Monthly Archives: December 2011

Understanding Subsidiary Rights

Posted by December 22nd, 2011

Book Country Twitter Chat (December 15, 2011)

Literary agency masterminds Kathleen Ortiz and Tara Hart give some insight into the complicated–but important!–world of subsidiary rights.

 twitter_newbird_boxed_blueonwhiteEvery author holds a hand that s/he may not even realize s/he’s been dealt. How so, you ask? Because any project, published or not, has the potential to reach a broader audience in myriad ways through the power of subsidiary rights.

But what are subsidiary rights (AKA subrights)? What do you need to know about that? How do you use them to your advantage? We asked some of the best in the business–Kathleen Ortiz (@KOrtizzle) and Tara Hart (@Tara_Hart28)–to give us a little tutorial.

Kathleen is the subrights director at Nancy Coffey Literary and Media Representation, where she deals with a lot of foreign, audio, and digital rights. She also represents her own authors as an agent with an ever-growing list!

Tara is the contracts and permissions manager at Jean V. Naggar Literary Agency, dealing with and negotiating subrights on a daily basis. She has a Masters in Publishing from Pace University.

Take a peek at some of the highlights from our chat, and/or download the entire transcript below:

@KOrtizzle: Subsidiary rights are, in a nutshell, all rights to your book outside of a domestic, physical copy: foreign, large print, audio, film/tv, theme park, enhanced ebook, calendars, merchandise, etc.

@Tara_Hart28: [Popular genres for translation rights] depends on the territory. I hear steampunk popular in Gemran–commericial women’s fiction in Netherlands, for example.

@SarahLaPolla: There’s a difference in royalties between download & physical CD, but both rights are sold together.

@KOrtizzle: Subrights for self-pub titles = very difficult unless sales are very high. Prepare to show numbers.

@Tara_Hart28: Remember: as creators you own all rights. You chose what rights to grant based on offer.

@LiteratiCat: Mostly only extremely popular books (Twilight, Alex Rider, etc) are being “translated” into [Graphic Novel]/Manga form.

@KOrtizzle: Audio rights are  bought by audio pubs who typically want both. Just like trad pubs want [eBook] and physical.

@Tara_Hart28
: Derivative rights is defined in copyright as any derivative of the original–which can mean prequels/sequels etc. AND they can exploit those prequel/sequel rights without your involvement!

If you missed the chat or want to remind yourself, we’ve posted the entire transcript as a PDF document here. The PDF will open in your browser and you’ll be able to save it to your computer if you like. You can also get to know your fellow genre fiction lovers by clicking directly on their Twitter handles.

Bear in mind that the chat appears from newest to oldest tweets, so start on the last page of the PDF and work your way forward to the first page

Thanks to everyone who stopped by to participate!

REMEMBER: Book Country Twitter chats occur every other Thursday night from 9-10 pm EST. Just use the hashtag #bookcountry to participate or follow along. Topics are announced in advance in the Book Country Discussion forums, so be sure to take a look!

Share Button

Meet Charlotte Firbank-King

Posted by December 21st, 2011

Book Country Member Spotlight Q&A

Charlotte Firbank-King_headshot_1_3 height

Haven’t interacted with Book Country member Charlotte Firbank-King yet? Get to know her in our member spotlight!

Every time I read a book, a short story, a poem, or anything really, I wonder about the person behind the words. I ask myself a million questions, wishing I could know some of their true-life stories and how their experiences have shaped them. Why? Because what we’ve been through is what shapes our creativity. It’s not identical, of course, but it makes us who we are as people and as writers.

So, I decided to chat with Book Country member Charlotte Firbank-Kingabout some pieces of  her life, her process, and her writing to get a little insight into this recently minted member’s mind:

DP: The majority of our members are from the United States but I noticed you are not. I’d love to hear a little bit about what it’s like in South Africa where you live! What is the writing community like there?

