Thursday, November 28, 2013

What are people reading? Not what they were reading 20 years ago...

This fascinating little article appeared a few days ago in USA Today. USA Today has been tracking book trends since 1993. Among the more notable trends over the past two decades is an increase in fiction bestsellers. Why?
"People today are looking for escape...Fiction provides that. In the '90s and early 2000s, we were in a different economic time. People were living the dream, not just dreaming it. "
Other significant trends: 
  • Erotica is now mainstream (apparently, "dreaming" sex is better than the real thing)
  • An increase in translations (due, in large part, to a girl with a tattoo)
  • A decrease in bestselling self-help books (people would rather dream about sex)
  • An increase in children's and teen books (not just for kids anymore)


By Bob Minzesheimer and Anthony DeBarros , USA TODAY, October 30, 2013

What 20 years of best sellers say about what we read...

How has your reading changed in the past 20 years? From readers shopping in brick-and-mortar bookstores, to the dominance of game-changing online sellers, to a digital era of e-reading and instant delivery, the book industry has gone through monumental change. And USA TODAY has been there all along. Look through 20 years of best-selling books.

When USA TODAY began its Best-Selling Books list 20 years ago, J.K. Rowling was a struggling unknown writer teaching English in Portugal. Suzanne Collins was helping to write a children's TV show for Nickelodeon called Clarissa Explains It All.

And the word "Amazon" brought to mind a river in South America or a very tall woman.

A lot has changed in two decades.

Driven by, about half of all books are now bought online, a click away. More than 20% are downloaded. Some 40% of adults have e-readers, tablets or other devices to read e-books.

And Rowling and Collins? They have a combined total of 225 million copies in print of the books (10 in all) of their two series for children and teens, Harry Potter and The Hunger Games.

Two decades worth of data show what's changed — and what hasn't — since USA TODAY began tracking best sellers in October 1993.

The highlights from three distinct eras:

• Self-help and other advice titles were big during the first five years (1993-1998) when most books were bought in physical bookstores.

• Rowling triggered Dickens-like excitement about reading and demolished the conventional wisdom about children's books in the second era (1999-2008), when online sales grew.

• Since 2009, fiction (as a percentage of best sellers) has risen to all-time highs and erotica went mainstream as e-books became the fastest growing part of the market.

Read the rest of this article HERE.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

3 Literary Agents Seeking Kidlit, Literary and Commercial Fiction, Nonfiction and more

Updated on 12/7/22

Here are three literary agents looking for clients. Rachael Dillon Fried (Sanford Greenburger) has a keen interest in women’s literary and commercial fiction. Shannon Hassan (Marsal Lyon Agency) wants literary and commercial fiction, young adult fiction, and select nonfiction. Maria Vicente (P. S. Literary) is looking for Young Adult (contemporary; horror; magical realism; mystery; light science fiction; light fantasy), Middle Grade (any genre), and illustrated Picture Books. In nonfiction, she is looking for projects in the Pop Culture, Science, Design, and Lifestyle categories.

Always read the agency website, the agent bio, and submission requirements (on the website) before submitting. Agents may switch agencies, and submission requirements may change.

For a list of dozens of new and established agents seeking clients see: Agents seeking clients.


Maria Vicente of P.S. Literary Agency

About Maria Vicente: Maria Vicente is an Associate Agent at P.S. Literary Agency, located in Ontario, Canada. She has a B.A. in English Literature from Carleton University and a B.Ed. from The University of Western Ontario. Her reading preferences vary across categories and she is interested in writers with unique and creative concepts. Maria has a literary blog and can be found on Twitter at @MsMariaVicente.

What she is looking for: Maria is actively acquiring children’s fiction and nonfiction projects for readers of all ages. In fiction, she is looking for Young Adult (contemporary; horror; magical realism; mystery; light science fiction; light fantasy), Middle Grade (any genre), and illustrated Picture Books. In nonfiction, she is looking for projects in the Pop Culture, Science, Design, and Lifestyle categories. 

