Client news: September

My calendar is telling me we’re now at the tail end of September 2013. Feels about May to me. Of 2010. When I was a kid I hated it when adults talked about how fast the time was passing, but my only barometer of time was school holidays, Christmas, and my birthday in January. Now, with more projects than I can cope with and bills to pay, time roars along like the souped-up motorbikes that cruise my Crown Heights neighbourhood in Brooklyn at all hours.

So it feels great to be able to offer you some evidence that one’s literary labours are not totally in vain.

  • I just sold a client’s manuscript to Black Inc Books for publication in June 2014 – which is lightning-fast production in the book world. More on that exciting project when the ink’s dry.
  • My client David Rankin is exhibiting at the Sydney Contemporary Art Fair this weekend, where you can snap up copies of this beautiful book, freshly published and edited by yours truly.
  • Kirsten Krauth’s excellent reviews for her debut novel just_a_girl have boosted her successful social media activities to the point where she was invited to talk about what she’s learned on this panel. A Q&A with Kirsten is coming soon, but if you’re in Melbourne you can see her read from the novel on Monday 23rd September at the Wheeler Centre.

I’m also encouraged by the increasing number of inquiries I’m getting from authors to discuss the pros and cons of self-publishing versus traditional publishing.

If you’re reading this and have questions about any aspect of book publishing, please leave me a question or comment below. I’d love to know what’s brought you to this site and how I might be able to help.

And in amongst all of that my own revisions creep forward, far too slowly for my liking. I guess in that respect I’m still the kid waiting for Santa Claus, only in this case I’d be asking him for a finished manuscript. Please.

This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Lots of good news here, congratulations Virginia. Had to miss Kirsten’s thing last night, but I was at the Wheeler Centre taking daughter to Hitler lecture. (She’s doing IB history and seeing a pre-eminent historian talk about this part of history was pretty amazing for her.) Hope Kirsten’s reading went well, I’m sure it did.

    I have a question about the industry: is it true that publishers want to make money/expect to with the first novel? In the ‘old days’ I believe they would expect it to take longer, eg third or fourth novel, so before that it was seen as an investment. The pressure now, to expect profit on the first novel, does that mean they are exceedingly cautious as well as more likely to drop an author if their first book isn’t a ‘hit’?

    Good luck with your own ms too. You are one busy woman.

    1. Thanks Jenny. Your line about having to take your daughter to a Hitler lecture reminded me of Don DeLillo’s great novel White Noise.
      As for the profitability of debut novels, I would say that because publisher expectations are — how should I put this? Modest — that has affected the level of advances they are prepared to pay these days. Contrary to popular belief, however, a book does not have to earn back 100% of its advance to generate a profit for the publishing company. It’s just a matter of how far beyond covering their costs a publisher finds acceptable. By keeping costs (such as advances) low, publishers take a calculated risk and work hard to be pleasantly surprised. One publisher told me that often a debut won’t garner much attention at all on publication, but if it wins awards and so forth then the sales pick up tremendously. So in her case she’s trying to pick first fiction that is of such high quality that it is likely to win an award. The veritable needle in the whats-it. The other aspect is rights. Australian publishers are now more energetically pursuing world rights for a first novel because of the increased chances of recouping more of their investment on sales into foreign territories.
      Does that make sense? Probably should do a post about all this. In my spare time! –Virginia

  2. Wow that does make sense Virginia, thanks for answering.

    About the DeLillo, I’ll get to it! Am intending to work through him after loving Cosmopolis so much. We enjoyed the lecture, it was pretty fascinating.

  3. Hmmm. Very interesting they might look for books likely to win awards… One of my fave kids writers (Rick Riordan) said something really cool about books and awards once. He said that the books that tend to win the awards are like the Brussels Sprouts of the industry, adults like them but not the kids.

    Since then I’ve made sure there’s nothing Brussels Sprouty about MY writing, hell, what’s a book deal if kids wrinkle their noses at first sight of you? No, I prefer to think if myself as “literary homemade pizza”. Still yummy but much more nutritious than the processed stuff, because you can sneak in a few extra veg in the sauce that way.

    1. Hi Naomi,
      My comment about picking award-winners applies specifically to debut novels for adults rather than books for children, though a gold star or some equivalent sticker on a book’s cover proclaiming it the winner of Prize X or Y does nudge sales in the right direction, no matter the readership. The Brussels Sprouts analogy is a good one, though I am a huge fan of the much-maligned vegetable myself. But I love home-made pizza too! One thing’s for sure: readers have varying tastes and we can’t all like the same things. Which is part of what makes book publishing as much art as science. –Virginia

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