Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Deal Announcement: Three Book Deal for Jennifer Haymore!

I'm so pleased to announce a three book deal with Grand Central Publishing for Jennifer Haymore.  It's the start of a new historical romance series called the Hellhound Knights, about a group of dark sexy mercenaries--definitely not your grandmother's Regency romance!  All three books will release in 2015.

Here's the announcement:

November 26, 2013 - HELLHOUND KNIGHTS by Jennifer Haymore
Fiction: Women's/Romance
Jennifer Haymore's HELLHOUND KNIGHTS series, a new Regency historical series about a group of mercenaries whose purpose is to protect the monarchy and the women who steal their hearts, to Michele Bidelspach at Grand Central Forever, in a three-book deal, for publication in 2015, by Jenny Bent at The Bent Agency (World English).

Please join me in congratulating the truly lovely and talented Jennifer Haymore on twitter:  @jenniferhaymore   Or find her on Facebook or her terrific blog.

Friday, November 22, 2013

Deal Announcement: Subsidiary Rights Sales

Congrats to the following TBA clients on their subsidiary rights sales!  

Celia Rivenbark's BLESS YOUR HEART, TRAMP was optioned for film/television by Twentieth Century Fox.

Beth Pattillo's HEAVENS TO BETSY was optioned for film/television by Front Street Pictures.

Julia London's HOMECOMING RANCH series sold in Turkey to Epsilon Yayinevi and in Italy to Mondolibri.

Robin O'Bryant's KETCHUP IS A VEGETABLE sold in Turkey to Aspendos Yayinevi.

Victoria Van Tiem's LOVE LIKE THE MOVIES sold in Brazil in a pre-empt to BestBolso/Record.

AG Howard's UNHINGED will be published in audio by Blackstone Audio.  

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Do books make us better people? - a post by Nicole

I don’t know about you guys, but I have spent the last month and a half thinking about that study that came out about how reading literary fiction leads to greater empathy and social intelligence. Has everybody seen this from the NY Times? http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2013/10/03/i-know-how-youre-feeling-i-read-chekhov/

I had such a strong reaction to this news. At first I felt kind of smug about it. Shouldn’t we all be proud that our work has some real social value? If you read or write literary fiction, you may be actively contributing to making the world a better place! As a reader, you may respond to someone in your life with greater compassion and understanding—or through your work, you may be making others more compassionate to each other. Isn’t that amazing? Even if the advances for literary fiction tend to be rather low…and even if these kinds of books typically don’t sell hundreds of thousands of copies…Hey, wait! Why aren’t more people reading literary fiction? They really should be.

After thinking it over, I started to question the results of the study. It seems they didn’t include non-fiction books that were person-centered. Certainly there are many non-fiction books that might also lead to increased empathy (for example, THE STORY OF MY LIFE by Helen Keller). And while the study suggests that commercial fiction may not have the same effect (one of the head researchers of the study speculates that it may be because commercial fiction is more plot-driven, or perhaps the characters are less nuanced and complex—more “sympathetic,” which is admittedly can make for more pleasurable reading but may not force our brains to work as hard)…Does that mean that commercial fiction is less socially valuable?

Then I felt a little bit annoyed. Who cares if literary fiction makes us better people? Is that really why we read or write?  And does everything have to be sanctioned by science to be worthwhile? Does reading or writing have to have some practical value to make it an okay way to spend our (rapidly diminishing) free time? Can’t we just read for pleasure, for escape? For no good reason at all?

The whole thing really made me stop and think about why we read—why I read. Books have been a big part of my life ever since I was a little kid, riding to the library on my bicycle with the streamers on the handlebars and the empty basket that I would load up with books of all kinds. Reading was—and continues to be—a way to understand the world and the confusing, flawed, and beautiful people in it. Without books…well, I might not be lost, but I certainly wouldn’t be who I am today. And if nothing else, I’d be bored.

