Thursday, July 31, 2014

2 New Literary Agents Actively Seeking Clients

New agents are a boon to writers. They work hard, and are enthusiastic. (Enthusiasm goes far in this business.) Read their agency websites carefully to see who they have represented, and which publishing companies they have worked with. And don't forget to google both the agent and their agency to see what pops up.

Rachel Brooks's focus is fiction, specifically adult romance and young adult, as well as select women's fiction and cozy mysteries.

Rachel Brooks of BookEnds

About Rachel: After three years as an agent at the L. Perkins Agency, Rachel Brooks joined BookEnds in June 2017. While at LPA she established a mix of romance, young adult, and cozy mystery clients. Prior to that she was apprentice to agent Louise Fury.

What she is seeking: Rachel's focus is fiction, specifically adult romance and young adult, as well as select women's fiction and cozy mysteries. To break it down further, in adult romance she's looking for high concept stories with sizzling chemistry. Some of her favorite tropes are enemies to lovers, fake relationship, and second chance romance. In young adult she especially wants to read manuscripts by authors of color and LGBTQIA authors (although this applies to adult projects too). In women's fiction she is selectively looking for modern, commercial stories with wit and humor, multicultural stories, and novels that explore the relationships between sisters. For cozy mysteries, she wants a lovable sleuth you can't help but follow for many books, with a strong series hook, humor, and pets serving as an extra brownie point.

How to submit: Use this form on the agency's site.


About Siobhan: Siobhan McBride joined Serendipity Literary Agency in 2014. Raised in New York’s Hudson Valley region she studied painting, drawing, and ceramics before receiving her Bachelor of Arts in English and Creative Writing from SUNY New Paltz. She began her career in Publishing as an intern for the literary agency Objective Entertainment, and from there went on to work as a writer in the Editorial departments of various magazines including MovieMaker and Chronogram. Her passion for music and film led her to becoming the Music Editor of CriticalMob, eventually moving on to do freelance work with their parent company, Company Cue. Recently she has been tutoring young adults as a volunteer with 826NYC. Siobhan looks forward to creating lasting relationships with her clients and wants to work closely with them to give life to the vision of their work. Holding positions on both sides of the editorial field gives her a strong grasp of what an audience is looking for and the knack to balance that with a writers’ artistic drive.

What she is seeking: Siobhan is actively seeking voice driven narratives whether Fiction, Memoir, or Non-Fiction. She holds a strong interest in Literary and Gothic Fiction, Horror, Paranormal, Adult Dystopian, Mystery/Crime, Thrillers (bonus points if they’re psychological), Historical, daring Young Adult, and narratives with philosophical undertones. For Memoir and Nonfiction titles, she seeks Investigative, True Crime, and dark/bizarre History. Siobhan enjoys the dark, macabre aspects of life where paranormal fiction and horror are viewed an under appreciated art forms deeply rooted in psychology, and looks for authors unafraid to delve into these inner workings of the human psyche.

How to submit: Visit the submissions page on Serendipity’s website: You can direct your submission directly to Siobhan by requesting her in the body of the submission form. The average response time is 4-6 weeks.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Why I Love Weird Al ... and Other Word Crimes

I love Weird Al. I have always loved Weird Al. (Who could resist that adorable face?)

But now I REALLY love Weird Al.

Not only does he know that "it's" is a contraction, he also knows what a dangling participle is. (Be still my heart!)

Now that I am backed by a celebrity, I feel inspired to add my own Word Crimes. And at the top of this list is:

1) Impact is not a verb. It is a noun. You can have an impact on something, but you can't impact it. It may be true that all your friends, TV announcers, and anybody with an MBA uses impact as a verb, BUT THEY ARE ALL WRONG! (And anyone who says "impactful" is going straight to hell.)

To continue my rant:

2) "Issue" does not mean "problem," it means a topic of debate. You can discuss an issue, but you cannot have one. (This grammar crime was fomented by therapists, who also have convinced susceptible individuals that they are "conflicted" when they have "issues.")

3) "Grow" is what you do with potatoes - not audiences, businesses, or twitter followers. (This is an MBA-speak crime.)

4) "Conflicted" is not an adjective. You can feel conflict, you can even be in conflict, but you can't be conflicted. (See number 2 above.)

5) "Different from" (or "different to" in Great Britain) is correct when you are comparing nouns, not "different than." For example, California is different from ... well, just about anywhere.

6) The object of a preposition is object case, not subject. Let's keep this between you and me, not you and I.

7) "Like" is for comparing nouns. "As if" is for verb phrases. I act like you, but we can't act like nothing matters. We must act as if nothing matters.

8) Plurals do not use apostrophes - ever. You own CDs, not *CD's.

9) A possessive goes with a gerund. "My going to California upset her" is correct, not *Me going to California upset her."

