Monday, February 16, 2015

Do You Know Your Agent?

Welcome to the first of a four part series entitled "Do You Know Your...?" I will be talking about four of the most important people you'll encounter during your writing career and how to properly research them before entering into a legally binding contract you may or may not be able to get out of. And trust me, there's nothing worse than being stuck in a bad contract, working with someone you don't get along with very well.  

The author - agent relationship is a unique one that requires a great deal of trust, probably more so than any other relationship you'll ever have within this industry. An agent is basically a person who will manage your career. They will help you edit and polish your manuscript; create an outstanding query package; sell your manuscript to a publisher; negotiate your contract for you; and just be an all-around champion for you and your work. In addition to all of that, your agent will be responsible for collecting and disbursing your royalties to you, so there's a very delicate fiduciary relationship that shouldn't be ignored or left un-discussed. 

There are a lot of agents out there with new ones showing up on the scene every day. So, how do you know which ones are the good ones? By doing your homework. I always tell authors to research, research, research! NEVER sign with an agent unless you're 100% confident in them and their ability to represent you. 

Here are the steps I took BEFORE I ever sent a query letter to any agent:


1.      The Agent's Website – Okay, this might seem like a no-brainer. I mean, duh, right? How else will you know how & where to submit? But, don’t just visit the submissions page. Take the time to click through every single page on the website. Do all the links work? Are there missing pages? Does the site itself look professional? Is it full of silly grammatical errors? Is there an “About Us” or a “Staff” page? What kind of experience does the agent have? Is there a list of current authors? Is there a page for recent deals? What kind of deals has the agent recently made? Are they to traditional Big 5 publishers or are they small press deals? How long has the agency been in business?

2.      Preditors & Editors – (http://pred-ed.com/) This is an alphabetical listing of publishers and agents along with a “recommendation.” Search for the specific agent you’re thinking of submitting to and see what recommendation they’ve been given. If they’re listed and “not recommended” or “highly not recommended” you might want to cross them off your list.

3.      Absolute Write Forums – (www.absolutewrite.com) Go to Google, type in the name of the agency / agent, and then add “absolute write” after it. This usually results in the first hit being a direct link to the forum that discusses said agent. Take the time to read every single posting. Some will have 20+ pages, and some of the comments will be nothing more than “I got an offer!” Weed through those to get to all the other stuff. Oftentimes, current and/or past authors will chime in and give their personal experiences with the agent. This information can be invaluable.

4.      Ask Friends & Fellow Writers – If you don’t already belong to writing groups on Facebook, go join some right now! They’re invaluable. Make a posting asking about said agent. Ask if anyone has any experience with the agent and if so, what it is.

5.      Check the Agent's Social Media Accounts – Facebook, Twitter, blog, Pinterest, Tumblr, etc. How big of a following do they have? Are they active on those accounts or has it been months since they last posted? Are they using them to help promote their authors? Are they using it to interact with readers? Are they conducting themselves professionally?

6.      Make Google Your New Best Friend – Google the agent's name. Do any articles or interviews come up? Read them. Is there anything that gives you pause?

7.   Check Publisher's Marketplace - Most agents will announce deals they've made on this site. It's a great way to see what types of things they've been selling and to whom. Are you looking for a traditional deal, but the agent works primarily with small presses?You may want to cross him/her off your list and move on. 

So, your agent of choice has made it through your initial round of scrutiny and you polish up your query and hit send. Then you wait and wait and wait… Until one day you get an offer! YAY! I know how tempting it will be to just sign on the dotted line and get your book moving toward publication. DON’T! Take a step back. You’ve still got a lot of work to do.

AFTER you’ve received an offer for representation, it’s time to dig a little deeper and do more research.

1.      Read the Contract – Again, a no brainer. Read it two, three, four times. Have a lawyer read the contract. If you don’t have one or can’t afford one, ask a friend who has experience working with contracts to read it for you. As you do, compile a list of questions. Even if everything seems straightforward and you understand it, ask a question anyway. Create a list of items you want to negotiate. If you feel the contract is fair and there isn’t anything you want changed, come up with something anyway and ask for it. Doing these two things (asking questions, negotiating) will show you two things: (A) how communicative the agent is, and (B) how willing they are to work with you as an author. The standard agent fee is 15%, so if the contract is granting the agent more than that, find out why!

2.      Contact Current Authors – Go back to the publisher’s website and look through their current author list. Randomly chose 6 – 10 authors, hunt them down on the intranet, and email them. Politely let them know you’ve received an offer of representation with Agent and you’re touching base to see what their personal experiences have been like. It’s very rare an author won’t respond, and trust me, they will be brutally honest with you. 

