And the Winner is….

December 8, 2007 at 10:26 pm | Posted in agents/ editors, books, Elaine Spencer, Honorary Heartlette, writing | Leave a comment

The winner of The Knight Agency book bundle is:  AJ Chase

The bundle includes the following titles:

    Slave to Sensation by Nalini Singh 
    Parallel Attraction by Deidre Knight
    Undercover in High Heels by Gemma Halliday
    Highland Guardian by Melissa Mayhue 
    Scions: Resurrection by Patrice Michelle
    Now and Zen by Linda Gerber 
    90 Minutes in Heaven by Don Piper with Cecil Murphy 

Congratulations! 

Thanks to all of you who paid us a visit. And a special thank you to Elaine for supplying these books and for spending a most enjoyable, informative, and helpful week with us Purple Hearts. It’s been awesome!

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Honorary Heartlette – Elaine Spencer, Part III

December 6, 2007 at 11:39 pm | Posted in agents/ editors, Elaine Spencer, Honorary Heartlette, writing | 7 Comments

Hello everyone! Thanks so much for all of your awesome comments. To any of you that posted questions I will try to answer them on the corresponding thread within the next few days.

Over the last couple of posts I have chatted about the things we can never hear too many times and the things that we know that are sometimes easy to forget. That leaves me with a list of things that I never knew the full extent of until this year. The things I want to list off today are things that I suspected or I had a general feeling about, but were reinforced 100% in my mind this year. These are things that I will never underestimate and never re-neg on, regardless of the circumstances. Sounds intense huh? Don’t worry, its not, I just wanted to try to pump up the dramatic effect. J It’s another late night, bear with me!

The first thing is the icky one that I just want to get out of the way. It’s depressing and unfortunate but the cold hard truth. The rejection never ends. Regardless of where you are in your career, or what chair you are sitting in, rejection is a fact of this business. I am not saying this to be a downer, not at all, but I think it’s important for people to realize the facts up front. I have found that there are a lot of authors that are disillusioned and eventually disappointed when they learn that simply having an agent doesn’t guarantee a path paved with golden yeses.

Here’s the thing about this little devilish fact. We are all in this together. You face rejection, we face rejection. Just because we are on the other side of the fence doesn’t mean that we have all the easy routes either. Ask any agent. For every book they sell there is going to be a certain number that they couldn’t place. For every editor that they get to look at a project there is going to be another that says “this isn’t my cup of tea”. For every new client they sign on, there is going to be client that perhaps chose to go another route. For every successful book that we represent, there is one that we passed up that just hit a list. Again, these are just the facts. This business is in many cases a bit of a gamble, you win some, you lose some.

The reason that I am pointing this out is not to be discouraging, but it’s so you can understand that we the agents are not insensitive beasts. We all know the painful sting of disappointment, and we have all have shared the same feelings of confusion, hurt, anger, self-doubt etc. But what doesn’t kill us makes us stronger. Remember that. Only the strong survive in this business so it’s best to toughen up your skin early on, because the road doesn’t get any easier after the first “yes” you find.

Ok. Big Sigh. Glad I got that one off of my chest. I had been dreading it all week but I knew I had to get it on the list somewhere.

This next one isn’t nearly as deep, but people ask me about it frequently. Since I participate in a pretty heavy circuit I figured I would throw my two cents in for those of you that might be on the fence. In my opinion, conferences are invaluable tools. I have been a traveling machine this year. I have been across the country and back. I have met folks from Denver, DC, Surrey Canada, Salt Lake City, Nashville, Dallas, New Jersey, Oklahoma, you name it, the list goes on. The thing that amazes me is that at each of these destinations, regardless of their differences, I have found a group of motivated and talented authors that are all as excited about this business as I am. The workshops, key-note speeches, and networking opportunities are 9 times out of 10 impeccable. These resources are invaluable come Monday morning when you find yourself back in front of your computer.

Your job as an author can be a very isolating one. The majority of the time it is just you vs the computer. Conferences are your chance to break that cycle. Get out there and chat and learn from other folks that know EXACTLY what it is to be in your shoes. Brainstorm, cultivate ideas, listen to other people chat about their inspiration and motivation. Share your processes and your tricks of the trade. I can guarantee at every conference you go to you will pick up at least one piece of information that will make a difference in your writing.

