Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Letting a Client Go

Authors are often fascinated by what would make an agent drop them. For me, it's pretty hard to do and rare that I've ever dropped a client, although it has happened. The most obvious reason is that the client is not writing books I think I can sell. There have been times when I've taken on a client for a book that I loved and may have even sold, but when the next book comes in I just don't think it's right for me. Maybe it's a different genre or maybe I just don't like it. Either way I don't think I could do my best for this client and another agent would probably be better for her.

I've also dropped clients (only a few) for personality reasons. Usually this happens very soon after signing and needs to be extreme. I'm not planning on being best friends with a client, but I do need to feel like we have similar communication styles and I don't need someone who is going to be toxic. I don't need to be yelled at and I don't need people swearing at me. If that's the case I'll be more than happy to let you find another agent who will listen to you.

And lastly, I've dropped the occasional client because I didn't think she could complete the revisions I thought the book needed before I could begin submitting. This was a mistake I made early on in my agenting career. I would ocassionally take on a client with potential and work with her on revisions. I don't do that anymore, and neither do most agents. It's too risky. If the book needs minor revisions, fine. But if I don't feel I can send it out as is and be proud of it (even without the revisions) I won't offer representation. I might, however, reject the book and give revision suggestions.

What I don't do: I don't set a timeline and drop a client if she hasn't sold after six months or even six years. I don't drop clients because they call too much or ask a lot of questions, and I don't drop clients because we're not friends. As long as I love your work and believe in you I will stick by you through thick and thin. I don't give up easily.

So to turn the tables: What would make you drop an agent?


Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Unsolicited Advice for Authors

Yesterday I commented on a post about unsolicited advice for authors Gawker made back in October. My take was a little advice for Gawker. Well, today I’m going to give my own bit of advice to authors, and you know what? Despite how upset I was at Gawker for saying that authors “are the craziest, meanest, strangest, cluelessest people you've ever met,” much of what was said I actually agree with.

Getting an editor and an agent and selling your book is very exciting and thrilling and incredibly nerve-wracking all at the same time. The book you have labored over for months or even years is now in someone else’s hands and, even worse, someone else’s control. So I understand the paranoia that can go along with all of this. I also understand all too well how authors can hurt themselves and their careers by becoming pests and irritating the one person on their side during all of this mess, the editor.

So what’s an author to do? With thanks to Gawker I’m going to give a softer version of some of the things an author can do to ensure success and a healthy relationship with her editor.

1. Use your agent. You pay her so use her. When you want to call your editor names and accuse her of lying or not taking care of you, call your agent instead. It’s her job to listen to your rants and raves and calm you down in times of stress. It’s also her job to play bad cop, and when things truly are bad with your editor, let her do the dirty work. That’s what you pay her for. She’ll be the one your editor is mad at instead of you.

2. Share Your Ideas . . . with your agent first. While your editor is always anxious and excited to hear what you’re thinking and hopefully she always wants to sign a new book, she also doesn’t want to be the sounding board for every single idea you have ever had. Again, that’s your agent’s job. When you have new ideas or six ideas for your next book, call your agent and see what she has to say first. She’s your number-one sounding board and she’ll be sure to tell you what might work, what might not, and when you should talk to your editor instead of her.

3. Remember the little people. It’s your editor’s assistant who does all the grunt work. She opens your mail, puts through check requests, checks on the status of the contract, and makes sure your editor gets your messages. In other words, she does almost everything. Therefore, if you are sending a small gift to your editor, why not send one to her assistant as well? And whenever you leave a message with the assistant or talk to her, don’t treat her like a leper. Treat her like the intelligent future senior editor (and possibly your editor) that she is.

4. Don’t make excuses. On this one I can’t agree enough with Gawker. It’s so irritating when I get three-page e-mail after three-page e-mail explaining all of the reasons why a manuscript is going to be late, including, but not limited to, sick sister, a deadline that was unreasonable (but that you agreed to), a day job, etc. How much could have been written in the time it took to type that e-mail? If you’re going to miss a deadline, simply, and apologetically, let your editor know that the material will be late and give a concrete date for when it will be delivered (or ask your agent to do it). And don’t be late again. The second most irritating thing is the author who spends months missing repeated deadlines.

5. Revise and edit. I’ll tell you right now that when you first submit your book to your agent, it’s not perfect, and when you then submit it to your editor, it’s not perfect. Heck, it might not even be perfect when it’s published, but you do have a team of people working with you to try their hardest to make it so. This doesn’t mean you have to make every change your editor suggests, but you do need to seriously consider every comment you see. After all, she only has your best interests, and your career, at heart. If you absolutely don’t agree with something, first weigh how important it really is to you and then decide whether or not you need a second opinion. Again, this is another great task for your agent. You can either run your thoughts and concerns by her first and see what she says or, if you just have a few quick questions, feel free to go directly to your editor. But remember, it’s always better to go with a plan than to simply just call and complain that you don’t like what she says. If you don’t like your editor’s suggestions, do you have your own thoughts for what changes can be made to better appease both of you?

6. Inform, but don’t inundate. It’s critical that you keep your editor informed of all the publicity and marketing you’re doing as well as things like late delivery dates, etc. But don’t inundate her with daily e-mails. The most effective updates can be done every few months. As things change, make the corrections to a master list and send it all at once. I think we all find it easier when we can go to one place for the information we need rather than go to several. And also be sure to always keep your editor in the loop. Even if you are sending something to your publicist, cc your editor. Remember, she’s your biggest supporter, and it would be silly not to include her in everything.

7. Ask Questions . . . of your agent first. It’s almost a guarantee that you are going to have a lot of questions for your editor, especially if you’re a newbie. You’re going to want to know about your print run, a marketing plan, edits, the next steps in the process, and even the name of the art director. Don’t hesitate to ask . . . your agent first. You might be shocked and amazed at how much your agent actually knows about the publishing business, and believe it or not she might actually be able to answer most of your questions. If she can’t, she’ll probably tell you to feel free to ask your editor or offer to make the call for you. When you do have questions, for your agent or editor, the most effective form of communication is, again, e-mail, and the best way to do this is to collect a list and send them all at once. It makes it a lot easier for an editor to sit down and answer all of an author’s concerns in one shot rather than a daily e-mail with a new question each time.

