Dear Writer List:
Following is from my notes of the American Independent Writers annual meeting last Saturday 6/13 in D.C.:
FICTION AGENTS ROUNDTABLE
Panelists: Four fiction agents
You must sell 100,000 copies in one week to break into national best-seller lists.
Panelists agreed on a number: 75% of projects they represent get sold (eventually).
Blog by Chuck Sambuchino was mentioned approvingly, "Guide to Literary Agents"
A self-published book must sell 5,000 copies to get an agent's attention, panelists agree.
NON-FICTION AGENTS ROUNDTABLE
Panelists: Four nonfiction agents
What's Selling Now:
* Barnes & Noble's shelf categories, and Amazon's ways of characterizing books, have had a big impact on editors in terms of genres they are looking for
* So books that cross or combine genres are more challenging to sell
* "Practical" self-help categories are selling well -- children's, cooking, health, gardening, home, "retro" subjects related to the down economy
* A great "platform" is great to have (viz., Harvard Medical School); 'Get famous first, then write your book'
* For major publishers, 20-30,000 copies is a viable hardcover project; for university presses, 15,000 copies.
* Big sales of your first book are crucial for your subsequent career as an author.
KEYNOTE SPEECH, KEITH DONAHUE, AUTHOR, 'THE STOLEN CHILD'
(This was a terrific, inspiring address -- KD is one great speaker)
* Be a good liar
* Learn how to read
* Workshop or don't as you prefer ("you can't be taught to be a writer" -- you just have to practice, fail, then "fail better")
* Write what you want to write; write for love; write for yourself
* "Literature is an endless source of courage and confirmation"
* Don't be afraid
* Be stubborn, persistent; "take no for an answer with dignity and grace"
* Publishers Marketplace is now available online for a fee -- searchable database
* Poem: "Expect everything, and anything is nothing/Expect nothing, and anything is everything"
* Pay attention to publishing as a business
* A great deal depends on nexus/circumstance/chance
* Find a champion; a VP of Amazon fell in love with "The Stolen Child" and made the novel a success before it was ever published
* "In the end, nobody in the publishing business knows how to do this, especially in fiction"
* Be willing to(self) promote your book
* "Remember how and why you are a storyteller"
-- Frank S. Joseph
P.S. I also posted some notes about the "Other Times, Other Places" AIW conference panel I moderated with novelists Wayne Karlin, Olga Grushin, and Frederick Reuss. More anon.