Monday, March 06, 2006

What a day!

Whoo hoo! What a day. Check this out folks:

Amazon.com Sales Rank: #147 in Books (See Top Sellers in Books)
Yesterday: #405,354 in Books

Yep, that’s right. Mark Patinkin’s rank on Amazon rose 405,207 places in a day. Now THAT’S impressive. Hopefully you had the chance to catch Mark and Andrew Bateson, the subject of UP AND RUNNING, on THE TODAY SHOW this morning. It was a great piece and a great appearance. Essentially, it was the kind of publicity that most writers would happily perform a contract hit to get.

Speaking with Mark this afternoon, he informed me that Andrew received a round of applause from the studio crew when the segment was over, something that apparently doesn’t happen a lot around THE TODAY SHOW set.

To say that I’m proud of this book would be an understatement. I think one reason this book speaks to me is that I have a little cousin who was born with some real foot-and-leg challenges. She underwent surgeries as a baby and wore braces for the first four years or so her life. I have watched her grow into the world’s most precocious child, who seems to have no fear of what comes before her. I think Andrew’s story inspired me to look at her and hope that she’s as successful as Andrew has been in triumphing over the physical challenges he’s faced.

If you haven’t bought your copy of UP AND RUNNING yet, and would like to do your part to help push it up the Amazon.com best-seller list, please click
here.

Z

Saturday, March 04, 2006

The Recipe for Dating Success

If you’ve been reading this blog regularly (perhaps I should just write “IYBRTBR,” since I use this phrase often here), then you know that I got engaged a few months back and have been busy planning a wedding. I have to confess that being out of the dating pool is pretty much a huge relief. No more three rounds of margaritas with some woman I knew in the first ten minutes I’d never see again. No more staring at the computer screen reading profiles. You get the drift.

Meanwhile, quite a few of my friends seem to be partnering-up to, which is great. I guess it was just a matter of time. However, if you are a single woman reading this, or know a single woman, here’s a book you absolutely need to get as soon as possible, SMART MAN HUNTING, by Liz Kelly.

This book is a genuine publishing success story. Liz originally self-published this book and then had the fortune to get picked up by a special program at B&N. She actually sold more copies of her self-published edition than many books from major publishers manage to move. And that’s all on her. She’s been a tireless promoter of her book and her dating coaching business (see www.smartmanhunting.com). Her current publisher, Citadel Press, clearly saw a good thing in Liz—primarily that she would promote and sell the hell out of her own book for them—and picked up the rights to do a new, updated edition.

Well, now the new edition is out, just in time for Spring Fever and for all you single women to get out there and start dating and mating. But don’t go out uninformed or unarmed.
Buy SMART MAN HUNTING: The Fast-Track Dating Guide for Finding Mr. Right. You'll find pages filled with hot new dating tips and marketing twists, including insight-filled bachelor and bachelorette surveys, a compatibility quiz, and dating coaching success stories.

You’ll also find the dating codes that let you quickly recognize a man for what he really is. Here are a few examples:

● All Sports Fanatic (ASF)
● Hello Goodbye Guy (HGG)
● Guy with Offspring (GWO)
● Love Match (LM)

By learning the codes and recognizing the traits of the men they describe, you can quickly learn how to spend your time dating the men you want to date.

They say a good shopper always goes to the grocery store with a recipe in mind. Well, the same goes for a woman on the dating scene. And SMART MAN HUNTING can help you find the right ingredients for your dating recipe!

Z

Go ahead. Blow your horn.

I've gotten a few comments and emails asking me why I had the Comments featured set to only registered users. The answer was that a few posts had been put up here that I thought were inappropriate and they were anonymous. So I thought if I forced folks to register, that would result in folks stating their opinions, but requiring them to identify themselves. I have no problem with folks voicing a reasonable opinion, but I don't appreciate negative comments posted anonymously.

That said, I have changed the settings so that anyone can post a comment. However, I ask that you at least sign your name and city to the comments (like you see in a magazine, e.g., Andy Zack, New York, NY). Comment moderation is on, meaning that I will receive and be able to approve or disapprove of comments prior to posting. Anonymous comments will not be posted.

I hope that you find this a reasonable request and look forward to reading your comments.

Finally, please feel free to post general questions using the comments field. I will answer them in the comments field or I will post a new entry with the question and answer. Or you can visit my site and use the FAQs form to send me a question (but no queries!).

Thank you.

Z

If a Book Sells, but the Publisher is Bankrupt....


If a tree falls in the forest but nobody is there to hear it, does it make a sound? I believe, technically, the answer is yes, but the question, If your book sells, but your publisher is in bankruptcy will you get royalties? is a more complex issue.

