Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Making Space

I finally bought some new furniture (Ikea does not last forever - 15 years seems to be the max). Of course, that means getting rid of the old, which means sorting through stuff.

It turns out that the furniture I bought is a little bigger than what I had, so I had to make room, which means throwing stuff out.

I had three desks in the office/den area where I work, so I decided to get rid of one and consolidate. I got rid of the huge copier from the 90's and replaced it with a compact one (that is also a fax and a printer - the 90's copier cost $4000; this one $100 - amazing!!!) and moved the second desk into my office. But I still had to get rid of more stuff to do that.

I have spent the better part of the last week sorting and throwing out, and I am amazed at what I held on to.

I had thought I would be able to keep up my reading while doing this, but I was wrong. I was just physically exhausted by the end of the night. I have also learned that sorting and parting ways with stuff (even if it's old books I will never read again and fax machines I don't need) is stressful.

So I had 7 partials and manuscripts that I had hoped to read over the President's Day weekend, and I only managed to read 2 and a half (I did finish the third, but now I have to look at it again for an edit - one step forward, two steps back).

And I have two lectures this weekend.

Meanwhile, the erotica submissions were many and quite wonderful. I read through all of them and passed them on to my very excited intern.

If you don't hear from us in a week or so, it means that my spam filter got your email and decided to erase it (there were one or two submissions that I think got winked), so please resubmit.

Saturday, February 16, 2008

My Erotica Intern

Please note that the title of this post IS NOT my erotic intern, so this is not a piece of erotica for your reading pleasure.

This is a post about my new intern who will be speciaizing in erotica and how you can help us corner this market (just joking - sort of).

As most of you know, after years of selling sci-fi, horror and fantasy, as well as books about popular culture, I ended up selling a lot of nonfiction by and about the adult entertainment industry (it's pop culture, Mom!). But I wondered about the fiction? I had been working with Ceclia Tan (selling both her erotica and nonfiction baseball writing) and we ended up doing an anthology together. We received over 200 susbmissions for the first anthology, and a lot of them were really good.

It made me wonder why I had never heard of some of these authors, because their writing was excellent. It turned out they were all erotica writers who had been making a living by writing hundreds of short stories a year, and they had excellent writing chops. Better than most of the sci-fi, horror or fantasy writers I knew, because once they've published a few stories, they move on to the much more lucrative long form.

But for many years there was no long-form for erotica. Or, just the same old same old, which was erotica by horny guys about a) sleeping with much younger girls or b) getting spanked (these seemed to be the British imports, which I affectionally refer to as The Spank Me, Baby titles).

About two years ago, the erotica market for women (which is erotic stories featuring women as the central characters, usually written by women) took publishing by surprise from both the African American reading community (Zane) and the electronic publishing readership (Ellora's Cave). Suddenly, mainstream women's publishing wanted in on this obvious market, and started publishing anthologies and novels that would have once made some of these prissy women's fiction editors blush.

So, quite suddenly, there is a real market, for well-written erotica novels featuring women in sexual situations.

About a year and a half ago, I started looking for these writers and I took on about ten of them hoping that my then-assistant would want to take them on under my supervision. When I offered her the gig, she told me she didn't want to be an agent, explaning "you work too hard." So I was stuck with ten new clients in addition to all my existing clients.

I've sold most of those writers' work. But I have many other writers (from anthologies and the wonderful world of blogs) who I would like to work with, if I could only find the time.

Enter my Erotica Intern. She found me from both my blog and my reputation and wants to do nothing more than work with erotica writers.

So, if you have a memoir and/or a novel, or you have a short story track record and wonder if you can be developed into the long form, send me an email titled "erotica intern" and I'll pass it on to her. Or if you know someone who should be writing their memoir and/or erotic novel.

Saturday, February 9, 2008

Further Adventures of 1099's

So I finally mailed out all the 1099's last week, thinking they should be mistake-free.

And the 1099's from the publishers started rolling in to me. One of them caught my attention because it was in a brown envelope - I was secretly hoping it was a surprise check for my author - but when I opened it, not only did they have the wrong mailing address, but the amount they had paid me was also twice what I had sent to my author. I knew this because I had been working on the 1099's so long and hard that I could recite the amounts by heart.

I checked my deposits and checks written to make sure I didn't make a mistake, but, no, there was only one check to this author in the amount I had written down.

I called the company first thing in the morning and told them that I thought there was a mistake. They called me back and told me they had sent two checks, gave me the check numbers and dates, and I frantically went through four months of bank statements, but there was no second deposit and no second check to the author. I asked them to make sure both checks were deposited in my bank account.

I had an early lunch and an afternoon appointment, so I was out of the office all day. When I got back, there was no message.

I got a phone call in the morning saying they would overnight me the second check and change the 1099. It turned out that Fed Ex never delivered one and never reported it undelivered or returned it to sender.

I am so thankful that I was on top of this, or my author would have been out some money, although I do wish he had been more like all my other authors and emailed asking, "where's my check." I would have caught it sooner. So, the moral of this story is DO email your agent when you believe a check is due.

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

1099's, Superbowl and Super Tuesday

It's been a busy two weeks, which is why I haven't posted.

I'm sure very few of you were aware that last week was the time when agents mail out their authors' 1099's (the W-2's of non-employee compensation). This is always more work than I anticipate.

Years ago we used to have to buy forms with built-in carbons and type them all, but now everything is computerized and saved from the year before, which does make it much easier. Except that the agent still has to remember who moved, changed their name or had a mistake in last year's form that needs to be changed this year.

And, of course, there are always one or two writers who haven't given me their Social Security Number or Federal I.D. number (for a business), and wait until the last minute to return my frantic emails and phone calls about this discrepancy.

But they are all done and in the mail now and I have a month to hear if there are any mistakes (from typos to under and/or over-reporting) and then they go off to the government.

Needless to say this is not one of my favorite tasks, and even though I have an accountant who does most of the work, I am so used to doing it myself (and know how to) that I always find mistakes before they go out.

I was also just overwhlemed by the Superbowl, although I am not a big football fan. The Yankees take so much out of me during the season, that I feel I need a break after October (and I put all that extra time into reading your books). However, I am a New Yorker, and it was such a hard-earned win that I almost went to the ticker tape parade (and then thought better of it - I have lived in New York City my whole life and never been to Times Square on New Year's Eve, so I obviously don't like the winter crowd thing). I just put the TV on while I worked yesterday.

And it was Super Tuesday, a very weird phenomenon - to have so many states voting in a half-national primary. And to have so many Democratic voters so split. But it's also great to see so many young voters particpating in the process. It's going to be a very interesting Democratic convention.

Plus, in case any of you don't read the non-Britney gossip, Judith Regan settled her lawsuit with HarperCollins. She was given an undisclosed amount (probably the remainder of her contract) and a statement that said, in effect, she did not make the anti-semitic remarks that were the so-called reason for her firing.

People ask me what I think she'll do (because I had two books with her I am now considered an expert). But here's my two cents on that. I think she's perfect for Hollywood and will take her settlement and start a production company.