August 22, 2006

Book Awards

There are an unbelievable amount of awards giving to good writing. First, there are the overall, famous ones:

Caldecott Medal
Man Booker Prize
National Book Awards
National Book Critics Circle Awards
Newbery Medal
Nobel Prize for Literature
PEN/Faulkner Award
Pulitzer Prize.

Then, the less famous but still a big deal:

Audie Awards
Bram Stoker Awards
Coretta Scott King Awards
Hugo Awards
IACP Cookbook Awards
James Beard Foundation/KitchenAid Book Awards
Michael L. Printz Award for Teen Literature
National Academies Communication Awards
Nebula Awards
Newbery Medal
Philip K. Dick Awards
Quill Book Awards
Whitbread Book Awards.

And then, those specific to a genre and therefore, for these writers at least, should be listed at the top of this post:


Anthony Award
Agatha Award
Barry Award
Derringer Award
Dilys Award
Edgar Award
Gumshoe Award
Hammett Prize
Herodotus Award
Macavity Award
Shamus Award

RNA's Romance Prize
Sapphire Award
Zircon Award

For a long, long list of book awards, check out

And, if you want to know where the bar is set, check out Julia Spencer-Fleming's debut novel, In the Bleak Midwinter - which won more mystery awards for a debut novel than ever before in 2003 (Anthony, Agatha, Dilys, Macavity, Barry, and the St. Martin's Press/Malice Domestic Best First Traditional Mystery, together with a nomination for the Gumshoe).

August 12, 2006

Watching the Deals-2

For the second week of August, some interesting deals as reported in Publishers' Marketplace:

Debbie Macomber's KNIT TOGETHER: Discover God's Pattern for Your Life, has sold with the book being described as "saying that when we come to recognize our deepest longing, we can discover our potential and reach for our dreams, with her own journey of discovery weaved throughout the book," to Chip Macgregor of FaithWords (formerly Warner Faith), in a major deal, by Wendy Lawton of Books & Such Literary Agency (world). Major deal? $500,000+.

Brenda Mott's COWBOY ATTITUDE, "in which a heroine searching for her missing sister must rely on the aid of her former fiance while trying hard to keep her old feelings of love from resurfacing," to Victoria Curran at Harlequin Superromance, in a nice deal, by Michelle Grajkowski at 3 Seas Literary Agency (world). Nice? $1-$49,000.

Catherine Mann's MIAMI DYNASTY, part of an upcoming Desire continuity series, to Melissa Jeglinski at Harlequin, in a nice deal by Barbara Collins Rosenberg at Rosenberg Group (world). Catherine Mann is a RITA Award Winner, as well as National Readers' Choice Award Finalist. Nice? $1-$49,000.

Cynthia Polansky's REMOTE CONTROL, "about a 31-year-old Jewish control freak with an unlikely last name, who dies in a medical mishap and calls upon her supernatural status to "rescue" her widowed husband from the sexy clutches of their gold-digging, thrill-seeking blonde accountant, with disastrous results," to Karen Syed at Echelon Press, in a nice deal (world English). No agent reported here. Nice? $1-$49,000.

Abby Gaines's ACCIDENTALLY WED, about "a reality show stunt gone wrong resulting in a marriage where happily ever after is the last thing on anyone's mind," to Victoria Curan at Harlequin, in a nice deal, by Pamela Harty of The Knight Agency. Abby's real name is Adele Gautier. Nice? $1-$49,000.

Shiloh Walker's UNDER REALM, "the launch of an edgy alternative fantasy series," to Cindy Hwang at Berkley Sensation, in a two-book deal, by Roberta Brown of the Brown Literary Agency (World).

Hank Phillippi Ryan's PRIME TIME, the first in a series "featuring a 40-something TV reporter who discovers a link between a suspicious car accident and hidden messages in spam emails while juggling an on-camera world that values beauty more than journalism," to Ann Leslie Tuttle at Harlequin Next, in a nice two-book deal, by Kristin Nelson at the Nelson Literary Agency (world). Nice? $1-$49,000.