I know that when I talk to people about my job outside of the industry it’s often the case where they just don’t get it. I’m not an author, but I know it has to be the same thing for you. You tell someone you are an author and they say “I’ve always wanted to write a book, I just haven’t found the time”. Right, because that’s all that’s between them and becoming next month’s Featured Selection. Conferences are your opportunity to be understood. It’s pretty much guaranteed that the person you sit next to at lunch won’t think you are nuts if you shout “that’s it” over your over-cooked chicken sandwich.

Conferences are also pretty much guaranteed to re-energize and boost you out of any type of funk you may be in. They are key in reinstating in your mind all the great things about this business.

And notice I didn’t even touch on the hard-core stuff you get from conferences. Workshops from the pros, advice from the experts, answers from the insiders, and a chance to rub elbows with the best in the business. There’s the camaraderie, the chance to get away for the weekend, unlimited room service, a bed all to yourself, and all the free books you could ever ask for. Come on kids, if you were thinking about passing up your local conference this year, please rethink it. Oh, and did I mention, I am going to be at what I believe to be most of your home chapter’s conference this year! (No, that wasn’t all a shameless plug, that just dawned on me moments ago –)

Moving on. Now listen up, this is CRUCIAL must have info in the business. Ok, I’m kidding. I haven’t really had the chance to rant and rave up to this point so I thought I would give it a go here. I hate airports. Really. If I could build a run-way on top of my house, I would. I wouldn’t even care if there were planes taking off and landing hourly from said launch pad. I’m serious. You want to know what to buy me for Christmas? A helicopter. Please.

I have had travel year from hell. And what really stinks, I bet it’s no worse than anyone else’s was. I have dealt with the typical. Missed flights, delayed flights, lost luggage, lost reservations, long lines, overbooked, overpriced, yada, yada, yada. The thing that makes this so terrible, I know this is just the way of it, and you know what that means? I’m only in for more of the same next year. I know how much I dread it, and there isn’t a single thing that I can do to avoid it. Sigh. On a side note here, so perhaps you can actually gain something from this point. Looking for a story idea? Look no further than your local airport. SERIOUSLY. The place is overflowing with bestsellers waiting to happen.

And finally. I’m going to try to wrap my list up. I think this next point is one that is a culmination of many of the things that I have talked about. To me it’s the number one thing we all need to hear, remember and know undoubtedly; you can never have too many friends in this business.

I’m not afraid to say that I am still a bit of a rookie compared to many of you that are reading this blog. With each month that passes I am continuously amazed by the friends and allies that I have made in a fairly short period of time. Not only that, but I have found that these relationships are fundamental to almost my every move.

Going back to what I was saying Tuesday about the little things, Always slow down and take a moment to say hello to those folks that are around you in this business, you never know when it might spark a friendship that will last a lifetime.

The whole reason I am here blogging is a fine example of this. Your very lovely Purple-Heart’er Jessica was the travel liaison for last year’s NEC conference, which I didn’t even attend. Over the months we chatted while coordinating another TKA agent’s travel. During that time we developed a wonderful little friendship in our email exchanges. Now, low and behold I have a friend in New England who I haven’t met who I can talk about my two favorite things with, Books AND football. Seriously, how cool is that? Point being, you just never know. That’s just one reason friends in the business are awesome, they make what is known as your “work” fun.

More on the value of friends, they will be the best promoters you have ever met. When talking about book promotion Gena Showalter instantly pops into my mind. Now as many of you know (and if you don’t, go pick up any of her books and see for yourself) Gena is an incredibly talented writer, in the top of her class if you ask me. Something that makes Gena even more spectacular however is she is the BEST book promoter I have ever met. She sells her friends books like you wouldn’t believe. She buys multiple copies of many of her friends’ books just so she can send them to other people and hook a reader. Seriously, when she is pushing a book you would think she were the sole recipient of 100% of the profits. But she just loves her friends THAT much and wants to help others success.

And speaking of authors selling each others books, let’s tweak this in a slightly different direction. How about the value of endorsement quotes?! You never know when you will find yourself sitting next to the person whose name will help sell thousands of copies of your book.

Then there is the very obvious value to be had in sharing your struggles and triumphs, learning from others mistakes and helping them sideswipe theirs, sharing tips and shortcuts etc etc. etc. I am lucky to call many fellow agents friends. These peers help me going. They help me see past a bad day, they share their previous experiences, they pass on helpful news. They are invaluable to me. They sit and talk and understand and listen like no one else can. Some days they help me see that I’m not crazy, it’s just another day at the job.   

So there you have it, my list for 2007. I think I’ve done talked myself out. Thanks again for having me this week. It’s been my pleasure. I hope to meet many of you in the upcoming years. And if you see me out and about, remember, don’t be afraid to come up and say hello. 