** An argument can be made to do this step before querying, but I find this specific step to be very time-consuming and is often better done once an offer is on the table because at that point, you have a lot more invested and a lot more to gain / lose. **

3.      Do a Business Search – Once you get the contract, it will have a lot of information such as the owner’s full name, business address, telephone number. Plug these into trusty ‘ole Google and see what comes up. Alternatively, you can search for the state where the business is located and search their business database. (All companies registered as an Inc., LLC, etc is public information and as such must be listed somewhere.) Is the business legally registered in the state listed in the address? Are there any formal complaints against the business? Does the business listing information match what is on the contract?

** Note: A lot of agencies will have this basic information available on their website -- if not a full street address, at the very least a state listing. Those that don't -- take pause and ask yourself why? **

4.      Ask to Speak on the Phone – Nowadays, a majority of publishing is done online and communication is via email. However, don’t be afraid to ask to schedule a phone call to speak about contractual terms or anything else you want to talk about. Honestly, I don't know of a single agent that won't immediately schedule a call with you, so if an agent isn't willing to do this, it's a major red flag! It’s so much easier to gauge tone and inflection when speaking as opposed to email. You can ask the tough questions on the phone and listen to how the agent responds. Is he/she dodging your questions? Talking in circles? Are they actively engaging you regarding your manuscript? Are they excited about it? Did they even read it?? (Yes, I have heard of this happening.)

6.      Ask Questions – In addition to asking contractual questions, ask lots of other questions, too. Some common ones to ask are:


  • Will you edit my manuscript before we begin to query? If so, what is your process for that? How long does it generally take? 
  • What is your vision for my book? What types of big, global changes do you think need to be made?
  • What is your submission plan? Who will we submit to first? 
  • Will you represent just this book or every single book I ever write?
  • What happens if my book doesn't sell?

I typically save this questions until after I’ve reached out to current authors and have heard back from them. This way, I can compare the publisher’s answers to the actual experiences of the authors. 

Remember that everyone’s experience is different, and although these steps will help you make an educated decision whether or not to query an agent, use common sense and come to your own conclusions. Only you know what is best for your career.  


Come back next Monday for: Do You Know Your Agent, pt 2 -- RED FLAGS!

Do you have anything to add? Are there any other steps you take or websites you visit? Share them in the comments :) 

Thursday, February 12, 2015

{Cover Reveal} Beyond Reach

Today is the cover reveal for Beyond Reach (True Calling #2) by Siobhan Davis. This cover reveal is organized by Lola's Blog Tours.

(Lola is really awesome, y'all! Seriously, go check her out!)



Beyond Reach
Beyond Reach (True Calling #2)


By Siobhan Davis

Genre: Science Fiction/Dystopian Romance

Age category: Young Adult

Release Date: April 30, 2015


Blurb: Now back on Earth, Ariana is caught in a dangerous crossfire between clandestine rebel organization Clementia and the power-hungry government. Refusing to divulge the location of the secret information entrusted to her by her father, she desperately tries to bargain for her Mom, Lily, and Cal’s rescue. But she’s fighting a losing battle, and the clock is ticking.
Conflicted by evidence of fiancĂ© Cal’s apparent betrayal, she loyally defends him despite her concerns. As she grows closer to ex-boyfriend Zane, her heart is increasingly troubled.

When the stakes are raised, a succession of shocking revelations rocks her world, setting her on a path that will not only change her destiny but the fate of humanity.

Confronted by a memory so abhorrent comes a truth she would do anything to forget.

But some things just can’t be undone.

Beyond Reach is the gripping second novel in the True Calling trilogy, continuing the story of Ariana Skyee in the weeks after she arrives back on Earth.




You can find Beyond Reach on Goodreads



You can pre-order Beyond Reach here:

- Amazon

- Amazon UK

- Amazon Canada

- Amazon Australia

- Amazon India

- Barnes & Noble

- Kobo

- iBooks



First book in this series:

True CallingTrue Calling (True Calling #1)

By Siobhan Davis

Genre: Dystopian/Science Fiction/Romance

Age category: Young Adult

Release Date: August 1, 2014



Blurb:

Planet Novo, nestled in space twelve hundred miles above the surface of the Earth, is the new home of 17-year-old Cadet Ariana Skyee. Confused by the government-sanctioned memory erase and distressed at her impending forced marriage and motherhood, Ariana’s plans for the future are thrown into complete disarray.



As the traumatic events within her family life enfold, Ariana grows increasingly alarmed at the authorities apparent pre-occupation with her and feels progressively more isolated and alone.



Her growing feelings for fellow Cadet Cal Remus intensify as the recently announced pageant, ‘The Calling’, gets underway. Struggling to comprehend the continuous, inexplicable dreams of the mysterious Zane, discovering the past helps shape her future, with devastating personal consequences.


You can find True Calling on Goodreads



True Calling, Book 1 in the Series, is available to purchase exclusively on Amazon at a special promotional price of $0.99 for the 12th and 13th February only. Thereafter the price will increase to $2.99 so pick up a copy while it’s a steal!

- Amazon USA

- Amazon UK

- Amazon Canada

- Amazon Australia

- Amazon India





SiobhanAbout the Author:

Siobhan Davis is the author of YA science fiction romance series True Calling.