10) Reported speech uses declarative sentence structure. "I asked him what the time was" not *"I asked him what was the time." If you are quoting, you can use interrogative structure. Ex. I asked him, "What is the time?" (Reported speech is comprised of sentences beginning with phrases using verbs such as wonder, consider, ask, etc. Ex. I wondered what the time was. I considered what the alternatives were.)

11) "Lay" is a transitive verb. That means it requires an object. You lay a book on a table, or lay your head upon your pillow. "Lie" is intransitive. It does not take an object. Therefore, *"I'm going to lay down" is incorrect. "I'm going to lie down" is correct. Where this gets confusing is that the past tense of "lie" is "lay." "Last night I lay down at eight" is correct. (Note: "Lay low" is a colloquialism. Grammatically, it couldn't be more incorrect.)

If you are guilty of any of the above grammar indiscretions, you are doomed to suffer the eternal torment of grammarian hell. Also, people will assume you did not pay attention in my English class. (That's right. I'm talking about you, Pete.)

Friday, July 25, 2014

Round 7 of the Amazon vs Everybody Wars: Amazon vs the FTC

I am beginning to wonder how many rounds Amazon can take. So far, Amazon has been punched by France, kicked by Germany, bludgeoned by Stephen Colbert (that's gotta hurt), tastefully critiqued by the Authors Guild, and now it is getting hammered by the Federal Trade Commission.

What is at stake here? Well, Amazon allowed children to download games using their parents' accounts, but without parental consent. And what's more, they knew about it but did nothing. That annoyed the FTC. So, now the FTC is suing Amazon.

The FTC says it is "seeking full refunds for all affected consumers, disgorgement of Amazon's ill-gotten gains, and a court order ensuring that in the future Amazon obtains permission before imposing charges for in-app purchases."

I am delighted to see that the FTC has such literary flair - "ill-gotten gains" indeed.


Daily Report: F.T.C. Sues Amazon Over Billing for Children’s App Purchases

By THE NEW YORK TIMES, July 11, 2014

The Federal Trade Commission filed a suit in a Federal District Court in Seattle on Thursday, contending that Amazon improperly billed customers for “many millions of dollars” of charges that children made without their parents’ consent. The suit focuses on charges related to games downloaded through Amazon’s app store.

Read the rest of this article here

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Graphic Novel Sales Hit $870 Million in 2013

Once relegated to gathering dust under the beds of pre-teens, and eventually their parents' garages, comics and graphic novels have expanded their reach by leaps and bounds over the past decade.

Publishers Weekly recently posted this interesting article (see below) about the breakneck speed at which the comics sector is expanding.

If you are a graphic novelist, click below for publishers accepting manuscripts from writers.

7 Graphic Novel Publishers Accepting Manuscripts Directly From Writers


Comics, Graphic Novels Market Hit $870 Million in 2013

By Calvin Reid | Jul 16, 2014

Led by book format comics with $415 million in sales, the North American comics and graphic novel marketplace generated $870 million in sales in 2013, according to a new estimate by ICV2 and Comichron, two comics industry trade news and data sources. The estimate includes sales of traditional comic book periodicals, digital comics, and book format comics in both the comics shop market, newsstands and the general book trade.
Chart courtesy of Comichron and

According to new estimates, the $870 million figure for 2013 can be divided into $365 million in sales from comics periodicals—traditional American comic books—sold almost entirely via the direct market or comic shop market, the network of about 2,000 comic shops around the country. Comichron also noted that about $25 million of the $365 million in periodical sales come from newsstands.

Book format comics or graphic novels, have grown into the largest section of the comics market. Graphic novels generated $415 million in sales in 2013, divided between sales in the comics shop market ($170 million) and general bookstores ($245 million).

Digital comics sales, the newest and fastest growing category in the market, are estimated to be about $90 million in 2013.

Read the rest of this article here.

Monday, July 21, 2014

2 Literary Agents Looking for Fiction, MG, YA, New Adult Fiction and Narrative Nonfiction

Updated 1/15/23

These two agents are looking for clients. Pam Pho has a passion for adult genre fiction (no erotica) as well as MG, YA, and New Adult fiction. Mackenzie Brady Watson focuses on narrative non-fiction for all ages and select Young Adult fiction.

As always, go to the agency's website before sending your query. See which publishing houses they have worked with, what type of books they have represented. And don't forget to do a google search on the agency (and agent) to check for other authors' experiences. Remember: Agents may close their lists, and submission requirements can change. 

You can find a full list of agents actively seeking new clients here: Agents Seeking Clients


Pam Pho at Steven Literary

About Pam: Pam began her career as a literary assistant to an agent in 2012. In her first two years as an agent, Pam brokered 24 deals, with publishers such as Knopf, Scholastic, NAL, ACE, Grand Central, and others. She joined D4EO in June 2014, where she will continue to build her list. In October of 2022 she created Steven Literary, named after her favorite soul-mate dog.

What she is looking for: Pam has a passion for adult genre fiction (no erotica) as well as MG, YA, and New Adult fiction.

