How to Write a Novel; Russia Bans Gay Gathering For Holocaust Victims

How to Write a Novel

I don’t usually post about non-fic books like this, but I’m doing it this time partly because there aren’t many good books out there like it and partly because it’s a self-published book authored by former literary agent, Nathan Bransford. Bransford is also a long time blogger and the author of a middle grade book series, and the unusual thing about his blog is that it has continued to be just as popular even after he decided to pursue a professional writing career and leave agenting.

Speaking as a blogger now, the reason why that’s so unusual is literary agent blogs usually receive many hits because so many unpubbed writers want to snag a literary agent. The readers want something from the blogger. This makes sense. It’s not easy to snag an agent or a book deal in trad publishing and connecting with an agent through a blog makes writers feel closer to their goals. In other words, the odds are these same literary agent blogs wouldn’t be as popular if the bloggers weren’t literary agents. And Bransford has proven that it is possible to continue to draw a large audience as a blogger without having anything to offer them other than good blog posts that range from writing tips to personal conversations about life, books, and objective criticism. As a blogger, I know how hard that is to do.

In any event, I haven’t read How to Write a Novel yet, but I’m going to buy it later tonight just so I have something to use as a point of reference when I need to prove/discuss something here on my blog. There’s one other non-fic book I loved, also written by a literary agent, Noah Lukeman, I still refer to often when I’m about to submit a novel to a publisher. And from what I’ve read through excerpts and early reviews, it looks like Bransford’s new book just might wind up becoming a staple for other writers for many years to come. But more important, Bransford’s book is priced at $4.99.

You can read excerpts at Bransford’s blog, here. And this is the Amazon page where you can purchase it. I’m sure it will be distributed at Smashwords and other places where digital books are sold as well. Although the book cover isn’t anything elaborate, if you’ve been following Bransford’s blog for any length of time you know orange is his favorite color.

Russia Bans Gay Gathering For Holocaust Victims

I still shudder when I think about the Holocaust, especially when I think about how many gays were persecuted during that time. The millions of lives lost should never have happened, and it wouldn’t have happened if the world had been paying closer attention to what the Nazis were doing, and taking aggressive action against it.

Upon the rise of Adolf Hitler, gay men and, to a lesser extent, lesbians, were two of the numerous groups targeted by the Nazi Party and were ultimately among Holocaust victims. Beginning in 1933, gay organizations were banned, scholarly books about homosexuality, and sexuality in general, were burned, and homosexuals within the Nazi Party itself were murdered. The Gestapo compiled lists of homosexuals, who were compelled to sexually conform to the “German norm.”

And now when I read about what’s happening in Russia to gays it gets even more frightening. The other day I read something about Putin welcoming gays to Russia for the Olympics. But after reading this next article I can’t help but wonder how welcome gays really are in Russia and I think the call to boycott the Olympics is more important than ever. I’ve written a series of post on this, here. As you can see from those posts I’m not the only one who feels this way…aside from Johnny Weir who thinks sports is more important than lives. He makes me shudder, too.

Russia recently banned a gay gathering that was organized to pay tribute and honor to LGBT people who were persecuted and were victims of Nazi Germany. And in banning this gathering the Russian government has sent a message to the world and it’s infuriated gay activists.

But the authorities rejected the application, saying paying tribute to gay victims of Nazi Germany could potentially ‘influence’ children on homosexuality.

Nikolai Alekseev, founder of Moscow Pride, said: ‘The Moscow authorities are becoming increasingly absurd, and the ba of the rally to denounce the crimes of Hitler and Nazism is more proof of this.

‘The government is approving of Nazi Germany’s genocidal policies.’

In an even more homophobic hate oriented move, it’s been alleged the Russian government has banned all gay gatherings.

You can read more here.

If I Were Paula Deen’s Literary Agent

If I Were Paula Deen’s Literary Agent

There has been a great deal written and discussed about television personality and cookbook author, Paula Deen, in the past two weeks. And one of the things I was watching closely was what would happen with her upcoming cookbook with Random House, and how Deen’s literary agent would react.