CFK: South Africa is a complex land with 11 official languages and almost every ethnic group known to the World. We have wide open spaces of pristine bush with a staggering variety of creatures. And no, lions and elephants don’t wander down our streets—unless you live in a village in the bush. Here, a stark third-world existence rubs shoulders with gleaming first-world technology and opulence. Our weather is wonderful. We don’t get many earthquakes or tornados and snow only falls on mountainous areas. The writing community sucks. I personally don’t bother to explore its limited offerings. In that regard, we are definitely third world.

DP: You edit, write, and illustrate? What was your first creative outlet? How did you shift into the other two?

CFK: The illustrating, art came first. I studied art at Pretoria Art College. I visited England and France to see the works of old masters. There, my existing love of history was fuelled. I have always dabbled in writing, from childhood. First poetry expressed my angst, and then cheesy bodice rippers served as a release for raging teenage hormones. Finally, life turned out to be my greatest motivator and teacher. About seventeen years ago, I sent a very, very length novel to Sandy Tritt, CEO of Inspiration for Writers. Because of the poor exchange of SA Rand, I couldn’t afford the editing fees, but she offered to read my book anyway. She imparted her extensive knowledge freely and I honed the craft of writing under her guidance over the next ten years. She eventually asked me to become an editor and ghost writer for IFW.

DP: It says in your profile that you usually write from the male protagonist’s POV. Why’s that? What’s your favorite (and least favorite!) part about writing from the perspective?

CFK: Men are simpler. I love their direct, practical approach, and I think they are misunderstood and underappreciated by most women. (Not talking about your wife-beating jerk here) I especially love the warrior spirit in a man and that is what I concentrate on. My husband was a warrior and he was killed. I guess I just understand them. I have no least favorite part. Well, maybe when it comes to finer details like what is it like to make love to a virgin—tricky interview that.

DP: You have great attention to detail, especially when it comes to grammar and word choice, from what I can tell from your reviews so far. What is your greatest writing pet peeve? Why do you think it’s important?

CFK: That sounds like a no-brainer. Isn’t writing all about grammar and word choice? My pet peeve is manuscripts put out there when the author hasn’t even bothered to try to edit a single word. Would a person expect someone to live if they performed brain surgery on them without studying medicine first? This is my mantra and I write with it in mind always.The writer is forever searching for a brilliant phrase that will blow the reader’s mind away. They hunt among the bright pebbles of adjectives and adverbs, worn smooth by overuse, when all the while it is hidden under the boulder of brevity.

Below are a few of my favorite quotes that sum up how I feel:

“There is no such thing as a moral or an immoral book. Books are well written or badly written. This morning I took out a comma and this afternoon I put it back again” ~ Oscar Wilde

“When instinct fails, rules may guide us. But rules shouldn’t preoccupy the writer. The real job, the enduring task of the writer, is cultivating the instinct for language–even when language so stubbornly resists the precision we seek.” ~ George Orwell

DP: There is a wide variety of authors listed as your favorite writers–Dan Brown to Shakespeare! What do you like about them?  Is there a common thread you see in their writing? I’m intrigued!

CFK: Dan Brown and the like are light entertainment (they should edit their books more carefully, too). Shakespeare feeds my soul; Dickens and Oscar Wild teach me how to use words effectively. I have eclectic tastes, interests, what can I say! =)

DP: What brought you to Book Country? What is your own personal writing goal that the community can help you with?

CFK: I saw your site referred to on Kirsten Lamb’s blog. My goal, to get my first, of 12 novels, published. My inability to promote myself is my worst enemy. At first, I just wanted another point of view on my most completed novel Twilight Path. And most of the reviews have been helpful, made me look at the area that bothered me most, what genre is my book? And some things that I didn’t think were a problem, but then had to look at. Finally, as I did more reviews, I wanted to help aspiring authors. Yes, I am paid to edit, but when I see a really talented writer I can’t resist wanting to guide them.

DP: I read that your book, TWILIGHT PATH, is nearly complete and ready for publication. How many rounds of revision did you go through? What was your process? How do you know you’re nearly done? 