Elaine Spencer – Book Giveaway

December 6, 2007 at 11:19 am | Posted in agents/ editors, books, Elaine Spencer, Honorary Heartlette, writing | Leave a comment

While we will have one more visit with Elaine before the week is over, we wanted to post a reminder that we’ll be giving away a bundle of books generously provided by The Knight Agency.  To be eligible, post a comment to any one of Elaine’s three blog posts this week.  The winner will be chosen at random at the end of Elaine’s visit. Thank you to everyone who has stopped in and visited with us this week!

Honorary Heartlette – Elaine Spencer, Part II

December 4, 2007 at 11:17 pm | Posted in agents/ editors, Elaine Spencer, Honorary Heartlette, writing | 12 Comments

I’m sorry that I’m running a little bit behind today, and this post is going to be a late one, but let me tell you it has just been one of those days! It all started out with these awful power surges that we have been having at the office. It’s been a nuisance but we’ve been dealing with it. That was until yesterday when I opened the refrigerator in the kitchen and suddenly the power strip in my office started smoking. No, these are not even on the same fuse, and no, I’m not kidding. It appears that the light turning on in the fridge was just too much power, can you say fire hazard!? Anyways, we got the electrician to come out today and it turns out a dang squirrel has chewed into our lines causing interrupted power flow and surges. Sigh. So the power company comes out and gets us all patched up. Then what do you know, to add to the fun we find out that the power surge blew our internet router. So no power, no internet, put this on top of a giant release day, two agents heading away on business for the rest of the week, and a big project I’m trying to get out for a client. CHAOS!! Anyways, I think we are squared away and I can finally take a moment to get back to my list making J and yes, with all of the aforementioned chaos, my compulsive list-making has been in full effect this week on many different levels!

 Ok. So, where was I . . . On Sunday I talked about the things that I think we all need to hear over and over again. The things that never tire, grow old, or change. Today I’m going to talk about more things that we all surely know, but that sometimes become a bit less obvious. The things that are easy to forget. The things that are easy to lose sight of during the journey.

 The first thing that I think we all need to be reminded about is the power of reading in the market. Reading can never be underestimated and being too busy is never an excuse.

 This year I really made a valiant attempt to get back into reading for pleasure. For some time I had put it aside because I just didn’t know how to manage if I was going to pick from the personal or the professional pile. 

I had my “slap myself on the forehead” moment in the opening weeks of 2007. I was on a plane heading home from a business trip to NYC. I hadn’t taken my computer (a BIG rarity) and so all I had to keep me busy were 4 books that had been given to me by editors. They all happened to be middle grade books, short, easy reads. Before I knew it, and the day was over I had finished 3 books. Whew, what a breath of fresh air. When I crawled into bed that night I felt so empowered and on top of my game.

I hear so many people say “I just don’t have the time to read for pleasure”. IMHO, that’s a cop-out. Yes, there are many instances late at night when I am curled up with a good book and I probably could be reading a submission that I have in my inbox. However, if I would follow that guilty little pang I can guarantee that two things are going to happen, neither of which are good. One, I’m going to be bitter that I’m still reading for work and I’m going to take it out on the submission in my hand. Two, I’m going to get burnt out, fast and find that I’m not enjoying ANYTHING I read, regardless of how good it is.

Here’s the thing. Reading off of the shelves is refreshing. It reminds us why we do what we do. It reminds us the power a good book holds. It also reminds serves as an educational tool so we have a clue what is working and what isn’t. It gives us a clear and accurate depiction of what is selling and what editors are buying. If I hear a ton of buzz about a book, you better believe I am going to pick it up to see what all the talk is about. It serves in all of our best interest to see what’s working and try to build off of it.

And one more thing to think about on this topic, if as individuals within this profession we stop and say “I don’t have the time to read” then how in the heck do we expect this industry to go on. Every week someone is talking about the decline in book sales. It’s our job to proactively go out there and do whatever it takes to get people excited about the books we are writing and selling. If you haven’t read a good book lately, stop reading this blog right now and go spend your time reading a great story instead!   

For those of you that are on point with me about the reading thing, I’m going to break from my ‘information’ list and bring you a separate list. If you all will let me continue to ramble I thought I would share a few of the best books I have read this year. And let me tell you, I’ve read some AMAZING books; it’s been a good year in publishing!

