Friday, March 14, 2014

Sub Club and The Greatest Moment EVER

Okay, I know I've hyped up Sub Club like it's some super secret thing that might result in my disappearance if I'm caught talking about it. The first rule of Sub Club is still that you do not talk about being in Sub Club ... while you're on sub. For those of you asking "What the heck is Sub Club?", it's a term coined for that special stretch of time after you have an agent but don't yet have a book deal. It's when your manuscript is on the desks of 7 to 15 editors and you start to think, "Wait, this feels just like querying." (You might be thinking other things too.) (But you already know how I feel about the comparison devil.)

There are some differences. You'll still have to wait to hear back from editors who have lives, other responsibilities, and other manuscripts ahead of yours to read. You'll still get rejections. There will still be stretches of silence you can do nothing about. But this time around, you have a superstar agent who's got your back and knows exactly when she/he needs to nudge and exactly the right things to say. AND, if you're a huge chicken like me, you don't have to SEE your rejection letters if you don't want to. Your agent can store them away in an Excel sheet, a file you'll tuck away on your computer in a folder called "This Business Is Subjective."

I'm not going to talk about the anxiousness that comes with being on sub. I think you can imagine it comes with some inherent nerves, and the longer you're on sub, the stronger those nerves get. I'm here to tell you what actually happens.

First, your agent should send you a list of the editors and houses she/he has in mind for your book for the first round of submissions.* If you've met an editor at a conference or workshop that you think would be a good fit, now is a good time to bring that up. If your agent sends you a generic "We're on sub!" email without this list included, request one for your records. (If nothing else, you deserve to freak out over the names on that list.)
*This submission strategy will vary from agent to agent. Many agents do "rounds" of submissions. If you don't sell to the first ten editors, you'll regroup with your agent, make changes based on your rejections, and then sub to a second set. And possibly a third.

Then your pitch goes out. Depending on your agent, how long she's been in the biz, and her relationship with each editor, your full could be attached to that very first email. I've also read cases where it's more like querying: the agent sends the pitch and waits for a request. Either way ...

... You wait. Sometimes you wait four days. Sometimes you wait more than a year and go through several rounds of editor submissions. Sometimes you don't sell and you write another book that possibly becomes a NYT bestselling series, like Marie Lu and LEGEND. Really it doesn't matter which path you take, because in the end you glance at your phone during lunch and see a missed call from your agent and an email with the subject line: CALL ME CALL ME

And you call. And it's an offer.

After you Gangnam Style down the hallway, your agent will gleefully nudge any editors who are still considering your manuscript, and you could potentially go to auction if more than one house wants you. Alternatively, the offer could be a preempt, meaning the house puts up an attractive advance and gives you a short time frame to accept - sometimes as short as an hour - with the goal of snatching you up before other houses have a chance to offer. Your agent will negotiate your advance, royalties, and rights (i.e. audio, translation, etc). Agent Kristin Nelson has an amazing post series called Agenting 101 that explains the different rights and key clauses in your contract, if you want to read more. That link will take you to just the first post; others are listed in the dropdown on the right-hand side of her blog.

And that is a tiny snapshot of what happens behind the scenes between revisions and Your Book Deal.

This concludes my "After the Agent" series. New posts to follow in seriesless abandon.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

(Not So) Guilty Pleasures

Story addict and blogger Kelly Johnson asked, "What are five of your guiltiest pleasures?"

Over on her blog, My Countless Lives, I declare my unabashed love of neon socks, DiCaprio, and other things I may regret admitting publicly down the road.

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