A self-diagnosed ‘teenager forever’—at least when it comes to books, music and movies; Siobhan is totally addicted to teen fiction and superhero/blockbuster movies. Siobhan loves baking, crime novels, shoes, bags, make-up, anti-wrinkle cream, anything pink, Kelly Clarkson, Katy Perry, and Robert Pattinson (definitely Team Edward).

Siobhan has forged a successful corporate career, in Human Resources, over the last twenty years.

A member of the IWI writers group, Siobhan resides in the Garden County of Ireland with her husband and two sons.

Contact Siobhan at: www.siobhandavis.com



You can find and contact Siobhan here:

- Website

- Author blog

- Book website

- Facebook

- Twitter

- Google +

- Goodreads



Sample chapters, quotes, reviews and book excerpts are all available to download from the authors website



There is a cover reveal wide giveaway for the cover reveal of Beyond Reach. These are the prizes you can win:

- 3 advanced e-copies of Beyond Reach by Siobhan Davis

- 2 amazon gift cards of 20$



For a chance to win enter the rafflecopter below:

a Rafflecopter giveaway




Monday, February 9, 2015

{Release Day Blitz} Captive Potential

I am so thrilled to welcome my good friend and fellow author, Barbara Garren to the blog today! She's releasing the second book in the Phasms series :-) 




Book: Captive Potential
Author: Barbara Garren
Genre: Paranormal Romance





Synopsis

Everything in Kelsi's life feels more like The End, rather than the Happily-Ever-After she anticipated with her prince, Aiden Hardt. She and Aiden are fighting. Again. His daughter Bryn wakes them screaming every night. By day Bryn is bright and bubbly, but at night her dreams are filled with a distant land, a dark-haired man, and a threat Kelsi couldn't foresee. Even her best friend Sarah is miserable.

Tossed between multiple planes of existence, Kelsi must overcome the barriers in her heart and mind to save those she loves: her friend, her lover, and the child she thinks of as her own.
Even if providing them a chance for their own Ever After spells the end for her.



Excerpt



“My love for Aiden is a deep, red pulse, burning with a slow and steady warmth that assuaged my loss, seeping to my very core, bleeding into every pore, every fiber of who I am, until I can’t breathe, can’t move can’t be without him near.”




Author Bio

I'm a writer, a reader and a frequenter of the more charming sites in town, namely pubs. I've travelled a bit. Lived a few places. Known a few men. It all ends up in a story sooner or later.

San Diego is home these days and my life is ruled by Charlie the Dog, a Valkyrie muse named Prue and a husband  who buys me scotch. What more can a girl ask for?

Social Links

Twitter:@bak229


Buy Links


OTHER BOOKS IN THE SERIES

Infinite Potential












                                                                   Giveaway








Monday, February 2, 2015

{Book Review} Breathless

Title: Breathless
Author: Krista McLaughlin
Genre: YA Romance / Paranormal
Publisher: Self-Published
Release Date: 2014
Kara's Rating:   4.0 Kicks to the Heart

Blurb: Eighteen-year-old Lainey is the only witness to her best friend losing her life to the depths of the ocean. She stays close to the water, a small part of her hoping to surrender to the same fate. On her birthday the waters almost overtake her, but a mysterious young man rescues her and disappears. 

Lainey can't stop thinking about the stranger from the beach, and one night she finds her rescuer naked and bleeding on the shore. Jon doesn’t know what pancakes taste like, how microwave popcorn cooks, or own shoes, but he seems to be just what Lainey needs. As the anniversary of her friend’s death looms, Lainey opens herself in ways she never thought possible. But when Jon’s identity comes to light, Lainey has to save him before she loses another love to the sea.



Kara's Review:  At the start, Lainey was a stereotypical moody teenager. Normally, this would bother me. lol. But she had a very good reason: She'd lost her best friend, watched her drown in the ocean. That would definitely mess with anyone's mind. I could really feel Lainey's loss and pain, which was great. She was a well rounded, flawed, likable character. 

I really liked Jon, too. He was a great love interest for Lainey. He was patient with her, caring, and was able to get her to open up and let go of some of her grief and guilt. Throughout the book, they saved each other more than once, which was sweet.  Unfortunately, Jon isn't who he seems. 

I was able to figure out Jon's secret early on, which kind of took the surprise and punch out of the big reveal, but it wasn't anything too bad to ruin my enjoyment of the story. The entire story was told in 3rd person (my favorite POV), but it was all from Lainey's POV. From a storytelling perspective, I can understand why this was done. However, once Jon's true identity was revealed, I really would've liked to have gotten his POV. It would've added another layer to the story. Some of the secondary characters' reactions were a tad unbelievable to me, and more than once the conflict was too easily resolved. 

Overall, it was a sweet, quick read, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who likes sweet romance with a slight paranormal twist. 


You can get your copy HERE!