Monday, January 25, 2010

New Imprints Mean New Author Markets

Two new imprints are good news for authors, offering them, at least potentially, new markets to which to peddle their books.

The first is Grand Central's newly christened Grand Central Life & Style imprint, starting in fall 2010. They will publish between eight and twelve titles a year across categories including style (beauty and fashion), food (cooking), body & mind (diet, fitness, self-help, and inspiration), home (organization, design, and green living), and personal connections (relationships, parenting, and pets). Karen Murgolo will oversee the new line as its editorial director.

Meanwhile, in the UK, Pan Macmillan publishing director Maria Rejt will run her own imprint, Mantle, which launches in May with Scott Turow's new book. Publishing up to 20 books a year, the line will pull together many of Rejt's existing authors from Pan, Picador, and Macmillan. Managing director Anthony Forbes Watson says, "She has a rare eye for high quality writing with broad appeal, and an unstinting focus on her authors. Mantle is the perfect vehicle for her talents."


Copyright 2009 AmSAW

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Our Advice to Authors: Drop Dead

With the year 2009 solidly wrapped in history, news of last year's book sales is, umm, frightening. According to a study of all book sales tracked last year, books about vampires, ghouls, zombies and other "undeads" garnered at least 17 percent of all books sold. Stephenie Meyer led the pack with her Twilight series, but that wasn't the only story behind last year's best sellers.

There were other, less frightening, winners, including a couple of fems known as Julie and Julia, a Harvard symbologist who cracked The Da Vinci Code, and a nerdy bespectacled kid and his diary all flexed their muscles in 2009.

Still, when nearly a fifth of all books sold revolve around things that go bump in the night, writers have to take notice. A true trend (albeit one that could come to a crashing end tomorrow), the undead sales were up from 14 percent of all books tracked in 2008, which was up from a paltry 2 percent in 2007. Are you starting to see a pattern developing here?

Charlaine Harris, author of the Sookie Stackhouse novels that serve as inspiration for HBO's True Blood, had nine titles in the top hundred sellers of the year, and P.C. and Kristin Cast, the mother/daughter team who write the House of Night series, had six.

Not only that, but experts expect the trend to continue this year, again based upon Meyer's continuing popularity. Whether or not she introduces a new book in 2010, the film version of Eclipse, based upon the third book in the Twilight series, comes to life in theaters in June, while the paperback reissue of her 2008 adult hardcover The Host will hit the stands on April 13.

And the ghouls just keep on coming.


Copyright 2009 AmSAW

Saturday, January 02, 2010

Do Publishers Require a Completed Manuscript?

We received a question the other day about selling full-length fiction to publishers.

I heard somewhere that fiction usually needs to be finished to sell to a publisher and non-fic can be the first three chapters and outline, but I'm not sure how accurate that really is. - M. B., Florida

Well, M. B., I'm glad you brought that up, because it's not true. At least it's not always true. I'm sure that the vast majority of novels are sold complete, simply because most of them come from newbies to the novel-publishing world, and that's how they write--from start to finish. Only then do they begin shopping their masterpieces around for publication. You know, the First-Step, Second-Step, Third-Step approach to writing.

The truth, however, is that many novels, particularly from well-tested and reliable writers, sell on the basis of a couple of completed chapters and a strong, detailed outline. In fact, I sold my very first novel on the basis of an outline only. It was 23 pages long and pretty complete, but the editor never did ask to see a sample from the book.

Which was good news for me, since I hadn't started writing it yet.

The fact is that professional writers--freelancers who earn their living from writing--couldn't possibly take the time to complete a book before selling it, running the risk that it might never sell. Full-time writers need to roll over their words continually into income. When a writer typically spends a year working on a novel, that means he's spent a year without generating any appreciable income unless he's working under contract and receiving author's advances.

Of course, an editor has to have faith in a writer's being able and willing to finish the book properly to offer a contract on the basis of an outline and a few sample chapters. Sometimes untested novelists do best selling their first properties as completed manuscripts. But it all boils down to the individual editor and the policies of the publishing house.

But for a professional writer working in these tough economic times particularly, that dog won't hunt, and most editors know it!


Copyright 2009 AmSAW