First off, thank you once again to everyone who is participating in Be An Agent for a Day, which has been so much fun. The comments on the queries will close Saturday night, and results and stats on Monday!
Now that we have 10,000+ comments I have realized that compiling these stats will not be remotely possible on my own. I am humbly requesting ten volunteers to help me with stat compiling this Sunday. (I’m also happy to barter a query critique for your trouble — first 10 volunteers in the comments section UPDATE: the 10 spots are filled, thanks so much, volunteers)
Now then. Some fantastic news from a familiar name. Terry DeHart (aka terryd), finalist in the Surprisingly Essential First Page Challenge, let me know that he has just received a two-book deal from Orbit for the book he used in the contest!! Congratulations to Terry!
[schadenfreude](Oh. And remember the people who were mad about my choices for the finals of that contest? I sure do!) [/schadenfreude]
Speaking of friends of the blog, Anne & May are giving away copies of their just-released book BREAKING UP IS HARD TO DO. Free books = always awesome.
In publishing news, NPR recently did a story on the state of the publishing industry and Pub Lunch (subscription) linked to an accompanying article. Per Pub Lunch, Random House Publishing Group spokesperson Carol Schneider explained the current marketplace thusly: “We’re acquiring fewer books… There are no specific numbers or formula involved here–we’re simply being more selective in all categories–literary, commercial, blockbuster.” And…… there you have it.
Meanwhile, there are rumors afoot that Barnes & Noble may enter the e-reader market with a device that could challenge the Sony Reader, Kindle, and (insert device of the future here). Any bets on what B&N will call it? I hope they go with Barnes. As in, “I read your book on my Barnes, chap!” And yes, it would probably force me to call people “chap”.
You may have heard a great deal about a “glitch” dubbed amazonfail, in which erotica and GLBT books, including some classics, were mysteriously delisted from sales rankings. In case you’re curious about it all, The Millions has a very helpful breakdown of what happened and how the news spread. And I can’t wait until we have failfail. “Fail” needs. to. go.
Via Neil Vogler, the Guardian reports that the guy behind PRIDE AND PREJUDICE AND ZOMBIES just got a monster (get it? get it?) book deal from Grand Central.
Also in the Guardian… our contest!
Grove editor Jofie Ferrari-Adler has added another excellent entry in his series of agent interviews for Poets and Writers. A must read.
Cynthia Leitich Smith announced that Katherine Paterson, author of BRIDGE TO TERABITHIA, Curtis Brown client, and truly wonderful person (seriously she’s so nice), has established a prize for YA and children’s writing at Hunger Mountain, the arts journal of the Vermont College of Fine Arts. Click on over for that.
In writing advice news, thanks to John Ochwat for pointing me to Pat Holt’s blog post on ten mistakes writers often make but don’t often notice. It’s not on the list, but you might not have noticed that the first letter of every paragraph spells a bad word. Just thought you should know.
And finally, someone is going to have to explain this Susan Boyle thing to me. What exactly are we supposed to take from it? That it’s surprising that people from a humble background can be wildly talented? That you have to look like Britney Spears in order sing… better than Britney Spears? 20 million YouTube views later and I’m struggling to understand.
Have a great weekend!
Beth Terrell says
Nathan, just in case you haven’t gotten enough on Susan Boyle, here is a wonderful blog article about why her story resonates so strongly with us. It’s on Murderati.com. Alas, I didn’t write it:
What’s with Susan Boyle’s popularity?
1) She has self-confidence. Unlike Paul Potts and other hard-luck-with-a-great-hidden-talent-performers she didn’t shuffle on stage and stand like a lump.
2) She has personality to spare. She sassed back at the judges and the audience. She knew exactly what they thought of her and thumbed her nose at them.
3) Timing and Good Selection. She picked the perfect song at the perfect time. (everybody’s dreams have taken a hit in the last couple of years.)
3a)I Dreamed a Dream is technically difficult and she nailed it.
3b) the song could have been written for her specifically.
3c) the irony of the long’s lyrics being sung in a talent contest by a very talented person who is hoping for a new beginning to an old dream.
3d) Right now, happy-ever-after stories are in high demand. Especially Real Life ™ ones.
4) Matter of factness. She started to leave the stage without waiting to be officially judged. It gave me the impression she didn’t care if they approved or not. She knew she could sing and, now, so did they.
5) She blows kisses. Quaint, sure. Old fashioned, you betcha. Some might even say it’s hokey. However, she makes it a genuine gesture of “I love that you love how I sing.” It’s like saying “you’re welcome” to the applause’s “thank you.” Good manners are always attractive.
6) Self-deprecation. Nobody likes an ego-maniac, and despite all the attention, she’s not pandering for more.
Susan Boyle’s story has been compared to Rocky Balboa’s story, Shrek’s story and so on. Yes, to a certain degree it is.
I think Susan Boyle is a fairy tale with a twist. She’s Cinderella sans godmother crossed with the Ugly Duckling that never made swanhood. That makes it easy for 95% of the world to identify with her.
I’m a bit taken by the implications about Query 39.
I liked the query myself, but felt that this kind of story has been done to death. A mystery writer whose novels serve the basis of a killer’s crimes? Basic Instinct, anyone? Then there was another, more recent film in which the writer was teaching in a master’s program… It’ll come to me.
What’s the implication here?
Are novelists-whose-works-serve-as-killer’s-blueprints novels like vampire novels?
On the Susan Boyle note, here’s my take. A lady comes out and looks and acts in a way for people to prejudge her as an idiot. She opens her mouth and unexpectedly is fantastic. People are dropping their jaws in amazment…She is a hit due to the strange look and appearance. If she had been “a looker” nobody would have been surprised and she wouldn’t be as wildly popular now.
(Note to self)…Does this mean a horrible query and a great book will get you noticed?…No. Only on television shows can this be the case… However, the unexpected does get a second glance in my opinion.
re Susan Boyle – really? you don’t get why she’s so magical? you, who star in your own “American Idol” of sorts for the literary world?
(you’re the nice judge generously offering constructive criticism and encouragement.)
I went away for a few days…and I come back to my hook being quoted in the Guardian’s blog. (Query #15 ~ “for astrophysicist Allie, falling in love is as easy as identifying the planet Venus”.) How very cool is that? Thanks for the link, Nathan! I almost missed my brush with literary fame.
The contest was a great experience. (Even though I did get rejected around 300 times in a week’s time! Wowzers!) I really appreciate those that paused to give me feedback on my query. It was much appreciated and I’ve already begun incorporating suggestions.
A big thank you to you, Nathan. I admire the fact that you took this challenge upon yourself. It was an honor to be a part of the ‘contest’.
Re: Susan Boyle