Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The Bologna Children's Book Fair

Bologna Children's Book Fair 2014
For those who don't know, the Bologna Children's Book Fair happens every year in March. Before I started working at a literary agency, I had lots of thoughts about what I assumed happened at these big international book fairs (there is also the London Book Fair in April and the Frankfurt Book Fair in October, and others) but what actually happens is so much bigger than I imagined.

Basically, publishers from all over the world gather in a giant convention complex, set up booths with their books, and work to sell rights into other countries and create buzz for their titles and their authors. Agents, sitting at tables not big booths, also work to sell the rights to foreign publishers that their authors still hold.

What are these "rights" I'm talking about?

If I write a book, and my agent sends my book to XYZ Publishing, and XYZ Publishing wants to make me an offer for that book, they are going to want to acquire the "rights" to do so. What rights they ask for and what rights they are granted is negotiated between: XYZ, my agent, and myself.

Here is a (very basic) explanation of what they could get:

Rebecca Taylor, Bologna Italy 2014

World rights: XYZ has the right to sell the rights to publish my book to other publishers in other countries in any language. So instead of your agent (or their foreign rights co-agent) working to sell your book into other countries, the publisher is doing this in house. In Bologna, American publishers were meeting with foreign publishers to try and sell their books (for which they held World rights) into those countries.

World English rights: XYZ has the right to sell the rights to publish my book to other publishers in other countries that predominantly speak English. XYZ is going to work to sell my book into the United Kingdom, Australia, etc, etc. My agent/foreign co-agent will work to sell the rights into other, non-English speaking countries. In Bologna, there was a room called "The Agent Center" where literary agents met with foreign publishers trying to sell any rights their authors still held.

North American rights: XYZ has the right to publish my book in North America. My agent works to sell the rights into everywhere else.

North American English rights: XYZ has the right to publish my book in English in North America. My agent would work to sell the rights everywhere else (including Spanish translation into Mexico and every other territory.)

Some people think that giving your World rights to a publisher is a bad thing. Not necessarily so. It completely depends on that publishers ability to sell the rights into other countries. Some publishers, especially the largest houses, have foreign divisions in other countries that can facilitate the spreading of your book throughout the world. Your book, if it is a hot title, could find a home in other countries more readily because of these already established, in-house, connections. Furthermore, some publishers (large or not) have in-house foreign rights managers who have established relationships with editors in other countries--your agent, or agency, may or may not have someone who is capable of doing this. 

World rights are not such a great thing to give away when working with a very small house (who quite probably does not have foreign connections nor do they have a foreign rights manger working to sell rights into other countries.) If your small press holds World rights, and they are not actively trying to sell those rights into other countries, they are basically just sitting on them and preventing you, or your agent, from working to sell your book to foreign presses--or even self-publish your title in foreign countries. Of course, many small presses have "non-negotiable" contract language so just know what you're getting into.

As I said before, this is just a basic explanation and I am certainly not an expert. Contract language can get pretty thick in the weeds, so always turn to your agent or literary lawyer for a more detailed explanation. Also, if anyone has a better or more complete understanding/explanation, please feel free to jump in on the comments--I'll edit the post to be more correct if necessary. 

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Colorado Book Award Finalist--Ascendant


My book, ASCENDANT, is a finalist for the 2014 Colorado Book Award! The Finalist Reading will be held May 8th, 2014 at the Oxford Hotel in downtown Denver. The winners will be announced and the awards will be presented on June 13th at 2:00pm at the Hotel Jerome in Aspen.

Friday, April 11, 2014

Interview With Author, Kristi Helvig

Author photo

Kristi Helvig

Tuesday April 8th 2014, I had the opportunity to attend Kristi Helvig's book launch for Burn Out at the Tattered Cover in Highlands Ranch. What a great event, with yummy cupcakes, to celebrate the release of a fun, face paced, young adult sci fi! Here are some pics!
Kristi Helvig and Rebecca Taylor
Kristi Helvig answering questions about Burn Out
Kristi Helvig Burn Out release, Tattered Cover Highlands Ranch

Today I'm interviewing my fellow Darkly Delicious YA author, Kristi Helvig, about her young adult debut--Burn Out.

