Friday, April 8, 2011

My First App

I have a dilemma regarding ebook publishing. I am a seasoned graphic designer/illustrator trying to break into the kidlit industry with an author/illustrator picture book.

I'd just begun sending out dummies of my book to potential agents when I was contacted by a publishing company specializing exclusively in ebook apps for the iPad. They had seen my work at a regional SCBWI event and wanted me to submit any manuscripts/dummies I happened to have for their review and possible acceptance. They went on, in that initial conversation, to say that if the app sold large numbers, it would make it potentially appealing to traditional publishers. 

That's probably true.  But what are the chances of it selling in large numbers?  That's the question.
I'm a total noob at this (a key reason I was seeking an agent!) and don't want to miss the chance of my book being something really wonderful. Although I'm not afraid to embrace new technologies, I believe traditional publishing is better for many reasons. I know a good editor is worth her weight in gold and can do to a good MS what a good Art Director can do with a bunch of disparate pieces of art and copy.

Here's the question. If I submit to this app publisher, and they accept and publish my PB, will that completely shoot down any chances of it getting published as a traditional, printed book? Should I just stick it out and see what turns up with my submissions to agents?

If you think that your book is going to change significantly in the editing and design process, then you probably don't want to publish it as an app first.  

If you do decide to publish your book as an app, don't hand over your creative property to someone unless they can show you an app they've done before that you think is cool.  Lots and lots of people are trying to make apps.  Some of them suck at it.  Be warned.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

A Sail to Every Wind

I know that this is outside your field, and you may not be able to comment on publisher policies, but I'm dying to hear your reaction to the decision by HarperCollins to limit ebooks licensed to libraries to 26 checkouts over the life of the book.  As an aspiring writer and a librarian struggling to try to get as many books as I can for my kids on my tiny budget, I can see both sides, but us librarians...we feel a little bit picked on.  Would love to hear your thoughts!

I, too, see both sides.  The system they have set up in much of the British Commonwealth seems like what this country is going to have to move towards eventually... or maybe there's some other system that will work better.

The real answer, I think, is that whatever Harper is doing now, they will probably not be doing two years from now.  The entire publishing industry is in flux.  We are trying to figure out ebooks, and there's truly no way to know for sure how they will end up being sold, checked out, borrowed, etc.  We are in the exciting and extremely frustrating period between publishing models, when the only thing to do is experiment.

Monday, April 4, 2011


Thank you for your informative blog which, you wouldn’t be able to tell from my last behavior, I have read in full. Of course, just when I should be able to follow your advice to the ‘T’, I had a bit of a brain freeze, I guess. I sent off my submission, synopsis, and all to an agent and editor and forgot most of what I learned. No excuse, really. I don’t know what I was thinking.

#1- I sent an early version that had only one difference, but it was big. A paragraph from Chapter 4 had not been moved to Chapter 1. This paragraph sets up the suspense for the book in an earlier time frame. Since I only sent chapter 1-3, that is kind of big.

#2- I sent my outline instead of my synopsis. This will be obvious since it tells the whole story, and not too imaginatively either. Yikes!

#3 – Then, when I got home from the post office, I saw the SASE I meant to include, sitting on the kitchen table where I left it.

Now, I’m not really an idiot, although it sounds like it. And, OK, I feel like one. I’m wondering if I should just let it go. I have the urge to resubmit, because I made a mistake, and oh well, that happens. I do want to put my best foot forward, however, and I think I have a really good book. I also don’t want the people I sent the book to, to waste their time trying to figure out ‘what the heck?’ Right? Then, again, I wonder, geesh…is sending it again another dumb move?

Do you think I should resubmit, or does this kind of stuff happen. Are agents and editors very understanding of an author’s bad day, I guess?
Go ahead and try resubmitting.  If you can make the explanation in your cover letter sound like you sound here--ie, human, humble, and with a sense of humor--and not like someone who might be perennially scattered of mind and disorganized, then you stand a fair chance of being forgiven.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Planning For the Future, Ha Ha

Say an author has reached that happy place where multiple editors are interested in purchasing her debut novel. Would it be viewed as peculiar if the author wanted to interview each editor to find "the best fit" -- dollar signs aside? 
Not at all.  This doesn't always happen, but it happens often enough.  And the editors involved are usually really pleased when it does--it says you value our part in this process as well as the check we'll cut you.
Also, if, for instance, the debut novel were a Middle Grade and the author has hopes to one day move into the YA market, is it best to find an editor who handles both? Or is it enough to go with an editor whose publishing house handles both?
Publishing being what it is today, it's more important to give this one book the best publication it can have than what will happen after.  Success has a way of sorting itself out--and the market (and your publisher) may be different when you start in YA than it is now; things are so volatile in publishing.  Do the best you can for this book.  When (if) you write a YA novel, do what makes most sense for THAT book THEN.