Notes from the 2008 LDStorymakers Conference
Workshop: Publishers Panel
Presenter: Chris Bigelow, Zarahemla; Lisa Mangum, Deseret Book; Kammi Rencher, Cedar Fort; Kirk Shaw, Covenant
Submitted by: Shy Submitter
The panel began with each publisher telling us what they were looking for.
Chris/Zarahemla: provocative, unconventional stories that are ultimately faith confirming.
Lisa/Deseret Book: YA, historical with or without romance, beginner chapter books.
Kammi/CFI: stories with potential to crossover to national, with LDS values and themes.
Kirk/Covenant: suspense, romance, historical, historical epic series, good non-fiction (self-help), gift books
Q: There are no LDS agents because they would not make any money. But assuming someone was willing to work for very little, would LDS publishers be willing to work with agents?
A: They all said yes.
Q: What type of content is not allowed?
A: No swearing, graphic violence and sex, no false doctrine, careful with polygamy; PG rating. (All agreed, but Zarahemla was a little more lenient on these.)
Q: What are the differences between the LDS and national markets?
A: A best seller for an LDS book is 20,000 copies sold; national is 100,000. National publishers can potentially sell to the whole world; LDS publishers are limited to the number of members of the Church, 13 million (much less, if you limit it to English speaking). There is less direct competition in the LDS market. National market needs more lead time from acceptance to publication.
Q: What is expected from the author in terms of marketing their book?
A: Chris/Zarahemla: networking, website, readings, bookstore events, especially in home town.
Lisa/Deseret Book: as much as you can do; blog, website, networking skills, available for interviews.
Kammi/CFI: active, working connections and resources, blog, website, radio or TV connections (if you have them), book signings.
Kirk/Covenant: book signings are not a big seller for them; brainstorm with marketing department, articles for magazines, be proactive.
Workshop: Authors Panel on Agents
Presenter: JANETTE RALLISON, 700,000 books sold; agent: Erin Murphy; JEFF SAVAGE, 4 books, 2 Covenant titles released this year, national YA fantasy with Shadow Mountain this year; agent: Jackie Sack @ Bookends, Inc.; BRANDON SANDERSON, national epic fantasy, children's books with Scholastic, published in 15 languages, 2 movie deals, agent: Joshua Bilmes @ Jabberwocky; JAMES DASHNER, 4 Jimmy Fincher books, 13th Reality with Shadow Mountain, currently looking for a new agent.
[Shy Submitter apologizes for not noting who said what; this is the collective wisdom of the panel.]
Agent fees are generally 15% for US rights, foreign rights are 10% to the US agent and 10% to the foreign agent.
Royalties are sent to the agent who takes their fees and sends the rest to you. They also send you a 1099 at the end of the year.
Agents need to have a good relationship with editors and publishers.
Before signing with an agent, check them out. Who are their other clients? Contact them and see if they are happy. How many books do they place each year? Which books have they placed in the past year? What is the average advance they are able to get for their authors?
Check them out: Writers Beware, Predators and Editors have lists of good and bad agents, also some sample contracts. Other helpful sites are Show Me the Money (Brenda Hiatt/Romance) and Locus (sci-fi/fantasy), AgentQuery.com.
Agents contracts can be as short as one page and should cover: how long they will represent the work, how much they will be paid, how to end the contract.
Marketing: Publishers send out ARCs (Advance Reading Copies). Some send 100, some send 1,000s. They may do conventions. Author is expected to do a website, bookmarks, book signings, school visits (children & YA), word of mouth. Join genre groups for support and ideas.
1% of the population are readers; the rest read an average of 1 book per year.