability to fly off into a new life at a moment's notice. I'm more interested in a flawed, recognizably human protagonist dealing with the limits of his place within society, within his family, and so on. The working-class tragedy gives us a window onto how an awful lot of us live, and allows us to ask how we would - given the constraints of our real lives - react ourselves.  I'm also interested in the vulnerability and complications of the male identity, and that's a subject that plays out in so many ways in crime fiction.

HOW TO PUBLISH A BOOK: Describe how the job at LINK: Donald Maass Literary Agency came about.

STACIA DECKER: My first position as an agent was with Firebrand Literary. When Firebrand closed shop a few months after I joined the agency, I had to go out on my own or find a new home. I had quite a few clients I wanted to protect, and I was only interested in joining an agency with a great reputation, established foreign subagents, and a real love of genre. I'd worked with the Maass agency through Otto Penzler Books, and I called Don to ask his advice and we started talking. Needless to say, my authors were thrilled when I announced we had a new home with Don.  I cannot say enough about Don's editorial insight, ethical judgment, and professionalism and how much I enjoy working at DMLA.

HOW TO PUBLISH A BOOK: You've done some fine writing yourself. How do you compare advocating for someone else's work in contrast to your own?

STACIA DECKER: Just as it's easier to edit someone else's work, advocating for someone else's work is much easier. I can unabashedly believe that my client is a genius and tell anyone who'll listen. A good writer doesn't believe he's a genius and, if he does, he shouldn't say so.

Authors also aren't necessarily in the position to understand how best to present or pitch or package their book. Maybe they're not objective about how their prose will be cast (literary vs. faux literary, for example), or which comparison titles will sell the book to bookstore category buyers, or why it's better to appeal to a distinct genre audience than to cross categories. They're most likely not aware of what specific information or presentation or argument a certain editor or imprint or bookstore needs to put a book on their list and sell to their markets. For this type of advocacy, authors need agents.
HOW TO PUBLISH A BOOK: How would you characterize the purchasing atmosphere for crime fiction at the start of 2010?

STACIA DECKER: There are good crime editors and good mystery imprints out there, but acquisitions are hard. We're in a blockbuster era in which editors have a harder time finding money and slots to grow authors, which is how many of today's bestsellers got their starts.

HOW TO PUBLISH A BOOK: What kinds of things lead to a breakout bestselling author? What separates the midlist author from the NYT bestselling author? And is there any pattern or behavioral traits that you’ve noticed that drive an author from being okay selling to being great selling?

STACIA DECKER: If only we knew. There are many more books bought with the hopes - or expectations - that they become bestsellers than actual bestsellers.

One theory is that books sell when they reach a certain cultural saturation point - through name recognition or media coverage, for instance - at which consumers feel they have to buy them. That's hard to arrange. And while some current bestsellers slowly built series success and name recognition to the point that they're now a must-buy, that's become less of an option for authors as houses become more reluctant to keep publishing a series through those building years.

Another theory - at least for why books don’t break through - is that they don't provide a certain comfort zone for readers. For instance, an author who gives her discouraged, overworked protagonist a (perhaps realistically) disrupted, dysfunctional home life might see her work deemed too dark. Readers have not been reassured by her worldview that there is ultimately order and satisfaction in life for good people.

In retrospect, we can look at a breakout series and see a great - culturally relevant - premise and a reader-friendly approach or prose that seems to cinch it. But that a premise will be culturally relevant at a certain point? That's much easier to see in retrospect than in advance.

HOW TO PUBLISH A BOOK: How important is perseverance in our business?

STACIA DECKER: Some part of you has to just not know how to do anything else - at least that's the reason everyone I know gives for sticking with this business even as they bemoan their fate. The publishing industry doesn't make it easy for anyone, and there's not necessarily a conventional payoff to sticking with it. You have to just not be able to help yourself.

HOW TO PUBLISH A BOOK: If you had to make an educated guess about what will be hot in 2010, what do you suspect might be big that we haven't already seen?

STACIA DECKER: Ferrets? Really, who knows. I'm not much of a trend-chaser; I just work with what I love. In the crime fiction world, I'm seeing a resurgence of country noir, with meth labs and dog fighting being popular themes - I'd be happy if that hit big.