How to submit: Please read the submission requirements on P.S. Literary's website carefully before sending a query. P.S. Literary only accepts queries via e-mail: query [at] Please limit your query to one page and include the following: an introduction (the title and category of your work and an estimated word count), a brief overview (similar to back-cover copy), and a writer’s bio (a little bit about yourself and your background). Do not send attachments or submit a full-length manuscript/proposal unless requested. In your email subject line, have it read “Query for Maria: [Book Title].”


Rachael Dillon Fried of Sanford Greenburger Associates

About Rachael Dillon Fried: After a stint with International Creative Management’s [now ICM Partners] live appearances division in Los Angeles, Rachael Dillon Fried embraced her love of books and relocated to New York City to pursue a career in literary representation. She landed at Sanford Greenburger, where she assisted agent Heide Lange before becoming an associate agent. Rachael is a Rhode Island native and graduate of Brown University. She lives in Manhattan with her husband, a television writer. Find Rachael on Twitter.

What she is looking for: Rachael has a keen interest in a keen interest in women’s literary and commercial fiction. She hopes to build long-term relationships with clients who are passionate about developing their craft and career.

Recent SalesRules Of Becoming A Legend By Time Lane (Viking/Penguin), My Boyfriend Barfed In My Handbag...And Other Things You Can't Ask Martha By Jolie Kerr (Plume/Penguin), We Were Here By Mary Kubica  (Mira/Harlequin)
How to submitQuery Rachael at Please put “Query” in the subject line and, for the email body, include a brief letter and the first few chapters. If Rachael is interested in reading further, she will be in touch within 4-6 weeks


Shannon Hassan of Marsal Lyon Agency

About Shannon Hassan: Shannon has worked in publishing and law for more than a decade. Before becoming an agent, she was the Acquisitions Editor at Fulcrum Publishing, and prior to that, a corporate attorney at Arnold & Porter in New York. She received her JD from Harvard and her BA from George Washington University.

Previously Shannon was an agent at the Warner Literary Group where she represented a range of literary and film projects, including the soon to be published Future Flash by Kita Murdock (Sky Pony Press). Prior to that she was the Acquisitions Editor at Fulcrum Publishing, where she worked with best-selling and award-winning authors such as Anita Thompson, Laurie David, Adam Schrager, Larry Schweiger, Marilou Awiakta, Matt Dembicki, Sally Kneidel, and Mitch Tobin.

What she is looking for: She represents authors of literary and commercial fiction, young adult fiction, and select nonfiction. With respect to fiction: she is drawn to fresh voices, compelling characters, and crisp prose. For nonfiction: she is interested in memoirists with exceptional stories to tell, as well as authors with a strong platform in current affairs, history, education, or law. Based in Boulder, Colorado, she is also eager to hear from authors with a unique perspective on the New West.

How to contact her: Query Shannon [at] and write “QUERY” in the subject line of the email. In all submissions, please include a contact phone number as well as your email address. Response time is generally 1-4 weeks for queries.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Calling All College Writers: Avon Impulse Launches College-Based Challenge to Discover Future Bestsellers


HarperCollins has announced a free contest that budding romance authors can enter. The romance market is huge, with over 30,000,000 dedicated readers. And publishers are just now realizing that money can be made from digital imprints, so they are opening their doors to writers. No agent required. And - have I said this? - it's FREE.

So, come, all you romantic New Adults, blow the dust off your keyboards and type!

From the website:

Avon’s Digital-First Imprint Encourages Graduate and Undergraduate Writing Students to Submit Romance Manuscripts for Chance to Win One-on-One Editorial Consultation. All Submissions will be Considered for Publication by Avon Impulse!

September marks the end of summer and a return to academia—and for many university students, it’s also a return the equally grueling and rewarding routine of creative writing classes. Avon Books and Avon Impulse, imprints of HarperCollins Publishers, recognizes the raw talent and passion for the craft that many students bring to their work, and it is for this reason that they have chosen to work with HarperCollins’ Academic Marketing division to launch an initiative seeking emerging young stars of Romance.

