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I woke up this morning to the astonishing news that Amazon.com has stopped selling all titles from Macmillan , the sixth largest publisher in America.  I learned  about this first on Frances Dinkenspiel's blog, Ghost Word.  Frances is a Macmillan author.   According to an article in The New York...
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The Schnookie DealWhat I like most about being a literary agent is the serendipitous way in which my projects seem to find me. Take, for instance, The Schnookie Deal by Ted Sherman and Josh Margolin.  North American rights were acquired last December  by Saint Martin's Press. On  July 23 of last...
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The Slush Pile Let us consider the slush pile. David Patterson, a senior editor at Henry Holt, whose taste in books I admire greatly, sent me an article from The Wall Street Journal online entitled: "The Death of the Slushpile." Way back when, the slush pile was an uncomplimentary term...
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Death and Life of Great American Cities
I used to do a lot of public speaking, and in some pretty big venues, too. I  also seemed to be on a lot of  media people's rolodexes (yes, that is what they had back then). When they needed a quote about the virtue of local business or "bricks and mortar" stores, they could always get a...
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  Nobody is going to want to hear this, but we might as well face up. One of these days, not too far off, bookstores will be a thing of the past. Books are going digital just like music has gone digital. Right now e-book purchases constitute less than 2% of  all book sales. But while  sales of...
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Bill Clinton at Cody's
Bill Clinton's book signing at Cody's on June 29, 2004  was the biggest event that we ever had, both in attendance and in the number of books sold. Cody's had been doing events for a long time. I bought the store in 1977. Even then, events were a fixture at  Cody's.  During the time I owned the...
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Sometimes I love this job and feel like I'm really doing something great for the world. Today I'm going to interview Peter Rudiak-Gould, author  of of Surviving Paradise: One Year on a Disappearing Island published in November  by Union Square Press.  When I was just getting started as an agent, I...
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Rushdie and Cody's
Last week I wrote about my experience at Cody's during the Rushdie Affair in 1989.  It didn't really end the day the bomb went off. The melodrama continued for months, both in my life and in the  book world. After the bomb squad detonated the bomb in the store, I hung around for the rest of the day...
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Rushdie and I
On February 28, 1989, Cody's was bombed. I remember being awakened by the police who informed me that a fire bomb had been thrown through the window of Cody's. The fire department had broken into the store putting out the fire. The firemen's efforts at containment did considerably more damage than...
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Most people think of book deals as just that: a author gets paid by a publisher to publish his/her book. But it is a little more complicated than that. The book deal is a  negotiation that includes, not just how much the author will get paid, but  also what "subsidiary rights" will be...
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Almost all publisher contracts pay authors through a system of royalties, a certain defined percentage of revenue based upon sales of the contracted book. The concept is simple, but it can get quite complicated in practice. Let's talk about the different formulas that publishers use in calculating...
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Everyone in America is asking today what was Sarah Palin's advance for her book, Going Rogue. We can't say for sure, but we can calculate a range by applying some reasonable assumptions. Alaska reported that during the final six months of Palin's governorship she received a "retainer" of...
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I've been speaking to a lot of authors lately, successful ones who make their living writing. Some of them make a pretty good living. I'm finding that a lot of them don't really understand the economic fundamentals of publishing. They don't even understand the meaning of "the book deal" a...
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Chronicles of Narnia
A couple of months ago, I decided to read The Chronicles of Narnia to my seven year old daughter, Hayley. It was a test to see whether  she or I had the patience to read a book that was a masterpiece of children's literature and probably a little advanced for a girl of her age.. Actually we were...
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This is a continuation of our interview with Alan Rinzler. Two weeks ago, we discussed his legendary life as an editor and publisher over the last 45 years. Alan continues to be a freelance developmental editor, one of the best.  Since I often tell people that they need a freelance editor, I...
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