How to submit: Pam accepts queries through the Query Manager.

Mackenzie Brady Watson at Stuart Krichevsky Agency

About Mackenzie: Mackenzie began her publishing career as an intern at Fine Print Literary Management and Farrar, Straus & Giroux. She was an agent with Charlotte Sheedy Literary Agency and New Leaf Literary & Media before joining SKLA in 2016.

What she is seeking: Mackenzie Brady Watson focuses on narrative non-fiction for all ages and select Young Adult fiction. As a former research scientist, she has a great passion for science books, especially if they are historically driven or revolutionize current theory, as well as sociology, investigative journalism, food writing, memoir, health and wellness, and business books. She particularly appreciates work that sheds light on marginalized experiences and helps contribute to the cultural conversation. On the fiction side, she’s always on the lookout for an original voice and a lot of heart.

How to submit: Please send a query letter and the first few (up to 10) pages of your manuscript or proposal in the body of an email (not an attachment) to

Saturday, July 19, 2014

16th (free!) “Dear Lucky Agent” Contest - Middle-Grade Fiction

Writer's Digest has just announced its 16th "Dear Lucky Agent" Contest. This is a free contest, so you lose nothing by entering.

The contest closes on July 30.


Welcome to the 16th (free!) “Dear Lucky Agent” Contest on the GLA blog. This is a recurring online contest with agent judges and super-cool prizes. Here’s the deal: With every contest, the details are essentially the same, but the niche itself changes—meaning each contest is focused around a specific category or two. So if you’re writing middle grade fiction, this 16th contest is for you! (The contest is live through EOD, Wednesday, July 30, 2014.)


After a previous “Dear Lucky Agent” contest, the agent judge, Tamar Rydzinski (The Laura Dail Literary Agency), signed one of the three contest winners. After Tamar signed the writer, she went on to sell two of that writer’s books! How cool! That’s why these contests are not to missed if you have an eligible submission.


E-mail entries to Please paste everything. No attachments.


The first 150-200 words of your unpublished, completed book-length work of middle grade fiction. You must include a contact e-mail address with your entry and use your real name. Also, submit the title of the work and a logline (one-sentence description of the work) with each entry.

Please note: To be eligible to submit, you must mention this contest twice through any any social-media.

Please provide a social-media link or Twitter handle or screenshot or blog post URL, etc., with your official e-mailed entry so the judge and I can verify eligibility. Some previous entrants could not be considered because they skipped this step! Simply spread the word twice through any means and give us a way to verify you did; a tinyURL for this link/contest for you to easily use is An easy way to notify me of your sharing is to include my Twitter handle @chucksambuchino at the end of your mention(s) if using Twitter. If we’re friends on FB, tag me in the mention. And if you are going to solely use Twitter as your 2 times, please wait 1 day between mentions to spread out the notices, rather than simply tweeting twice back to back. Thanks. (Please note that simply tweeting me does not count. You have to include the contest URL with your mention; that’s the point.)

Here is a sample tweet you can use (feel free to tweak): New FREE contest for writers of middle grade fiction Judged by agent @petejknapp - via @chucksambuchino


Middle grade fiction. The agent judge did not choose to exclude any subgenre, so everything is fair game.


This contest will be live through the end of July 30, 2014, PST. Winners notified by e-mail within approximately three weeks of end of contest. Winners announced on the blog thereafter.

To enter, submit the first 150-200 words of your book. Shorter or longer entries will not be considered.

Keep it within word count range please.

You can submit as many times as you wish. You can submit even if you submitted to other contests in the past, but please note that past winners cannot win again. All that said, you are urged to only submit your best work.

The contest is open to everyone of all ages, save those employees, officers and directors of GLA’s publisher, F+W Media, Inc.

By e-mailing your entry, you are submitting an entry for consideration in this contest and thereby agreeing to the terms written here as well as any terms possibly added by me in the “Comments” section of this blog post. (If you have questions or concerns, write me personally at chuck.sambuchino (at) The Gmail account above is for submissions, not questions.)


Top 3 winners all get: 1) A critique of the first 10 double-spaced pages of your work, by your agent judge. 2) A free one-year subscription to ($50 value)!


Peter Knapp joined the Park Literary Group in July 2011, where he represents authors of middle grade and young adult fiction. His recent sales include a contemporary YA to Scholastic, a contemporary MG to Penguin, and a YA fantasy series to Entangled. He does not represent picture books or nonfiction. Prior to joining Park Literary, he was the story editor at Floren Shieh Productions, where he consulted on book-to-film adaptations for Los Angeles-based film and TV entities. He graduated from New York University with a B.A. in art history

Thursday, July 17, 2014

3 Horror and Dark Fiction Publishers Accepting Unsolicited Manuscripts

Updated 1/14/23

Horror is an immensely popular genre. (Zombies! Vampires! Werewolves!)

Perhaps, for that reason there are relatively few publishers accepting unagented manuscripts. (Many horror publishers say they are "swamped.")