This, unfortunately, is the situation facing one of my clients, Peter Holt, author of the terrific new thriller, CHROMOSOME 8. Published just before Christmas (yes, I am very behind on my blogging), this book is firmly in the tradition of Clive Cussler and sure to appeal to fans of his works and, say, Michael Crichton’s. But ibooks, the publisher of this book, just declared bankruptcy and so one has to wonder if there will ever be royalties received, not to mention whether or not their distributor, Publishers Group West, will continue to fulfill orders.

Let’s say they will. What then? Any money received will go pay off the creditors right? And while authors can be creditors, they are unlikely to be the first in line for moneys received, I expect. If there’s a bankruptcy lawyer out there willing to comment, that would be appreciated.

In the meantime, though, you might want to hurry and
buy up all the copies of CHROMOSOME 8 you can find, because I think this author is someone with a future. Given the right circumstances (the sudden death of Clive Cussler, perhaps), he could rise to best-sellerdom.


In the meantime, though, I'll be trying to figure out if the bankruptcy clause in the contract is actually valid and does that mean the rights are already the author's again? And I'll also be trying to figure out if there's stock somewhere and whether or not PGW is still shipping copies.

Ah, the glamorous life of a literary agent!

Z

Friday, March 03, 2006

Mark Patinkin, author of UP AND RUNNING, to appear on THE TODAY SHOW March 6th

Today’s entry is a bit of lesson in good things and bad things. Right now, I know the good thing is supposed to happen, but immediately after a bad thing may happen, but I don’t know yet if it will.

On Monday, March 6th, if the stars are properly aligned, my client, Mark Patinkin, author of the book UP AND RUNNING, will appear on THE TODAY SHOW, along with Andrew Bateson, the young boy whose story is told in the book.

Now, an appearance on a national news show is, of course, a major coup and we are all very happy and excited that it’s happening. Potentially, this is worth thousands of book sales. But here’s where the problem lies: the book was published in September 2005. That’s right, this book has been out for six months.

Now, if you know anything about the book business, you know that it’s not exactly a patient one when it comes to returning books. I’ve heard that some airport stands pull a book by lunchtime if it didn’t sell any copies in the morning. Regular stores tend to do returns at the one-month, three-month, or six-month point. It just depends on how aggressive they are to keep new titles out front. So, the reality is that many bookstores may have already returned UP AND RUNNING. Thus, when Mark and Andrew appear on THE TODAY SHOW, viewers interested in going out and buying the book that day may, in fact, have a hard time finding it.
So, what can an author (or agent) do? Well, I’ve been calling the publisher, Center Street, trying to find out if they got the word out to the accounts (there’s been plenty of advance notice), and I’ve been trying to determine who many books may still be at regional distributors like Ingram or Baker & Taylor. Unfortunately, I haven’t had much luck.

The only saving grace in all this is the existence of online retailers like Amazon and B&N. While I will be the first to voice my problems with both online retailers, the reality is that they do make available books that might not be found in the local bookstore.

If you are a regular reader of this blog then you already know that I spent about two years and 120 individual pitches and submissions to sell this incredibly emotional and inspiring book. And it means the world to me that a national television show has seen the same qualities in this story that I did: a story that will be appeal to America and leave readers and viewers with the strong feeling of fortune that medicine and faith can combine to work wonders. That young boys can endure and survive the most horrible experiences and still turn out to be vibrant and full of life. Will this book change your life? No, but it will make you appreciate what you have so much more. And if you or a loved one suddenly faces what seems to be an insurmountable challenge, remember Andrew Bateson, the boy who, everyday, puts on two prosthetics so that he can get UP AND RUNNING.

Z

Wednesday, March 01, 2006

Catching-Up, Part One

I admit I feel a little guilty. I haven’t been posting here and the truth is there’s been a lot of good stuff to write! But I’ve just been swamped. Tonight, though, is my night to play catch-up. I’m going to break this up into parts, so that if you don’t want to read it all in one shot, you can just read the parts you want.

I guess I should start with the February round-up of materials received. Forgive me for being blunt, but please stop sending me material. I am currently closed to new submissions, yet in February I got thirty-three new queries. Interestingly enough, a couple of sample chapters that I requested so long ago that I’d already tossed the original submission letter also showed up...but weren’t what I’d hoped for, and got declined. I also rejected forty-seven total queries.

Now, since I’m closed to new submissions, you may wonder what I’ve been up to. Well, I’ve been finishing-up notes on several projects and making submissions! I currently have 224 active submissions of numerous projects through the world. Yes, the world. For example, there are some foreign editors who take submissions directly from the US. And plenty of UK editors. I submit throughout the world to editors directly or through my foreign agents, though that 224 doesn’t include the submissions my foreign agents may have outstanding.

Here’s a sampling of some of the projects I’m working on:

STONEWALL & THE MAJESTIC TWELVE

This is the true story of MSGT Jack Lynch, USMC, and his unique team of men and one woman that he put together to conduct harrowing, ridiculously dangerous convoy missions in Iraq. Like some real-life video game, this team mounted up and went out with one mission: Find and kill the enemy.