Graduate and undergraduate students are invited to submit up to three chapters (or 50 pages), a detailed synopsis (no more than five pages) of the romance novel. Entrants should also include a brief paragraph on what their follow-up book would be to the Avon Impulse Editors.

What are Avon’s editors looking for? Amanda Bergeron,the lead editor for the Avon Impulse digital-first publishing imprint, says, “First and foremost, we always want a fresh voice and an ability to create real-to-life characters. Beyond that, we are looking for writers who have an understanding of what’s working in the current market. And if you can make us laugh, cry, or go absolutely weak-kneed, that certainly doesn’t hurt. Know your strengths when you write—and trust in a great editor to make your manuscript even stronger”

Avon is actively acquiring the following types of novels:
  • New Adult romance
  • Romantic suspense
  • Super sexy contemporaries
  • Trilogies—and beyond
  • Serialized erotic romance
What types of submissions will get students noticed? Bergeron notes, “Fabulously sexy heroes who let nothing get in the way of getting what they want—the heroine of course—and giving her everything she needs,” are top-of-bell curve for Avon editorial. Emphasis is also on heroines who are unafraid to take chances in life … and in love. “World-building” is key—writers are asked to choose the setting, just make sure it’s utterly romantic! Readers should be able to immerse themselves in the wonderful world that an author creates. "Series Wanted!" Bergeron asserts that readers always cry out for more when authors give them characters to believe in … so, in outlines, aspiring authors are asked to give Avon’s editors an idea of more stories to come in the same vein. And finally—for anyone who has discovered the super-dramatic, addictive joy of New Adult, editors are looking for dark spectacles that explore the many twists and turns of true love.

Further guidelines can be found at—but the sky’s the limit, since there are no specific call outs for this opportunity; as long as it’s romance, it qualifies! This call for submissions is aimed directly at students.

All submissions should be digitally sent by 5 pm on April 1, 2014, via email to All submissions must be submitted from a college email address. All submissions will be reviewed and considered for publication through Avon Impulse, the publisher’s digital-first arm—winners will be announced on May 15, 2014.


HarperCollins Publishers, one of the largest English-language publishers in the world, is a subsidiary of NewsCorp (NASDAQ: NWS, NWSA; ASX: NNC, NNCLV). Headquartered in New York, HarperCollins has publishing groups around the world in the US, UK, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and India. HarperCollins is a broad-based publisher with strengths in literary and commercial fiction, business books, children's books, cookbooks, narrative nonfiction, mystery, romance, reference, pop culture, design, health, wellness, and religious and spiritual books. With nearly 200 years of history, HarperCollins has published some of the world's foremost authors, including winners of the Nobel Prize, the Pulitzer Prize, the National Book Award, the Newbery Medal, and the Caldecott Medal. HarperCollins is consistently at the forefront of innovation, using digital technology to create unique reading experiences and expand the reach of its authors. You can visit HarperCollins Publishers online at:

Monday, November 18, 2013

Why Does the Federal Government Care What You Are Reading?

Big Brother is watching ...
What were the most recent books you took out of a library? Were they, by any chance, How to Build a Bomb That Will Destroy a Large White Building in Washington, DC? Or, perhaps, Death to America? Or did you simply want to refresh your memory of Howard Zinn's classic, A People's History of the United States?

The American Library Association, the American Booksellers Association, the Association of American Publishers, and PEN American Center have all endorsed a bill, the Freedom Act, that will restore Americans' right to read and say what they like - unmonitored.

Privacy is among our most cherished civil rights - and for good reason. If somebody, somewhere in the bowels of wherever the Patriot Act allows drones to monitor what we read, decides that Howard Zinn or Noam Chomsky is a terrorist, then you may suffer the consequences, simply by having taken home one of their books.

Of course, the argument in favor of monitoring citizens is that citizens must give up a certain amount of freedom in order to have security. The fears of Americans after 911 made this perspective seem reasonable.

