You've probably seen me tweeting my unfailing, intense, and abiding love for Corey Ann Haydu and her debut OCD LOVE STORY. It's compelling and beautiful and tense and engaging and tough, and I've been waiting for so long for others to confirm what I already knew: Corey Ann Haydu is special, and so are her novels.
And now, proof positive. I give you the Kirkus review below!
Haydu’s debut novel for teens is not for the emotionally faint of heart, but those who can withstand it won’t ever regret accompanying Bea, a high school senior recently diagnosed with OCD, on a profoundly uncomfortable and frenetic journey dominated by her increasingly manic compulsions.
When Bea kisses a strange boy during a blackout at a school dance, it’s clear she’s a little eccentric, but it isn’t until her therapist slips several pamphlets about OCD into Bea’s hands that readers will recognize her more extreme tendencies for what they truly are. Haydu is a masterful wordsmith, and readers will likely find themselves ready to crawl out of their skin as Bea’s need to perform certain rituals, even at the risk of alienating those she loves, becomes all-consuming. The one bright spot in Bea’s life is a budding romance with Beck, the boy from the school dance, who resurfaces in Bea’s group-therapy sessions. He’s plagued by issues of his own, and Bea finds comfort in a new relationship with someone who also has “one foot outside the border and into crazytown.” They are about as dysfunctional a pair as two people could be, but they’re also heartbreakingly sweet and well-suited for one another.
A raw and well-crafted alternative to run-of-the-mill teen romances that also addresses tough mental health issues head-on. (Fiction. 14 & up)
Foreign rights. Heard about them yet? Do they matter to you almost as much as the air you breathe yet? If you're already represented or seeking representation, you're going to hear a lot about "in-house" foreign rights departments. Here are my thoughts on the "in-house" phrase and what it really means.
Translations and English language foreign rights are about selling editions of your book in foreign countries in foreign languages or in the English language outside the territory of the domestic contract. Generally, this means publishing your book in English in the United Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and other English-speaking International territories.
Some agencies have "In-House" departments. Some do not. Gelfman Schneider does not have an "in-house" foreign rights. Rather, we partner with Betsy Robbins and Katie McGowan and the awesome agents at Curtis Brown UK, who sell our books in foreign territories with the same zeal with which we sell them domestically. They do a very, very good job. Biased, I know, but they're kind of the best.
Agencies like Curtis Brown US (which has ZERO affiliation with the UK company of the same name), Folio Literary, Foundry Literary, and Sterling Lord Literistic have in-house foreign rights, meaning a foreign rights director or department with agents who work in their New York offices who facilitate the sale of foreign rights.
Let me disabuse you of any notion that I bear any hostility to any agency listed above, or to any agency with in-house foreign rights. Let me also clarify that I am not suggesting one approach is better than another. I have only positive endorsements to give about these agencies and their incredible foreign rights people. I've met many of them, I consider some close friends and confidants. They are smart people and hard workers. You would blessed to be represented by any of them.
But here's my secret: we use the same process to sell your rights as they do. The only difference is where our foreign agents sit. If Katie and Betsy, for example, sat in our office here in New York we'd have an "in house" team. But because they're in London we don't call them in-house. Do they work as hard? Yes. Do we talk as much? I think so, but I can't say for certain as I don't monitor the phone usage of other agents and agencies. Because that would be f***ing weird.
Almost all Foreign Rights departments use co-agents in respective international territories. It is those co-agents who are on the phone with your Italian / Russian/ Spanish/ French editor. And we often use the same co-agents.
"in house" is something of a buzz word. It's the "cage-free" of the foreign rights world. You know how people think "cage-free" means they're eating a once happy Chicken named Ted who frolicked outdoors with his chicken girlfriend for many years before becoming food, but really those chickens are crammed on top of one another in a huge sty 2 doors down from the caged chickens for the entirety of their short, genetically modified lives? It's a little bit like that, but without the horror or poultry.
People think an "in house" foreign rights department includes a glamorous group of 5 - 10 multi-lingual men & women at your agency who are on the phone with German, Spanish, French, Russian, Hungarian, etc. editors selling your book. They aren't. Your agencies' Co-Agents are doing that (glamourous-ness remains unknown).
Consider, for example, that my foreign rights agent, Katie McGowan, wants to sell a book in Slovenia or Slovakia or other territories in Eastern Europe. Katie is going to get in touch with the Andrew Nurnberg agency who will then do their best to sell the stuffing out of that book in Eastern Europe. Because they speak the proper language and know their countries markets better than I. When Foundry or Sterling Lord does the same thing, their foreign rights agent will call up Andrew Nurnberg and ... wait a minute, Victoria? Isn't this the same thing? Yes. Yes it is. The only difference is that Katie sits in London. You want more proof? Go investigate the "foreign rights" page of some of your most lusted after agencies, see how many times the same co-agents pop-up at both the in-house and not in-house agencies. Tuttle-Mori for example, is used by Gelfman Schneider and Sterling Lord, and Foundry. Taryn Fagerness (who is just plain gifted with foreign rights sales) represents clients from Full Circle, Bradford Literary, Andrea Brown, D4E0, Red Sofa Literary and Renee Zuckerbolt.