8. Remember your Thank-Yous. As irritated as you might get with your editor, she’s still your biggest advocate. She’s the one who talks with the art department about your cover, who pitches your book to the sales team, who pushes the publicity department to do more, and who generally talks you up to everyone and anyone who might have a say in how successful your book can be. So don’t forget to send the occasional thank-you note or press packet as a show of how excited you are about everything that’s happening. Editors love to see the bookmarks, totebags, pens, and magnets that authors create, and would love one for their own collections. After all, who doesn’t want to brag about their “kids.”

9. Keep your neurosis to yourself. Another job for the agent. I know it’s so easy to get paranoid and worried. Heck, I do it all the time. But this is what you pay an agent for. When you worry that it’s all a dream, call to discuss your fears with your agent. In all likelihood she can help put your mind at ease and, if anything is a valid concern, she can take care of the problems.

10. And finally, enjoy the ride. This is fun, exhilarating, and thrilling, and if your editor loved your book enough to fight for it in front of all her colleagues, you’re already in good hands.


Monday, February 26, 2007

Unsolicited Advice for Editors

Back in October Gawker ran a fairly virulent post about authors. When I first read it I didn’t have the time to properly respond. Well, lately some other things have come up that have brought this post to mind, and now I have something to say.

In the Gawker post the anonymous writer described authors as “a cross to bear somewhere between 'creepy messenger guy' and 'can't even afford a new coat from H&M' on the job-dissatisfaction scale. Because, with a few glowing exceptions, authors are the craziest, meanest, strangest, cluelessest people you've ever met.” Well, let me tell you something, Gawker. I’ve worked with authors for almost 15 years. I’ve been their editor and now their agent, and you know what, I’ve even been a friend to many. And never have I thought of authors, individually or as a whole, as “crazy, mean, or clueless,” although some might be a little strange.

Working with authors is no different from working with any other group of people, you are going to get the good, the great, the bad, and the ugly, but you know what I’ve found: 99% of authors are either good or great, it’s the editors and agents who make them bad and ugly.

So, for those of you kvetching about how terrible authors are and how much you hate working with them, let me give you my own unsolicited advice for what you can do to make your life easier, and actually enjoy working with those people who pay your bills.

1. Communicate. You won’t have to complain about the constant phone calls from your authors if you actually return a few. I find that the more an editor communicates information with an author, and her agent, the less likely the author is to inundate you with phone calls and e-mails. And if that fails, hey, that’s what an agent is for. It shouldn’t take much to drop me a line asking me to rein my client in. It’s not hard, but I can’t do it if I don’t know what’s going on.

2. Pay Up. Why should I have to constantly hound you for payments due? You know the work was delivered and you know it’s acceptable, so put the money through. Remember, I was an editor. It’s not that hard.

3. E-mail. A quick e-mail can save a lot of time, and letting an author know that her work has been accepted or the publisher is excited and has decided to do some big advertising helps. Publishing is a bizarre world and this author has entrusted you with her “baby,” the least you can do is keep her in the loop about how her career is progressing.

4. Read the book. I really shouldn’t have to say this, but guess what, I do. There are a few of you out there who don’t even read the books your authors send in.

So editors (and agents), while I know most of you are fabulous and do all of these things regularly, I also know there are a few out there who don’t. A little effort goes a long way, and honestly, I’m just trying to make my job easier too.


Friday, February 23, 2007

BookEnds Talks to Max McCoy

Max McCoy
Book: Hellfire Canyon
Publisher: Kensington
Pub date: February 2007
Agent: Kim Lionetti

(Click to Buy)

Max McCoy is an award-winning author, investigative reporter, and screenwriter. Most of his work, including Hellfire Canyon, is set in the Ozarks. Currently, he is Journalist in Residence at Emporia State University in east central Kansas.

Awards: Spur Award, best first novel, Western Writers of America (The Sixth Rider, Doubleday). Oxbow Award for Short Fiction (“Spoils of War”). Many other awards, especially for investigative journalism. In 2005, he was named Outstanding Graduate Alumnus at Emporia State University.

Author Web site:

BookEnds: Describe your book in 50 words or less.
Max: Don’t know how to describe this book in “50 words or less,” though I tell my writing students that they should be able to pitch any project in one or two sentences. Okay, I can do that: young Jacob Gamble sets out with his mother on a trek across Civil War Missouri that will eventually take them to the lair of serial killer Alf Bolin at the infamous Murder Rocks near present-day Branson—but that is only one aspect of the book.

BookEnds: What is your favorite thing about this book?
Max: Jacob Gamble, the protagonist, and Alf Bolin, the serial killer, are my favorites. Jacob is a recurring character for me, and I first used him (in slightly different form, as they say) in a short story called “Spoils of War” for Louis L’Amour Western Magazine. Jacob, who is on the verge of being a teenager when Hellfire Canyon begins, is the story’s first-person narrator. We also see him later in the book, as an old man in the 1930s. He’s spent time in prison, the press has dubbed him “The Fiddlin’ Outlaw,” and Hollywood has just released a movie titled Hellfire Canyon, based on his life. Frankly, the novel was originally titled Murder Rock, for the spooky natural rock fortress in Taney County where the historical Alf Bolin ambushed and killed folks along the coach road to Arkansas. It is still the most appropriate title. But the publisher changed the title, over my fierce objections—after all, canyon is a southwestern word. It evokes an entirely different landscape. In the Ozarks, there are hollers, draws, and valleys. So, when the publisher changed the title, I changed the story to explain the title—I invented the movie Hellfire Canyon that stars Tyrone Power and was written and directed by John Huston, and shot on location in the Ozarks, and which premieres at Joplin, Missouri. I included footnotes and some other devices to give the novel an air of believability (and this is something that drove my editor, Gary Goldstein, to distraction—he said nobody is going to leaf through the novel at a paperback rack at some truckstop near Winslow, Arizona, and buy it after they see footnotes). Well, he may be right. Gary is a very shrewd editor. In any event, readers are already asking me where they can find a copy of the movie with Tyrone Power. As for Alf Bolin, I like his character because he is not your typical killer. He’s literate, smart, and based on the historical record. Nearly all of Bolin’s character comes from the historic record. And although Bolin slaughtered dozens before a Yankee manhunter named Zach Thomas lopped off his head with a slingblade, practically nobody has heard of him today, even in the Ozarks. If people are familiar with his name at all, they remember it from Silver Dollar City at Branson, from a train robbery skit that features a rather dim-witted bandit named Alf Bolin.

