Friday, September 17, 2010

Books by my Authors

Above is the jacket cover for FINDING JACK by Gareth Crocker. St. Martin's Press will release the book on February 15, 2011, and will be available through all outlets (bookstores and online in hardcover and ebook formats).

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Books By My Authors

Our agency looks forward with great anticipation for the release of the debut novel, FINDING JACK, by South African author Gareth Crocker, in February, 2011. When the war ends, how do you leave your best friend behind? This is the premise of FINDING JACK. After losing his young family in a tragic accident, Fletcher Carson joins the flagging war effort in Vietnam. Deeply depressed, he plans to die in the war. But during one of his early missions, Fletcher rescues a critically wounded yellow Lab whom he nurses back to health and names Jack. As Fletcher and Jack patrol and survive the forests of Vietnam, Fletcher slowly regains the will to live.

At the end of the war, The U.S. Government announces that due to the cost of withdrawal, all U.S. dogs serving in the war have been declared "surplus military equipment" and will not be transported home. For the hundreds of dog handlers throughout Vietnam, whose dogs have saved countless lives, the news is greeted with shock and disbelief. For Fletcher, he knows that if he abandons Jack, then he too will be lost. Ordered to leave Jack behind, he refuses - and so begins their journey.

Based on the actual existence and abandonment of canine units in Vietnam, Gareth Crocker's FINDING JACK is a novel of friendship and love under desperate circumstances that will grab your heart and won't let go.

Advance Praise:

"Gareth Crocker writes vividly and from the heart.... Crocker has avoided all temptations of sentimentality on the one hand and political pontification on the other."
The Star (South Africa)

"Rarely have I read so moving an account of the heroism of animals, the compassion of the humans who love them, and the transformational relation ships that can spring up between the two. This is a story that will continue to live with you long after you've turned the last page."
Gwen Cooper, Author of The New York Times Bestseller Homer's Odyssey

Gareth Crocker has worked as a journalist, copywriter, news editor, public relations manager, publishing editor and, most recently head of communications and spoksperson for a multinational corporation. Finding Jack, is his first novel.

Schiavone Literary Agency, Inc. promises more to come from this exceptionally talented author.

The Author and Book Publicity

Reader G.M. McGowan said... "It's true to have something to sell. However, public relations, promotion, marketing and distribution are what make money for the publisher. And that's something the publisher has to do... not the new or established author."

G.M. is certainly correct when he/she avers that publicity is something the publisher has to do. His assertion that somehow the author is not responsible, in my opinion does not ring true. All of the large mainstream publishers indeed have publicity departments, and in most cases have several full time publicists within the department. These personnel work diligently to get the book noticed through national print publicity and advertising, sending ARC's (advanced reading copies) to booksellers, reviewers, TV producers, newspapers and magazines. They also schedule book signings and radio and TV interviews, as well as promotions on social networking sites, blog campaigns, and reading groups.

Through all of this the author is key in rounding out the efforts of the publicity department. Today's author needs to have or to establish a platform, which is evidenced by the fact that most authors, even those who remain unpublished, now have Web sites as well as blogs. Gone are the days when an author concentrates on writing with little or no concern given to publicizing his book. The author's input with regard to marketing is especially crucial when the small publisher has little or no capacity to do so.

I believe a large part of the excitement of being a published author is in the marketing of the book through signings, interviews, and appearances. Today's successful authors are multi-talented!

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Historical Novels

Hello again. I'm back in Florida after a month of vacationing in the Big Apple, the city of my birth. Blog reader Jim asks, "Is there a particular agent that handles certain genres such as historical fiction, or more rightly, fictionalized history? How does the market look to you in regards to new authors in today's stagnant to poor economy?"

Indeed there are literary agents who are open to historical novels. I believe the best resource in locating these agents is the Literary Market Place, followed by Publishers Market Place. You can Google both of these. Public libraries carry the Literary Market Place as well as the ever popular guide books for writers such as Jeff Herman's Guide to Book Publishers, Editors, & Literary Agents. Agents are listed and identified according to their specialities.

