Showing posts with label laura resnick. Show all posts
Showing posts with label laura resnick. Show all posts

Wednesday, October 17

Query Letters: How To Write Them And Who To Send Them To

Query letters, summaries, tag lines, blurbs: sometimes I think this kind of writing is as hard as writing a novel!

Fortunately there are writers like Chuck Sambuchino willing to lend a helping hand. He writes:
When contacting agents, the query process isn’t as simple as “Just keep e-mailing until something good happens.” There are ins, outs, strange situations, unclear scenarios, and plenty of what-have-you that block the road to signing with a rep.
Chuck Sambuchino mentions agents, but query letters can be sent to editors too. Though there are fantastic agents there are also a bushel-load of not very good ones and these days it is possible to have a career as a writer without an agent. If you'd like to read more about this, here are a few great articles on the subject:

Dodging the Agent Bullet and Agents, by Laura Resnick
Deal Breakers 2012 by Kris Rusch,
Agent Fail by Joe Konrath
But Why Would You… Ever Need an Agent in this New World? and Agents by Dean Wesley Smith

Okay, on to the good stuff! Here are Mr. Sambuchino's first four questions and answers about query letters:
1. Can you query multiple agents at the same agency?

Generally, no. A rejection from one usually means a rejection from the entire agency. If you query one agent and she thinks the work isn’t right for her but still has promise, she will pass it on to fellow agents in the office who can review it themselves. Agents work together like that.

2. Can you re-query an agent after she rejects you?

You can, though I’d say you have about a 50/50 shot of getting your work read. Some agents seem to be more than open to reviewing a work if it’s been overhauled or undergone serious edits. Other agents, meanwhile, believe that a no is a no—period. So, in other words, you really don’t know, so you might as well just query away and hope for the best.

3. Do you need to query conservative agent for a conservative book? A liberal agent for a liberal book?

I asked a few agents this question and some said they were willing to take on any political slant if the book was well written and the author had platform. A few agents, on the other hand, said they needed to be on the same page politically with the author for a political/religious book, and would only take on books they agreed with. Bottom line: Some will be open-minded; some won’t. Look for reps who have taken on books similar to yours, and feel free to query other agents, too. The worst any agent can say is no.

4. Should you mention your age in a query? Do agents have a bias against older writers and teenagers?

I’m not sure any good can come from mentioning your age in a query. Usually the people who ask this question are younger than 20 or older than 70. Concerning an age bias, I would say some agents may be hesitant to sign older writers because reps are looking for career clients, not simply individuals with one memoir/book to sell. If you’re older, write multiple books to convince an agent that you have several projects in you … and don’t mention your age in the query to be safe.
Excellent advice! Read the rest of Chuck Sambuchino's article here: 9 Frequently Asked Questions About Query Letters. Thanks to Elizabeth S. Craig for tweeting a link to Chuck's article.

Another person with loads of marvelous information on how to write a query letter is former agent Nathan Bransford. Here are links to a few of his articles on the subject:
- How to Write a Query Letter
- How To Format a Query Letter
- Example of a Good Query Letter
- Example of a Good Query Letter II
- Example of a Good Query Letter III
- Holiday Cheer: Anatomy of a Really Bad Query Letter
- My Query Letter for JACOB WONDERBAR

If you don't read any other article about writing a query letter, read this one: Query Letter Mad Lib. In it Nathan gives a template for writing query letters. He writes:
Well, we're going to play query letter mad lib today. Here's how it works.

First I'm going to need these things:

[Agent name], [genre], [personalized tidbit about agent], [title], [word count], [protagonist name], [description of protagonist], [setting], [complicating incident], [verb], [villain], [protagonist's quest], [protagonist's goal], [author's credits (optional)], [your name]

Now, look how your query turns out:

Dear [Agent name],

I chose to submit to you because of your wonderful taste in [genre], and because you [personalized tidbit about agent].

[protagonist name] is a [description of protagonist] living in [setting]. But when [complicating incident], [protagonist name] must [protagonist's quest] and [verb] [villain] in order to [protagonist's goal].

[title] is a [word count] work of [genre]. I am the author of [author's credits (optional)], and this is my first novel.

Thank you for your time, and I look forward to hearing from you soon.

Best wishes,
[your name]
Best of luck writing your query letter! :-)

Other articles you might like:
- Query Tracker: Keep Track Of Your Stories
- Indie vs. Traditional Publishing, Which Should You Choose?
- How To Sell 100 Books Per Day: 6 Things You Need To Do

Photo credit: davide vizzini

Wednesday, July 25

The Harlequin Class Action Lawsuit Explained

Claudette Colgert, Harlequin
Claudette Colbert, Harlequin

I read a half dozen articles on the lawsuit brought against Harlequin and became more confused than ever. Then I came across a comment Laura Resnick made on Joe Konrath's blog and the fog cleared.

Emboldened, I went over to the website the defendants put up to inform the public of the suit and read the actual complaint. That's what I'd encourage anyone to do who's interested in understanding this thing. The complaint is well written and anyone can understand it with a bit of perseverance.

Since her explanation was the best write up I had come across, I wrote to Laura Resnick and asked her permission to reproduce the comment she left on Joe Konrath's blog post (Harlequin Fail Part 2), permission which she kindly gave. To put Larua's remarks in context, here is the official response from Harlequin:
TORONTO, July 19, 2012 – Harlequin announced today that they have been made aware of a class action lawsuit brought against them by three former authors.

The publisher wishes to make clear that this is the first it has heard of the proceedings and that a complaint has not yet been served.