BookEnds: How did you come to write this book?
Max: The idea for Murder Rock—the original and best title—has been with me since I did a feature story a few years ago for the Joplin Globe on Alf Bolin. A local historian took me to Murder Rocks, which is on private property in a particularly wild section of Taney County, Missouri, a few miles from downtown Branson. The area was so spooky and the character of Bolin so outrageous that it was the perfect inspiration. After all, Bolin was so feared that, after he was killed, his head was put on a spike and displayed outside the Christian County Courthouse. Thus perished a monster, to quote a contemporary account.

BookEnds: What has surprised you most about the business of publishing?
Max: That it has become strictly a business. Now, I always knew it was a business—of course people have to get paid for what they write, and publishers have to make a little money at it, and the agents deserve their cut, and hopefully everybody will have made a profit when the numbers are all in—but in the last few years the business paradigm seems to have replaced everything else. It’s not enough that a book makes money, it has to make a ton of money. There are more books being published than ever before, but fewer titles, and publishers are more and more going with established authors with good track records. I started seeing this in the 1990s when Doubleday and the other houses dropped their library hardcover lines. It wasn’t, as I recall, that the lines weren’t making money, but that they weren’t making enough money. It seemed shortsighted to me, because those hardcover mysteries, westerns, and science fiction lines worked quietly but steadily to cultivate new generations of readers. Now, is it any surprise that the ranks of genre readers are diminished?

For years, books have been getting short shrift in popular culture, when compared to the “virtual reality” of video games and other electronic entertainment. But the thing is, books are the original virtual reality. They put the reader in the story like no other form of entertainment can, and you don’t need the latest video card—or any type of hardware at all, for that matter. You can stuff a paperback in your back pocket and take it with you, and when you’re ready to resume the story again, you can turn right to the page and dig in without booting anything up. Part of the problem also is that we live in a society where advertising drives just about everything. It has turned us all into consumers, into batteries for the machine, and people are so bombarded with appeals for their attention that it doesn’t occur to most of them to seek out anything that doesn’t have a million-dollar advertising budget. People need to turn off their televisions (well, except for perhaps Deadwood and Six Feet Under) and spend more time at their local library. In my classes, I’ve had the pleasure of introducing students to narrative nonfiction, the kind practiced by Susan Orlean and Mark Kramer and John McPhee. Their reaction usually begins with “What the hell is this weird stuff?” and ends with “Where can I find more of it?”

BookEnds: Do you have a job outside of writing?
Max: I’m Journalist in Residence at the Department of English at Emporia State University. I research, write, and teach a class per semester (this semester we’re doing Projects in Investigative Journalism).

BookEnds: What are your other hobbies or interests?
Max: I am interested in so many things that I’m embarrassed to name them. Well, I am a scuba diver, as those who read my 2004 novel, The Moon Pool, will know. I am also an amateur radio enthusiast and kit builder in the area known as QRP—that means low-power—and belong to a group that builds these weird projects that fit in Altoids tins. There’s a novel there, I’m sure. Add to that photography, natural history, music, and various Fortean topics. As in Charles Fort, the chronicler of strange phenomenon. There’s a wonderful British magazine I occasionally write for called Fortean Times.

BookEnds: Is there anything we missed or anything you would like to add?
Max: I’ve just made a deal with Signet for my next novel. It is tentatively titled I, Quantrill, and will be a fictional account of the last few weeks of the noted guerrilla’s life. The editor is Brent Howard, who I worked with on A Breed Apart, the novel about Wild Bill Hickok that was released in November 2006. I’m particularly excited to be working with Brent on another Civil War tale.

To learn more about Max McCoy, see Our Books at

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Reader Questions

Besides the basic rants and raves about being a literary agent, and the comments they generate, I like to make sure we are giving you, the readers, what you want.

Last November I made a post asking for reader questions, and the response was so heavy, and the questions so good, that I'm back asking again.

So, please let us know if there are any questions you have for us or if there’s anything you’d like us to be talking about, and don't be shy. Is there anything you want to know about BookEnds, literary agents, publishing. . . ? Or even anything more specific? A situation you are in that you would like some feedback on? Is there something you’d like us to post more on, a subject you’ve enjoyed reading that you’d like to know even more about? We'll read all of your comments and answer some soon, some later.


Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Reader Question: International Authors

I'd like to know what the the agents at BookEnds (and agents in general, if you know) do when an author from outside the USA seeks representation with your agency. Does this affect how you look at a project? What if the author has a contract with an international publishing house but with a branch outside of the USA (but has the chance to be published in the USA)?
Thanks to all at BookEnds for creating such a wonderfully entertaining and informative blog.

Let me answer this with a quick fact: BookEnds has at least two Australian authors on our list. We are looking for good books. Period.


Tuesday, February 20, 2007

What I'm Looking For

It’s been a while since I’ve updated you on my most recent obsession. As you know, I am always looking for fresh new voices in romance, mystery, women’s fiction, and nonfiction, but sometimes you just get in a mood, and as I sit here looking at the teetering pile of submissions next to my desk I’m thinking about what I’d really like to find in there, what I’m in the mood for. Now keep in mind, I’m always looking for anything that makes my heart skip a beat, in any genre, but sometimes you’re just in the mood for something specific. I guess it’s no different than the average reader. You might be a fan of the classics, but not today. Today you’re in the mood for a good thriller or sweeping romance. Well today, here’s what I’m in the mood to find in that stack. . . .

A fantasy romance. Fantasy is fairly new for me, but I’m loving it. I want darker books set in new worlds. I love mythical creatures and fairy-tale stories, and if it’s erotic, even better.

A paranormal thriller. I know I’ve said it before, but I still haven’t found it. It could be romantic suspense or a new thriller series, but I would love to see one with a paranormal element. And today, I’m in the mood for dark.

And lastly, I just want to find the book that takes my breath away, that’s so good my chest seizes up, that I have to have and will call the author at any time of the day or night to get it.


Monday, February 19, 2007

Reader Question: Still Editing

Let's say you are silly enough to query your ms while you are still editing it, thinking, "oh, it'll be 3-4 weeks at the soonest to go from query to partial to full, even submitting online."

Lo and behold, you get a reply from one the same day requesting a full. Oops!