BURN OUT CoverYour debut title, Burn Out, is a young adult science fiction published by Egmont USA. Tell us about Burn Out, what can we expect?
It’s about a 17-year-old girl, Tora, who is one of the last people on Earth when the sun burns out early. She finds other survivors, or rather they find her, but they turn out to be even deadlier than the planet. Expect a fast, tense ride.

What would you say makes it stand out from other books in the same category?

Hmmm. I haven’t seen the concept of the sun burning out before and it involved a lot of science research because I’m a total nerd. So I could say it’s nerdier than other books, but that’s probably not a strong selling point-lol. I will say that I’m a huge Star Trek and Battlestar Gallactica fan (I’m really not doing much to dispel the nerd thing, huh?), but a big part of that for me is the characters and not just the sci-fi setting. Shows like BSG and Firefly had characters that made me care about them, which was what I wanted in my own book.

How long have you been writing fiction? What inspired you to become an author?

Either a few years or forever, depending on how you view it. I wrote my first picture book at age 5 or 6, and then my first novel a few years after that. However, I didn’t write anything other than angsty teen poetry until after I had my kids. The first book I wrote with the intent of it being published was a few years ago.

I see that you also work as a clinical psychologist; do you feel this has any bearing and/or impact on your fiction writing?

Yes, I’ve always been fascinated with what makes people tick, and why they make the choices they make so I got my Ph.D. and have been working as a psychologist for over 12 years now. It definitely helps with characterization and motivation in novels. I also worked with teen girls in youth corrections and met a lot of smart, tough girls, so writing a tough girl came pretty easily.

How do you balance work, your writing career, and family?

Ha. I should ask you that because I’m not sure I’m balancing anything at all right now. I’m lucky in that I only work part-time in my private practice which leaves more time for writing. However, right now I’m juggling the deadline for Book 2 revisions with the launch for Book 1 and feel more unbalanced than ever. Whenever I have crazy times like this, I make sure to create some down time afterward. I have things planned with my family after my launch, and a mountain trip with girlfriends. Other tips are appreciated. ;)

What tips or recommendations do you have for aspiring authors?

Keep writing, keep learning, join a critique group, attend conferences, read blogs. And chocolate and wine always come in handy too.

Thanks so much for having me on the blog, Rebecca! :)

Kristi, thank you so much for being on the blog. Your release was great!

You can follow Kristi here:
Website: www.kristihelvig.com
Facebook: www.facebook.com/KristiHelvigAuthor
Twitter: @KristiHelvig
Goodreads: www.goodreads.com/author/show/6997226.Kristi_Helvig

Friday, April 4, 2014

Interview with author Katie O'Sullivan


Today I'm interviewing author Katie O'Sullivan.

Your latest release is a small town, contemporary romance set in Cape Cod, My Kind of Crazy. You are also the author of Son of a Mermaid and the second book in that series, Blood of a Mermaid (due out in May of 2014). Tell us about your Mermaid series and what we can expect from My Kind of Crazy?
The SON OF A MERMAID series is aimed at a YA audience, while MY KIND OF CRAZY is a contemporary romance. All the books are set on Cape Cod, where I currently live, with the Atlantic Ocean playing a role. Of course, in the mermaid books there are a large number of scenes that take place in the mermaid realm under the waves, while the characters in MY KIND OF CRAZY are strictly human. Well, except for the foster puppy. He just thinks he’s a person.

What would you say makes them stand out from other books?

I like to think my books are intelligent, with snappy dialogue and real emotion. The biggest feedback I’ve received is that the place descriptions pull people in and make readers feel like they are actually visiting the scenes described in the books.

What current books would you compare them too?

If you like books by authors like Kristen Higgins and Mary Kay Andrews, with small town settings and feisty heroines looking for a second chance at happiness, you’ll like MY KIND OF CRAZY. It’s set in a small seaside town on Cape Cod. The SON OF A MERMAID series should appeal to fans of Percy Jackson, as they are more adventure stories than your typical mermaid romance.

Can you tell us about your personal background?