CFK: Not nearly, it is completed, but only to the best of my ability. I think what got me was the numerous rejection slips I received from romance publishers. I write for the thinking person. I don’t do wilting heroine on hunk’s arm. I doubt I could give an accurate estimate of how many edits, but I would not be lying if I said at least 150 of my own. So I’m anal, shoot me. =) My process starts with the story in my head, clamoring with a thousand others to be heard. The one that screams loudest gets first shot. First chapters are my thing. It’s like the first time you make love; it has to be good because that defines your love life (story) for the rest of your life (story.) As I go, I have a separate file called a story outline. This has all the details about various characters—eye color, hair, fears, habits, twitches, aspirations etc. It isn’t good to have blue eyes in one place then brown eyes. I guess I will never be done editing; there is always the lure of a better way to say something.

“Writing a book is an adventure. To begin with, it is a toy and an amusement; then it becomes a mistress, and then it becomes a master, and then a tyrant. The last phase is that just as you are about to be reconciled to your servitude, you kill the monster, and fling him out to the public.” ~Winston Churchill

DP: What kind of books do you edit versus what you write? What do you find appealing about them from the different roles?

CFK: I have edited anything from hard-core porn, romance, Christian inspirational works through to paranormal and some that have no specific genre. I write mystery/thrillers with strong elements of romance. I also write YA fantasy and kids’ books with illustrations. I guess I wear two hats, an editor hat and a writer hat. The editor hat puts aside self. I have no views or opinions that I am permitted to express, concerning the author’s views and opinions. My job is simply to help them grow as writers, be it porn of spiritual. In my own writing, I wear both hats and I sometimes hate my editor hat.

The editing appeals because I can help someone improve, if they are willing to learn. Some aren’t. My writing satisfies a deep, abiding compulsion within me to write—I can’t help myself—I need to write everyday like a junky needs a fix.

DP: What inspires you to write? Do you have a muse, if you will?

CFK: I believe God gives us gifts and those gifts become a compulsion if we let them, I let them. The stories that keep me awake at night won’t go away until I put them on paper, then they grow and consume me. Do I have a muse? A muse, by definition is spiritual, really. So if God likes Shakespeare and those of his ilk, then there is my multidimensional muse—there are ten, mythically speaking, aren’t there?

DP: For our final question, let’s talk about something other than writing. We’d love to hear a random fun fact about you!

CFK: I’m not random, so obviously, I don’t get the question, but here is what my one granddaughter and kids thinks is fun about me, if that counts:

I am into technology and play computer games, so that makes me fun.

Eldest daughter: Editing with me makes me fun.

Son: Woodworking and cooking with me, experimenting with different dishes, makes me fun.

Youngest daughter: I play computer games.

Is that random enough? =)

Share Button

Working with a Writing Partner/Team

Posted by December 7th, 2011

Book Country Twitter Chat (December 1, 2011)

Bestselling husband-and-wife team Ilona Andrews and editor Anne Sowards discuss the challenges of writing with a partner

twitter_newbird_boxed_blueonwhite

 Collaborating can be an amazing experience: you can take a project in directions you never conceived of before, you can get multiple perspectives to make a piece more relatable and realistic, you can divvy up tasks to focus your strengths, and so much more. But it can also be very difficult to work so closely with someone else in such a creative, traditionally solitary process. You won’t always see things the same way or have the same ideas of where a story should go. You might even have vastly different opinions on character motivation, for example. There are many areas where conflict could arise.


With this in mind, we decided to bring in one of the most successful writing duos today–Ilona Andrews (@Ilona_Andrews)–and Ilona’s editor–Anne Sowards (@AnneSowards)–to talk about their experiences.

Ilona Andrews is a husband and wife writing team–Ilona and Gordon. Together, they have written two New York Times bestselling urban fantasy novels, as well as a number of eBook originals.

Anne Sowards is the executive editor of the Ace/Roc imprint at Penguin Group, and works with bestselling authors like Patricia Briggs, Jim Butcher, Rachel Caine,and many more, in addition to Ilona Andrews.