Question: Do you as an agent prefer to be notified that the ms will not be forthcoming immediately but as soon as the editing is done, or are you so busy generally that a month down the road really is nothing to worry about?

Oops is right. No matter how often we preach against it this happens again and again, and no matter how many times I say it drives me crazy, I've offered representation to more than one author who has done this.

My first recommendation is to edit carefully and without haste. The biggest mistake an author makes in this situation is worrying more about getting the material to the agent than about making the material the best it should be. It doesn't do you any good to be fast if the book isn't any good. And yes, I would let the agent know. She might be sitting there waiting for it and worrying that you've already signed with someone else (yes, we worry about this all the time) or afraid you didn't receive her request. The best thing you can do is let her know that you're finishing up edits and will have it to her as quickly as possible.


Friday, February 16, 2007

BookEnds Talks to Marie Browne & Marlene Browne

Marie H. Browne, R.N., Ph.D., & Marlene M. Browne, Esq.
If the Man You Love Was Abused: A Couple's Guide to Healing
Publisher: Adams Media
Pub date: February 2007
Agent: Jacky Sach

(Click to Buy)

Marie H. Browne, R.N., Ph.D., a licensed marriage and family therapist and professor of psychiatric nursing for thirty-four years, maintains a thriving private practice providing therapy for individuals, couples, and families. Her specialties include treating adolescent and adult victims of abuse, as well as their families.

Marlene M. Browne, Esq., a lawyer licensed in New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Colorado, is the author of several books. In addition to writing with and without her mother, Marie, Ms. Browne lectures on the law and other topics, appearing regularly as an expert guest on local and national media outlets.

Author Web site:

BookEnds: Describe your book in 50 words or less.
Marie: Written for the partner of a male abuse victim, this ground-breaking book is informed by case studies from real patients, practical applications, and authoritative research, offering the reader the ultimate guide for her relationship. Sensitive, yet authoritative, this book offers candor, compassion, and, ultimately, help concerning this taboo topic.

BookEnds: What is your favorite thing about this book?
Marlene: De-stigmatizing abusive boyhood experiences endured by the reader’s partner and exposing the prevalent damage that can still affect his relationships.

BookEnds: Who do you consider the audience for your book?
Marie: Reflective and concerned couples seeking relationship insights, to identify and deal with lingering abusive childhood experiences.

BookEnds: How do you think your book is important to readers?
Marlene: The taboo topic of abused and victimized boys is deconstructed and explained, enlightening the reader and her partner to the possibility of transcending his childhood trauma.

BookEnds: If readers only take away one thing from your book, what would you like it to be?
Marie: Hope and compassion for men that where abused as children.

BookEnds: What was the most difficult part of writing this book?
Marlene: Learning how common it is for boys to suffer abuse.

BookEnds: Is there anything we missed or anything you would like to add?
Marlene and Marie: We hope to make the world aware that abuse happens nearly as often to boys as to girls. And, as victims and survivors, these men need as much understanding as the women victims; but in a way that will be effective, given our culture and the expectations we have for men, and that men have for themselves.

To learn more about Marie H. Browne, R.N., Ph.D., & Marlene M. Browne, Esq., see Our Books at

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Why I Say What I Say

Not too long ago I did a blog post on e-books. I had been asked by a reader whether or not paper publishers look down on epublished authors. My response was no, but I did explain a bit about when epublishing might and might not work. A few of you seemed offended by my comments, while most of you shared your success stories. Once I had a chance to reread what I had written as well as your comments, I was dissatisfied with the way it ended and wanted to explain why I say what I say when I post some of the things I post.

As many of you know, I have a number of authors who either began their careers epublished and have moved entirely into print or began their careers epublished and have moved into print but continue to sell to the occasional epublisher. Since epublishing began, I have always kept an eye on who is getting good reviews and who seems to have a growing audience. I have made contacts myself with a number of these authors and have gone on to sell their books to the big, traditional publishers. Certainly, I am in support of this venue and use it to my advantage.

So why is it that although I've had and seen so much success with authors epublishing I did not wholeheartedly encourage everyone to begin their career that way? One reason is because epublishing will not work for everyone if, as the reader clearly asked, what you're trying to do is use it as a foot in the door to the print market. In most cases epublishing works best for erotica and erotic romance, futuristic and paranormal romance, SF/Fantasy, self-help, and prescriptive nonfiction, but only if you have the type of platform to sell 10,000+ copies on your own. For some reason, editors of other genres, such as mystery/suspense, memoir, or more traditional romances, have not embraced this market.

Why do I think that's the case? I think that primarily e-books took off in these other markets when publishers weren't publishing the sub-genres. It wasn't until Ellora's Cave really started to boom that editors took notice of the types of books they were publishing and started doing the same . . . and began stealing their authors.

The other reason is that I'm reluctant to wholeheartedly endorse anything unless I know that it will universally work for everyone. Too often I've seen authors take something an editor or agent says as absolute truth. If an editor says, "The historical market is dead," it sends panic through writers' groups everywhere and authors begin burning their wonderful historical manuscripts; and they'll begin writing chick lit or erotica because the editor says, "That's what's hot now and everyone is buying it."

So many authors have had success with epublishing and have been able to really break out with a career in print publishing, but just as many have not. Just as many had poor experiences with disreputable epublishers, or just haven't found their way out of the e-book market yet. In fact, while many epublishers do actually buy books only after an editorial review, just as many will buy anything—even books not ready for publication. And, as I mentioned earlier, it doesn't work for all genres. Yes, I know every single one of you can comment with a mystery or memoir success story. Just as there are success stories with vanity presses there will always be success stories that break out of the norm with epublishing. It's important to remember, though, that they aren't the norm.

I'm not trying to tell anyone that epublishing is bad. I would be the wrong person to say that since it's certainly been a boon for me. What I'm trying to do is caution you and answer the question on how print publishing and certain editors look at this market. If you have a book that no one else would touch—maybe it's not right for New York—then you should absolutely feel free to epublish it. However, epublishing is not the same as getting a NY print publisher to pick you up. It won't necessarily launch your career in the same way and it certainly isn't necessary as a way to get published with a traditional print publisher.


Wednesday, February 14, 2007

What Makes Your Hero Sexy?

It’s Valentine’s Day, and who better to give us a definition of the ultimate sexy hero than romance writers? So we asked our clients, What makes your hero sexy? and here’s what they told us. . . .