My favorite part about reading has been the opportunity to feel connected with rich, complex, nuanced characters. I still remember characters in books that have meant so much to me that they have made me want to emulate them (for example, Atticus Finch in TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD). Characters in books have helped me to contextualize the behavior of some people I might otherwise just think are awful (for example, the narrator of Dostoyevsky’s NOTES FROM UNDERGROUND). Sometimes characters are morally flawed, “bad” people, but we like them anyway. Just like in real life.

If I had just one piece of advice for writers of any kind of book—literary or commercial, fiction or nonfiction—it would be not to neglect the people in them. Put time into character development. Your sentences may be elegant, your plot perfectly structured…but without characters who feel real and who jump off the page, the story will probably fall flat.

Does it matter if literary fiction makes us more empathic? I don’t know. Maybe not. We don’t necessarily read to become better people, nor do we write to make the world a better place.  But if you take time on character development, you really can’t go wrong.

What do you think? How do you breathe life into your characters? Do you have any tips to share with other writers here?

Friday, November 15, 2013

Do we need literary agents anymore? - a post by Beth

During a conference a few weeks ago, an author asked me: “Do we need literary agents anymore?”

The simplest answer is “No.”

With traditional houses sprouting digital publishing arms that accept unsolicited submissions, independent digital-only publishers working with agented and unagented authors alike, and a wealth of self-publishing know-how available at your fingertips, some writers are eager to kick literary agents off the industry ladder.   Authors can submit their work directly, without agents, or self-publish on their own. And many have met success. So with all of these new and exciting options, it may be tempting to say that literary agents are things of the past.

As publishing changes, an agent’s role changes. It’s our job to keep up with this, because it is our job to lead authors along their road to publication. And new roads develop everyday. (Victoria Lowes wrote up a great blog post this summer detailing some pros and cons of each.) So why is it that we’re still here? Because we’re more than just a stepping-stone to being published.

The truth is that self-publishing was always an option, even before ebooks; writers could produce and print their books using independent presses. Still today, most small presses and independent publishers don’t require that you work with an agent. With the growing popularity and ease of digital self-publishing, anyone and everyone can do it—for free. Self-publishing has been around for long enough that writers have shared their experiences, their sure-fire tips and their crippling mistakes. As long as you’re willing to put in the work, you can be successful. So why are authors still working with agents?

Agents—good agents, anyway—don’t disappear once the contract is signed. We stick around for the editing, the promotion, the publication and the sales—the life of the book in every territory and in all formats. We assist the author in developing their next ideas. And as the landscape evolves, so do we. We adapt, so that we can help our authors adapt. It’s our job to master the steps to becoming a successfully published author (whatever that means to you) and to help you manage your own expectations as well as what the publisher expects from you. We read the needs of the marketplace and try to deliver. And while the specifics of our services may change, our goal never does. We find books that we love and figure out ways to share them with everyone else. 

I adore my clients so I’m very excited that I get to continue building my list here at The Bent Agency. Recently, I sold a book by one of my very first clients. I was thrilled, not just because I made a deal for something I had been working hard on for a while, but because it meant that I didn’t have to say goodbye to a story that I really believed in. No matter how many times I read the manuscript, I was surprised by the quality of the writing, the richness and the complexity. At the end of the day, I love bringing authors and publishers together. And I’ll find ways to continue doing that, whether that publisher is digital-first or if it is a “hybrid” author; even when it means that I have to coach my clients to be more aggressive with their social media, or that I have to teach myself about metadata. I’m here because I’m a nerd, and I love it.

And while things continue to change and we all have to get used to it, your relationship with your agent shouldn’t. We’re the advocates for your work, the matchmakers, and often, the push that keeps you writing, keeps you trying. To me, being an agent is about streamlining this changing publishing process—because you’ve just written and revised SO MANY WORDS and it’s the least I can do, right??

Monday, November 4, 2013

The YA/NA intern position has been filled

We have filled the current internship position. Many thanks to all who applied. If you didn't make it this time around, feel free to apply again in the future.