My agency is fortunate in representing top writers in the genre. Our client list includes award winning novelist James Alexander Thom (Follow the River, Random House - also made into a major motion picture). We also represent award winning English historical novelist Erastes, whose works in erotica have enjoyed international acclaim. I would be remiss not to mention Tom Willard, a military history scholar whose Black Sabre Chronicles (Forge) represent a signal achievement in depicting the significant role of African Americans in the US military.

Debut authors always face enormous challenges. The current world economic crisis only exacerbates problems for them. My advice is to keep working at developing your skills as a novelist. Publishers can only remain in business when they have the best that writers can offer.

Sunday, May 2, 2010

More on Query Responses

The eponymous anonymous asks: Does your agency respond to all emailed queries even if it's a negative response?

My agency is listed in The Literary Marketplace as well as numerous published resources for writers all over the world, and is referenced throughout the internet. A simple Google search will turn up dozens of such references. Hence my business is global with author clients from Alaska to Zimbabwe. Given the aforementioned it is incumbent upon me to respond to all queries. We respond to all postal queries wherein a SASE is enclosed. No SASE, no response. We also respond to all email queries. Occasionally a query might get accidentally spammed or deleted, or somehow lost. I sometimes get a response bounced back to me because the sender has a spam blocker and my email is considered spam. Incredible as it may seem, I have had SASE's returned to me as undeliverable, and stamped by the post office, "address unknown, no such number, no such zone." Go figure: a writer who can't address an envelope to himself!

Basically, we respond to all queries. Although we get most of our authors through recommendations, networking and conferences, we do glean excellent new talent through the queries. We're prepared, so keep them coming. You will get a response!

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Digital Submissions and the iPad

Before we say goodbye to April I wanted to jot down a few ideas on my blog. On April 3rd I visited my local Best Buy and walked out with my newly purchased, untested Apple iPad. I already had the latest SONY personal reader, which has streamlined my office and helped to rid me of enormous piles of manuscripts.

I bought the iPad to be used primarily for the ebook function. Within just a few days I discovered the power and reach of this device. Now, I only accept electronic submissions of manuscripts which I choose from the hundreds of queries I receive each month. Both the iPad and the SONY have enabled me to completely avoid hard copy. Thankfully, even small presses accept agency submissions via email attachment.

I have a WiFi home and office through my high speed DSL internet service . This enables me to get maximum use of the iPad through the many Apps that are available. One App allows me to wirelessly download a PDF file from my computer directly to my iPad. How cool is that? And I can label each file so that there is no way that any could be unidentifiable. Although I am always a couple of months behind in reading submitted novels, the new technology provides a most efficient means of keeping up with the busy activities of an agent. Remember, we agents also like to read the newest published fiction and nonfiction. We therefore have to judiciously plan our work load.

For my part, I have to give the iPad an A for performance. This is a top grade from a professor emeritus.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Publishing and Technology

In a Gally Cat interview with Schiavone. Jeff Rivera asks: "What do you think about all these technological changes happening? (Kindle, the iPad, ebooks) How have they changed the marketplace?

In the final analysis a book is a book. How that book is delivered and the preferences of consumers who buy them, dictates the direction of the industry. Technology marches on. Look at the film and music industries. Initially you had to go to a theater to watch a movie, then came television, then Beta and VHS, then DVD and Blue Ray. The presentation of films now gets to us in a variety of ways. This leaves the consumer with multiple choices. Ditto for music. From the recorded cylinder to flat vinyl records to tapes and CD's to iPods, etc., music is delivered in a variety of media. With all of this technology we can still enjoy going to a theater or a concert. Technology brings us virtually unlimited entertainment.