Kimberly Dean
Book: Taming Him (including "Fever" by Kimberly Dean)
Publisher: Pocket, January 2007
Hero’s Name: Wouldn't you like to know?

What makes the hero in "Fever" sexy? He's got that element of mystery. He shows up in the middle of the night to take care of Delia, but a fever has left her delirious. She's not quite sure who he is, but he's strong, compassionate, and determined to make her feel better . . . any way he can!


Kate Douglas
Book: The Wolf Tales Series
Publisher: Kensington/Aphrodisia
Hero’s Name: Anton Cheval

Since I write a series, my characters pop in and out of my stories. Anton Cheval was in the original book and continues to show up in almost all my stories, mainly, I think, because I’m not willing to let him go. Anton is perfect, in my opinion! Physically he’s tall and slim, with long, dark hair and the look of a Russian aristocrat or a classical musician—high cheekbones, a wide, sensual mouth, and those telltale amber Chanku eyes, but I think he could look like a toad and still be sexy. Well...maybe not a TOAD, but . . . :) He’s intelligent—intellectually powerful with the genius of both the wizard and the wolf, yet he’s sensitive and a loving mate to his beloved Keisha. The clincher, however, is his vulnerability, and that, I believe, is the key to a sexy hero. For all his alpha strength, he’s a puddle of goo when it comes to his mate, and now to his infant daughter. His love for them is so powerful it terrifies him. That chink in his armor, the fact he fears for their safety to the detriment of his own, is what makes him so attractive.


Deanna Lee
Book: Barenaked Jane
Publisher: Kensington/Aphrodisia, April 2007
Hero’s Name: Mathias Montgomery

He’s strong, determined, and entirely dedicated to the pleasure of his woman. Mathias enters Jane’s life and in one instant every single thing she thought she ever wanted is changed.


Sharon Page
Book: Blood Red
Publisher: Kensington/Aphrodisia, January 2007
Hero’s Name: Blood Red has two heroes, the twin brothers Yannick de Wynter, the Earl of Brookshire, and Bastien de Wynter.

Writing two heroes for one heroine (who both win her heart—this is erotic romance, after all), meant creating two unique yet undeniably sexy men who are both vampires. What makes them hot? For my vampires, it’s more than just chiseled bodies, brooding silvery eyes, aristocratic good looks, and their seductive allure. My heroes believe in Althea, their vampire-hunting heroine, and they challenge her. Yannick de Wynter challenges her to step away from the wallpaper and live her dream—encouraging her to pit her cunning, wits, and skills against a deadly demon. And both Yannick and Bastien challenge Althea to embrace her passionate sensual nature. What’s sexier than men willing to give up life and soul for the woman they love?


Bella Andre
Book: Tempt Me, Taste Me, Touch Me
Publisher: Pocket, January 2007
Hero's Name: Jack Gerard

Jack, a hot chef in Napa Valley, appreciates curves on a woman. Lush curves. And when he agrees to give cooking lessons to Rose Morgan—a very voluptuous woman who has dated one dog too many—things quickly spiral out of control, heating up more than just the kitchen. Through Jack's eyes, Rose grows to appreciate all that she has to offer as well.


Joanna Challis
Book: Eye of the Serpent
Publisher: Robert Hale, UK, September 2006
Hero: Count Max Von Holstein

Slightly sinister Count Max Von Holstein is a mysterious and brooding hero who you can’t help but like. Find out what dark secret torments him in Eye of the Serpent.


Christine Wells
Book: Scandal’s Daughter
Publisher: Berkley Sensation, September 2007
Hero’s Name: Sebastian Laidley, Earl of Carleton

With dark good looks and charm so lethal it should be outlawed by Act of Parliament, Sebastian can seduce a woman with a single wicked smile. He refuses to take anything seriously, least of all his bad-boy reputation, but beneath the flippant veneer is a loyal, caring, passionate man—a side only those he loves will ever see.


Sally MacKenzie
Book: The Naked Earl
Publisher: Kensington/Zebra, April 2007
Hero: Robert (Robbie) Hamilton, Earl of Westbrooke

I’ve loved Robbie since I first “met” him in The Naked Duke. He’s tall and handsome, rich and powerful, of course, but he’s also funny and loyal and caring. In The Naked Earl, the poor guy, rather a straight arrow, is plunked down into the middle of a very lascivious Regency house party. I loved how he tried to protect Lizzie, his heroine, from the evil rakes while at the same time trying to withstand her innocent seduction. He’s a strong, stoic, wounded guy, too. He wants to love Lizzie, but he thinks he can’t. In the end, of course, she manages to overcome his scruples and other problems and to lure him into bed and into love.

Maybe it’s because my life is so full of men-a father, two brothers, a husband, and four sons-but I love all my heroes. On some basic level, they are so clueless! They just need the right woman to show them the way to love.


Jolie Mathis
Book: The Sea King
Publisher: Berkley Sensation, June 2006
Hero’s Name: Kol

I believe confidence and competence are more attractive to women than any amount of attractiveness or wealth. It’s the reason we sigh over the tent-dwelling carpenter in Men in Trees just as much as the surgeon in Grey's Anatomy. Kol, the Norse hero I wrote for The Sea King, has both these traits. He has all the qualities women love in an Alpha male-strength, fearlessness, and cunning, all necessary for his survival in a dangerous Dark Age world-but he’s completely lacking in arrogance and conceit. Shhhh, don’t tell, but he’s a Beta hero in an Alpha-wolf’s clothing.


Maya Reynolds
Book: Bad Girl
Publisher: NAL, September 2007
Hero's Name: Zeke Prada

Shy Sandy Davis has been amusing herself by spying on her neighbors in the high-rise across the street. She gets into trouble when she sees something she shouldn't.

Zeke Prada is a tough guy-competent and confident. In the midst of a very dangerous situation, he makes Sandy feel safe. As she learns to trust him, his sexual confidence gives Sandy the security to open up. His appreciation of her encourages Sandy to join him in a quest for sensual pleasure beyond anything either has ever known.


Christie Craig
Book: Divorced, Desperate & Delicious (title subject to change)
Publisher: Dorchester, Fall 2007
Hero: Chase Kelly

Chase Kelly, a badass cop, can make a badass pasta Alfredo. He's street-smart tough but comes with a soft spot for animals. His shoulders are wide enough, warm enough, for any woman to lean on. He's witty enough to make any woman laugh and virile enough to tempt any woman to tame him. He'll protect you, or die trying. He claims he needs no one, yet one glance into his soft green eyes and you'll find a wounded soul inside, waiting for the right woman's love.