Here’s a sneak peak at some of the chat’s great discussion:

@Ilona_Andrews: The idea is not to compete but rather to create the best book possible.

@AnneSowards: Both author names are listed on the contract, i.e. “author x & author y, writing as author z.”

@Ilona_Andrews: We disagree frequently on characterization, but if it’s in the final book, it is a compromise.

@AnneSowards: I would be a bit more cautious (if approached by an agent with a writing pair) because it’s a more unusual situation, but love for the book overcomes fear!

@Ilona_Andrews: I don’t think the gnre matters that much. 🙂 It’s more what each of the partners brings to the table.

@AnneSowards: [It’s a] marketing decision [to use a pen name instead of both author names]. Less confusing for readers to have one name, and [for] UF, we wanted it to be female.

@Ilona_Andrews: Writing with a partner is very similar to working with the editor.


If you missed the chat, you can view or download the entire transcript as a PDF here. It will open in your browser and you’ll be able to save it to your computer if you like. You can also get to know your fellow genre fiction lovers by clicking directly on their Twitter handles.

Please note that the chat appears from newest to oldest tweets, so start reading on the last page and work your way to the first page.

Thanks to all who took the time to share their experiences and ask questions.

REMEMBER: Book Country Twitter chats occur every other Thursday night from 9-10 pm EST. Just use the hashtag #bookcountry to participate or follow along. Topics are announced in advance in the Book Country Discussion forums, so be sure to take a look!

Follow us on Twitter for more: @Book_Country 

Share Button

Collaborating to Make a Great Book Cover

Posted by December 3rd, 2011

A freelance designer advises on how to approach the make a great book cover.

“It’s your book, your baby, and you have every right to have input into what the cover looks like.”

ROOM_feature placement

Whether you’re publishing an eBook, paperback, or hardcover book – a custom cover designed specifically for your book is always your best option. So, what I’ve cobbled together here are a few guidelines for working with a cover designer, because unless you are very experienced with sophisticated image manipulation software – such as Adobe Photoshop and Adobe Illustrator – and have professional design experience yourself, you really need to work with someone who does. The keywords here are “work with someone.”

 

sample2

1. COVER DESIGN SHOULD BE A COLLABORATIVE EFFORT BETWEEN THE DESIGNER AND THE AUTHOR. Nobody knows your book as well as you do. In fact, it’s highly unlikely the designer will have read it or will have the time to do so. I ask my clients to fill out a questionnaire that gets us started on this collaborative process and then follow up with phone discussions and numerous email exchanges along the way. If your designer is not a collaborative type – find someone else. Period. It’s your book, your baby that you’ve sweated blood over, and you have every right to have input into what the cover looks like.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Deadly Voyage

2. LISTEN TO YOUR DESIGNER. Now that you’ve read #1, I must point out that you work with a designer for a reason – to help you put out an eye-catching cover that will attract buyers/readers. You may have your heart set on 72 pt. puce-colored type for the title, but if you’ve got a decent designer who says, “Uh, no…I don’t think so, and here’s why….” you need to listen. Keep an open mind.

3. BE HONEST. As an avid reader myself, few things tick me off more than buying a book based on a snazzy cover (lots of buyers/readers do this) only to discover that the cover has little or nothing to do with the content of the book. It’s dishonest and I will dump a client rather than do this.

ROOM_feature placement

4. WHAT ABOUT TYPE-ONLY COVERS? Unless your name is Tom Clancy, it probably isn’t a good idea. And even Clancy covers usually have some sort of art element on them along with the big type – a chopper, blood splatters, weapon, etc… Clancy has a huge following of slavishly loyal readers. Do you? If the answer is “No,” you need more than type on your cover. There are very rare exceptions to this rule and here is one of them – the U.S. and Canadian cover for the New York TimesBestseller ROOM by Emma Donoghue. I don’t know who designed this cover, but it’s a good job. Why is it an eye-catching exception?

a. The super-short title allows for a huge point size in the type – easily readable from a distance (for book store browsers);

b. The font chosen is an unusual, childish (HONESTY!) one and is presented in a different bright color for each letter;

c. Colorful letters against a stark white background make for high contrast that attracts the eye.