While other units routinely sought the safest routes and allowed armed militia to stroll by with impunity, Jack Lynch and his Maji Knights, took the offensive. This is action-packed combat, coupled with an underdog team that had to fight the higher-ups every step of the way for equipment and personnel in order to execute their mission in Iraq. This is a book America will find enraging, not at Lynch and his team, but at the government and the military commands who did not give these incredible men everything they needed.

From Lynch’s first day in-country, when he responds to a bombing at an Iraqi recruiting center, to the final days when senior officers conspired to break-up and weaken the team, readers will be drawn in and left amazed by the qualities that Lynch exhibits. His descriptions of the bombing bring home the everyday realities of the war in Iraq in a way no television footage ever could (only a horror movie director would dare to put on television what Lynch saw).

This is a nonfiction DIRTY DOZEN in many ways. The key difference is that most of this team fought to be included. No condemned men here. In fact, some of the team extended their tours in Iraq just for the opportunity to join the team and take the war to the enemy.

I think this book has all of the elements of a best-selling story: great characters, underdogs versus authority, life-threatening action, and powerful, evocative writing. And I trust more than one editor will also and hope to get some action on it soon.

THE STORY OF VACCINES

This new proposal encompasses a book that will tell the story of Maurice Hilleman, the most successful scientist in history, and also the story of how nearly all of the major vaccines used today were discovered and the consequences, both positive and negative. Paul Offit, MD, as author of the acclaimed new book, The Cutter Incident (Yale), and Chief of Infectious Diseases, as well as Director of the Vaccine Education Center at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia and the Maurice R. Hilleman Professor of Vaccinology and Professor of Pediatrics, at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, is preeminently qualified to write this book. The book will be written for the general public, but will have strong course-adoption potential. From readers of such best-sellers as The Hot Zone to more serious works such as the author’s own recent book, The Cutter Incident, this book has the potential to reach readers from the corner Barnes & Noble to students in health policy, health administration, medicine, ethics, law and more.

We already have about four publishers showing strong interest in this book and I’m tentatively going to hold a closing on this in a couple of weeks.

A closing, for those not in the know, is sort of like an auction or just a “due date” by which I’m hoping all publishers will get back to me. In a perfect world, I’d be able to do that for every book, but the realities of the business are that you really only want to do it for books that have interest from several publishers. The hope, of course, is that once they all know there’s competition, they’ll be willing to bid more for the book. On the flip side, though, I’ve seen editors come into auctions with low-ball bids, in hopes that there won’t be that much competition and they’ll be able to get away with paying less. Unfortunately, when some publishers are faced with the question of buying a book at auction, they will choose not to bid, assuming—perhaps wrong—that the book will go for more than they’d be willing to bid, so why bother? Strange logic, eh? I guess we’ll see in a couple of weeks just how strange the publishers considering this book might be.

TRUE NORTH II

Few books have made me want to pack my bags and head north as much as George Erickson’s TRUE NORTH. Check out these great reviews:

“...an entertaining romp through the north, through history, through science, through astronomy, through ex­ploration, through many interests and activities; a romp with something for everyone. ...a joyous voyage of ... aeronautics, exploration and history all wrapped up in one entertaining, readable book written with humility and humor by a pilot with the capacity to dream, and the ability to make the dream come true.”—Canadian Flight

“One of the top 100 books of 2000.... There are moments in True North when one suspects that Erickson made his wish [for omniscience] and it was granted. We’ve had far too few books like True North....”—Globe and Mail

Erickson is the spiritual descendant of the great explorers he writes about. A brave adventurer in his own right...he can also weave a good story.”—Chicago Tribune

“Talk about an ultimate adventure.... One of the top ten outdoor books of the year.”—Outdoor Canada

In this new book, George heads back north and once again gives us a wonderful look at the far reaches of Canada and Alaska. It’s the perfect “armchair adventure,” and I hope to see it in stores for next Christmas.

Just to give you a sense of what I do all day, STONEWALL & THE MAJESTIC TWELVE was submitted by email to about forty-five editors in the UK and the UK, and mailed to two. THE STORY OF VACCINES went to more than forty. And TRUE NORTH II went to about twenty in hardcopy and another twenty by email. Figuring out who gets it is a time-consuming process. An art, more than a science, I think. Getting the proposals edited, formatted, and whipped into shape is an even greater time-consuming process. Each of these proposals has well over a dozen hours of my time invested in editing, rewriting, or reformatting. In some cases, I sent several rounds of notes to the author(s), asking for rewrites. Then I had to read the revised. In the end, it will hopefully all be rewarded with a deal to publish the book, but I admit that’s not always the case. Hence, now you perhaps understand why I sometimes describe my job as “professional gambling!”

Z