HOW TO PUBLISH A BOOK: What do you love most about being a literary agent?

STACIA DECKER: The ability to work, both on an editorial level and in a career-building capacity, with the authors I believe in.

HOW TO PUBLISH A BOOK: What drives you up the wall?

STACIA DECKER: Run of the mill unprofessionalism pushes my buttons. But in general I think people are trying their best.

HOW TO PUBLISH A BOOK: How do you sign on new authors? Does the entire agency have to support it?

STACIA DECKER: I conduct the due diligence I feel necessary - a phone conversation, maybe some revision - and Don takes the advise and consent role.

It's a collaborative environment, and in discussing projects with colleagues I often get valuable feedback and great suggestions about pitching and positioning clients’ work, but we operate with a baseline respect for one another's tastes.

HOW TO PUBLISH A BOOK: When selling a debut author's book, how do you weigh building a career for him/her with the desire to get a very large advance?

STACIA DECKER: I'm in it for the author's career and, while I wouldn't advise an author to reject a large advance without other options, I might advise an author to take a lower advance from a house I thought would better publish the author. Some books are better suited to a particular format or would be a better fit on a certain list; likewise, houses are known for different strengths and varying levels of stability. And, as we've seen, an author is often better off earning out a smaller advance and being thought of as a good investment than failing to earn out a large advance and being termed a disappointment. I'm going to consider seriously any house that offers a small advance but offsets it with genuine, on-going enthusiasm and a savvy publishing model.

HOW TO PUBLISH A BOOK: How important is the follow-up book, and how do you work with your authors in building their careers? What kinds of things can an agent do to ensure that it grows?

STACIA DECKER: An agent is first helping a client think about what his career goals are. Then the agent considers what the right first book is given these goals. For instance, an unpublished client can only be a debut author - with a clean sales track and his headshot in the publishing house's debut author pamphlet - once. So an author who doesn't want to sneak onto the publishing scene may agree to put aside a completed short story collection, which will find less enthusiasm in the marketplace, in favor of offering a novel as his debut property.

In order to set up the follow-up book's success, the agent is first trying to find the right house for the author in placing the first book. Ideally, that means a publisher that believes in the author's career, publishes the first book well, and maybe even commits to the second book from the start.

But publishers are increasingly less likely to make those kinds of commitments. Often this means, when it comes time for the follow-up book, the agent is both pushing for that commitment from the house and advising the author on his options given the realities of his situation and his goals. Those options are not always ideal.

The follow-up book needs to sell better than the first one. And that's hard if the first one didn't meet expectations. Increasingly, publishers and booksellers have already made up their minds at that point, and smaller marketing budgets or orders for the follow-up don't typically help its sales.

Thus, an agent can't always ensure that sales grow or that a client's career grows in the manner he'd first envisioned. But the agent can help the author make his strongest case for the publisher's, booksellers', and readers' continued support. An author wants each book to be better than the last, and this means not only taking lessons in craft from the writing of the first book but also looking at plotting and themes to find ways to expand the scope - to make the book bigger. A good agent pushes the author to think about these issues and look for these opportunities in his writing. It's an unpredictable business, but the agent is the author's partner in making each book as good as it could be and better than the last.

HOW TO PUBLISH A BOOK: What are you looking for in a piece of writing?

STACIA DECKER: I like a strong, distinct voice, tight prose, fast pacing, and dark humor. I'm looking for a big hook at the start and a plot that develops quickly with a minimum of exposition. I want to hear that narrative voice talking to me from line one, putting me in someone else's head. Deft characterization that captures the nuances of social interaction and dialogue usually charms me. I'm partial to realistic but subtle specificity about occupations and other areas of expertise.

HOW TO PUBLISH A BOOK: How long does it take to know?

STACIA DECKER: Not long. As with anything, the best and the worst are easiest to tell. Sloppy, cliched, or mundane prose is pretty clear from the start, just as is a sharp, funny voice or a surprising opening premise.

