Sunday, May 22, 2011


We received this note and  now we are passing it along to all of you because we care, and we hope you do too!

"Hi everyone,

I’ve gotten sick of reading the bookstore obituaries in the publishing news, so I’m starting a viral campaign to get people, on one day, to go buy books from their local bookstore. Might not end up changing the tides, but it’s something small I can do and I’m getting a good response so far. Here are the details for you to pass on to your friends/family/fellow booklovers:

Who: You and all the book-lovers in your life
When: June 25th, the first Saturday of Summer!
Where: Your local bookstore
Why: Because bookstores are dropping like flies and we want them to stay alive

Thanks for passing this along to whomever you think would want to get on board.


Kelly Sonnack
Andrea Brown Literary Agency

Prefer to read on your *!*%$ (I left out a blank, blank word from Bailey) Walmazart Kindle? Then buy a book for a book-lover you know!

Mark your calendars! DO IT!"

You heard the lady - Just DO IT!

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Liberty Media Offers to Buy Barnes & Noble

After an investigation of strategic options begun by Barnes & Noble's board last summer, today after the close of the market the company announced an offer from a prospective buyer. The special committee of the board charged with evaluating offers said that John Malone's Liberty Media has offered $17 per share in cash to acquire control of the company. But "the proposal states that it is contingent on the participation of founding chairman Leonard Riggio, both in terms of his continuing equity ownership and his continuing role in management." The committee says it "will evaluate this proposal" along with financial advisors Lazard Freres.

Last October Riggio said he "remains open and flexible towards any solution which is good for all stockholders." At the time he reaffirmed, "...should an interested investor or group of investors desire me to be part of a group, I will consider such participation, and if I decide to participate with any investor or group, I will negotiate in good faith on matters of governance and control. It is not necessary for me to be the controlling shareholder of such a group."

The announcement is preliminary--the company "cautions" that "the proposal from Liberty Media has not yet been evaluated by the special committee and its advisors." And they do "not intend to comment further regarding this proposal or the company’s evaluation of strategic alternatives, unless a specific transaction is recommended."

But shares jumped in after-market trading on the news, rising almost 19 percent to 16.73 after closing regular trading at $14.11 per share. While it's a little premature, it's pretty clear the market believes this is the beginning of bidding for the bookseller, not the end, with the expectation of higher offers to come. (Barnes & Noble is heavily shorted as well, so an offer like this will drive the price up quickly as those shorts get covered.) Ron Burkle, the single largest holder of Barnes & Noble stock after Riggio with just under 20 percent of the company's shares, purchased most of that block at $20 a share and above. In testimony last July in his campaign to overturn the company's poison pill plan, Burkle had testified that he considered--but then decided against--making his own offer for the company at $25 a share.

The stock has been on a roller-coaster of sentiment, rising to almost $19 a share in February as Borders was heading to bankruptcy, and crashing to historic lows of $8.77 a share less than two months later, before climbing back in May, helped by reports of a new ereader announcement for next week. (As previously disclosed, I bought shares back recently, and still hold most of those purchases.)

Liberty Media is a conglomerate and investment vehicle which owns Starz and QVC and substantial online and ecommerce companies among other things.

*From an article in Publisher's Lunch

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Traditional Book Output Up 5%; Nontraditional Soars

Despite the belief in many quarters that the growth of e-books will mean the death of the printed book, the number of books produced by traditional publishers rose 5% in 2010, to a projected 316,480, according to preliminary figures released Wednesday morning from R. R. Bowker. That number, however, is dwarfed by the growth in output of nontraditional titles, which jumped 169% to 2,766,260. As Bowker notes, the majority of nontraditional titles consists largely or print-on-demand editions of public domain titles. Self-published titles are also included in the figure. Based on the preliminary figures, the combination of traditional and nontraditional books totaled a projected 3,092,740 in 2010, up 132% from 2010.
Similar to trends in 2009, growth among the traditional categories in 2010 was led by the information segments with title output in the computer segment up 51%, science 37% and technology 35%. Segments more more dependent on disposable income had the largest declines in the year with production down in literature (29%) poetry (15%), history (12%), and biography (12%). Production of fiction titles fell 3%, but at 47,392 it still remained the largest segment.
Nontraditional output was dominated by largely reprint houses of public domain titles. BiblioBazaar produced a staggering 1,461,918 books with ISBN numbers last year, followed by General Books, which did 744,376 books, and Kessinger Publishing with 462,480 books. The self-publisher companies were topped by CreateSpace at 34,243, followed by Lulu at 11,127. Two AuthorSolutions divisions were next—Xlibris at 10,680, and AuthorHouse, which produced 8,502 books. 
The juvenile category was the largest segment after fiction and production fell 1%, to 32,638 titles; sociololgy/economics production increased 8%, to 28,991, while the 37% increase in science production put output at 21,414. Religion was in fifth spot with 19,793 titles, a drop of 4%.
Since 2002, the production of traditional books as increased 47%, while nontraditional titles rose 8,460%.
*from PW Daily

Monday, May 16, 2011

So you've finished your first draft, now what?