What people tend to forget is that the federal government's (or any institution's) idea of security may have more to do with its own self-preservation than yours. The abandonment of freedom of the press in America in the wake of the Jacobin threat (The Sedition Act), stimulated, not a crack-down on sympathizers of the French Revolution, but on political opponents of the Federalist government.

Historically, it has always been the case that whenever civil liberties are revoked, the purpose is not to safeguard the rights of citizens, but to extend the reach of whoever happens to be in power.

This article appeared a few days ago in Publisher's Weekly. Give it a read. And send a quick thank you note to Senator Patrick Leahy and Representative James Sensenbrenner for standing up to Big Brother. George Orwell would appreciate it.

Book Groups Back Bill to Restore Privacy Protections

Publisher's Weekly, Nov 14, 2013

Spurred by revelations of how the National Security Agency is collecting information on citizens, the Campaign for Reader Privacy has issued a statement calling for Congress to pass the USA Freedom Act. CRP, a joint initiative of the American Booksellers Association, the American Library Association, the Association of American Publishers, and PEN American Center, said passage of the bill will restore privacy protections that were eliminated by the Patriot Act.

The Freedom Act (S. 1599/H.R. 3361) was introduced on October 29 by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Rep. James Sensenbrenner (R-WI) in response to the news that the National Security Agency is using Section 215 of the Patriot Act to collect records of the telephone calls made by Americans without regard to whether they are suspected of involvement in terrorism. Section 215 eliminated the requirement that the government show evidence of “individualized suspicion” before it can conduct a search in a terrorism investigation.

Since 2004, CPR has warned that Section 215 could be used to obtain the records of innocent Americans, including records of the books they purchase from bookstores or borrow from libraries. Supporters of the Patriot Act, including Rep. Sensenbrenner, argued that it would be used only to investigate someone suspected of terrorism. The revelations of former NSA contractor Edward J. Snowden, however, convinced Sensenbrenner and others that additional safeguards are needed to protect privacy. The Freedom Act would limit government searches to the records of people who are suspected terrorists and their associates.

Read the rest of this important article HERE.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Ray Bradbury's Words of Wisdom - Write Like Hell!

There's no doubt about it. Ray Bradbury could give a great lecture.

In 2001, Bradbury spoke at Point Loma Nazrene University in San Diego, where he imparted his wisdom: Read the greats, broaden your mind, and write like hell.

We've heard it before - practice makes perfect - but nowhere is this message delivered with greater honesty, more clarity, and deeper conviction than when it comes out of Ray Bradbury's mouth.

Because this is a man who waited until he was 30 before he wrote his first novel, Fahrenheit 451, and who spent the previous 18 years writing "millions of words" until he got it right.

In an age of instant gratification and overnight success stories (a very bad idea for writers, by the way - overnight success usually kills a writer's career), Bradbury's words of wisdom may fall on deaf ears.

But that does not make them any less true. Here is the writer's problem, as Bradbury saw it:
"The problem with novels is you can spend a whole year writing one and it might not turn out well."
He's right. In fact, chances are that if that novel is the only thing you have ever written, it will turn out to be a piece of crap. Unfortunately, writers are a stubborn lot - fixated on their "little darlings" and their plans for world domination.

Nonetheless, those who are wise will follow Bradbury's advice:
"If you can write one short story a week, it doesn’t matter what the quality is to start – at least you’re practicing. At the end of the year you have 52 short stories. And I defy you to write 52 bad ones. It can’t be done. After 30 or 40 weeks, all of a sudden a story will come that is wonderful – just wonderful. That’s what happened to me..."
While you're coming up with your wonderful gem, read the great short story writers: Richard Matheson, Nigel Kneal, John Collier (brilliant short stories), Edith Wharton, Edgar Allen Poe, Melville, Hawthorn. Read the great poems. Read the great essays, from various fields. "Stuff your heads!"

And watch this fabulous video. This man is one of the greats, and well worth listening to.