The publishers I have listed below accept a variety of formats: short stories, poems, and novels. I have not included digital only publishers, or publishers not currently open for submissions. Nor have I included publishers that offer to "crowdfund" books.

Please read all submission guidelines carefully.

Note: You can find a list of over a hundred publishers accepting manuscripts from authors (no agent needed) here:  Publishers Accepting Unagented Manuscripts

Rainfall Books is a British publisher of fantasy, horror and science fiction, specializing in modern works inspired by the writing of H. P. Lovecraft, Robert E. Howard and Clark Ashton Smith.

Submissions: Rainfall has published 150 chapbooks over the past three or four years and have many more waiting in the wings. They are always looking for submissions for chapbooks in the form of poetry and short stories. They are happy to publish reprints. Please read guidelines here.


Tartarus is a small British independent press founded in 1990. They specialize in collectible hardback limited editions of literary supernatural/strange/horror fiction. They also publish paperbacks and ebooks. Tartarus has been the recipient of four World Fantasy Awards, and in 2010 received a "Stoker" from the Horror Writers Association.

Submissions: Tartarus is looking for short story collections and novels of between 75,000 and 120,000 words. They would like to receive literary strange/supernatural fiction. They are not interested in high fantasy, violent horror or young adult fiction. They do not publish teen, children's or young adult fiction. Electronic submissions should be sent to as a Word or rtf attachment. Please send a synopsis or first two or three chapters/stories when first getting in contact. Please read full guidelines here.


Madness Heart Press is a home for all dark literature. They publish horror novels, chapbooks, poetry, novellas, short story collections. They are also interested in non-fiction, plays, and any number of forms of storytelling. "So long as they are dark, and twisted, we are interested. We are interested in all manner of sub-genre as well. Erotic, Extreme, Splatter, Bizarre, Serial Killers, Sci-Fi. We hate to say it over and over again, but if your story is dark, we may be interested in it no matter what genre or format it comes in." Has submission periodsRead guidelines here.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Are Full-Time Authors Becoming an Endangered Species?

The economic figures recently released in the UK do not bode well for authors. While authors' income has dropped 29% since 2005, publishers' income has increased, which means authors are getting a smaller cut of the profits generated from their work.

Prospects for UK authors bear a depressing similarity to those of the US. A poll conducted in 2013 by Digital Book World and Writer's Digest revealed that the median income for self-published authors was $5000.  Hybrid authors (those who both self-publish and publish with established publishers) had a median income range of $15,000 to $19,999. Fewer than 10% of traditionally published authors make a livelihood that could be called lucrative.

Does this mean you should abandon writing? Absolutely not. Just keep your day job.

Traditional publishing is 'no longer fair or sustainable', says Society of Authors

Chief executive of 9,000-member UK group argues that while 'authors' earnings are going down generally, those of publishers are increasing'

By Alison Flood - The Guardian, July 11, 2014

After figures released this week showed professional authors' median annual incomes have collapsed to to £11,000, The Society of Authors' chief executive has claimed that traditional publishers' terms "are no longer fair or sustainable".

Earlier this week, the Authors' Licensing & Collecting Society released a survey of almost 2,500 writers which found that the median income of a professional author last year was £11,000, down 29% since 2005 – a period in which median earnings for UK employees have fallen by 8%. By this year, according to the survey, just 11.5% of professional authors said they earned their income from writing alone, compared with 40% in 2005.

The ALCS set its findings against Department of Culture, Media and Sport figures which show that in 2014, the creative industries were worth £71.4bn per year to the UK economy. "In contrast to the decline in earnings of professional authors, the wealth generated by the UK creative industries is on the increase," it said. "If unchecked, this rapid decline in the number of full-time writers could have serious implications for the breadth and quality of content that drives the economic success of our creative industries in the UK."

Continue reading this article here.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Round 6 of the Amazon vs Everybody Wars: Amazon vs The Authors Guild

Yesterday, I received an open letter (see below) from Richard Russo, co-Vice President of the Authors Guild. The Guild has steadfastly promoted the interests of writers throughout its long history. Now, it is weighing in, alongside Stephen Colbert, the NYT, and numerous authors, on the protracted Hachette-Amazon dispute.

Indie authors may not feel any particular allegiance to Hachette, or to any of the "Big Five" in this war. Most will feel inclined to side with Amazon, which provides a platform for self-published authors. Amazon's latest tactic, to give Hachette authors 100% of their royalties during the dispute, would seem to vindicate the idea that Amazon is concerned for the writers who appear to be caught "in the middle."

Authors, as Russo pointed out, are not caught in the middle. As far as Amazon and Hachette are concerned, they do not even figure into this battle. The royalties offer is a stunt designed to hurt Hachette (Hachette will not get its cut of the sales) while appearing to be the good guy. It is a short-term ploy to deflect the mounting criticism of Amazon's tactics.

