Thursday, December 24, 2015

How Not to Choose An Agent

The rise of the Internet has brought us dozens (maybe hundreds) of websites that attempt to give advice to aspiring authors. And then we have the countless chat rooms and message boards, where peer-to-peer counseling thrives. And after twelve years in the business, I’ve come to a conclusion:

There’s an awful lot of bad advice getting passed around out there.
Mind you, it’s not that reliable sources don’t exist. Writer groups, mentors, reference books, and conferences abound. But in my experience, most writers aren’t interested. They just want to write, and then take their chances in the fickle, unpredictable marketplace.

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Three Year-Old Predictions About The Future of Self-Pub

Recently I discovered this online article from Forbes magazine, about the virtues of self-publishing. 

It’s more than three years old, but the commentary by contributor David Vinjamuri is still quite timely. Many new authors believe that they will find their salvation in self-pub; and in some very rare cases, they do. But overall, let’s just say that I’m skeptical.

First, a stat that no one can ignore: Over 95% of all self-pub books never sell 100 copies (Publisher’s Weekly). As a writer myself, I certainly understand the passion to get into print. But most writers I meet, have no interest in learning the business. They just want to write, and leave the rest to someone else. Not a good formula for success.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015


According to one oft-cited source, about 81% of all Americans say they want to write a book. That’s 243 million aspiring authors! And furthermore, there are about six million book proposals, queries, and manuscripts making the rounds among American publishers and literary agents at any one time.


What do these stats tell me? Well, it’s not rocket science: Almost everyone has a story inside them, and they want to share it with the world. Some kids grow up dreaming of a career in medicine, or law, or show business. Me, I wanted to write. Indeed, no matter their day job, about four-fifths of us want to write. It’s a passion. A calling. I know it well.

Friday, July 10, 2015

Authors Guild Demands More

The Authors Guild recently announced the launch of its Fair Contract Initiative. Essentially this means they believe that publishers are getting fat on the backs of struggling writers, and that said publishers should share the wealth more fairly.

But what, exactly, is fair?

This week, the issue has to do with e-book royalties. The standard publishing contract offers a 25% royalty for e-books, but the Guild believes it should be much higher. After all, it costs nothing to produce an e-book, and nothing for shipping. Why can’t they pay more?

But here's the thing: the process for producing an e-book is exactly the same as any other. They're not free to produce, and they never were. 

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Should you go it alone?

Forgive me if I seem obsessed with this subject, seeing as I've written about it a few times before. But I can't seem to get it out of my head.

It’s an age-old question, and one that gives rise to strong passions on all sides. The issue comes up eventually for every writer, editor, and agent in the land: Do you need an agent, to get published? My short answer is no; but if you go it alone, you won’t know what you’re missing. You don’t know that you don’t know. 

For me it's a lot like dating: If you got what you wanted, would you know what to do next? Are you prepared for the 20-page contract from Penguin?

Monday, February 23, 2015


No, not that kind of platform

Just a few weeks ago, I spoke for a writers’ event in Los Angeles. This much wasn’t new or newsworthy, as I do this often. However, this was my first solo event, and about fifty people came out to hear me pontificate about the publishing business. Apparently I’m getting good at this thing.

During the Q & A that followed, someone asked if a novelist needs to have “platform.” That is, does it matter whether you’re already well-known in the marketplace, in order to attract interest from editors and agents? Or, for that matter, retail buyers? .