To learn more about all of these books and authors, see Our Books at

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

It Isn't Whether You Win or Lose . . .

How you “play the game” becomes very important when you’re entering a writing contest. I’ve put together this list of tips to help you get the most out of your contest experience.

* Do your research. Treat your contest preparation much like you would your submission process. Find out who the final-round judges will be. Target agent/editor judges you know are actively acquiring in the area that you’re writing in. The biggest benefit of these contests is that they can get your work under the noses of the right people.

* Only submit entries for completed projects. If you’re serious about getting published, don’t enter a work in progress. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve requested a full from a contest and then never heard from that author again. As I mentioned before, the best reason for doing these contests is to expose your work to publishing professionals, and hopefully get them excited about your writing. Unfortunately, with all of the material we receive every day, we agents can have the attention spans of six-year-olds. If we want to see your work, we want it now! Three months, nine months, two years later . . . it’s quite likely we won’t care anymore.

* Keep it all in perspective. As I mentioned in yesterday’s post, everything’s subjective. You may get contradictory advice from one judge to the next. If that’s the case, it’s always best to go with your gut. I’ve noticed with most of my clients that when I send them revisions, they almost always see how my points will make the book stronger (or that I may be off-base). I think when you get a good piece of advice for your book, you often know it. If the feedback just doesn’t connect for you, then don’t feel you HAVE to incorporate it.

* Don’t let a win go to your head. While first place can be a great confidence booster, don’t read too much into it. A win doesn’t mean you’ll be published within the next six months. If you’ve spoken to a lot of contest winners, you’ll find that many of them are still looking to break into publishing. There’s a lot of reasons for this. First off, there’s a gazillion contests out there. The odds just aren’t in your favor. Second, you’re only as good as your competition. Just because an editor/agent thought you wrote better than the other finalists doesn’t necessarily mean they LOVED your work. If the judge doesn’t explicitly request to see the manuscript/proposal, don’t assume they want to see it because they gave you first place. They’ll ask for it if they want it. If they wrote some particularly glowing comments and you are just convinced that the request slipped their mind, then write the judge a letter thanking them for their kind words and add “If you’re ever interested in looking at the complete manuscript, please contact me at ______.”

* Don’t become a contest junkie. Some writers end up relying too heavily on the contest circuit and use the feedback to “workshop” the book to death. There comes a time when you just have to get out there and start submitting. It’s like surfing, but never going out on a date. It’s not going to get you anywhere.

Do you have any contest tips that have worked for you?


Monday, February 12, 2007

The Truth About Contests

Many of my clients have had a lot of success on the writing contest circuit. There’s a ton of them out there. Some are genre specific, such as the dozens of Romance Writers of America chapter contests, while others are open to a variety of books, like the SouthWest Writers Contest.

I’ll admit it. Quite a few of my authors caught my attention with their impressive wins. But does winning a contest make publication imminent? Unfortunately, no. There’s a few reasons for that. As I mentioned before, there are A LOT of competitions out there. Not all of them have an established reputation that will catch the eye of an editor or agent. For all we know, the Dawning Horizon Writing Contest could be a glorified name for the Jenkins Family Reunion Storytelling Competition. Some contests have a low turnout, which could mean you came in first out of three applicants. I know . . . You could argue that the editor/agent doesn’t have to know that. But I think most authors enter these contests to get a fair assessment of how their writing stacks up against what else is out there. If you’re just looking for an easy win, then you might as well just go up against Aunt Judy and Cousin Rick.

Other writers enter to get some concrete editorial advice. Unfortunately, that’s not always a sure thing either. Due to their busy schedules, some judges provide very little feedback. Obviously the publishing industry is very subjective. So it’s also quite possible you could end up with widely conflicting scores on your entry. A published author might think the book sucks, but an agent would love to see the full right away. And that leads me to one of my more recent pet peeves (wait a minute while I climb up on my soapbox) . . . I’m not a fan of contests with more than one final-round judge. Personally, I’ve stopped doing them, because when I take valuable time away from my regular work, I like to see that my efforts resulted in the winner I chose. But personal feelings aside, I think it can confuse writers. Two equally intelligent, capable publishing professionals could have opposing viewpoints on the same work. In cases where a point system is used, an author could be cheated out of a win, because one judge is more generous with points than another. I see the obvious attraction of getting twice the professional advice, but I honestly feel that it’s hurting the applicants in the long run. I’ve known authors who’ve received advice that was blatantly contradictory. (Okay, I’m jumping back down now.)

All of that said, I still think contests can be very useful. You just have to be smart about entering. Tomorrow I’ll have some tips on getting the most out of your contest experiences.


Friday, February 09, 2007

BookEndsTalks with Barbara Gale

Barbara Gale
Book: Finding His Way Home
Publisher: Silhouette Special Edition
Pub date: February 2007
Agent: Jessica Faust

(Click to Buy)

Barbara Gale is a native New Yorker whose themes reflect not only her love affair with her beloved city, but with rural New York, also, where she does much of her writing.

Author Web site:

Awards: 2002 Reviewers Choice Best Silhouette Special Edition

BookEnds: Describe your book in 50 words or less.
Barbara: Valetta Faraday is a widowed single mom in hiding from her past when Linc Cameron comes searching for her. An old family friend, and her teenaged crush, he awakens feelings she thought were long forgotten. Now that they are adults, the question is, how much will they consent to remember?

BookEnds: What do you think distinguishes your work from that of other authors of this genre?
Barbara: The themes I explore in my Silhouette Special Editions encompass family, life, and love. To my mind, these subject matters cannot be rushed. My leisurely pacing gives me the opportunity to explore these issues more thoroughly than other writers, which allows for a more realistic story line.

BookEnds: Where do you get your ideas?
Barbara: I regret to say that I am a panster—that is, someone who writes from the seat of her pants, as Stephen King says. Lately, I am trying to create outlines (so helpful to my editor!), but it is a hard-won battle, and against my creative instincts.

BookEnds: What’s your next book? When and where should we look for it?
Barbara: My next book is tentatively entitled The Other Side of the Mountain, the release date to be determined. It is about a doctor who finds herself lost in a thunderstorm, and finds more than she bargained for when she stumbles into a small town in upstate New York.