The truth is that Amazon doesn't stand for the best interests of authors any more than Hachette does. Amazon is the Everything Store. The majority of its sales come from electronics, not books. Books, as far as Amazon is concerned, are just another product on its increasingly long retail list.

Russo makes a point that is crucial, if largely ignored, in his letter. "Books," he says, "are special ... and can't be treated like other commodities."

Books are not products; they are ideas. In spite of the fact that publishers may treat them as if they were simply objects, books don't primarily occupy the physical realm. As repositories of information, knowledge, and imagination, they exist in the mind.

Neither the big publishing houses nor Amazon has taken the real nature of books into account. Nor have they offered genuine support to the authors who create them. Instead, we are thrown a nominal percentage out of the millions that both the Big Five and Amazon rake in. (Even when authors garner 70% of the royalties, Amazon takes 30% from the sale of hundreds of thousands of books that they don't have to print, market, distribute or pay advances for.)

In a world in which people whose sole interest is in "moving the merchandise" dominate publishing, we can kiss Shakespeare, Socrates, and Einstein goodbye.

Dear Authors Guild Member,

We want to share with you an open letter on the Amazon-Hachette dispute, written by Richard Russo, novelist and co-Vice President of the Authors Guild.

The primary mission of the Authors Guild has always been the defense of the writing life. While it may be true that there are new opportunities and platforms for writers in the digital age, only the willfully blind refuse to acknowledge that authorship is imperiled on many fronts. True, not all writers are equally impacted. Some authors still make fortunes through traditional publishing, and genre writers (both traditionally published and independently published) appear to be doing better than writers of nonfiction and “literary” mid-list fiction. (The Guild has members in all of these categories.) But there’s evidence, both statistical and anecdotal, that as a species we are significantly endangered. In the UK, for instance, the Authors’ Licensing and Collecting Society reports that authors’ incomes have fallen 29 percent since 2005, a decline they deem “shocking.” If a similar study were done in the U.S., the results would be, we believe, all too similar.

On Tuesday, Amazon made an offer to Hachette Book Group that would “take authors out of the middle” of their ongoing dispute by offering Hachette authors windfall royalties on e-books until the dispute between the companies is resolved. While Amazon claims to be concerned about the fate of mid-list and debut authors, we believe their offer—the majority of which Hachette would essentially fund—is highly disingenuous. For one thing, it’s impossible to remove authors from the middle of the dispute. We write the books they’re fighting over. And because it is the writing life itself we seek to defend, we’re not interested in a short-term windfall to some of the writers we represent. What we care about is a healthy ecosystem where all writers, both traditionally and independently published, can thrive. We believe that ecosystem should be as diverse as possible, containing traditional big publishers, smaller publishers, Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble and independent bookstores, as well as both e-books and print books. We believe that such an ecosystem cannot exist while entities within it are committed to the eradication of other entities.

Over the years the Guild has often opposed Amazon’s more ruthless tactics, not because we’re anti-Amazon but because we believe the company has stepped over the line and threatened the publishing ecosystem in ways that jeopardize both our livelihoods and the future of authorship itself. There’s no need to rehash our disagreements here. But it is worth stating that we are not anti-Amazon, or anti-e-book, or anti-indie-publishing. Amazon invented a platform for selling e-books that enriches the very ecosystem we believe in, and for which we are grateful. If indie authors are making a living using that platform, bravo. Nor are we taking Hachette’s side in the present dispute. Those of us who publish traditionally may love our publishers, but the truth is, they’ve not treated us fairly with regard to e-book revenues, and they know it. That needs to change.

If we sometimes appear to take their side against Amazon, it’s because we’re in the same business: the book business. It may be true that some of our publishers are owned by corporations that, like Amazon, sell a lot more than books, but those larger corporations seem to understand that books are special, indeed integral to the culture in a way that garden tools and diapers and flat-screen TVs are not. To our knowledge, Amazon has never clearly and unequivocally stated (as traditional publishers have) that books are different and special, that they can’t be treated like the other commodities they sell. This doesn’t strike us as an oversight. If we’re wrong, Mr. Bezos, now would be a good time to correct us. First say it, then act like you believe it. 

We’d love to be your partners.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

What Makes a Successful Ebook

Smashwords, the largest all-platform publisher for self-published ebooks, conducts an informative yearly survey of its authors. The survey is not only useful for gauging the success of various sales strategies. it also provides valuable information on marketing trends. 

What does a successful ebook look like? If it is fiction, it is priced between $2.99 and $3.99, is more than 50,000 words, is part of a series, and has been placed on a pre-order list. 

Most self published authors don't utilize the pre-order feature, which is a mistake. The reason indie authors don't take advantage of pre-orders is that they don't do pre-release marketing, which is also a mistake. If you are self publishing a book, you need to spend at least three months marketing it - through reviews, interviews, ads - before your publication date. Otherwise your book will hit the market with a whimper instead of a bang.

