Agenting & The Market: the US v. the UK, an Intern’s Perspective

The best books start here.

Category: The Industry

[Today’s post comes via the dizzyingly sharp Jennifer Ung, who once upon a time interned for one of us here at Upstart Crow (albeit at a different company). Jennifer has just returned from a season in England, and we thought her observations on the two markets well worth sharing. Especially fascinating are explanations of how, though united by common language, American and British teens are so different that teen novels in each market don’t “translate” to the other.]

jeninlondonI’m an intern.

By MTV-reality-show standards, that probably means that I’m the go-to person for coffee, bagels, and general mind-numbing office work. I entered the interning realm thinking I’d end up doing tedious, unpaid work I didn’t care about but did only for the sake of furthering my barely fledgling career. Much to my complete and utter … [more]

I am very excited to invite all Upstart Crow blog readers to a Teen Author event this evening that I’ve helped organize. The reading will feature our very own Yvonne Woon, whose debut novel Dead Beautiful will be published in September.

She will be joined by the fantastic Natalie Standiford (How To Say Goodbye In Robot), Bennett Madison (The Blonde of the Joke), and New York Times bestseller Lauren Oliver (Before I Fall).

Please come to hear these remarkable authors read selections from their novels, talk about their writing processes and their roads to publication, plus their latest projects.

There will be a Q&A session immediately following, as well as an author signing with books available for purchase.

The details are as follows:… [more]

Swoon at Your Own Risk

It’s always cause to celebrate when one of my clients’ books is released into the world.

But it’s extra special exciting to see an author grow. Sydney Salter’s newest book, Swoon At Your Own Risk, is now available from Harcourt. This is Sydney’s third book, and I have worked with her since the beginning of her career. I have watched her develop and grow as a writer, and challenge herself to conquer new literary heights. She is the prime example of why it is important to make each book a brand new adventure.

Here’s a little about the book:

You’d think Polly Martin would have all the answers when it comes to love—after all, her grandmother is the famous syndicated advice columnist Miss Swoon. But after a junior year full of dating disasters, Polly [more]

melIf there were a Ten Commandments of Publishing, “Thou Shalt Be Patient” would definitely fall somewhere between “Always Revise, Ye Children” and “Sippeth Much Coffee.” I don’t know how many times I’ve had to say “these things take time” or “we need to be patient” or “hey, what’s over there?” before bolting in the opposite direction over the course of my young career, but it’s been plenty.

Chances are, if you’re going to be serious about getting published, you’re going to be expected to wait at different points: to figure out the plot, to find time to write, to hear back from your critique group, for an agent to respond to you, for the coffee to finish brewing, for revisions to be completed, for an editor to read your manuscript, for an offer to be … [more]

Meeting PinkiesIt is springtime here in New York, and as happens every spring, young hearts turn to thoughts of the Bologna Book Fair.

Or my old heart does, anyway. Every year, children’s books publishers and agents from all over the world gather in Bologna to buy and sell the rights to published and forthcoming books, to catch up with each other about trends, and to eat some truly excellent food. It is four days of constant meetings from nine to nine (some over drinks and dinner plates, true, but meetings nonetheless). From these meetings, many sales of properties are made to far-flung territories.

This can be a great benefit for a writer, the sale of individual rights to different countries. … [more]

PenPaperRecently a writer asked me the following question:

After I finished a YA book I particularly loved, I found out that the writer is on faculty at the Vermont College MFA program. It’s a low-res program – ideal for my lifestyle. I’m considering applying and wondered about your perspective on the pros and cons of an MFA…My goals would be to develop as a stronger writer. For me, that means learning how to go deeper with POV and understanding how to vary my sentence structure to improve pace and description.

This is a great question and one I’m sure many writers anxious to break into publishing ponder at one point or another. In my opinion, a writer who considers, enrolls in, or has completed an MFA is off to a good start. I tend to … [more]

(First entry in an occasional series in which we bandy about useful terms for the industry. Want to contribute your own? Please email your entries to podcast@upstartcrowliterary.com. This first is inspired by Michael Pollan’s useful thoughts about food.]

madgeBook-like product. These are high-profile (and high-priced) projects: Books that are purchased by publishers and published but that are not sold to the traditional book audience, or are sold on some appeal that is extra-literary.

They may be books “written” by celebrities (such as the recent deal for Hilary Duff, or Lauren Conrad’s two novels, or Jerry Seinfeld’s Halloween “picture book” from a few years back). Or books that no one outside of the celebrity’s following (mostly non book buyers) would purchase. (Think of Madonna’s The English Roses. Or Glenn Beck’s picture book.)

Such projects … [more]

(First entry in an occasional series in which we bandy about useful terms for the industry. Want to contribute your own? Please email your entries to podcast@upstartcrowliterary.com. This first is inspired by Michael Pollan’s useful thoughts about food.]

madgeBook-like product. These are high-profile (and high-priced) projects: Books that are purchased by publishers and published but that are not sold to the traditional book audience, or are sold on some appeal that is extra-literary.

They may be books “written” by celebrities (such as the recent deal for Hilary Duff, or Lauren Conrad’s two novels, or Jerry Seinfeld’s Halloween “picture book” from a few years back). Or books that no one outside of the celebrity’s following (mostly non book buyers) would purchase. (Think of Madonna’s The English Roses. Or Glenn Beck’s picture book.)

Such projects … [more]

kindle-2-carrieBack at the start of this year, Jonathan Galassi wrote an awesome editorial for the New York Times about the value that a publishing house actually provides for a book and an author—those ineffable quality enhancers that make a book cost more than its printing, paper, and binding. Editing. Marketing. Publicity. Design. Attention to detail. Vision.

Galassi’s piece is the perfect counter to those who suggest publishers are going the way of the T-rex, that authors need only throw their manuscripts onto the Kindle. Seventy percent royalty rates! these people crow. Take that, Legacy Publishers! My audience will not be bound by the old paradigms! And then they—I don’t know, twirl the ends of their moustaches while they count their doubloons.

But is Amazon’s self-publication plan truly the first death knell for traditional publishers? … [more]

kabook225An agent typically works with manuscripts in two different ways.

The first is when an author comes to me with a completed manuscript. If we decide to work together, we’ll spend time revising—focusing on character development, style, and storytelling. It is always exciting to help a writer best achieve his or her vision, and as many of my authors know, the revision process is one of my greatest joys.

The second is when an author comes to me with an idea. There is no manuscript—just the spark of something wonderful inside that curious (and thrilling!) thing known as the Author’s Brain. In that case, it is my job to help the author translate the idea onto the page, and then work with him or her to craft the arc of the story, develop the characters … [more]