Hands down my favorite book of the year was The Kommandants Girl by Pam Jenoff. This title was referred to me by someone at Harlequin and I couldn’t have been more pleased with the read. I can’t wait for her next title in 08’. It was a Golden Quill nominee too, so its not just me that thinks it’s awesome!

My favorite adult series was JR Ward’s BLACK DAGGER BROTHERHOOD. I jumped on the band wagon late, but let me tell you, I’m on for good now. My favorite YA series was Stephenie Meyer’s TWILIGHT. I wasn’t quite as in love with Eclipse as the earlier two, but still she has a great thing going. I know both of those series are talked about EVERYWHERE, but seriously, those two women have done some amazing things with their characters, world building and emotional content. And wrapping back to my point above, I heard the buzz and I wanted to be in on what everyone was talking about.

 And then there are the stand alones that just stood out to me. As you’ll see I read across the board. Kristin Hannah’s MAGIC HOUR, Allison van Diepen’s SNITCH, Steven James THE PAWN, Jodi Picoult’s NINETEEN MINUTES, Samantha Graves’ SIGHT UNSEEN, Sohia Nash’s A DANGEROUS BEAUTY, Rachel Vincent’s STRAY, Gena Showalter’s RED HANDED oh and the list could go on . . . but I’ll stop and get back to something more interesting to you all.

 There is one other big thing that I want to talk about in this post, (and then I’ll wrap it up as its getting late and I’m dying to catch the Victoria’s Secret Fashion Show!) and that is a friendly little reminder that small acts of kindness will come back around ten-fold.

Of course this is something that I could have put in the last post; it’s another of those things that we of course all know and something that you can never hear too often. However I’m putting it in here because it is something that is SO easy to forget. It is so very easy to forget especially during this period of the year when we are all So Very busy with our own lives and agendas and plans.

I challenge each of you to stop and think about the small things that make a big difference. I know that I am blessed almost daily in this business with a caring gesture by a co-worker, a client or other associate. I was reading the post that was put up yesterday on this very blog about the things that we all have to be thankful for. I think we should be thankful to be a part of this business that is so overflowing with kindness.

I hear so many of my peers talking about their jobs and the dog-eat-dog environment they are surrounded by each day. I love that I have nothing to contribute to these conversations. Remember every action that you take should be one to combat those negative vibes.

 Often times I become overwhelmed with my inbox. I see the emails pouring in and I just can’t quite comprehend how I am going to manage to reply to each email with compassion and energy. It is very easy for me to just skim through my messages and only reply to those that demand my attention. However I’m not a grinch and I avoid that path of action. You know what, it pays. I can’t tell you the friends I have made and the rewards that have poured back my way for taking the time to remember that a person is at the receiving end of each email. I am so rewarded by just the simple “thank-yous” I receive for the things that I do as just a second nature.

 Long story short. Don’t take anything for granted. You are in a very unique and fortunate situation that a very small gesture can make a very large difference in someone else’s life and career!

Thanks for checking back and I look forward to closing out my list on Thursday. I’ve got a few more things to list off, those that you may not have previously thought about but can make a big difference as you move towards 2008! Have a lovely evening! 

Honorary Heartlette – Elaine Spencer, Part I

December 2, 2007 at 6:29 pm | Posted in Elaine Spencer, Honorary Heartlette, writing | 8 Comments

First off I would like to thank you all for stopping by. I did a quick scan of the archives and realized I’m the first agent to be an honorary heartlette. That in itself is extremely flattering and even a bit overwhelming. Where do I begin?!

 

Jessica invited me here months ago, and at the time I jumped at the opportunity. And then suddenly, in the blink of an eye, that time is here and I’m sitting in unfamiliar territory. I’m staring at a blank screen with no idea what exactly to say. Sound familiar to anyone else out there?  With each sentence I got on screen and then erased I was reminded just how daunting your job as an author is! But I digress, I know that you all already know that and I’m sure that you could each talk circles around me on the pains of “getting stuck”. So while it could be a something to chat about, it’s not going to do.

 

When I get stuck I start to make lists. And so finding myself in a tough spot, this is exactly what I did, I started to brainstorm and make a list. I thought about all the topics I could write about and which of these might just be the most beneficial to you. Suddenly I had a list of ideas that was pretty big. That being said, your December heartlette, aka moi, is going to give you a list.

 

During my brainstorming session it dawned on me that with the onset of December we are officially in the 11th hour of 2007. And so, drum roll please, your list is going to be based around the top things that I have learned, been reminded of or that I just think can never be said too many times. Hopefully at least one of these comments will strike a cord with you and you too will be reminded, refreshed or just plain informed as you prepare to wrap up another year!