If you are thinking of self publishing your book, it's worth taking the time to read the full Smashwords report. Highlights are below.

2014 Smashwords Survey Reveals New Opportunities for Indie Authors

Posted on Smashwords, July 6, 2014

The ebook sales power curve is extremely steep - This isn't a surprise, but for the first time we share some numbers along the curve (see the slides in the Series section).  A few titles sell fabulously well and most sell poorly.  An incremental increase is sales rank is usually matched by an exponential increase is sales.  Despite the steep sales curve, a lot of Smashwords authors are earning good income from their books.  Your opportunity as a Smashwords author or publisher is to do those things that give you an incremental advantage so you can climb in sales rank.

Readers prefer longer ebooks - We observed this in the prior surveys.  Longer books sell better, and when you view the data through the prism of the power curve, it becomes clear why longer books give authors such a huge sales advantage.

Pricing - The highest earning indie authors are utilizing lower average prices than the authors who earn less, but this doesn't mean that ultra-low prices such as $.99 are the path to riches.  $2.99 and $3.99 are the sweet spots for most of the bestsellers.

FREE still works great, but it's losing some mojo - Free remains one of the most powerful book marketing tools because it makes it easier for readers to take a risk on an author brand that is unknown or untrusted.  Free ebooks, according to our data derived from iBooks downloads, generated 39 times more downloads on average during our survey period than books at any price.  Yet the effectiveness of free is down dramatically compared to our 2013 (91X) and 2012 (100X) survey results.  While there is still much untapped greenfield opportunity for indies to leverage free, I expect the effectiveness of free will continue to decline as more authors learn to take advantage of it.  If you've never utilized free, now's the time to do so before your window of maximum opportunity closes further.

Preorders yield sales advantage - When we launched preorders in 2013, we knew anecdotally from our early alpha tests that preorders gave authors a sales advantage.  The 2014 Survey is the first time we're able to share aggregated results, and the results are strongly suggestive that ebooks borne as preorders sell more copies and earn the author more money than books that don't utilized preorders.  I think preorders today are where free was five years ago.  The first authors to effectively utilize preorders will gain the most advantage, just as the first authors to enter new distribution channels gain the most advantage.  Five years from now once all indies recognize that preorders are a no-brainer essential best practice, the effectiveness of preorders will decline.  Also revealed in the data is the fact that most Smashwords authors (and therefore, most indies) ARE NOT utilizing preorders yet despite our aggressive promotion of this exciting new tool.  The authors who heeded our advice, however, are reaping the rewards.

Series yield sales advantage - For the first time, we examine the performance of series books.  This new analysis is enabled by the fact that in September we launched Smashwords Series Manager which allows us to capture enhanced metadata on series.  The results are interesting!  Series books outsell standalone books.  We also look at the characteristics of series.  I'll want to do more with series in our 2015 survey.

Best-performing series have longer books - Not a surprise, but the implications are significant.  If you imagine the power curve overlaid on the series data we share, you see why authors who write full-length books in their series have an advantage over authors who break books into smaller chunks.  Also interesting, we found series books under 50,000 words are especially disadvantaged.  This is not to say that you can't become a bestseller writing shorter novellas.  Multiple Smashwords authors have had success here.  But what the data does tell me is that successful novella writers might achieve even greater success if they write full-length.  The data appears to suggest that series books under 50,000 words might create friction that makes readers incrementally less willing to buy.

FREE series starters pack a punch - This is a big deal.  I suspected this for a long time based on numerous authors' results going back to Brian S. Pratt who was one of the first Smashwords authors to prove the effectiveness of free series starters, but the aggregated numbers now confirm it.  We found strong evidence that series that have free series starters earn more money for authors than series that do not have free series starters.  For the many Smashwords authors who are reluctant to experiment with free for fear it'll devalue your books, now you've got the kick in the butt you need to give it a try.  All Smashwords retailers support free without restriction.

Non-fiction earns more at higher prices -  For the first time we added new data for non-fiction pricing.  We looked at the most common price points for indie non-fiction, the price points that earn the most downloads, and the price points that earn the non-fiction author the most money.  The results are fascinating.  It's not a surprise that non-fiction readers respond differently to price.  The surprise is how differently.  Non-fiction buyers are less price-sensitive.  After crunching the numbers it appears as if most non-fiction authors are under-pricing their works, and they should experiment with higher prices.

Read the full article here.

Monday, July 7, 2014

The World's Largest Publishers

Publishers Weekly recently posted the Livres Hebdo/Publishers Weekly’s annual ranking, based on annual revenue, of the world’s largest publishers in 2013. (You can read the full article here.)

What is interesting. though not surprising, about this list is that the top publishers are in the corporate/business sector. (Educational testing is dominated by Pearson.) 

Trade publishing is dominated by Random/Penguin (owned by Bertelsmann), followed by Hachette, Holtzbrinck (owner of St. Martin's Press), and Grupo Planeta, a Spanish media group. (After Mandarin, Spanish is the most widely spoken language in the world.)