Saralee Rosenberg's ALL IN THE CARDS, "a humorous, heartfelt romp through bedrooms, boardrooms, and backyards, making unlikely heroines out of two bickering, its-your-day-to-drive moms," to Lyssa Keusch at Avon, for publication in late 2007, by Deborah Schneider of Gelfman Schneider.

What's an ISBN?

ISBN stands for "International Standard Book Number," and it is a ten-digit number identifying books being sold internationally.

Why have one? ISBNs distinguish one title (or one edition of a title) from one specific publisher. That particular ISBN remains with that particular title/edition, which helps in the book's marketing not only to booksellers, but to libraries, universities, wholesalers, and whatnot. Think of it as that edition's SSN.

What do its four divisions mean? (1) Location of the publisher (national or geographic group); (2) Publisher; (3) Title or edition of a title; and (4) Validation, which is a single digit shown at the end, providing the ISBN's accuracy. If you see an "X," think Roman numerals - here, it stands for 10.


Learning the Publishing Industry From Your Chair

Thanks to the Web, there are several sites that will educate you about the publishing industry. It's up to you to read their content regularly and do your homework on what's selling and what's not - and why.

Of course, you need to do your footwork, too. Check out what's being touted in the grocery store's book section, as well as WalMart's and Target's book aisles. Roam through there and see what people are wanting to read. Do it regularly. It goes without saying that you're also going to be doing this at the local bookstore. Talking to the worker bees there - "what's hot this month?" - can be very enlightening.

As for the sites, there are a few that attempt to do this forecasting/prediction business for you. Publisher's Marketplace, for one. BooksInPrint IntelliMarketing looks pretty, too.

However, as one of my famous, very successful, author role models recently warned me, "remember whatever wonderful things that are said are simply whatever the publisher or agent or whoever sent to PM. It isn't exactly unbiased."

And, there's another negative: they're not free. PM costs around $250/yr for the privilege of accessing its site information, for example. And, you have to email BooksInPrintIntelliMarketing in order to learn its cost. Now, that's skeery.

So, we come back around to the free web sites. Here are a few:

WriteNew's long list of industry links
PublishingIndustry.Net's MostRead Links Page
USATodayOnline's Book Section
ParaPublishing's Collection of Statistics - a must read
Yahoo News on Books/Publishing
Google News - nice to create a news alert here for your particular interest - say romantic suspense, or cozies

August 5, 2006

2006 Winners of Bulwer-Litton Fiction Contest: Laugh a Little

Jim Guigli, of Carmichael, California, has won the overall award in the 24th annual Bulwer-Lytton Fiction Contest with the following entry:

Detective Bart Lasiter was in his office studying the light from his one small window falling on his super burrito when the door swung open to reveal a woman whose body said you've had your last burrito for a while, whose face said angels did exist, and whose eyes said she could make you dig your own grave and lick the shovel clean.

From the Contest's site:

"An international literary parody contest, the competition honors the memory (if not the reputation) of Victorian novelist Edward George Earl Bulwer-Lytton (1803-1873).

"The goal of the contest is the essence of simplicity: entrants are challenged to submit bad opening sentences to imaginary novels. Although best known for "The Last Days of Pompeii" (1834), which has been made into a movie three times, originating the expression "the pen is mightier than the sword," and phrases like "the great unwashed" and "pursuit of the almighty dollar," Bulwer-Lytton opened his novel Paul Clifford (1830) with the immortal words that the "Peanuts" beagle Snoopy plagiarized for years, "It was a dark and stormy night."

"The contest began in 1982 as a quiet campus affair, attracting only three submissions. This response being a thunderous success by academic standards, the contest went public the following year and ever since has annually attracted thousands of entries from all over the world."