Now, it may be very important to you to have a foreign rights agent or manager who can walk across the room to your agent and ask them about Italian rights; a phone call might not be enough for you. That is absolutely your prerogative. Additionally, some agencies may have different commission splits with foreign agents and co-agents but it tends to be between 20 - 25%.
My argument is not that "In-house" is a mistake. NOT AT ALL. Foreign rights agents are absolutely 100% necessary "in-house" or not. My argument is that it is the quality - not the location - of your foreign rights agent that determines international success (not to mention the economy and the weather and a series of seemingly incalculable facts and figures that I'm not even going to handle right now). My argument is that an aspiring author's questions need to go far beyond the: "do you have in house foreign rights?"
More relevant questions include: "who would be my foreign rights agent?" "who are their co-agents abroad?" "how will you communicate with my rights agent(s)?" or "do you attend the book fairs? meet with foreign publishers? etc..." Most agencies have at least one agent who will hand-sell your novel in the UK. Particularly through attending London, Bologna, and Frankfurt, and creating relationships with UK publishers.
Beyond that, you're looking for agencies that use legitimate co-agents, who talk consistently with their foreign rights partners, and who push your book through fairs, catalogues, and face-to-face meetings with visiting foreign publishers.
In totality: this isn't about which of the approaches is better. I don't have the answer to that. The point of this post was to demonstrate the process behind the terminology. In the same way that I would not advise you to sign with a literary agent just because they're in New York, I would not advise you to sign with an agency just because they have "in-house" rights. Rather, sign agencies based on their agents' work ethic, taste, style of communication, relative success with sales, editorial standards, etc...
p.s. - I am not vegan or vegetarian. I still eat chicken. I just try not to think about Ted. Poor poor Ted.
---> this is the face you make when your readers are all "Um, I know you want me to think the Butler did it, but I know how to spot a red herring when I see one. Busted"
Let's talk about "The Man Behind The Curtain Syndrome." I'm assuming you all remember the iconic scene in THE WIZARD OF OZ (the original) where Dorothy and her gang of broken heroes discover the Great and Powerful Wizard is not a fearsome apparition, but rather, a sheepish little white haired man in that suit that makes him look like a fancy garden gnome. The mysticism and awe is gone. The belief in the (other) worldliness of the wizard, the conviction surrounding his myth and legend... poof . vanished.
The same thing happens when a reader can feel you, yes you, the author, pulling the proverbial strings of your novel. When we - your humble readers - feel you manipulating us from behind the veil you've penned, we're kicked right out of the story. The sense of immersion and fluidity is gone. We can see your shoes sticking out from under there!
So, how do you know if you're committing the sin of curtain-dom? And, harder, how do you fix it? There's no formula, but here are some tips:
1.) the super obvious clue - so you wrote the scene where you placed the first clue. You left that teensy trail of breadcrumbs. But you've got this nagging sense that the reader might not see it. Maybe you should make it just a little clearer? Maybe you should up-end a bag of Doritos instead of that trail of crumbs, yeah? DO NOT DO THAT. Reading is an exercise in faith; you must trust your reader to follow your bread crumbs. And it's much easier, I think, to edit the clarity into project than to edit the obtuse out of it.
2.) the bright, neon red herring - I will caveat this by saying that one of my favorite things ever is when I think I'm hot s**t, and I'm all "oh duh, that's totally a red herring and it's clearly Bobby who killed him" and then I find out I am totally wrong and it turns out Bobby's little sister is a rampaging murdering psycho. It's kind of a double-fake, so if you're working on that. Brava! But if you're building a basic red-herring, make sure you're not putting a spotlight on it. Ask yourself if it works in the story organically or if you forced it in there? If you're forcing it in there, chances are your reader will spot it.
3.) Symbolism - C.S. Lewis is a master. I adored the Chronicles of Narnia. But, I have to admit, re-reading them when I was older was an exercise in patience, because OMG I GET IT AZLAN IS JESUS. Can we actually get back to the story now? the point: Symbolism=good. Bludgeoning to death by allegory = Bad.
4.) Like me, Like me, Like me! - look how funny, smart, perfect, snarky, goofy, pleasant, polite, gothic [insert adjective here] I am! This one doesn't happen too often, but every once in a blue moon I come across a protagonist who reminds of someone trying too hard. Unless your MC is a sycophant, you just really want me to get invested. It's alright. Relax. You don't have to lay it on so thick. Worry about your MC, not about me. Not yet, anyway.