A work that leaves me on the fence at the start will make up my mind for me by twenty to thirty pages in. That might not sound fair, but I'm going to end up living and breathing any novel I take on, so I have to really love it. It doesn't take long to know whether I feel passionately about a character or would want to reread a story over and over before it even goes on submission.

A work that starts strong but develops flaws will keep me reading with revision in mind. And a work that absolutely hooks me will have me praying it holds up but thinking "that can be fixed!" when I come across a stumble.

HOW TO PUBLISH A BOOK: Are there any specific elements of craft that beginning writers tend to neglect?

STACIA DECKER: I see way too much exposition. A writer has to figure out how to tell a story without telling me the story. Even a first-person narrator should not be conducting a lecture. Descriptions, backstory, and other details should be revealed organically, if they're even necessary. Good writing is all about what isn't said, what the reader infers and fills in.

I also see too much unwitting pastiche. Of course genres have conventions, and now even twists on the conventions have become conventions. But overly familiar characters, cliched language, and same old story plotting reveal a writer who's not really thinking about his characters or who's playing it safe in an attempt to appeal to everyone that appeals to no one. Too often I feel a writer is rewriting a story he's already read.

HOW TO PUBLISH A BOOK: Do you have any pet peeves that you see beginning writers doing over and over?

STACIA DECKER: Well, see above. And even though these have become pet peeve cliches, I still see a lot of characters waking up, characters sweating, characters waking up sweating, and characters with model good looks.

HOW TO PUBLISH A BOOK: If you could change one thing about the industry, what would it be?

STACIA DECKER: I'm way too pessimistic to believe that any change I made wouldn't have catastrophic unforeseen consequences.

HOW TO PUBLISH A BOOK: At the end of the day, what is the most satisfying aspect of working in publishing?

STACIA DECKER: The authors, both working with them and having the chance to contribute to their work in some way.

Interview with the Authors / RJ Keller Interview
« on: October 26, 2013, 03:28:17 pm »

HOW TO PUBLISH A BOOK: Your novel WAITING FOR SPRING was originally self-published. It did so well that Amazon Encore approached you to acquire the rights to re-publish it. What is the story about?

RJ KELLER: WAITING FOR SPRING is about a troubled woman (Tess Dyer) who moves from one small, Maine town to an even smaller one after a painful divorce to escape her demons. (Figuratively speaking, of course. It’s not a supernatural tale.) Unfortunately, her demons follow her, as they tend to do, and she brings them into her new relationship with Brian, a local carpenter with problems of his own. The book is chock full of angst and sex and drugs and humor, but it’s basically a story about modern rural life as seen through the eyes of an intelligent, but under-educated, woman.

HOW TO PUBLISH A BOOK: How long did it take to write? And tell us about your decision process to self-publish it initially.

RJ KELLER: It took me around a year to write WAITING FOR SPRING and another six months to edit (with the help of two very dear editor friends), then I queried it to over a hundred agents. I had several requests for the partial manuscript, and even a few requests for the entire thing, but was turned down by all of them. The general refrain was that it was a good book, but not particularly marketable.

I understood where they were coming from. It’s kind of a huge book and isn’t easily pinned down into a genre. It’s got a love story, but isn’t a romance novel and it’s much too gritty for ‘chick lit.’ But all the same, I was irritated that no one was willing to take a shot at it. I was confident that there was an audience for it, so I made like the Little Red Hen, went out and found that audience myself.

HOW TO PUBLISH A BOOK: For folks unfamiliar with Amazon Publishing (most people think of Amazon as an online retail store), how does their self-publishing and traditional publishing process work? How are the two separate?

RJ KELLER: They are separate. Amazon’s various self-publishing platforms are available for anyone to use. Amazon Publishing, which has several imprints, works like any other publishing house, only—in my experience—better royalties.

HOW TO PUBLISH A BOOK: What advice would you give to a writer who has just finished her first novel and wants to publish it? Should she get a literary agent, self publish her book, or find a small press that she might approach on her own with her book?