Oxford University Press, the oldest university press in the world, and Cambridge University Press still rank in the top 50, but no other university press generated enough income to make it onto the list.

To offer some perspective, Walmart, the largest company in the world, rakes in $456 billion annually. That's 50 times more than the largest publisher (Pearson) and 150 times more than the largest trade publisher (Random/Penguin).

Rank (2013)Rank (2012)Publishing Company (Group or Division)CountryMother Corporation or OwnerCountry of Mother Corporation2013 Revenue in $M2012 Revenue in $M
22Reed ElsevierUK/NL/USReed ElsevierUK/NL/US$7,288$5,934
33Thomson-ReutersUSThe Woodbridge Company Ltd.Canada$5,576$5,386
44Wolters KluwerNLWolters KluwerNL$4,920$4,766
55Random HouseGermanyBertelsmann AGGermany$3,664$3,328
66Hachette LivreFranceLagardèreFrance$2,851$2,833
710HoltzbrinckGermanyVerlagsgruppe Georg von HoltzbrinckGermany$2,222$2,220
88Grupo PlanetaSpainGrupo PlanetaSpain$2,161$2,597
911Cengage*USApax Partners et al.US/CanadaN/A$1,993
107McGraw-Hill EducationUSThe McGraw-Hill CompaniesUS$1,992$2,292
1313De Agostini Editore*ItalyGruppo De AgostiniItalyN/A$1,724
1422China Publishing GroupChina (PR)Government; partly publicly listedChina (PR)$1,499$1,104
1517Houghton Mifflin HarcourtUSHoughton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Group Ltd.US/Cayman Islands$1,379$1,286
1619HarperCollinsUSNews CorporationUS$1,369$1,189
1716Springer Science and Business MediaGermanyEQT and GIC InvestorsSweden, Singapore$1,301$1,298
1821Oxford University PressUKOxford UniversityUK$1,254$1,125
1914ShueishaJapanHitotsubashi GroupJapan$1,191$1,464
2020InformaUKInforma plcUK$1,185$1,126
2130China Education and Media Group (form. Higher Education Press)China (PR)China Education and Media GroupChina (PR)$1,152$702
2329Egmont GroupDenmark/NorwayEgmont International Holding A/SDenmark$1,101$792
2425Grupo SantillanaSpainPRISASpain$1,020$985
2518ShogakukanJapanHitotsubashi GroupJapan$1,011$1,254
2626BonnierSwedenThe Bonnier GroupSweden$976$968
2724Kadokawa PublishingJapanKadokawa Holdings Inc.Japan$900$1,000
2828Simon & SchusterUSCBSUS$809$790
2932KlettGermanyKlett GruppeGermany$622$604
3031Woongjin ThinkBigKoreaWoongjin HoldingKorea$616$667
3147Groupe Madrigall (Gallimard, Flammarion)FranceMadrigallFranceN/AN/A
3334Readers Digest*USRDA Holding Co.USN/A$533
3436Messagerie / GeMSItalyMessagerie ItalianeItaly$543$491
3537Media ParticipationsFranceMedia ParticipationsBelgium$481$455
3635MondadoriItalyThe Mondadori GroupItaly$462$511
3843Cambridge University PressUKCambridge University PressUK$433$396
4042SanomaFinlandSanoma WSOYFinland$422$426
4144Westermann VerlagsgruppeGermanyMedien UnionGermany$401$361
4240HarlequinCanadaTorstar Corp.Canada$374$428
4448RCS LibriItalyRCS Media GroupItaly$348$333
4555EKSMO-AST (since 2012: EKSMO)RussiaPrivately ownedRussia$343$232
4645La Martinière GroupeFranceLa Martinière GroupeFrance$329$351
4753WekaGermanyWeka FirmengruppeGermany$316$258
4851Haufe GruppeGermanyPrivately ownedGermany$315$291
4952OLMA Media GroupRussiaPrivately ownedCyprus$306$257
5027GakkenJapanGakken Co. Ltd.Japan$297$937
5254ShinchoshaJapanPrivately ownedJapanN/A$245
5357Editions AtlasFranceGruppo De AgostiniItalyN/A$230
5458Groupe Albin MichelFranceGroupe Albin MichelFrance$232$224
5539Abril EducaçãoBrazilAbril groupBrazil$216$203

*2013 placement estimated based on 2012 revenue

Friday, July 4, 2014

2 New Agents Seeking Clients

New agents are a boon to writers, because they are actively building their lists. Read their agency websites carefully and pay particular attention to the publishers the agency has worked with.

Note: You can find a comprehensive list of new and established agents seeking clients here: Agents Seeking Clients


About Whitley: Whitley Abell joined Inklings Literary Agency in 2013. Before joining Inklings, she completed successful internships with Carol Mann Agency and P.S. Literary Agency. She is based in St. Louis, MO, where she daylights as a production manager for several medical and S & T journals. She graduated in 2011 BA in English and Creative Writing, and again in 2012 with a MAT in Secondary English Education, which basically means she can tell you anything there is to know about feminist literary theory and the Common Core Standards.

