Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Some Houses Have Stopped Buying Any More Books

HMH Places "Temporary" Halt on Acquisitions

By Rachel Deahl --
Publishers Weekly, 11/24/2008 12:54:00 PM

It’s been clear for months that it will be a not-so-merry holiday season for publishers, but at least one house has gone so far as to halt acquisitions. PW has learned that Houghton Mifflin Harcourt has asked its editors to stop buying books.

Josef Blumenfeld, v-p of communications for HMH, confirmed that the publisher has “temporarily stopped acquiring manuscripts” across its trade and reference divisions. The directive was given verbally to a handful of executives and, according to Blumenfeld, is “not a permanent change.” Blumenfeld, who hedged on when the ban might be lifted, said that the right project could still go to the editorial review board. He also maintained that the the decision is less about taking drastic measures than conducting good business.

“In this case, it’s a symbol of doing things smarter; it’s not an indicator of the end of literature,” he said. “We have turned off the spigot, but we have a very robust pipeline.” The action by the highly leveraged HMH may also be as much about the company's need to cut costs in a tight credit market.as about the current economic slowdown.

While Blumenfeld dismissed the severity of the policy, a number of agents said they have never heard of a publisher going so far as to instruct its editors to stop acquiring. “I’ve been in the business a long time and at a couple of houses I worked at, when things were bad, we were asked to cut back,” said agent Jonathon Lazear. “But I’ve never heard of anything so public.” Lazear added that, in the past two weeks, business has been more “sluggish” than it had been all year.

Another agent who had also heard about the no-acquisitions policy at HMH called the move “very scary” and said it's indicative of an industry climate worse than any he’s ever seen.

Thus far one agent has confirmed that at least one of his manuscripts has been declined at HMH per the policy. But perhaps an editor at the house put it best; in an e-mail, the editor mentioned the policy and added, “Who knows what’s next.”

Saturday, November 22, 2008

My Son Has Started a Writer's Blog for Young Writers

My son surprised me this summer by informing me he was 220 pages into a fantasy novel. He has been working diligently on it, and on world building, and has now started his own blog about the writing, editing and selling process, http://maxximenez.livejournal.com/. It is aimed at other young writers, as well as first time authors.

Please encourage him, give him links to helpful sites, and make him feel part of the writing community.

I have not read his novel, but I have put him in touch with good writing friends who are guiding him.

I will not represent him, but I will lead him to the right people.

This should be a very interesting experience.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

In Love with Audio Books Now Too

So, you all know that I have been having a wild and lurid affair with my Sony eReader since I got it a few months ago? Instead of taking 13 books on vacation with me at the end of the summer, I took the eReader and 13 manuscripts!

I'm driving back and forth to Beverly, MA every 10 days or so (the bus, while as cheap as $1 each way for either the Megabus or the Boltbus, just doesn't seem to work for me because the travel time involved from my home to Penn Station and from Boston to Beverly adds too much time to the trip). I've heard my favorite Beatles and Zeppelin and Springsteen CD's endlessly for the 3 1/2 hour drive. So I decided on audio books.

And I'm in love.

I listened to Stephen King's new short story collection on the last two round trips, and was just thrilled.

Then I realized that I can re-read my favorite books this way.

I used to read Dracula, 1984 and Alice in Wonderland every year, but haven't had the time since I've been working in publishing. Now, I can't wait to hear Dracula read to me while I'm heading up I-95.

And I can order just about anything I want through the New York Pubic Library service.

Also can't wait to listen to Gone with the Wind again.

Who ever thought I'd be looking forward to these long drives?

Monday, November 17, 2008

Jenny Rappaport to Start her Own Agency

Lori Perkins and Jenny Rappaport would like to announce that they are amicably parting ways, and that Jenny will be leaving the L. Perkins Agency to start her own literary agency, The Rappaport Agency.

After a mutually successful two and a half year business relationship, Lori and Jenny have found that their agenting interests are taking them in different directions. The L. Perkins Agency will continue to focus on erotica and chick lit, horror and pop culture, while The Rappaport Agency will specialize in science fiction and fantasy, as well as YA, and romance.

Speculative fiction has always been Jenny’s passion, and she is pleased to be able to take her work with it to the next level.

Marsha Philitas has been promoted to senior literary agent at the L. Perkins Agency.

Lori Perkins’ Blog: http://agentinthemiddle.blogspot.com
The Rappaport Agency website: http://www.rappaportagency.com
Marsha Philitas’ Blog: http://lifestyleagent.wordpress.com

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

The View from Here

It's not all doom and gloom - my film agent put together a really good movie deal for a YA Vampire series - and I am expecting to close on a multi-book deal that could make one of my authors a branded name in her field. But, other than that, the only things that seem to be selling are YA and erotic romance, and even that is slower (Harlequin just called today and asked if they could wait a month to make an offer on an option book that they'd already had two months.)

Meanwhile, one of the houses I've been doing business with called to tell me they just let go of three editors, so things will be a little slower. And a multi-book deal that I was negotiating just got delayed until the house can re-evaluate market trends.

It's getting cold out there!

But I leave for the Florida Writer's conference in the morning, so maybe that will warm my bones?