RJ KELLER: It really depends on how much research and work she’s willing to do on her own. Self-publishing the right way (with proper editing, formatting, marketing, etc) is a lot of work. You’re basically running a business and if you’re not willing or able to put in the work, or can’t afford to pay someone else to do some of the work for you, then you’re not going to be successful. It also depends on what a writer’s goals are. Although the stigma surrounding self-publishing is lessening, it’s still there and if that’s a big deal to you, then you should probably take the more traditional route.

HOW TO PUBLISH A BOOK: What are you currently on? What timeline do you have for publishing your next novel?

RJ KELLER: I’m currently hard at work on a novel called THE WENDY HOUSE. It follows a man Rick during the course of one day as he prepares to kill the man who killed his daughter, all while having semi-drunken, hallucinatory conversations with his long-dead wife. There’s no timeline for publication at the moment, but I can tell you that it’s nearly finished. It’s only taken me five years…


Robert Schultz Interview

HOW TO PUBLISH A BOOK: Tell us about your book Autobiography of a Baby Boomer. What is the story about?

ROBERT SCHULTZ: ABB is the story of a post-modernist baby boomer from Father Knows Best middle class Fair Lawn, New Jersey to the hippy trail through Europe, North Africa, the Middle East and Asia. The overland journey, in search of something more than he could find at Cornell University Medical College, covers four years during a time when “dropping out”, “turning on”, and “free love” were the gospel. Through his travels, drugs, seances, very far-out “road people”, and his parents’ unremitting love, the young man comes to truly appreciate the American way of life. In an admittedly unconventional way, he discovers the rather conventional joy of having a family and the awesome responsibility that comes with it.

HOW TO PUBLISH A BOOK: What similarities do you reflect on regarding life at medical school and life in a Third World country?

ROBERT SCHULTZ: While there are as many dissimilarities (to the very sheltered, safe life in an Ivy League medical school), both “worlds” exposed me to raw human suffering in the most dramatic ways. Some were at my own expense (jail, fear of dying, loneliness) while most were at the expense of those around me: squatters in the Philippines living off massive garbage dumps; burn victims in The New York Hospital Burn Unit requiring multiple skin grafting operations just to provide a barrier to fluid loss and infection.

HOW TO PUBLISH A BOOK: How does your family feel about your book? What was it like to represent people you know and love in your book?

ROBERT SCHULTZ: It was family (and friends) who knew some of my story that encouraged me to write ABB in the first place. The stories I told my kids at bedtime of far off lands and death defying circumstances begged to be written. Of course, my veracity about events was a concern to me (both how my wife would feel about things that occurred before we met and how my children would process escapades of my youth). But once they read the entire book, appreciated my heartfelt search for self-awareness, and saw my evolution to physician and family man they absolutely fell in love with it (thank God). I have received a similar reaction from those who recognize themselves in the book.

HOW TO PUBLISH A BOOK: Lots of folks have questions about how to structure a memoir. How did you organize your story? How many years does it follow? What are the central themes that hold the story together?

ROBERT SCHULTZ: For the 99% of readers who do not know me, entertainment is the key to ABB. Therefore I chose to center the story around two main events that are powerful and extraordinary: being in prison in Afghanistan and the tragedy of 9/11. The stars of the story are the sexy era of the 1960s and the mystique of the medical world. As the narrator I use my point of view to project the ethos of the times and pathos of a very gripping profession. We journey from 1947 through 2010 at an entertaining clip that makes getting to the next page exciting.

HOW TO PUBLISH A BOOK: What is the purpose of your story? Who do you see as its audience?

ROBERT SCHULTZ: Entertainment is the main purpose of ABB. History (for those interested in a most remarkable time in our culture) and nostalgia (for those who lived it) are important byproducts that seem to appeal to those of all ages although baby boomers were obviously my main audience in the beginning. When I began to get enthusiastic feedback from twenty-somethings (my kids’ friends interested in classic rock who learned that I knew Jimi Hendrix, for instance) I realized the wider appeal of ABB. There are a host of other well know celebrities (Al and Tipper Gore, Tommy Lee Jones—just to name drop a few) encountered in the book as well.

HOW TO PUBLISH A BOOK: Tell us about your publishing experience. What advice would you give to someone regarding whether to self-publish or to find a small publisher to work with them?