What she is seeking: Whitley is primarily interested in Young Adult, Middle Grade, and select Upmarket Women’s fiction. She likes characters who are relatable yet flawed, hooks that offer new points of view and exciting adventures, vibrant settings that become active characters in their own right, and a story that sticks with the reader long after turning the last page, be it contemporary or historical, realistic or supernatural, tragic or quirky. She loves mythology and literary re-imaginings, heartbreaking contemporary novels, historical suspense, and cute romantic comedies for YA through adult (ex: Sophie Kinsella, Lauren Morrill, Stephanie Perkins).

She is not interested in vampires, werewolves, angels, zombies, dystopian societies, steampunk, or epic fantasy. Please no paranormal / fantasy for adults.

Submissions: Type “Query for Whitley: ” plus the title of your novel in the e-mail subject line, then send the following pasted into the body of the e-mail to query(at)inklingsliterary(dot)com. The query should include the title, genre, and word count of your project, your story pitch, and a brief bio including any publishing credits. Under the query, paste a brief (1-2 pages) synopsis, and the first 10 pages of your manuscript. Read submission guidelines here.

Alexander Slater of Sanford J. Greenburger Associates

About Alexander: A UConn graduate with a concentration in creative writing, he has experience in every area of literary agenting, from interning and assisting, to selling foreign rights and cultivating his own client list. After two years at the Maria Carvainis Agency, and twelve years at Trident Media Group, he’s thrilled to be bringing his passion for publishing and his expertise in its business to SJGA and GreenburgerKids. 

What he is seeking: Please query him with smart and innovative thrillers, as well as witty and original rom-coms in the YA space. As for middle grade, he loves graphic novels and hopes to see more grounded sci-fi and fantasy, as well as books that aim for the highest literary prizes. Ultimately, all stories must have that sense of urgency that the best books for children share, and be from writers passionate about their own voice and eager to engage in the diverse and dynamic conversation already ongoing in contemporary literature.

How to submit: To submit your work: please email

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Pitches, Pitfalls, and Plotting - Four Authors Talk About How They Got Published

Lincoln Michel recently posted an interview with four authors about how they got published.

Everyone's story is different, of course, but Michel's questions, thankfully, went beyond the "rags to riches" myth.

Rarely do interviewers get down to the nitty gritty, but in this interview Michel asks the 64 million dollar question: "How has your pitch changed?"

Your pitch is unquestionably the most important piece of writing you will do after you finish your book. (Even if your pitch is meant to be delivered orally, write it down.) But, for some reason, writers always have a terrible time answering the simple question: What's your book about?

Scott Cheshire, like most authors, struggled with his pitch until someone wisely said, "Don’t worry about plot, what’s the book about for you?"

Unless you can convey what your book means - to you - nobody will give you the time of day. After all, if you wrote it, you must have had something important to say. Now is the time to figure out what that is - before you start pitching.

For some useful tips on how to make a memorable pitch see:

What's Your Book About? How to Make a Pitch

How To Get Published

By Lincoln Michel, Buzzfeed: June 12, 2014

Probably the most annoying thing a writer ever has to do is “the elevator pitch.” Naturally, I thought I’d start off asking you all to summarize your novels. But I’m also interested in knowing how your “pitch” changed. Is your summary the same as it was when you pitched to agents and editors? Or to when you started the project?

Scott Cheshire: First of all, I can’t think of the last time I was in an elevator and spoke with someone else. It’s usually a quiet awkward affair. Or maybe that’s just me. And yes it’s annoying, but also, as you imply, unavoidable. It’s a crass way to put what is actually a welcome and understandable request: So, what’s your book about? Tell me. Please. But also don’t take up too much of my time… For some people, I imagine, hearing what someone’s novel is about is up there with hearing about a “crazy” dream, or hearing a joke from someone who is just not good at telling jokes. So I think it’s a good thing, really, to figure out how to tell people about your book, in a way that respects their time and relative interest.

All of that said, I used to make the typical attempts, torturously condensed plot summaries, or ridiculous “comparison title” mash-ups (if Cormac McCarthy’s The Road made love to The Moviegoer, while Creedence Clearwater played on the jukebox, my book would be that baby), but then one day someone wisely said to me: don’t worry about plot, what’s the book about for you? My response was something like this: It’s 1980, in Queens, New York, and a 12-year-old boy preacher named Josiah is about to deliver his first sermon to thousands of people. During the sermon he has “a vision”: The world will end in the year 2000. Fast forward to 2007, and Josiah, now a grown man, is having a terrible year — his mother has died, his wife has left him, his business is failing, and his father is losing his mind. In other words, the world is fine, but Josiah’s world has gone to shit.
Read the rest of this enlightening interview here.
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