5. CHOOSING STOCK ART.  I suppose Nora Roberts might be able to command a pricey photo shoot with models of her choice (think several thousand dollars), but don’t fantasize that you’ll have the same option. Most covers are designed with stock art. Stock photography can be expensive, or it can be free (see the Deadly Voyage cover above), and everything in between. The quality can also vary wildly. Lean on your designer here. From decades of experience, I can spot a lousy photograph with limited possibilities at a glance; chances are the author can’t. Things I look for in a photo, other than whether it is context-appropriate for the book, are: sharp focus, sufficient contrast, adequate foreground and background (for placement of the title, author name, and additional art elements as needed), appropriate color, and that indefinable quality that I call JAZZ (it’s got to turn me on).

golden cover

6. YOUR COVER ART CAN – AND SHOULD – DO MORE FOR YOU.  The most wonderful book in the world (even with a terrific cover) may well remain inadequately sold and read without promotion. Successful authors learn this lesson early on and live it. Can the art elements on your cover be easily used promotionally on items such as: book trading cards, bookmarks, ads, website banners, merchandise (mouse pads, coffee mugs, t-shirts, etc…)? There is no reason why you should have to purchase additional stock art bannerWEBgoldenor promotional purposes if you’re smart about it from the start. Discuss this with your designer (hopefully your designer offers these services as well) and let her/him guide you to wise choices that can easily be re-used in marketing your book.

7. WHAT ABOUT USING A PRE-MADE COVER?  The trick to using a pre-made cover is finding one that suits your book. Not all designers offer them because they really aren’t good money-makers. I do because I have a weak spot for fledgling authors with skimpy purses. You can see my current stock of pre-made eBook covers here.  If you must go the pre-made route, look for two things: the best fit for your book; and, a designer who will insert the title and author name for you at no additional charge (the designer will have a wide selection of fonts to choose from – I have hundreds – and a good eye for the best placement, size, color, etc…).

Turquoise Sea WEBFarm Boy WEBDream Catcher WEB

 

I asked a Twitter pal of mine, Robin Bradford (aka @Tuphlos on Twitter), who is very savvy about book covers to choose a few she’s seen recently that really grabbed her attention. Robin is the Collection Development Librarian at the Indianapolis-Marion County Public Library and doubtless sees thousands of covers every year – so she should know! Here are her selections and insightful comments:

the watchtower (1)

“[The Watchtower cover is] a very menacing image that tells the reader a little of what they may get on the inside. It looks like a genre fantasy book, you wouldn’t open this book and expect space ships or a police procedural or a cozy mystery.  It tells you what to expect without gimmicks or tricks.  It’s a tower with some swirls and color and a bird but it looks slick and professional. You CAN do more with less!”

 

 

 

 

 

hereafter

“[The Hereafter cover] also telegraphs the story a bit; you get the ghostly angle right away. Even though it tells you, it’s still mysterious and draws the potential reader/purchaser closer.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

hell

 

“[Maps of Hell is] another one that seems almost tactile. I look at this cover and it almost hurts. I don’t think the pages inside are going to be soft and fuzzy.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dawn Charles - logo bio photoAbout Dawn

After a long career as a journalist – newspaper, magazine, and public relations – Dawn has taken the leap into creative writing. She currently has three books in the works – two novels and a cookbook. As the editor of a professional magazine for educators, she did her own design work and won numerous awards for cover design. Early in 2011, Dawn applied those skills to design eBook covers for some author friends and several web and print ads as well. Now she offers a freelance design service specifically for authors: Book Graphics. Find her on Twitter at @bridgemama, on Facebook as Book Graphics, and on Book Country as snurf.

Share Button