 

As I mentioned my list is a bit lengthy. I’m going to break it down into three separate posts. These first few items are going to be those that in my opinion are the most obvious – the things that just can never be said too many times.

 

The first item on my list, DESPITE THE RUMORS, AGENTS ARE NOT SCARY. We are ordinary people, just like you. – I know I know. Easy for me to say, I’m an agent. I am going to let you all in on a secret, whoever the person was that started the nasty rumor that we were these all-powerful gods was lying. Agents are just another spoke of a very big wheel that drives the publishing industry.

 

I’ll talk about conferences later down the list. But here’s a heads up. If you see me out and about, and the timing looks right, don’t hesitate to approach me. Now, when I say the right time, yes I realize this leaves some room for interpretation. If you see me in the middle of a meeting with a client, making a dash to the elevator or having what looks to be an in-depth chat with anyone else, that’s probably not the right time. However, if you see me walking into a room or just standing around alone PLEASE come say Hi.

 

If I’m sitting on a panel or guest chatting on a loop, don’t be afraid to speak up. Ask your questions! We all have to learn somewhere and I don’t know an agent out there that isn’t proud to take part in the process of educating others about our business.

 

Another thing, I know that this may seem a bit obvious, but I think its something valuable that factors into this topic, and something that people often forget. If an agent is out and about, it’s most likely because they are looking to help you. I wouldn’t attend conferences if I didn’t want to meet new people and find new talent. I wouldn’t agree to post on a loop if I weren’t hoping to get some good questions and provide insightful answers.

 

If it has been said once it has been said a million times. Network, network, network. Don’t forget, as agents we are a part of that network!  I think that in many instances authors become so caught up in this myth of “the power we hold” that they forget we need your work to do our work. We are nothing without you and your material! Don’t forget that!

 

Enough on that. The next thing that I want to add to this list is DO YOUR HOMEWORK. This is something that I just have to mention, because its one of my pet peeves. I’m not going to go into too much detail here, because I think for the most part in this crowd I’m probably going to be preaching to the choir.

 

Bottom line, I can’t stress enough how important it is that you take the time to learn the basic dos and donts of the business and follow them if you want to become successful. There are people that talk about these standards EVERYDAY. As an author, take the time to read informative blogs, pick up the industry’s magazines and guides, pay attention to the things that those who have gone before you are saying. Publishing is CONSTANTLY changing and it will never fail to behoove you to stay informed on what is going on around you.

 

The things I’m referring to are not the world’s great mysteries. They are simple things. Proof-read. Learn to spell my name correctly. Learn what types of material I represent (and bonus points for who!). Don’t call me on the telephone to pitch your book. Learn how I accept submissions. Know what a sellable word-count is for your genre.

 

See? This is not solving world hunger. In my mind, people that can’t accomplish these little tasks are not prepared to be a part of this business. This might sound incredibly harsh, but I find it personally insulting and disrespectful if people can’t follow these mores. It is saying to me that they don’t care about the conventions we have all worked to establish.

 

Moving onto the last point I want to make today, the last thing that we all can never be reminded of too many times.  YOU JUST NEVER KNOW. This is a business of surprises. There is no predicting which day will be THE day. There is no rhyme or reason to exactly when an agent or editor is going to call you and tell you that they are in love with the project you are selling. It might be the day after you send a project out (if we could all only be so lucky) or it may be 3 years down the road.

 

We are all a part of a very unpredictable machine. And it’s an exciting machine!

 

And then there is the whole measure of success. You never know what book is going to take off, and when. My agency currently has a title out that has now been on the NYT list for over a year. The book initially published almost four years ago with a print run that was beyond meek. There are now over two million copies available! How awesome is it to know that at any moment YOU can become a bestseller?!

 

You just never know. This is what makes this job so incredible. Success will catch up with you. You may have some stumbling blocks along the way. Remember though, the best things in life are worth waiting for! And in this very unique environment you never know when you are upon the best day of your career!

 

 

Honorary Heartlette – Elaine Spencer

November 25, 2007 at 10:17 am | Posted in agents/ editors, Elaine Spencer, Honorary Heartlette, writing | Leave a comment

A rare treat for us this holiday season and another thing for which we are thankful – December’s Honorary Heartlette is Elaine Spencer of The Knight Agency. We are so excited that this industry professional has agreed to share her time and expertise with us and hope you will join us for Elaine’s blog post on December 2. Stay tuned! 

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