ROBERT SCHULTZ: Finding a literary agent is awfully difficult. Each person in an agency has their specialty genre and peddles about four books per year to publishers. So they are extremely selective and the timing must be perfect. Ask anyone who has sent out hundreds of well written query letters how far they have gotten and what they think of the process. Today self-publishing is easy and affordable. My publisher, LightMessages, found me when they saw the original edition of ABB (put together in ePub form by a friend) when it was with one of the major distributors (Amazon, ITunes, Kindle). Even with a publisher it is still up to the author to get out and promote the piece you believe in and worked so hard to produce. This website is the epitome of the right place to start!

HOW TO PUBLISH A BOOK: What are some of the ways you’re helping to market the book and to make readers aware of it?

ROBERT SCHULTZ: I’ve learned that you cannot be skittish about promoting your work. You were inspired to write and put time, energy, heart and soul into it. Doubt is miraculously erased with the first good review…even if from a friend. If fortunate enough to have a publisher, some marketing will be done for you, but (as I was told by LightMessages early on) nothing is more poignant than the author him/herself pounding the pavement. Even Bill O’Reilly (with his recent historical best-selling books success) never misses an opportunity to peddle his work.

I go to book fairs, signings, meet-ups, and local book stores (requesting that they carry ABB). I talk with people and hand out “business” cards (given to me by my publisher) with the book cover, title, author’s page address (on front) and a compelling synopsis (on back). I do the same with friends, at the gym, at work, and on the golf course. If sincere and proud you will not sound obnoxious.
I have both a personal and an ABB Facebook page which I tend to daily and keep active. My author’s page has a short video promotion trailer crafted by my publisher from photos I provided. Through some effort I have been fortunate to do some blog interviews and am thrilled to do this one for   

HOW TO PUBLISH A BOOK: Are you currently working on a new book or have plans to write another book?

ROBERT SCHULTZ: I completed Malpractice, my first novel (developed from a screenplay I wrote some time ago with a co-writer) and a children’s book called Something’s Weird With Barney. I am presently working on I See You, a thriller taking place in an ICU. In the planning stage is a nonfiction book about the Doctor-Patient Relationship that may well be becoming ancient history.

Query Letters / Sample Query Letter to Literary Agents #1
« on: October 22, 2013, 03:47:49 pm »
Sample Query Letter to Literary Agents #1
Below you'll see a copy and pasted version of a query letter to literary agents. When I sent this letter out to 20 agents in 2008, I received 18 positive responses asking to see either a partial or the full manuscript of the novel.

You'll also see an attachment at the bottom of the page, which contains a Word version of this letter with annotations explaining what each paragraph does.

June 12, 2008

John Q. Agent
Six-Figure Agency, Inc.
1001 Broadway
New York, New York 10001
Dear Agent:

When forensic psychologist Dr. Roman Phoenix and his wife Gabby move to North Carolina, they are ready to rebuild their lives. Six months earlier, Roman and Gabby lost their six-year-old daughter, and Roman has accepted his first teaching position since graduating from Nebraska’s forensic psychology and law program. But fate has other plans for Roman and Gabby.

Soon after arriving in North Carolina, two FBI agents deliver news that they may be involved in a serial killer’s twisted plans. The killer—known as the Highwayman—begins contacting Roman because of his research area (road rage), and Roman’s criminal-profiling skill is put to the ultimate test when, in a shocking turn of events, the Highwayman abducts Gabby. Roman’s largely untested expertise must advance from textbook knowledge to practical wisdom that can guide him in a cat-and-mouse battle of wits with the Highwayman. Crime and romance come together with emotional depth in my crime-suspense thriller The Profiler’s Wife, for which I am seeking representation.

In July 2008, I signed contracts with Macmillan/St. Martin’s Press to publish a textbook. I currently teach at NC State, and I host and produce an author-interview TV show on Time/Warner that reaches 90,000 viewers and has connected me with many New York Times bestselling authors and publicists at Harper-Collins, Random House, Simon & Schuster, and other major publishers. In 2008, I worked with Borders Books Senior Management on a series of workshops they asked me to lead around the country, and this fall I’ll be working as an independent contractor for Bedford/St. Martin’s.