"The sooner you know how to write a metaphor, the better off you'll be."
Ray Bradbury, August 22, 1920 – June 5, 2012

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Marketing Terms for Those Who Would Rather Use a Hammer

When I bought my 175-year-old farmhouse, my brother handed me a book. 

"You'll need this," he said.

The book was Better Homes and Gardens Complete Guide To Home Repair & Improvement, and it was enormous. Not only was it big, it contained a lot of things I would never be able to do - like fix squeaky stairs, and take apart plumbing.  

I expressed some reservations about my handyman abilities. My brother replied, in his infinite wisdom, that the book was not meant for me to actually use - that would require being able to name a tool other than a hammer - but for me to understand what plumbers and other repairmen were doing when they came to my house.

The book proved invaluable, something to which anyone with a 175-year-old house can attest.

There is a point to this story.

As I was browsing the net, I came upon an article explaining marketing terms. I am not a marketer, and don't plan to become one, mostly because I haven't the faintest idea what these people are talking about. As it turns out, it's a good idea to know what marketing terms mean, if only because, like the plumber's wrench, it's nice to recognize a tool when someone else charges you for using one.

Even if you don't ever have to pay a marketer, you may want to know what marketing is about. Chances are you'll be doing some of this work yourself.

17 Marketing Terms You Were Too Embarrassed to Google (But Should Definitely Know)

By Maggie Hibma

As inbound marketers, it’s our job to keep up with the latest trends in our industry, news on our competitors, and the latest marketing jargon.

But sometimes, every once in a while, a term or concept will eek by you. You might kind of know what it means, but not entirely.

And you’ll know exactly what that term is when a colleague says something to you and your first reaction is ... “Huh?”

Perhaps you’re more eloquent than me, but I’ve had plenty of “Huh?” moments at my time here at HubSpot. And if I’ve been hesitant to Google a few things here and there, I bet there are some fellow marketers out there that also have been.

So ... I put together a list of some -- okay, 17 to be precise -- terms and concepts that you can brush up on (or maybe learn about for the first time) and your Google search history will be none the wiser.

1) Long-Tail Keywords

Long-tail keywords are cool. Essentially, they’re search queries that contain three or more keywords. So, for example, a regular keyword for HubSpot would be “HubSpot.” But a long-tail keyword could be something like “inbound marketing software.”

What makes long-tail keywords great is Google’s new algorithm, Hummingbird, focuses on user intent, which is the concept behind long-tail keywords, making them an important part of your marketing strategy. They’re also what can turn your PPC efforts into successful campaigns. See? Like I said -- cool.

Read the rest of this enlightening article HERE.

Thursday, November 7, 2013

LitCrawls - The Newest Thing Since Pubcrawls

Last September, the New York Times published an article, A Heady Cocktail of Books and Booze, covering the latest trend among the literati - LitCrawls. As with so many entertaining concepts, the LitCrawl - an event combining food, fun, alcohol, and (I almost forgot) authors - began in San Francisco, home of Rice-A-Roni. 

Gone - or nearly gone - are the days when 25 people find themselves uncomfortably seated on metal folding chairs in a dank library basement for the privilege of listening to an embittered author read from his or her latest unsuccessful novel. Of course, there are still the $35 events at the 92nd Street Y, but these are getting some serious competition from literary events that are free - and fun! After all, which would you rather do - sit in a dank basement (or part with your money), or eat, drink and be merry with people who still read books?

Two questions immediately come to mind, 1) Where are these events held, and 2) How can we get into one?

The answer to the first question is London, San Francisco, New York, and, most recently LA.

The answer to the second question is, make connections. (Just read who sponsored the LA event, and you'll see what I mean.)
First LitCrawl Los Angeles a Big Success

By Wendy Werris, Publisher's Weekly, Oct 24, 2013

An estimated 2,000 devotees from the Los Angeles literary community were out in force on the evening of Wednesday, October 23, in North Hollywood, Calif., for the first annual LitCrawl 2013 Los Angeles: NoHo. The event is now a participant in the national Litquake Foundation series.