5.) This is how kids talk, right? - this is, I think, the most rampant cause of "man behind the curtain" syndrome, and also the most difficult to fix. When your MG protagonist sounds the way adults think kids sounds, feel like I'm being condescended to (and you can bet a Middle Grade editor would, too). It's the feeling you get when parents try to use slang. I'm still not sure how this one happens, but I think it's from concentrating too much on the words; on getting the style right, and not enough worrying about your characters.
I was fortunate enough to spend a little time with the Sharkly Janet Reid
this week. If you don't know Janet, you probably should. She is an agent with FinePrint Literary in NYC. She is venerable and really
knows her stuff. Like A lot.
So, the Sharkly one, myself, Agents Brooks Sherman
and Sarah LaPolla
were chatting about Schmagents. "What is a Schmagent?" You ask? A Schmagent is someone who claims to be a literary agent, but has no real skills, work history, clients, sales, contracts, or resources. It's not like pretending I have a medical degree; I can't go around saying "I'm Victoria Marini, M.D." because it's crazy illegal! But anyone can say "I'm John Doe, Literary Agent."
So if anyone can say
they're a literary agent. How do you know they really are? First, read this post by Janet
. It's not about avoiding scam agencies: the ones who charge you "reading fees," this is about knowing that you're signing with a legitimate agent who can offer you a positive experience.
Here are some questions to ask:1. How long does the agency representation last?
Some agency agreements are per book or per X month period, and others are for the duration of an author's career unless the agreement is terminated.2. Is the agent a sole practitioner or part of an agency?
MANY SOLO AGENTS ARE TOTALLY LEGIT and COMPLETELY KICK-ASS and working at their own agencies (Hello Elana Roth, the late great Kit Ward, and Michelle Wolfson), but there are others who aren't so awesome. Some schmagents truly want be a literary agent, but they have zero guidance.
Additionally - and I know it's morbid - is there a contingency plan for what happens if the agent dies or is disabled? Keep in mind the answer may be, "you've got to find a new agent" and that's okay, but it's something you should consider. Particularly if you have multiple offers. 3. What are the agent's goals?
This is two-fold. First, you get to find out if this agent wants to be the next Andrew Wylie or the next Kristin Nelson. Both goals are legitimate, but you might have a personal preference for one or the other.
Second, this can help you determine whether a hugely successful agent might be retiring soon or whether a newbie just wants to go back to grad school. 4. What is the subsidiary rights set up?
Film, Foreign, Audio? In-House? Co-Agents? It's important to find out what the agents plan is for exploiting all of your sub-rights. 5. Does your agent maintain an online presence?
Here I am blogging! Does that bother you? Then you probably don't want to sign with me... 'Nuff Said. 6. Is the agent hands on or hands off?
This is about connecting with your agent, and find someone whose professional approach and communication style mesh well with your own. 7. Can you contact the agents' current client(s) for a reference?
happy to provide prospective clients with contact info to clients I represent (with their permission of course). If you were interviewing someone for a job and you asked for references and they refused, that would probably throw up some red flags for you, wouldn't it?
Some agents won't be comfortable giving out the contact information of their clients (and you can usually find contact their authors online anyway) and that's reasonable. But the agent should feel comfortable and even confident knowing you're doing your homework.
9.) I'm going to get flack for this, but consider asking how long the agent takes to turn around a payment once they receive it.
Again, this is once they receive
a payment. Most established agents and agencies can tell you an approximate turn around time between when they receive your payment and when they send it to you. It could be anywhere from 3 - 15 days or even beyond, depending on the type of payment, but you should feel confident that the agent has the sufficient funds to pass on your payments in a timely manner.
Ladies and Gentleman, may I present to you my best friend, fiance, entertainer, supporter and all around bon vivant, Jonathan Evans.
Jonathan withstands my daily query rants. I tell him all about the "fictional novel"ers, the "harry potter competitors," the "I'm a Best-Seller in the making" ers. And because he knows me too well, he created a fake author persona, composed a query made up of all the things I hate in query letters, and sent it to me as a practical joke.
I auto-rejected him after the first paragraph, which was a shame because this letter is a RIOT.
Dear Mr. Marini,
First, thank you for reading my communique. Second, please excuse my taking the liberty of correcting your title from what is listed on the Gelfman Schneider website. I know (as I'm sure you do) that women cannot read. I assume, then, that you must have a woman proofreader working on your site, who incorrectly refers to you as Victoria, rather than your proper name of Victor. You might want to check that out, Vic. Can't have some lady messing up your submissions, you know?