“Our authors have been recompensed fairly and properly for their work, and we will be defending ourselves vigorously,” said Donna Hayes, Publisher and Chief Executive Officer of Harlequin. (Harlequin responds to Complaint)
 Laura writes:
Yep, they [the defendants] did try to settle. They tried long and hard.

This filing of a legal complaint comes after months of attempts to negotiate with Harlequin via legal counsel, whose fees have been paid by dozens of involved writers (all part of the "class") pooling their financial resources. The writers' legal representation has been trying to reach an agreement with Harlequin since =last year.=

So if Harlequin is "surprised" by the lawsuit, then it was apparently dropped on its head recently, with tragic results. This is much like expressing surprise when you're ticketed after ignoring multiple warnings NOT to park in that no-parking zone where you're trying to park.

Harlequin's Donna Hayes' statement also describes the plaintifss as former Hq writers. Er, NO. They are current, not former. Since Hayes is apparently fuzzy on these concepts, let me explain.

–I- am a FORMER Hq writer; I am –former- because I got all my rights reverted to all books that I ever licensed to Hq, and I have =no= contracts still in effect with them. (That's also why I am not part of the "class" in this lawsuit. I got all my rights reverted before Harlequin launched any sort of digital program, and so my works were never subjected to the egregious fiscal practices specifically described in the complaint.)

By contrast, the plaintiffs named in the lawsuit are authors who have contracts CURRENTLY IN EFFECT with Harlequin, and whose works =are= being subjected to the egregious fiscal practices described in the agreement. As explained in a post yesterday by one of the authors in the class (one who is not a named plaintiff), these writers would be =delighted= to be "FORMER" Harlequin authors—but to make them "former," Harlequin needs to revert their rights to them, rather than retaining their publishing rights in order to contiunue subjecting their intellectual property to these egregious fiscal practices.

But, wait! There's more. The named plaintiffs are not involved in =new= contracts or =new- releases with Hq for obvious reasons: Wriers with -new- contracts and -new- releases fear retaliation from Harlequin for their involvement in this lawsuit, i.e. attempt to be paid fairly by this company, so they don't want to be named. However, though not -named- in the conplaint, many members of the "class" are what even Ms. Hayes, with her flawed understanding of current/former, would presumably describe as "current" Harlequin writers.

If Ms. Hayes assumes only these three writers are involved in the lawsuit, then she has not been paying any attention (which certainly seems to be the case, based on her "surprise") to a YEAR of writers trying to negotiate with Hq over these issues through their legal counsel, -and- she is also presumably unfamiliar with the phrase "class action" lawsuit.
It boggles my mind that Harlequin would feign ignorance of this suit when so many in the industry were aware of it and that Harlequin would call the defendants former authors when Harlequin is still selling their books! At least one of Barbara Keiler's ebooks (she was writing as Judith Arnold), Married To The Man, is (as of July 24, 2012) being sold in Harlequin's online store. [Edit: Before posting this article I checked this link and Barbara's novel seems to have been taken down.]

If Donna Hayes got those two things wrong, why should we think she has any idea whether her authors were, in her words, "recompensed fairly and properly for their work"?

Just in case all that is clear as mud, Laura generously gave me another example of what's behind this lawsuit against Harlequin, and gave me her permission to use it in my blog post. (She used me as an example, I feel like such a star!)
"Let's say I collaborate on a book with Karen. I make a deal to split the proceeds with her for our book 50/50. The way we structure it, I will receive the advances/royalties income directly from the US and foreign publishers or distributors, and then I will distribute Karen's 50% to her.

But then, in the course of handling the contract and money with the publishers (or, for example, with Amazon and Smashwords), I structure my deals with them to pay the advances and royalties directly to a separate business entity called Evil Mastermind, of which I own 100%, rather than to me as an individual.

Over the course of a year, publishers or distributors pay out a total of, say,$20,000 for the book–to “Evil Mastermind, Incorporated.” Evil Mastermind, Inc., then writes me, Laura Resnick, a check for $1,000 for the book.

$1,000 is all that I, Laura Resnick, have received for the book. And since the collaboration contract is between Laura Resnick and Karen (not between Karen and Evil Mastermind), I pay her only $500, i.e. 50% of what I have received as Laura Resnick. Regardless of the fact that $19,000 for that same book is sitting in an account which I own, which funds I can distribute to myself as “dividends, company profits, and salaries,” from a corporation I own and which corporation isn’t mentioned in any profit-sharing contract or agreement that I have with Karen.

This is more or less how the class action suit alleges Harlequin has been handling the author's e-royalty earnings. (But, Hq being a large multi-national corporations with offices in one country, its bank in another, editorial in another, etc., etc., they can presumably do more complicated juggling than one lone blonde Evil Mastermind can.)"
Thanks Laura!

Laura Resnick was the keynote speaker at a Romance Writer's of America convention in my home town a few years ago. Since then I've read and enjoyed her books, she's one of my favorite authors. I can't recommend her work highly enough.

Links list:
Laura's homepage:
- Laura's homepage contains a list of all her work, but don't forget to take a look at the Esther Diamond books, as well as The Chronicles of Sirkara. Don't start any of them if you have an important deadline in the next day or two, they are addictive, but in the best of ways. Just don't say you weren't warned!
- Here are a few of Laura's articles on the business of writing. I cannot recommend these articles highly enough to writers.

Here are a few more truly excellent links Laura Resnick passed along to me, they help explain the current lawsuit against Harlequin.
- Patricia McLinn's response to Harlequin's pulic statement.
- The website set up by the "class" to explain the reasons for their lawsuit.
- A lawyer who'll be speaking at RWA National next week gives a quick four-point analysis of the case (and why Hq, at the moment, appears to have little room for defending its actions)

Thanks for reading!

Photo credit: carbonated