I would like to work with an agent who shares my passion and focus. I believe The Profiler’s Wife has the potential to break out commercially from the Crime and Mystery Community. I am currently serving as chair of Bouchercon 2015, the World Mystery Writers’ Convention. The emphasis is on suspense and crime, but the story develops an emotional depth that will have readers invested in Roman and Gabby at the end. Furthermore, the concept underlying the novel (i.e., road rage) is one of the most universally experienced forms of aggression in the world. Motorists in Tokyo, Tel Aviv, London, and New York City have all been affected by aggressive drivers and so can further relate to the novel.

Would you like to read the manuscript?


Jane Writer

Literary Agents / Jason Yarn Literary Agent
« on: October 19, 2013, 03:51:43 am »

Jason Yarn, Literary Agent

HOW TO PUBLISH A BOOK: You completed Brooklyn Law School in 2010, studying entertainment law. What are some of the ways that prepares you for a career as a literary agent? Also, in a broader sense, how does it prepare you for a career in the entertainment industry?

JASON YARN: I’ll actually complete BLS this year – I’ve been taking part-time law classes over the last several years while working full time as a literary agent. That might sound crazy – and it is – because of the huge amount of reading, but it ended up balancing out nicely: an hour of manuscripts and queries, then an hour of law, and then back again. Good change up going from vampires to Dred Scott.

So much of a lit agent’s job in a changing publishing landscape is to find new areas that your clients can take advantage of, with ebooks being the current example, but there are always new distribution models cropping up. The other side of course is being able to deal with the new copyright and contract changes that publishers are proposing. You certainly don’t have to be a lawyer to know how to deal with all that (obviously), but I’ve found it’s definitely a help, especially as publishers have their own in-house counsel to protect their interests.

HOW TO PUBLISH A BOOK: What were one or two courses that were particularly helpful in a pragmatic sense? Did you do any internships?

JASON YARN: Copyright and Internet Law were probably the most on point for my day-to-day work, as my professors were very interested in helping us explore the current issues in each of these fields and how the law is so in flux. Going over the Google Books issue was quite illuminating.

HOW TO PUBLISH A BOOK: How did the job at Paradigm come to you?

JASON YARN: I started as a floater at a company called Writers and Artists and quickly ended up on the desk of Lydia Wills, the new head of the book department there. Then WA was acquired by Paradigm in 2004. I made the move with Lydia to the new company and eventually transitioned off her desk and into a junior agent/contracts monkey for the book division. In the last few years, I gradually became a full agent, though there was no particular dividing line. Paradigm and Lydia have always been incredibly encouraging and given me the opportunity to pursue the projects I am interested in and feel will succeed.

HOW TO PUBLISH A BOOK: Paradigm is a robust agency, representing a full-range of niches in the entertainment industry from books, to movies, television, theater, and music with offices in Los Angeles, Monterey, Nashville, and New York. Tell us a little bit about the agency. Who founded it? How has it grown over the years? And what is the agency’s mission?

JASON YARN: Paradigm was founded in 1992 by the CEO Sam Gores and as you hint has grown by connecting with some of the hottest other agencies in the business across the country. It’s bi-and inter-coastal, so it’s big, but we do a good job of connecting effectively with a client in all possible areas. That all comes out of Paradigm’s mission which is to occupy a unique place in all areas of media where our clients are not only well cared for, but their dream projects are also realized.

HOW TO PUBLISH A BOOK: With an agency this size, I’m curious if there is much communication between the different departments. It seems like if you had an author whose book was perfect for a film adaptation, you’d have many of the resources you need right within the agency to make that happen.

JASON YARN: Yep, that’s it exactly. I know it’s a corny word, but “synergy” is the best way to describe it. What’s really nice is the book department has the feeling of a smaller agency, meaning we can give great focus to our clients, but at the same time we have all the backing and support that being a part of a large agency gives us. So I don’t have to worry about the film rights really, because there are agents down the hall in New York and a phone call away in our LA offices who know the ins-and-outs of that side of things.