Well, now that that's settled, allow me to introduce myself. My name is Jason K. Hawthorne. I'm a 9th year sophomore at the East Midland Polytechnic Institute for the Maintenance and Repair of Tall Buildings and Light Watercraft. I'm also an accomplished author, with over 12 paperbacks currently in my backpack.
I'm writing you, Vic, to let you know about an opportunity. Not just for me. No. For you. And for me. But mostly for you. I've written a book, you see. And it's nothing short of incredible. As a trailblazing author with remarkable intelligence, lightning wit, and an impressive working knowledge of around-the-house plumbing procedures, I can say: It's the best book ever written by man or woman (except not woman, because they cannot read and therefore cannot write, as we both know).
It's called the Elsinore Ring. In it, I've defied the tyranny of basic storytelling in favor of an approach I have dubbed "you-ism." This approach allows me to TELL, rather than SHOW, how the story is progressing. As I'm sure you're aware, Vic: This is a major breakthrough.
Allow me to copy a brief excerpt here:
"The blood-wizard approached the virgin princess, leering in a deeply ominous fashion. In his eye sockets, his eyes burned ominously. More ominous than the Ominous Stone of Aruthesa. More ominous than the dagger-sharp stare of the Dagger Eye Dragon. They glowed redder than the Glowing Red Gem of the East. You feel a sense of deep, red ominousness. You are frightened."
You're no doubt frightened, and consumed by dread, Vic. But worry not! It's just words on a page. They can't hurt you. They can only help you. Help you get rich.
Please write me back. We should discuss my advance (it will of course be sizable). We should also discuss your website proofreader. I have a position in my larder in which she might be interested. She'd, of course, have to prepare eight course dinners using ingredients from a mini-fridge and cooked on a hotplate. But that's the life of a scholar, ain't it Vic!
I look forward to speaking soon, and to receiving my check (once we've settled on an amount).
All the best, Vic! Don't let a great opportunity, a great author, and a great book pass you by!
With the deepest love, respect, and admiration,
Jason K. Hawthorn
tra la la la It's SPRING TIME!
Things I love about spring:
going to grab drinks with lovely friends when it's still light-out
falling asleep on the rug, next to the kittens, in a sun beam
everyone's pervasively good mood
real live fruit
baby farm animals
all the crocuses popping up
long rambling no reason but the weather walks
NOT having those days where you wake up and it's grey, bare, and depressing, and utterly cruel that you have to leave your house when you have a perfectly good snuggly blanket and kittens and a manuscript right here!
days when it's cruel be indoors
and SPRING RELEASES!
These are the spring releases I've got my eye on!
I am so excited to share that wunderkind Meredith Zeitlin will have her second hilarious novel published by Putnam Children's under the keen eyes of Shauna Rossano
Here's the deal:
Meredith Zeitlin's humorous and heart-warming second novel, SOPHOMORE YEAR IS GREEK TO ME, about a teenage journalist excited for her second year of high school in NYC who learns she must, instead, spend the year in Greece... living with the estranged family she has never met, to Shauna Rossano at Penguin Children's, by Victoria Marini at Gelfman Schneider (world English).
And if you haven't already, checkout FRESHMAN YEAR AND OTHER UNNATURAL DISASTERS
newly released in paperback
photo by Meredith Zinner
The lovely (see left!) Corey Ann Haydu, whose debut OCD LOVE STORY comes out this fall, will have another two YA books with Anica Rissi now at Katherine Tegen Books.
Here's the deal:
OCD LOVE STORY author Corey Ann Haydu's LIFE BY COMMITTEE, about a girl who joins an online community where members share their deepest secrets, of which she has plenty; but when she discovers the group is not as innocent as it seems, can she risk quitting if it means all her dirty little secrets will be spilled?, to Anica Rissi
at Katherine Tegen Books
, in a two-book deal, by Victoria Marini
at Gelfman Schneider
Permission to get excited: GRANTED!
Lucas received a starred review from Library Journal for CLASS A! Check it out!
I'm in an upbeat mood today, so I'm going to reveal an inside story: Agents have nemeses. And I mean that by the strictest definition. I bear no actual enmity or ill will to my nemeses, but I do consider them an agent - pun intended - of my downfall!
Nemeses are those agents that always seem to get the projects I want. Granted, nearly every agent out there represents something I've wanted and lost, never got the chance to consider, or didn't even know I wanted until I saw the announcement. But there are an elite few who keep cropping up. Namely, the Sara(h)s!
For clarity's sake, I repeat, these agents are awesome agents and probably awesome people (I haven't met them all), but the number of times I've lost something to a Sara or Sarah... it feels innumerable.
Why am I telling you this? Because there are always going to be people whose successes you envy. That crit partner who seems to get it without even trying. That author whose debut did sell for six-figures. The point is that another's achievements do not negate your own. Be happy for them! They're probably cool, and anyway, a rising tide carries all boats. Do your thing.