I recently got an email from a writer who had just finished their first draft of a novel. Some friends had read it and recommended they try and get it published. They wrote to me asking if I could give them a few suggestions on how to go about it. What made me really love their email was this-they also asked me what sorts of things they should avoid! YAY!

Here was my reply:

Where to start?

Edit, edit edit! Then when you think you're done, hire a professional editor to go over it again!

While you're doing those edits, spend some time figuring out who your target audience is. Age, what they read, what they like. You will need to be conversant on this when you pitch your story to an agent or publisher. It will also help you narrow the field when you are researching agents/publishers. You will want one that is successful at approaching this audience. It sounds simple, but this can take some real time and thought.

When you have an idea of your audience you can start checking out LMP (Literary Market Place). You can sign up online for it, or most larger libraries will have the latest copy in their reference section. Now is where you start looking for an agent/publisher. Another good tool is the latest edition of Writer's Market.

Things you will need before you ever send out your first query:

A short marketing hook - statement/plan for your book. Who is it aimed at and why will they want to buy it? How will you participate in this plan.

They will want to know if you have:
A website/blog, a twitter account and Facebook page. If you don't have all of these , now's the time to get them set up and start reaching out to that future audience of yours! What online chat groups (related to your book/genre) do you participate in?

You will need an outline of the book, and a synopsis (no more than 300 words) of the story. Don't worry about giving away endings - they want to know how and what happens in the story before they commit to read it. They deal with hundreds of submissions a month and have no time to waste on trying to guess whether your story is worth further investigation. They'll just skip on to someone else. It's best to prepare both of these as some will want one, some the other.

A brief bio - 2-4 sentences tops. Here's your chance to shine-include the writing groups you belong to, magazines/books that have published your articles-generally anything that helps them get a sense of what you bring to the table.

A complete manuscript that includes a VERY polished first 5 chapters. In all likelihood they will ask that you send the first 3-5 chapters with your query letter. Make sure you have a professional editor go over your manuscript with a fine tooth comb BEFORE you start the query process. (I know I said that before, but it bears repeating!) Agents/Editors who see too many grammatical errors, misspellings, or misused words will quickly file your letter in the round file (trash).

And please don't say things like 'all my friends (or family) love it'. Friends and family are rarely objective and are already a guaranteed sale. And unless your brother or sister is the Book Reviewer at the New York Times, agents/editors just don't care.

When your ready to write that query letter at last, stop and do some more research. Books like How To Write a Bulletproof Query can be a great help.

Hope this helps.
Good luck!

Oh, and if/when that first rejection letter rolls in - check this list of famous authors and how many rejection letters they got before they sold their first story!

Monday, May 2, 2011

And the Winners are . . .

We had over 200 entries in our competition and we'd like to thank all of them for participating. It was a tough job for our judges, but they persevered and have chosen what they feel are the ten best submissions. The lucky ten authors will have their stories included in the upcoming Mystery Times Ten.

All winners of our 2011 Mystery Times Ten YA Short Story Competition will

Two (2) copies of the finished book and the opportunity to “fast track” their next Young Adult or Middle Grade manuscript with our Editorial staff

And they are:

Johanna Harness for her story Cherry Bomb

Jessica Souders for her story Toothless

Kirsty Logan for her story Sea of Trees 

Elyse Dinh-McCrillis for her story Submerged

Kathleen Sprayberry for her story Falsely Accused

Barb Goffman for her story Truth and Consequences

Melanie Cummins for her story Frost 

AND the Top Three Winners are:
  • The THIRD PLACE winner who will also receive a $75 Gift Card, featured placement in the book, and a Buddhapuss Ink tote filled with swag is Addie King for her story Poltergeist on Aisle Fourteen.

  • The SECOND PLACE winner who will also receive a $100 Gift Card, featured placement in the book, and a Buddhapuss Ink tote filled with swag is Wendy Sparrow for her story Passing Notes.

AND a drum roll please!

  • The FIRST PLACE winner who will also receive a NEW Kindle, featured placement in the book, and a Buddhapuss Ink tote filled with swag is Cecilia Dominic for her story The Coral Temple.
Congratulations to all our winners and a huge thanks to our Judges:

YA Book Blogger Panel:

  • Danielle Smith, aka The1stdaughter from the children's book review site There's A Book, is a reader, reviewer and writer of books of all varieties.
  • Gina Reba - Gina is the "insatiable reader" behind the site, Satisfaction for Insatiable Readers.  Gina is an avid book reader, reviewer, and general lover of the written word.
  • Kristina Guidroz - Kris also known as the Cajun Book Lady where she reviews her favorite genres young adult, paranormal/fantasy, romance, and horror.
YA Teen Panel
  • Caleb G 
  • Connor M
  • Katy H
  • Jessica G
  • Madison M 
 And our fantastic Editorial Review Panel

  • Erica Sommer Karcher - Erica works for Baker & Taylor's Children's and Teens Services and writes reviews for Visual Bookshelf
  • Joan Apgar - Joan worked for a major book wholesaler for 26 years, 15 of those as a Children's and YA Book Buyer.
  • Ellen Myrick - Ellen has over two decades experience in the Children's and YA book field and runs Myrick Marketing & Media LLC.  
 We will have much more about our Judges and our winners in the book and on our website soon. Let's have a round of applause for them all!