BookEnds: What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Barbara: A writer must write every day and not wait for the muse to appear, it's as simple as that. Developing a schedule assures that productivity. And, of course, writing every day improves your craft.

BookEnds: What do you see as some of the biggest mistakes beginning writers make?
Barbara: Aspiring writers sometimes treat their writing as a hobby. If one intends to write, one's commitment must be total. Even if a person writes part-time, a determined mind-set is pivotal to success. Completing one's project is also essential. Finally, if a writer needs feedback, it ought to come from other writers, or professionals in the field.

To learn more about Barbara Gale, see Our Books at

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Reader Question: Thoughts on e-Books

What does the publishing industry and agents think of e-books? If you're published by an e-book publisher, do the paper publishers look down on you? Do agents work with e-book published writers that want to break into the world of paper publishing? Is it easier or harder to get into paper publishing after being an e-book writer, or a first-time writer?

Well, since I have at least six clients who started their careers in e-books, I can certainly say I don’t look down on them. However, that being said, every single one of them writes erotica or erotic romance. So while the publishing industry, and BookEnds, doesn’t look down on e-books, e-book publishing doesn’t work for every genre. I think it’s become acceptable in the erotic writing world for e-book authors to move to mainstream publishers simply because there was nowhere else for these authors to go. It’s only been very recent that mainstream publishers have started publishing erotic writing. I’m not so sure the same holds true for other genres.

So, unless you are writing erotica or erotic romance, I wouldn’t consider e-book publishing as a step toward furthering your career into mainstream publishing. However, if you simply want to get that book published, then go for it. E-book publishing can’t hurt, but it won’t necessarily help.


Wednesday, February 07, 2007

Reader Question: "The Numbers"

Are "the numbers" for different pseudonyms kept completely separate? I'm considering writing both contemporary and historical fantasy series, and anticipate that the audiences and sales might be pretty different.

Yes and no. Nora Roberts is a good example. It would be silly to keep her J. D. Robb pseudonym completely separate because it only benefits her if bookstores take more books based on the sale of her Nora Roberts titles. However, were J. D. Robb a bomb, then yes, the numbers would certainly be kept completely separate because you don’t want orders of her Nora Roberts titles to be based on books that are bombing. So, let me clarify: yes they are kept completely separate, but they aren’t always kept a complete secret.

The benefits I can see to writing them all under one name:
*might lead readers to the other series (wider "brand")
*greater name recognition
*not having to build multiple careers

And all of those are true. The con to writing them all under one name is that contemporary and historical fantasy authors don’t necessarily cross over and fans of your contemporary books, for example, might flock to everything you write and be hugely disappointed when they buy a historical fantasy, something they just don’t like. This disappointment could, in turn, effect the decision to buy any future books from you.

The benefits I can see to writing them under different names:
*readers know what to expect (narrower "brand")
*bad numbers from one series might not make another hard to sell
*maybe a little more career protection

And those are all true as well.

Also, could an options clause cover both pseudonyms, or would it most likely only cover one?

That would depend entirely on how the option clause was written or worded. It would cover anything you write under any name, unless it specifies only one name. But of course it could also specify only one sub-genre or one series.

Yes, of course it's all theoretical so far, but I have to know what I want before I can figure out how to get there!

My advice, for what it’s worth, is if you are just starting out it is worth considering two names. If one of your sub-genres becomes a huge hit it won’t take long for readers to learn (and publishers to advertise) that you are the author of both.


Tuesday, February 06, 2007

Reader Question: Flaming Corpses

Borrowing a colloquialism from Miss Snark, do you (or your slush-pile reading assistants) tend to look for "flaming corpses on page one"?

Do you expect first novel writers to get right to the conflict?

Would it be fair to say that these are the query sample pages to which you extend invitations to a partial?

My apologies to Miss Snark. Although I’ve read her blog I’m not a regular enough reader to know for sure what a “flaming corpse” is. So I don’t think I look for them. What I do look for is a reason an editor would reject your book because, honestly, that’s what most editors look for. They have a huge inventory, and while every editor loves buying new books and is always looking for new things to buy, she’s also looking for a reason to clean out her office and reject something. Therefore, I’m also looking for that reason. And let me tell you, there’s nothing more gratifying than reading a book and not finding a reason to reject it anywhere.

I don’t expect anyone to get to the conflict right away. I do expect something to happen, though, and I expect that something to move the story forward. So, I guess I do expect a little conflict.

And I apologize again, but I’m not sure what you mean by “are the query sample pages to which you extend invitations to a partial?”


Monday, February 05, 2007

Reader Question: Switching Genres

What do you say to an author you represent who wishes to write something in another genre that you don't represent, for example, a chick lit author who is wanting to write a fantasy?

Just curious how that situation works with agents.

I say, “Let me take a look at it and we’ll see.” If the fantasy has a heavy romance it’s possible that I might be able to take it to editors in both genres. If, however, I don’t feel like I can connect with the genre or don’t know it well enough to do my best work, then I’ll be honest with you about that. It’s always sad to see an author go, but if you switch genres and are writing something that I’m not all that familiar with (children’s books, for example), I would not do either of us any good by keeping you.

There’s no easy answer to the question, it’s a case-by-case basis.


Friday, February 02, 2007

BookEnds Talks to Joe LoCicero

Joe LoCicero
Book: Streetwise Business Communication
Publisher: Adams
Pub date: February 2007
Agent: Jacky Sach

(Click to Buy)

Joe LoCicero is a Los Angeles-based author, TV writer, columnist, and marketing consultant. He has been integrally involved with the marketing strategy for hundreds of network and cable television programs, as well as numerous consumer products. He has put his marketing, publicity, and advertising skills to work launching his own family lifestyle company, PRACTICAL WHIMSY, which captures his other expertise: offering advice, products, and tips for family suppers, celebrations, and decorating.

Author Web site:

BookEnds: Describe your book in 50 words or less.
Joe: Gleaned and culled from my experience working for Fortune 500 companies, studios, and networks, Streetwise Business Communication canvasses the most effective, clearest way to deliver a company’s message by both traditional means (letters, memos, meetings) and newer modes (e-mails, Web sites, PowerPoints) that—when mastered—both save and make time and money for small businesses.