Held in the burgeoning NoHo arts district in the San Fernando Valley, the organizers of LitCrawl scheduled 23 events in 12 locations around the business hub of North Hollywood. Literary salons, workshops, and periodicals such as Tongue and Groove, Black Clock, GETLITWords Ignite, Los Angeles Review of Books, The (In)Visible Memoirs Project, and The Rumpus featured readings in venues as varied as pizza parlors, bars, theatres, and a hair salon. Round 1 of the Crawl ran from 6:00 – 7:00 pm; Round 2 from 7:30 – 8:30 pm. A sold-out after-party and fundraiser for LitCrawl L.A. began at 9:00 pm at The Hesby restaurant, where over 200 people mingled and listened to a live jazz band.

Read the rest of the article HERE.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

SCBWI Opens Yearly Award to Self-Publishers

Updated 6/7/22

Increasingly, writers' societies are recognizing the value of self-published books. 

Every year, the Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators bestows an annual award to "non-traditionally" published children books (picture, middle grade, YA) that meet SCBWI's standards for excellence.

If you have written a children's or YA book, and self-published it, this is a prize well worth pursuing. The SCBWI is a highly respected organization, one all children's book authors should join.


Spark Award

The Spark Award is an annual award that recognizes excellence in a children’s book published through a non-traditional publishing route.

Deadline: Books may be submitted between November 16th and December 19 for books published in the calendar year. Books published in previous years and re-issues are ineligible. Books submitted outside of that period will not be considered. You may only submit one title each award period.

Award: The Spark winner will receive a $1,000 cash prize. The winner and honor recipients (if applicable) will receive: Spark seals to display on their book, the opportunity to teach a digital workshop about their publishing journey, the chance to be featured in the SCBWI online bookstore and publicized through SCBWI social networking sites. The winners will also get the opportunity to attend any conference of their choice tuition-free (other than for extras such as critiques and intensives).

  1. You must be a current SCBWI member with membership current through April of the following year to apply. If you are a member now but your membership is scheduled to expire before that time, you will need to renew your membership in order to be eligible for the award.
  2. You may only submit one title for each award period.
  3. Both the author and illustrator (if the illustrator’s name appears on the book) must be members to apply.
  4. You must have published a book intended for the children’s or YA market in one of the following categories: Board Book; Picture Book; Chapter Book; Middle Grade; Graphic Novel, Young Adult
  5. The book may be fiction or nonfiction.
  6. The book should have been self-published either from an established self-publishing enterprise or individually self-published. The book cannot have been previously. published in any print or digital form prior to the self-published form.
  7. SCBWI reserves the right to disqualify books published by enterprises that we believe, in our discretion, operate in a predatory or unbusinesslike manner.
  8. The book must exist in traditionally bound form, contain an ISBN number, and copyright date of the current year.
  9. All applicants must include a cover letter with your name, the name of your book, the genre of your. book, the publishing method for your book (including the name of any editor/copyeditor/designer who was retained in the creation of the book), your book’s ISBN, and a synopsis of your book.
  10. As of November 2020, submission to the Spark Award is DIGITAL ONLY. Please submit through the award portal HERE. 
  11. One winner and up to two. Honor Book. recipients. will be chosen in two categories:
  12. Books for Older Readers: This includes middle grade and young adult fiction and nonfiction. 
  13. Illustrated Books: This includes board books, picture books, readers, chapter books, and novelty books.
  14. Books entered in the Spark Award are not eligible for the Golden Kite Award. or Sid Fleischman Award. Self-published authors may only enter their books in one of these awards.
  15. Judging will be based on a number of criteria, including. but not limited to: quality of writing and concept, quality of illustrations (if applicable), professional presentation, editing and design, appropriateness of content for the targeted age group of the book. 
  16. Books are evaluated by a panel of English-speaking judges. All books entered must be written in English or be submitted with an English translation.

For more information click HERE.
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