In spite of how much I hate the N-word, and anything even remotely related to racism, I’ve tried to remain objective while posting about Paula Deen. And this post is strictly about books and publishing and I’m not offering any subjective comments now on Deen’s situation. But since this is a publishing related post and it deals with Deen’s cookbook, I did want to comment on Random House canceling her book.

Random House has canceled the publication of Paula Deen’s upcoming cookbook Paula Deen’s New Testament, as well as four other cookbooks Deen was on contract to write with imprint Ballantine, the publishing house announced in a statement Friday.

Random House was not the first to break ties with Deen, but they certainly did wait until almost the very end to see how things were going to play out. I’ve also read they allegedly may have canceled her books partly because major retail outlets have severed ties with Deen this past week, which basically means they might be worried they won’t have a place to sell the books once they are published. That’s only hearsay, and no one really knows if that’s a fact so I’m not linking to anything related to that. And it doesn’t even make sense to me because I’ve also read that Deen’s unpubbed cookbook rose to number one on Amazon last week because so many people wanted to show their support to Deen. And the fact is that people are supporting her in spite of how many companies are dropping her.

The book was scheduled for release in October, and in recent days pre-orders have raised it to No. 1 on the online bookseller’s sales ranks. Her 2011 cookbook, “Paula Deen’s Southern Cooking Bible,” has risen to the second spot.

As an author, I know that Amazon accounts for a good deal of sales, and if someone can’t get something anywhere else they will go to Amazon…even if it’s a cookbook they can’t buy at Target or Wal-Mart. As a consumer I have done this many, many times when I’ve wanted something badly enough. As far as I know, Amazon has not refused to sell Deen’s books. At least I don’t think they have.

And if I were Paula Deen’s agent I would be looking out for the best interests of my client and doing what is right for my client. That’s what an agent does. I’m speaking strictly from a publishing POV right now. I’ve also been waiting to see what Deen’s agent would say about all this.

“I am confident that these books will be published and that we will have a new publisher,” Deen’s literary agent, Janis Donnaud, told the Associated Press.

Publishing is a business and agents work for/with authors. On a pragmatic level, no one can argue that point. Publishing is also about freedom of speech, whether you agree with what someone says or not. I find everything about what Alec Baldwin says repulsive, but I do think he has the right to say it. Evidently, there are many people who are supporting Deen, people of ALL races, who don’t think she got a fair deal. If that weren’t true the sales ranks on Amazon wouldn’t reflect these amazing numbers. And Deen’s agent can’t ignore that.

I wouldn’t be surprised if Deen’s agent didn’t advise her to self-publish the books. Other literary agents have found ways to work these things out as a partnership of sorts so there’s no conflict of interest. And it’s going to be interesting to see how this plays out. A publisher has every right to cancel a book if an author is in breach of contract for whatever reason (there are little clauses for things like this). But an author…any author…also has the right to get his/her books out to their readers as well. With all the options out there now for authors and literary agents, I think this might be just one more example in the future of another self-publishing success story.

Google Beats Apple; Win Internship with Joel Stein; Researching Agents

When compared to other Internet giants, Google seems to be the number one choice these days. According to this article, they beat out Apple, Amazon, and even Facebook.

A new poll by Washington Post-ABC News says that Google beats out Apple and Facebook when it comes to consumer sentiment. Eighty-five percent of American adults have a “favorable” view of Google compared to 72 percent for Apple and only 60 percent for Facebook. Apple dropped significantly with users under the age of 30 over the last year.

Before last year, it looked like Google was sliding. It had plain missed social and was mea culpa-ing all over the place about it. The stock was well off its highs, as everyone anticipated Facebook going public and grabbing the spotlight, at least when it came to investor and press enthusiasm. In fact, Facebook putting off its IPO for so long had inadvertently helped Google. There were only so many large cap, high growth stocks to invest in. In the Valley Google was looking dusty as well. TechCrunch well chronicled the outrageous cash bonuses the company was having to pay to keep engineers from defecting. Never exactly a sign of momentum. Word leaked that Page was having some serious Zuckerberg-envy. All signs pointed to Google succumbing to the natural cycle of Silicon Valley life.