BookEnds: Why did you write this book?
Joe: I feel that—ironically—the more technologically savvy communication gets, the less people seem to truly know how to communicate. I wanted to reach out and influence anyone in a workplace to take a step back and analyze the best way to compose and deliver any message they’re trying to get out there. To communicate effectively with different audiences takes more than a little creativity, and I’ve been fortunate to be able to bridge both business and creativity often in my career. Having had experience on the publicity agency side, in the media, and working for Fortune 500 companies, I’ve been able to use that background to help small companies carve out their own niche in today’s highly competitive marketplace. That perspective, and having to use it for my own company, allowed me to understand how I could help other companies start, continue, improve, or change their communication modes and methods in everything from composing an e-mail and writing a business plan, to developing a press kit, drawing up an ad, outlining a speech, or designing a Web site.

BookEnds: What has been your most successful marketing campaign?
Joe: In the book world, I’ve only had one book out so far, which came out last year. And although it’s been my only marketing campaign to date in publishing, I’m very proud of it and what we’ve accomplished. I believe that—particularly in nonfiction books—there are a tremendous amount of pitching angles to explore. You just have to brainstorm . . . a lot. It also helps that my first job was writing obituaries for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Working in that newsroom environment, combined with pitching to entertainment media for Paramount and Turner Broadcasting, has given me a remarkable sense of knowing what does (and more important, what doesn’t) interest someone in the media. You have to suss out: “Where’s the story?” “Why do they care about it?” “And then: Will the resulting hit prompt someone to buy the book?” To that end, after writing The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Clear Thinking (Penguin 2005), I came up with literally dozens of angles, organized and categorized by what print and broadcast outlets might be interested in them. Even though “thinking” obviously has wide appeal, the angles themselves had to be very specific. But that approach paid off with many diverse outlets. Some of the hits included two articles in Cosmopolitan (on separate clear-thinking-related topics), SIRIUS’s Martha Stewart Living Radio, daily newspapers in the U.S. and Canada, education publications including George Lucas’s Edutopia magazine, Woman’s World, and several radio stations.

BookEnds: What’s your next book? When should we look for it?
Joe: I have two books coming up: the first, Cake Decorating for Dummies, is being released in April. That topic ties in with PRACTICAL WHIMSY, and gives instructions, ideas, and techniques for all kinds of celebratory cakes. And another Streetwise title, Streetwise Meeting and Event Planning, will be out in October. That one helps small businesses successfully handle initiatives that will increase sales or foster staff unity or establish them as a market leader, including holding a press conference, staging a grand opening, organizing a seminar, and launching a promotion.

BookEnds: What else are you working on?
Joe: I’m actually in the throes of several projects. Being a writer and small business owner brings lots of variety to every day. Since my wife and I run PRACTICAL WHIMSY, we’re constantly designing new products, working with our sales rep to make sure stores have what they need, keeping our Web site up-to-date, and testing recipes (which our two young kids help out with!). I also write regular columns for both Y’ALL: The Magazine of Southern People and And with a background rooted in entertainment, I still occasionally take on a script-writing gig, which I find keeps me tapped into pop culture. I just finished writing episodes for a prime-time NBC series that’s based on a telenovela.

BookEnds: What are you reading now?
Joe:I kind of have eclectic tastes where reading for fun’s concerned, and I’m always in the middle of more than a few books. I almost always stick with nonfiction. I find that, often, those actually make for better stories than fiction. Since that’s what I write, I love reading how another author’s crafting what they’re relating. Right now, I’m immersed in Disney War, James B. Stewart’s account of the last two decades at the entertainment giant; Amy Sedaris’s I Like You, a giddy trip through her various (and sometimes unconventional) ideas for entertaining; Bina Abling’s Fashion Sketchbook, because I always like to be engaged in learning exercises, and her Parsons School of Design expertise on drawing is incomparable; and humorist James Thurber’s Thurber Carnival collection of short stories . . . because, amidst whatever and everything I might be working on, he always makes me laugh (and we all know how important that is).

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Reader Question: Author Meetings

I know you’ve done blogs on pitching and querying, but I haven’t seen anything about your first meeting with a new client. Do you ever meet with authors whose projects interest you but who you, in the end, decline to represent? Or do you only meet with authors you have already signed?

Well, to be honest, we don’t talk a lot about our first meeting with a new client because we have clients we’ve never met. I’m afraid, though, that there’s no rule as to who we’ll meet with and who we won’t. If I’m attending a conference I’m certainly open to meeting with authors I’ve rejected or those I still have under consideration. I’ll be honest, though: I’m less likely to do that during normal business hours. If I were to meet with every potential client, or all of those I receive submissions from, I would certainly have no time for anything else. Traditionally I will only take time out of my day to meet with clients who have already signed or those I have offered representation to and who want to meet face-to-face before making anything official.

Either way, what are some tips you could give to new authors meeting their agent/potential agent for the first time? What kinds of things should the author be sure to cover in that first meeting (i.e., would you consider it an opportunity for a longer pitch on their current novel, a discussion of works in progress, or more of a social venture to ensure that you’re “clicking”)?

Tips on meeting agents really depend on what stage you’re at. I’m going to avoid giving advice right now on meeting agents for a pitch since I think I’ve covered that fairly well in other posts. Instead I’m going to talk about meeting your agent for the first time and also give tips on interviewing agents in person if they have already offered representation.

If you have an agent already and are gearing up to meet her for the first time, I have two bits of advice. The first is to enjoy yourself. Get to know this person and have a good time. I love having the opportunity to sit with my clients over a drink or a meal and just talk about life and, of course, career. I think it’s good for both of us to have the time to get to know each other better. The second bit of advice is don’t be afraid to take notes. Face-to-face conversation can be so much better than phone or email, so take the time to really ask career questions and tell your agent your hopes, dreams, goals, and concerns. This is a terrific time to share your business plan with your agent and ensure that the two of you are on the same page.

As for those of you who might be meeting with a number of agents before choosing the one you want to make your own, I can only say trust your gut. I would suspect that if you’ve already gotten to this stage you’ve done your research and asked each agent the important questions—what is their commission percentage, do they work with a contract, etc.—so meeting in person is really your way of evaluating who you think you mesh best with and would like working with. To make that possible I think you have to ask additional career questions, but also just get a feel for how the two of you communicate and whether or not you click. In this particular instance you are no longer pitching; instead the agent is, and you should definitely enjoy the driver’s seat.