HOW TO PUBLISH A BOOK: The main agency website is quite clear about not accepting unsolicited materials. How should prospective clients contact you (or should they) if they believe you’re the perfect agent for their book and career?

JASON YARN: Ah well, this is one of the few drawbacks of being with a big agency – the unsolicited materials policy is necessary for the other departments, but you if look at the Publishing section specifically, you can see all the info on how to submit to me or my colleagues. I’m also up at the various agency websites, like Agent Query, Writers.Net and QueryTracker. (You should check out my colleague Alyssa Reuben as well.)

Very quickly: people can email me at with their query letter and the first 10 pages of their manuscript, though I do recommend they read up for more info on one of those sites.

HOW TO PUBLISH A BOOK: What has your first year at Paradigm been like? What are some of the tasks you’ve done? What does a typical Monday through Friday workday look like?

JASON YARN: I won’t go back that far, but I’ve done and do just about everything: reading/answering queries, reading full manuscripts, editing, submissions/selling, negotiating contracts, drafting contracts, dramatic rights, foreign rights, tax stuff.

A typical week depends on what stages various projects are in. For example, this is an odd, but nice, week where I have four different clients all getting back to me with revisions on their projects (two novels, one non-fic, one cookbook). Today I sent edits out to another author on his novel and then started to review the revisions of the other works. In between, I dealt with some foreign tax issues for clients, reviewed and broke down a contract, and read some queries.
And also answered lots of emails, lots and lots of emails, on a range of various subjects (publicity questions, potential clients from other divisions in the agency, ideas from clients on new works, etc.). Emails can swallow up a day if you’re not careful.

The things I usually do outside the office are heavy reading, editing and query responding. I can do some of that in the office, and will input my notes and edits on my computer, but oftentimes it’s too distracting to really give a manuscript your full attention when the emails are surging in and the phone is ringing.

HOW TO PUBLISH A BOOK: What types of books are you most interested in representing?

JASON YARN: It’s easier to say what I’m not interested in: Romance, Children’s Picture Books or straight-up Horror. Unless you mashed all three together…hmmm….

Beyond those genres, I’m pretty wide open to most pitches. There are areas where I am more picky (like women’s fiction) because I am just less familiar with it right now, while others (like sci-fi/fantasy) I have to work at being picky because I love so many of the ideas that people dream up.

The most important thing, as I think all writers know, is to have a solid unique voice that transports me into the story and leaves me feeling like I will die unless I keep turning the pages. That goes for both fiction and non-fiction. Even if you’re writing a proposal about migratory birds, you should endeavor to tell the best story you possibly can.

HOW TO PUBLISH A BOOK: How quickly does it take to know the difference between a good writer and a phenomenal writer, and is there any trick to recognizing the difference? Seems like the success of an agent really hinges on this distinction.

JASON YARN: That feeling of “MUST TURN THE PAGE” definitely helps. If I hit a spot and feel I can set the work down and don’t get pulled back to it later, it’s probably a sign.

In terms of how quickly, it’s usually pretty fast. The first five or ten pages give you a feel for writing style, voice, a little character, etc. A fantastic writer makes his or her presence known right from the start – a good writer may take longer. Part of the job of an agent is to see if a good writer can raise their game and make an entire book shine, not just certain parts or elements.

HOW TO PUBLISH A BOOK: What are your thoughts on eBooks? Will the traditional publishing business model sustain itself through the transition to digitally read books?

JASON YARN: I think as a practical matter, paper books will always be with us in some fashion. Baby and children’s books will continue to be hardcopies because you don’t really want to give an unsupervised two year old an iPad to play with, at least until they are only 6 bucks a pop (the iPad, not the baby). That in turn keeps kids primed for non-electronic works, up to a certain point. Eventually though, if only to help the environment, ebooks are the best bet – especially if you have the space concerns of an NYC apartment.

The full transition to digital is a little ways off, but publishing’s real challenge is appealing to the continually fragmenting audience. The wave of Tumblr and Twitter books is one response to this: specific sites garnering huge amounts of attention, they are the crests of the internet waves showing that while everyone can have their niche, there will still be some things that are just more popular than others.