As a kid (many current readers weren't around then) I saw books change in shape and size. One could go to the five and dime store to buy a new book format then called "pocket books." And yes, they did fit into your pocket. Here was a previously published hard cover book now in a smaller paperback pocket version for just 25 cents! Today this format is known as the eponymous "mass market paperback" and retails at $7.99. Thanks to digital technology we now have choices in how we read content. No longer must a book be confined to ink and paper. Thanks to my SONY personal ebook reader, I can download dozens of books and take them with me on board public conveyances, the beach, etc. And as a literary agent I have eliminated tons of paper coming into my office, piling up and getting messed up and misplaced. For the past couple of years I now only accept electronic file email attachments - and publishers accept agency submissions via email. With the new ebook readers, one doesn't have to read from a computer screen. The reader fits comfortably in your hands like a traditional book. The growing demand for ebooks has enormous implications for the publishing industry. Just think: no ink, no paper, no warehousing, no shipping, no shelf space, and NO RETURNS! What a boon to publishers, authors, agents, and the book buying public. Technology continues to brighten our future. Indeed, the marketplace for publishing has changed and will continue to do so in the foreseeable future.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Agency Management of Query Letters

Reader Mark has noted the large number of query letters received by my agency annually and raises some questions. Actually, the 7,500 figure reflects queries addressed directly to me. Agents Jennifer DuVall and Kevin McAdams of Schiavone Literary also receive additional queries addressed to each of them respectively. This means that overall we get some 10,000 query letters each year. Mark asks, "How do you review the details of so many inputs?" Obviously, this is not an easy task. On our Web site we indicate that we give preference to authors published by major houses. We also state the we have a 99% rejection of all queries. We believe it is important to be upfront with our prospective clients. In point of fact we are scouting for exceptional new talent. However, our candid approach has not stemmed the flow of queries to us. Obviously we would be lost without the queries we depend on to discover new talent and to serve established authors who wish to join our ever expanding enterprise.

I consider many factors in handling the details of the queries. For example, vampire stories have proven to be very popular with contemporary readers so I would expect substantial input from authors who have chosen to write for this genre. However, I never dreamed that I would receive hundreds upon hundreds of queries for books about vampires, as well as werewolves.
Again, during the Harry Potter craze I was inundated with children's books about witches and goblins, and that is far from over. Many letters suggested that Harry Potter move over and make room for a girl, say Harriet, to capture center stage. I'm not certain that jumping on a band wagon will lead to success.

Other considerations particularly with nonfiction books involve the author's qualifications and platform which I have discussed in other sections on query letters. By and large each agent at Schiavone Literary makes his/her own decisions regarding the offer of representation. On occasion I have consulted with some of my colleagues in academia before making an offer of representation.

We take pride in representing some of the finest authors in the world.

Friday, January 1, 2010

Books By My Clients: The Scorsese Psyche on Screen: Roots of Themes and Characters in the Films, by Maria T. Miliora

This critical study examines the interconnections between the life and work of acclaimed film director Martin Scorsese, showing that his films reflect his experiences growing up in a Sicilian-American-Catholic family in the tough neighborhood of New York's Little Italy and express much about his ethical and religious attitudes.

After providing a concise biography, the text individually describes Scorsese's films from 1963 to 2002, commenting on themes and characters with emphasis on male sexuality, narcissism, violence, and the place of women in the director's personal and cinematic world. Psychological analyses of focal characters provide a basis for understanding the dialogue and actions of the characters in the context of their respective film stories. Special attention is given to two films known to have particular meaning for Scorsese: The Last Temptation of Christ and Gangs of New York.

Maria T. Miliora is a professor of Chemistry at Suffolk University in Boston and maintains a private practice in psychoanalysis. She has published books on psychology, film, and literature, as well as clinical articles.

More on the Query Letter


A reader asks: Could you give an example or guidelines for a good query letter? I have seen many different "correct" ways and was wondering what an actual agent thought.

Basically a good query letter consists of one page. It tells the agent about the premise of the book followed by a brief description. It gives the author's qualifications to write the book, especially if the work is non fiction. The letter should be triple checked for spelling and grammar. I'm turned off by any careless mistakes. If you are going to write to any agent it behooves you to take the time to avoid mistakes and even minor typos. Also, if you are a published writer include titles, publishers, and dates of publication.

Often a very well composed query is rejected for a multiplicity of reasons depending upon the agent and his needs at any particular time. While one agent may pass, another may be most enthusiastic. Unfortunately, there is no magic formula. Good luck! Do check out my other posts regarding the query letter.