In the Romance category, Dennis Barry of Dothan, Alabama, won with:

Despite the vast differences it their ages, ethnicity, and religious upbringing, the sexual chemistry between Roberto and Heather was the most amazing he had ever experienced; and for the entirety of the Labor Day weekend they had sex like monkeys on espresso, not those monkeys in the zoo that fling their feces at you, but more like the monkeys in the wild that have those giant red butts, and access to an espresso machine.

In the Detective Fiction category, Derek Fisher of Ottawa, Ontario, claimed the prize with this entry:

It was a dreary Monday in September when Constable Lightspeed came across the rotting corpse that resembled one of those zombies from Michael Jackson's "Thriller," except that it was lying down and not performing the electric slide.

You have more self-control than I do if you can leave the contest site without surfing thru their Special Salute to Breasts Category, as well as the Vile Pun finalists - here, the winning pun from Dick Davis of Circle Pines, New Mexico:

As Johann looked out across the verdant Iowa River valley, and beyond to the low hills capped by the massive refrigerator manufacturing plant, he reminisced on the history of the great enterprise from its early days, when he and three other young men, all of differing backgrounds, had only their dream of bringing refrigeration to America's heartland to sustain them, to the present day, where they had become the Midwest's foremost group of refrigerator magnates.

To read the runners up, as well as the entries in varying categories, or to educate yourself on the rules in preparation for next year's contest, go here.

August 4, 2006

Watching the Deals-1

Romance and mystery deals of note, this first Friday in August 2006, as reported in Publishers' Marketplace:

Sandra Schwab sold a two-book erotic romance deal to Dorchester Leisure (Chris Keeslar) led by THE CASTLE OF THE WOLF, her agent being Stephanie Kip Rostan of the Levine Greenberg Literary Agency(World).

Sarah McCarty sold a two-book western romance deal beginning with HELL'S EIGHT to Harlequin Spice (Susan Pezzack) with agent Roberta Brown of Brown Literary Agency (World).

Anne Argula sold a two book mystery series deal beginning with WALLA WALLA SUITE to Ballantine (Fleetwood Robbins) with agent Vicky Bijur of the Vicky Bijur Literary Agency (site not found). There is no website for Anne Argula, but Sarah Weinman reveals that this is a pseudonym for a "well-published writer," and further surfing finds the publisher of Anne's first work [Edgar Award nominee HOMICIDE MY OWN], Pleasure Boat Studio, revealing online Anne's real identity to be that of Darryl Ponicsan, author of THE LAST DETAIL and CINDERELLA LIBERTY, and screenwriter of Nuts, Taps, Vision Quest, School Ties, and other films.

Lisa Renee Jones sold a three-book paranormal romance deal to Harlequin Nocturne (Ann Leslie Tuttle) led by THE BEAST WITHIN, her being agent Natasha Kern, in a 'nice deal' ($1-49,000).

Pamela Clare sold a two-book romantic suspense deal to Berkeley (Cindy Hwang) lead by UNLAWFUL CONTACT, her agent also being Natasha Kern, don't know the deal details.

Eliot Pattison sold a two-book mystery series deal to Carroll & Graf (Keith Wallman), again with the help of agent Natasha Kern, no money details provided.

Who is this agent, Natasha Kern, referenced in these last three listings? According to her website, she is a 1971 graduate of Columbia University whose agency was voted 11th out of the top 25 in 2003 by Writer's Market, in no small part due to a willingness to seek out new talent, to work with new writers. Check out their client list here.

How to Copyright Your Work and Noticing the Copyright

From the US Copyright Office, the steps on Copyrighting Literary Works:

"Follow these steps to register your book, manuscript, online work, poetry, or other text:

Step 1
Make sure your work is a literary work. Literary works may be published or unpublished and include nondramatic textual works with or without illustrations. Computer programs and databases also are considered literary works. Here are more examples and specific information.

To register serials and periodicals, see the Serial Works instructions.

Step 2
Put into one envelope or package:

a completed application Form TX or Short Form TX and Form CON if needed (choose which form to use) (go to the site for downloading these forms as PDF documents)
a $45 payment to "Register of Copyrights."
nonreturnable copy(ies) of the material to be registered. Read details on deposit requirements. Please read this important notice about mail delivery disruption.

Step 3
Send the package to:

Library of Congress
Copyright Office
101 Independence Avenue, S.E.
Washington, D.C. 20559-6000

Your registration becomes effective on the day that the Copyright Office receives your application, payment, and copy(ies) in acceptable form. If your submission is in order, you will receive a certificate of registration in approximately 4 months.

For more details about copyright, please see our information circulars."

About the Copyright notice, that c within a circle, the site explains:

"The use of a copyright notice is no longer required under U.S. law, although it is often beneficial. Because prior law did contain such a requirement, however, the use of notice is still relevant to the copyright status of older works.

This circular discusses both the copyright notice provisions as originally enacted in the 1976 copyright act (title 17, U.S. Code), which took effect January 1, 1978, and the effect of the 1988 Berne Convention Implementation Act, which amended the copyright law to make the use of a copyright notice optional on copies of works published on and after March 1, 1989. Specifications for the proper form and placement of the notice are described in this circular.

Works published before January 1, 1978, are governed by the previous copyright law. Under that law, if a work was published under the copyright owner’s authority without a proper notice of copyright, all copyright protection for that work was permanently lost in the United States."

Great Avon Info from Jordan Summers

From Jordan Summer's blog, citing Cindy Myer's newsletter:

"The Spotlight on Avon was a lively session with a lot of information. The spotlight was presented by Lucia Macro, Executive Editor for Morrow/Avon; Mai Chen, Editor, Tessa Woodward, Editorial Assistant, and another editorial assistant whose name I did not catch. Senior Editors Lyssa Keusch and Erika Tsang were not present, but they also acquire for Avons romance program. In the core romance program, Avon publishes four historical and one contemporary romance each month. They also publish various lead titles and trade paperback fiction monthly. Theyre looking for 90,000 to 100,000 word manuscripts historical, contemporary, paranormal, romantic suspense, chick lit and womens fiction, multi-cultural and erotica.

"The spotlight on Avon is courtesy of Cindi Myers Newsletter.

"Lucia Macro primarily focuses on Avons established, lead-level authors but she does acquire some books from new authors. The perfect book for her is a sexy, emotional story with great dialogue and an amazing author voice. She wants lively, interesting, vibrant characters who are pro-active no wimps allowed.

"In historicals the editors are still primarily interested in 1800s English and Scottish settings and medievals, except for historical erotica, in which any setting goes. In romantic suspense they prefer dark, gritty stories. For contemporary romance, Avon is moving away from romantic comedy. The editors would like to see meaty stories that may have comic moments, but with depth. Erica Tsang has a special love for paranormal romance of all types. Avon is also very interested in African-American romance, either historical or contemporary.

"Mai Chen spoke about the Avon Red program. Avon Red publishes one erotic romance each month in trade paper. Theyre looking for romance-driven erotica with a strong emotional under-current. Books may be historical in any time period, contemporary, paranormal, fantasy, urban fiction and either short stories or full-length novels. 25,000 - 40,000 words for short stories, 80,000-90,000 words for novels.

"Avon does accept unagented material. Authors must query via email first to Put Query in your subject line and in the body of the email indicate any particular editor youre interested in submitted to. The two editorial assistants review all the email and they offered a list of Dos and Donts for authors:

"Do proofread very carefully.
"Dont send the same query over and over send it once. You will get an answer.
"Do research. Make sure the person youre querying and the imprint youre interested in actually exist.
"Dont query for poetry or YA. Avon romance does not publish these.
"Do query in your query explain what your story is about.
"Dont argue with the editors if youre rejected.
"Do follow up if you havent heard anything in four weeks.
"Dont follow up the next day.
"Do be original.
"Dont have a plot twist solely for the sake of a plot twist.
"Dont get discouraged.

"In May 2007 Avon will launch Avon Inspirational, publishing Christian inspirational romance. The line will be handled out of Avons San Francisco office but interested authors may query to and the query will be directed to the appropriate editor.

"Avon Fan Lit is a new online venture in which authors compete to write a collaborative e-books. Avon editors will create six story lines and participants will vote for their favorite. Once the story line is selected, participants submit a chapter each week and everyone votes on the best chapter. The top ten vote-getters go to a final vote. Each week starts a new chapter. Winning authors are profiled on the site and will win prizes. The final product will be published as an e-book. The project launches August 23rd. You can sign up now at Harpercollins Avon Fan Lit

"St. Martin's spotlight was interesting. They broke down the levels of promotion that they put into new and established authors. What I found interesting was the fact that they seem to be the only publishing house that puts a lot of emphasis on promotion. They have one person who deals strictly with Wal-mart, another for Amazon, and even another for independent sellers. They have programs in place to reward retailers for supporting new authors. It's truly impressive.

"Now to what they're looking for...Monique Patterson wants stories that have lively worlds. She's not the only editor stressing world-building. Many publishing houses mentioned the lack of world-building in the submissions they're receiving lately. She's looking for books that are funny, sexy, or scary. She's particularly interested in paranormal, women's fiction, and erotic romance. She said she loves fairytales and classic stories. Jennifer Enderlin is on the hunt for a super sexy western romance. The language in the above books can be extreme as long as it fits the story. (Again, something I heard from a lot of publishers.) Jennifer, Monique, and Rose are all looking for historicals and literary fiction. They prefer settings before 1900. They said everything after that date is hard to market and would probably be placed under historical fiction, not romance. They love recurring characters (ie Stephanie Plum series) They're interested in Romantic Suspense, Action/adventure, Multi-cultural, and even YA. They said if you're writing YA that it should be aimed at ages 15+. They said you can submit anthologies, but mainly they come from in house. If you do choose to submit an anthology, please make sure the book stays in the same category (ie paranormal, romantic suspense, contemp, historical, etc.). Don't jump around. The editors are also interested in literary fiction, but NOT sweet romance. They said right now there isn't a market for sweet romance, but they expect that to change.

"A few things to know about St. Martin's before submitting, they buy in multiple books because they believe in building a writer's career. They prefer book-length to be between 90-125,000 words. Erotica and erotic romances can be shorter than 90K, but they wouldn't like to see the books fall below 80K because then you're getting into category-length territory. They do NOT buy first time authors on proposal. You need to have a finished manuscript first. All editors except Monique Patterson prefer a query letter first. Monique said she can't tell anything from a query alone, so she wants people to send her a query, synopsis, and the first three chapters of the book. She said it takes around 2 months to hear back on a partial and 4 to 6 months to hear back on a full.

"Luna, Nocturne, and other paranormal lines spotlight. Apparently, Harlequin has several lines in what they call their paranormal stream. These lines include Nocturne, HQN, LUNA, MIRA, and BLAZE. Nocturne launches this coming Oct. with two titles per month. The books should be between 70-75,000 words and lean toward fantasy in the world-building. (They want the rich worlds that come from fantasy.) They're looking for shape-shifters, vampires, and hot alpha males with a twist. The books CAN be graphic. In fact they mentioned Angela Knight, Christine Feehan, and Laurell K. Hamilton as the types of books they'd like to see for the new line. They currently aren't interested in historicals, unless the historical part is used to tell a vampires' history. You can make up your own myths about the creatures in your world. They prefer darker books over comedy. The turnaround time is currently 3 months. Luna and Mira publish urban fantasy. Luna's emphasis is on the fantasy part of the equation. They don't care whether there's sex in the books. They are willing to look at sexier books as long as the plot is strong and incorporates the sex.