I'll admit it. This morning I'm mentally lost, or at least in a fog. Part of it is because I'm hurting (nothing major, just annoying) and didn't sleep very well. Part is because my mind is on a project I've been working on with deadlines looming faster than I'd like right now. More on that as the time gets closer -- assuming I have any sanity left. I know, I know, the state of my sanity has always been questionable. What can I say? I'm a writer. ;-)
As I started pulling the blog together this morning, I came upon something I think every writer should be aware of, especially writers who have had or currently have or are considering signing a contract with Bloomberg Press. Three days ago, the Authors Guild posted a letter to its members warning them about the impact of a contract amendment being sent to Bloomberg authors by John Wiley & Sons (JW&S has aquired Bloomberg). The basic import of the letter is that the contractual amendment sent by Wiley would change the royalty system of some contracts from being based on retail price to net price. This could, according to AG, decrease royalties up to 50%. More than that, according to AG, Wiley would be able to keep a book in print with a "lowball print on demand royalty of 5%of net proceeds." Wiley has responded, claiming AG's representation of the letter and contractual amendments included in it is misleading at best and that the royalty changes will benefit the authors involved. Sorry, but I don't buy it. Any way, you can judge for yourself. Here's a copy of Wiley's letter. Read it and judge for yourself. For me, the most troublesome part of the letter is the inclusion of the print on demand language which reads, to me, as their way of keeping a book "in print" so the rights never revert back to the author. Your thoughts?
In other news around the internet, agent Rachelle Gardner says to get to a bookstore. I happen to agree with her. I've blogged before how, as writers, it's important that we read. But it is as important that we take time on a regular basis to visit our local bookstores. Not only does it allow us to see market trends and talk to other readers and pick their brains about what they are reading and why, it allows us to connect with the bookseller. That connection can lead to a recommendation of OUR book to a reader who is looking for something new and exciting. So, the next time you have a few minutes on your hands, get thee to your nearest bookstore.
Agent Janet Reid has an interesting post about how to format an electronic query. As someone who learned to type on -- gasp -- an IBM Selectric typewriter (yes, kiddies, there was a time when computers weren't in every room of the house) old habits about the formatting of a business letter die hard. But Ms. Reid's example and explanation hit home. That said, the caveat of this is to read the guidelines for the agency or publisher you are querying and follow them...no matter how strange or out of date or silly they might seem.
On the topic of following guidelines, agent Jennifer Jackson has two recent posts that show the importance of not only reading the guidelines but following them. The first post encourages us, as writers, to be persistent. Just because an agent turns down our first submission to them, it doesn't mean that agent won't like something else we've written. So, when you have another work ready, query them. This is especially true if you received an encouraging rejection letter from them on the first project. However, don't -- let me say that again, DON'T -- query that agent three or four times in a week on the same or different projects, especially if the guidelines tell you to submit only one project at at time. Submit, my children, wait for a response, wait a few weeks or more and then submit the next project.
Ms. Jackson's second post also concerns guidelines, this time highlighting some of the more odd comments she has seen included in query letters. Comments that shouldn't have been there had the sender simply taken time to read and follow the guidelines. For example, "...if I don't hear back from you within three days, (I'll assume) you aren't interested." WHAT?!? If you can show me any agent's guidelines that says you'll hear back within three days of submission, I have a book or three ready to send. Seriously, the query letter is meant to show us in our most favorable light as writers. Statements such as the ones Ms. Jackson highlights do the exact opposite and are so easy to avoid -- if you read the guidelines.
Finally, for those who write series, and even for those who don't but who have words or names or other conventions in their writing that might not fall under the standard style sheets currently used, agent Jessica Faust recommends you keep your own style sheet and even send it with your pages when you submit them. While it might not keep the copy editor from changing things, it will help. Along those same lines, agent Nathan Bransford recommends for those writing a series that you keep a series bible to help keep all those pesky details, names, places, and descriptions straight from one book to another.
So, any thoughts on these recommendations? Any news from the industry you want to share? The floor is now yours.