I can’t speak to the distribution model as much, but I think the PR model is where the real fight is going on. How do you reach all these disparate people, satisfying your “base” audience while at the same time opening up new areas for people who might not know they will like your work? Most authors know they have to be their own best PR, but publishers can be better at working with and supporting them in getting their names out on the web, not just in straight advertisements, but in chats, contests, games, etc.

HOW TO PUBLISH A BOOK: At the end of the day, what is the most satisfying thing about living in New York with your whole career ahead of you?

JASON YARN: For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a reader. Not just that I read a lot, but that I read at all times. In college, the other guys would make fun of me when they saw me in the dorm bathroom reading a book while I brushed my teeth. If I could read while showering, I would. So being able to help authors get their works published, to be involved with getting more great books out there, it’s just a wonderful feeling since I’ve had a long affair with books.

As far as New York goes, why would you want to live anywhere else? The city feels like a collection of different genres, like wherever you get off the subway, you’re in a different city or story (Midtown, Chinatown, Lower East Side, Harlem, etc). Tons of people on the subway are reading, and you can read the multitude of stories in their faces. Plus, my wife and I are food lovers, so NYC is definitely the place to be.

HOW TO PUBLISH A BOOK: Finally, please write a narrative paragraph describing yourself as you imagine you’ll be in five years. Feel free to write about professional or personal aspects of your life, location, level of happiness, etc. What is the picture of yourself as you see it in five years?

JASON YARN: Wait – you want me to write a story? Dear god, you’re crazy man, it would turn out all noir and filled with inerrably polite space aliens. Instead, I’ll merely talk about my hopes.

In 2016, I hope that my almost-five year old son will be as voracious a reader as I was and not already taller than me. I also hope my wife has not yet taught him all my weaknesses, but instead instilled a love of Hellboy in him.

As far as work goes, I hope that publishing still exists and people still want to read full length works, not having their attention sub-divided so much that they can only absorb 20-second snippets of Facebook News. I don’t think this will be quite this apocalyptic, but I do hope that the various major publishing houses have not contracted further, and instead that there is a continued growth and strengthening of the independent line of houses (whether one causes the other, well, I shall leave for greater minds to decide).

Personally, I hope to have more and more found that sweet spot of getting cool authors and their works recognized in this crowded marketplace (more books than ever with less readers?!). I hope the awesome writers from my personal love of comics (book, online, and web) get more and more recognition, and that I am representing some of them.

And finally, by 2016 I hope to have finished reading all the queries currently in my inbox.

How to Publish a Book / How to Publish a Book - Essential Steps
« on: October 17, 2013, 03:49:20 pm »
How to Publish a Book – the Essential Steps

1) Decide whether you want to self-publish or find a traditional publisher for your book

2) If you decide to go the traditional publishing route, you may start by targeting your book to major publishers like Random House, Harper, Simon & Schuster, Penguin Putnam.

3) To get your book manuscript to an editor at a major publishing house, you will need a literary agent to represent you. Literary agents work on behalf of their client writers to pitch, negotiate, and sell the publishing rights for your book to a publisher. You can find out more about literary agents at

4) To interest a literary agent in your book, you’ll need to write a one-page query letter that describes your book, your background and experience, and why you feel this particular agent is a good fit for you, your book, and your career. Most agents will accept a one-page query letter via email.

5) If your query letter captures the attention of a literary agent, the agent will want to read your completed manuscript and speak with you by phone to discuss your book and how you might best work with your literary agent.

6) Some literary agents may ask you to sign a contract stipulating your commitment to work solely with them in the negotiating process with publishers.

7) Eventually the literary agent will begin pitching your book to editors at publishing companies. If the agent is successful in finding an interested editor, that editor will then pitch the book in-house at a meeting with other editors and the publisher. If everyone agrees the book is a good fit for the publishing company, they will begin negotiating with your literary agent.

8. If the negotiations are successful, you will sign a contract granting the publishing company rights to publish your book. At that point, you’ll be assigned an editor who will work with you to bring your book to publication.

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