Saturday, April 23, 2011

Agent / Editor Panel

Amanda Bergeron, Avon/HarperCollins
Tracy Martin, HQN
Leis Pederson, Berkley
Abigail Koons, Park Literary
Alexandra Machinst, Janklow & Nesbit
Barbara Poelle, Irene Goodman

What can agents do for epub contracts?
Alexandra - I don't know why an author would agent for category or epub.

How long does an author have to get an agent if a publishing contract is pending?
Amanda - You don't need an agent if a contract is pending.
Leis - You don't need one, but there is a limited window. If you have an agent interested, give them a call, but don't start querying and wait.

What's up with the paranormal market?
Leis - We like it, world building is everything
Amanda - Vampires do well for us. Create a world readers want to come back to. Would love a great distopian romance ala Hunger Games.
Barbara - Matched & Withered are great examples of distopian romance.
T.M. - Romance is key, no matter how great your world building is.

What about turn-of-the-century settings?
Alexandra - the market craves mediocrity in certain genres - paranormal, regency. If you write a book that is better than everything else out there, it will work.
Barbara - If you are doing something well, there is always room

What is your agenting style?
Barbara - 2% intelligence and 98% balls.
Alexandra - Micromanager. Not afraid to tell authors to go in another direction.
Abigail - Knocking on every single door until my knuckles bleed. Career clients only, not one book authors.

What are your pet peeves?
Amanda - misunderstanding in place of conflict are just lazy. There is always a better way.
Abigail & Barbara - rape, especially when it is used as lazy character development
Tracy - love at first sight. Find a better way.

What do you see as the future of epublishing and your role in it?
Barbara - agents should be in career management and know what is coming in the industry. There is room for everything. The delivery system is changing.
Abigail - It's a big deal and only going to get bigger. At the London Bookfair last week we learned 38% of Johnathan Franzen's sales were ebook last year.
Alexandra - the future of genre fiction is in epress. People consume too much of it for mass market to keep up.

Should I put a story up on Amazon myself?
Tracy - If you put it up and it does poorly, has discouraging sales numbers, a publisher will consider that. On the flip side if you do well, you might need a publisher.

What is going on with Steampunk?
Tracy - It's a little niche right now, a genre that hasn't quite solidified.
Amanda - we just bought 3 novellas from Zoe Archer for Avon Impulse
Leis - it is gaining attenion and doing well for us, especially Meljean Brook

What do you think about authors writing in multiple genres?
Barbara - It had better be good. You must do it all well, and distinctly.
Leis - be sure you can handle the workload.

How should we pitch a query or series?
Alexandra - I hope this will be the first in a series. Be willing to amend or bend to the market.
Abigail - Be sure the first book stands on its own.

What is 'a huge push' behind an author from a publisher?
Tracy - ex. Sophie Littlefield. When a publisher is excited about a book, they can put extra publicity money with bookbuyers. It's just an extra effort - like ebook or anthology offeres, art might spend more time on a cover (embossing or foil), co-op placement in bookstores (new author tables, romance tables). Bookclub picks. Amazon has a great co-op program.

What is the future of romantic suspense?
Leis - Every subgenre has it's ups and downs. It has to be strong and special. We just acquired an erotic r/s.
Alexandra - Never found one I've wanted to represent in four years of looking
Tracy - It's hard to write suspense well. People want to read sexy femaile detectives (think Castle). We'd love to find someone good and fill the gap in the market
Amanda - We're looking for more military/special ops r/s
Abigail - with TV getting more r/s,w e're getting smarter harder to fool us

Secrets from the session...
  • Barbara Poelle is a Miss Marple & Angela Landsbury fanatic
  • The entire panel loves Downton Abbey
  • Make your action start on page 1
  • Barbara & Abigail would love to find a female Christopher Moore
  • Contradiction is the name of the game
  • Alexandra - I hate the word sassy, it makes bile come into my mouth

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