I grew up in New Jersey, but now I live on Cape Cod with my family and big dogs. In fact, the foster puppy in MY KIND OF CRAZY is modeled after our own Saint Bernard, who was a huge trouble maker when she was young! The day she learned to open the car windows on her own made me realize I was in big, big trouble.

How long have you been writing fiction?

I’ve always loved to write stories, but I didn’t get serious about it until my youngest was in full-day Kindergarten. A friend dragged me along to his writing class and I found my love of writing was still alive and well. It had just been dormant for twenty years.

What inspired you to become an author?

I was an early and voracious reader, and dreamed of writing stories that would inspire that same passion for reading in others.

My first two books were for adults, until I finally sold my first YA manuscript to Crescent Moon Press for the story that became SON OF A MERMAID, and the soon to be released sequel, BLOOD OF A MERMAID.

I love to read YA, but I also like to read smart romance novels with strong females taking charge of their lives and their own happiness – I guess that’s why I write that type of story as well. I like to write what I like to read.

I see that you also work as an editor and write a column, do you feel this has any bearing and/or impact on your fiction writing?

I’ve worked in many different writing and editing jobs over the years, and still work as a freelance editor. The column I write, “The Write Way,” gives advice on writing and editing, including answering frequently asked questions and addressing common mistakes.

When you work with other writers, the mistakes tend to jump out at you more. It’s so hard to edit your own words because you always “know” what you’re trying to say. Your brain will fill in the missing bits, or smooth over the rough patches. Correcting those mistakes in other people’s manuscripts also helps me to recognize them in my own work.

How do you balance, work, your writing career, and family?

Balance? You’re supposed to balance? No one told me that!

I see that you also blog. With regards to social media, what do you feel has benefited your writing career the most?

Blogging has helped me to connect with other writers and learn new things about both writing and promotion. The blog-writing itself is a good tool to sharpen skills, but the biggest part about blogging is that you’re supposed to actually support others. Visit other blogs, read and comment on other opinions, build relationships. Bloggers support each other, and you’re building a network of online support and friendship, because face it. Most of an author’s time is sitting alone in front of a computer screen. My ability to do this successfully waxes and wanes, but I know that’s how it’s supposed to work.

What are your thoughts about the publishing industry today?

Publishing is changing rapidly. There’s no longer just one route to publication, like when I first graduated from college. Authors today have so many (too many) options and choices and decisions to make…but it’s also exciting because authors have so many options and choices and decisions they are able to ponder! With the advent of new self-publishing venues, the next few years will be interesting to watch.

Can you speak a little about your experiences working with small presses?

I’ve worked with four different small press publishers over the years, and three have been great experiences. The other was a learning experience.

A small press has the advantage of allowing the author a greater degree of control over their storyline and artwork, but the disadvantage of smaller distribution network. With a small press, an author has to be willing to go the extra mile with marketing and promotion, as if they had self-published. Some small presses give marketing support, like sending out review copies to various review sites or sponsoring group tables at events.

The other big advantage of a small press is the supportive network of authors that come along with the signed contract. I love my Crescent Moon and Wild Rose families, where the authors are actively sharing ideas and working together to support one another.

Tell us about your path to publication.

My path to publication was long and rocky, without any great “aha” moments. Lots and lots of rejection letters from agents and publishers, and yet somehow I kept going. Kept writing, and kept bugging people about my story ideas.

I’ve accomplished a few of the goals on my ultimate list – my first contract, my first book signing, my first fan letter from someone I didn’t know, my first fan letter from an 10-year-old reluctant reader – but there are still plenty of goals I have yet to achieve. The road doesn’t end at being published.

What tips or recommendations do you have for aspiring authors?

Write. Sit down and write. Set goals for yourself, either word counts or hours per week, and meet those goals. Sign up for a class or find a critique group at your local library, to share your work and have someone you’re responsible to. Read writing blogs and columns like mine for tips on writing and trends in the industry. And make sure you have a second set of eyes read over your pages before you send them to any agents or publishers!

But most of all, write. You can’t be an author if you’re not a writer.

Katie, thank you so much for being on the blog today and for all the great insights.

You can follow Katie here:
Website: www.katie-osullivan.com
Blog: http://katieosullivan.blogspot.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorKatieOSullivan