My clients are so good looking! And other client news for November


Reviewing my client list the other day, I was struck by the fact that they are really a fine looking bunch of writers. When I get around to updating my website, I must add photos. The chap on the left, for example, is Brad Hutchins, whose memoir Game, Set, Cash! will be published in 2014 by Black Inc.

Given that I typically find my clients on the quality of their query letters and manuscripts, without clapping eyes on anything but their prose, it’s a serendipitous result.

But enough of that. Some exciting things have happened for my lovely clients in November, such as:

  • Lily Brett’s novel Lola Bensky (of which I was the editor, not the agent) has been nominated for the prestigious IMPAC Dublin award. She’ll be appearing on Wednesday at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in Battery Park City.
  • Author of the bestselling The Mothers’ Group, Fiona Higgins, showed me her freshly baked novel and I can’t say much right now except IT’S FANTASTIC and will be published in September 2014.
  • Cartoonist Nate Neal is a guest of the inaugural Short Run Festival in Seattle, talking about his ‘silent comics’.
  • Naomi Cook has started blogging for leading health website  Health Engine. It was her popular Nurse Naomi blog that drew the attention of Australia’s #1 Health Directory as rated by Neilsen.
  • Kirsten Krauth’s debut novel just_a_girl got this thoughtful review by Angela Meyer to add to a heap of great reviews for the work, which I’m now shopping to US editors.
  • Jenny Ackland has submitted a very exciting new manuscript which is both literary and gripping — basically your Holy Grail for literary fiction publishers, who are skittish as cats these days.
  • And as of the last days of the month I’ve found a publisher for a fascinating work of nonfiction/biography which I won’t disclose until the ink’s dry on the contract. But the story of its path to publication is worth waiting for, and I couldn’t be happier for the author.

So why bother listing all of this? I want you to know that publishers DO want to publish great stories, well told. It’s just a lot harder to do than many unpublished writers think. I hate saying no to so many queries, but the truth is that most of them are not nearly ready to go out into the world. Even when the manuscripts are of a high quality, there’s still more editorial development work to be done, whether it’s with me or with the publisher, or most often, both.

Here’s my question for you: What sorts of things do you want to know about how the book publishing industry works?  I have the most experience in Australia — as an in-house editor, published author, and literary agent — but I’ll answer a genuine question from anywhere.

This Post Has 8 Comments

  1. If you need an author pic Virginia, don’t know that I’ll be doing anything other than moody spec shot, maybe in black & white.

    Hate seeing no comments here. I think people are too scared to say anything. There must be lots of readers – come on people!

    I’ve got a question – you would have an idea of the state of trad publishing in the US. How does it (and the European market) compare with the AUS market? Are things more robust elsewhere, and if so, is it because of larger populations? More people = more readers. How’s the feel in AUS this Dec compared to last Dec, anecdotally? What’s the feel?

    PS thanks for saying the nice things about my ms.

    1. Hi Jenny, so glad for your comment! I wish more people would leave questions or comments, but you can’t force ’em.
      Your question about the state of the market is timely as I am overdue for a post on the current state of play. In short, I believe Australia is flatter than ever, which feeds the conservative choices many trade publishers are making, and the reduced size of many advances compared to years past. I’ve read bits and pieces that indicate the Christmas sales in Australia are up to where they were in 2009, but still … these sales often refer to the end of year ‘big guns’ like Matthew Reilly and the latest Jamie Oliver cookbook. The US seems markedly stronger now, and that’s being reflected in some tasty advances being paid for fiction. Certainly the size of the respective markets makes a big difference.
      A moody b&w shot of you would be perfect, btw. –Virginia

  2. Hi Virginia, just came back & re-read my comment. It seems I’ve come across as pretentious, damn that tone doesn’t carry without those imbecilic emoticons. Bikini shots are ok!

    So, Australia is flatter than ever and makes the publishers even more conservative, read ‘scared’ to take on anything other than very commercial works. But surely the reading tastes haven’t changed, or have they? Are they being shaped by the publishers, or the other way around? How would publishers know what the reading public (and it’s not one blobby beast with a single taste, of course; it wildly varies in desires) wants, how could they even gather data when the non-commercial books aren’t there in the first place or aren’t ‘backed’?

    I think you should rename your blog ‘The Lloyd-Ackland Letters.’

    1. Okay, Jenny, forward the bikini shot whenever you feel like it … Thank you for asking these curly questions. I would like to respond more thoughtfully and at greater length in the new year in a separate post. For now, I’m thinking that reading tastes have changed in some ways, but that there are many reasons for that. One important factor is the changing demographics of the key book-buying group (women over 35), and another unavoidable one is the impact of technology on readers’ choices. Thanks again for reading and commenting! –Virginia

  3. Greetings!
    Just wondering whether you’d like a quick geek at my book which by my own admission is a bloody little ripper 😉 Everyone says it but this is different!

    Its like Twilight but with a real genuine heroine who knows different kinds of combat, kick’s arse and doesnt need the blokes to swoop in and save her! I think it would appeal across genres because you have the sci fi, you have the horror but at the end of the day when all is said and done its just a good yarn that leaves you on the edge of your seat. Good potential for film/TV spinoffs and its just the first of a 3 part series! Fans of The Hunger Games, Harry Potter and Vampire Academy will lap it up, its been getting amazing feedback from everyone so far. People say its as good as those book’s and some of them are’nt even related to me!

    Your contacts in both US and Australasia sound ideal for where I’m at because I’m in Aus but will probably move to the US in the next 1-2 year’s.

    1. Hi Gus. It’s really important that writers pay attention to what each agent is looking for, otherwise you’ll be disappointed with their lack of response. In my case, as my Submissions page makes clear, I am only looking for nonfiction projects. Good luck with your search for representation and publication. –Virginia

  4. Geez this is a pretty bloody ordinary industry if you ask me. Might just put out the books myself and keep all the profits!!

    1. Hi Gus — Thanks for commenting. Many authors are indeed self-publishing these days. Unfortunately I hear from them regularly, some time after they’ve gone to all the effort and spent their own money on putting out their book themselves, asking me what can they do to publicise their book. They do keep all their ‘profits’ — however much one gets from selling a few or no copies. Whichever publishing path you go down, it’s extremely difficult to gain attention in the market. The most successful self-published authors are typically (though not solely) those with an established readership and a series of books to sell to satisfied readers. Good luck with your writing — Virginia

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