The part about Apple losing people under the age of 30 is interesting. I’d like to see more surveys done to find out why that is. People under the age of 30 have a great deal of influence. They had a great deal of influence not more than six years ago. They helped elect the President of the US through online campaigning and contributions in ways that have never been seen or done before. Almost everyone I knew under the age of thirty thought Apple was God from heaven above. So why the switch now?

You can read more here.

Win an Internship with Author Joel Stein

This looks like it could be interesting. I’m half-tempted to make a bid myself because I’ve always been a fan of Stein’s column in Time Magazine. In fact, it’s the only reason I still get Time in print. Unfortunately, the thrills I’ll have this Sunday will be inteviewing potential new tenants for our rental apartment.

A one-day internship with TIME journalist and humor columnist Joel Stein. Spend this Sunday, June 9, 2013, working for Joel! He will buy you a mid-priced lunch and eat it with you. (He will also buy his own lunch; you won’t have to share yours.) You can work from his house in Los Angeles with him or work via Skype from your own home. There are decent odds he will yell at you and even greater odds that you’ll witness his 4-year-old son or wife yell at him.

You can bid here, and it looks simple enough to do. Another thing I’ve always liked about him is that in spite of the fact that he’s attractive he’s also self-effacing. And, the proceeds benefit Miss a Meal, which is an organization becoming increasingly more important in the US.

I would have used a photo of Joel Stein for this post, but he’s not in wiki commons and I don’t want to get into copyright issues with anyone. But there’s a photo of him at the link I provided.

Researching Literary Agents

It’s nice to link to an article about literary agents this time. And even though this one is kind of boiler plate I think the topics mentioned are important and I’m linking to it because it’s good information.

If you ask an agent what’s the number one reason they reject a query letter, most will say the same thing: The author pitched a genre that I don’t represent. So my first order of business was to define my book. OH BOY fits into several categories: nonfiction, humor and parenting. When I set out to find an agent, I focused mainly on the nonfiction and humor angles. This narrowed my search, giving me an opportunity to examine each agent more thoroughly before shipping off my queries.

This isn’t always as simple as it sounds. I’ve had books published that crossed genres, but the books have always been classified under “Gay Fiction,” no matter what the content was. Booksellers…online and in stores…do this so customers know how to shop. With a literary agents it’s a little different, and many times if the agent likes your work the agent will help you classify the genre when it’s time to shop the book. I always found the best way to see if a work is right for an agent is to research the agent’s past clients and the books they’ve sold to publishers. And that information is probably the easiest to find online nowadays. It wasn’t always like that. Up until agents had web sites you relied on ads and listings in HUGE print books like “Writer’s Market.” I do NOT miss those days.

You can read more here.

Literary Agent Evan Gregory; Free Excerpt: Daddy Knows Best; New Release

The reason I’m posting about a new literary agent, Even Gregory, is because he wrote a post in March that actually talks about e-publishing, e-publishers, and royalties. To say I’m stunned is an understatement. Most literary agent blogs never even acknowledge the fact that e-publishers exist. Not all. Lori Perkins has been talking about e-publishing for years now, and so have a few others. But I rarely see e-publishers mentioned anywhere else in spite of the fact that e-publishers pioneered digital publishing as we know it today, they paved the digital path for agents and authors and big publishers and never get an ounce of credit, and, more important, they’ve been entertaining avid readers for a decade now. I read my first digital books from e-publishers on my PC in 2002.

In any event, Evan Gregory wrote a brilliant post about royalties, e-publishers, and advances. He gets into the pros and cons, and he gives excellent examples.

The royalty-only model is, as mentioned by John, not a new model, but its rise in the digital book world is not surprising, nor should its adoption by the larger publishers for the purposes of creating their own low-overhead imprints be necessarily surprising either. The model was born out of desperation by upstart e-publishers who didn’t have the initial capital to pay out advances. Even before the rise in popularity of self-publishing, they needed an arrow in their quiver to convince authors to write for them, rather than focus their efforts elsewhere. That arrow was a higher than average royalty, and in some circumstances flexibility on the rights retained by the author. 

You can read more here. I’ve worked for publishers who have used the royalty only model, and I’ve been paid advances. (I’ve also been paid flat fees.) I’ve been fine with all. If you get an advance, you have to earn out before you get any royalties. If you get only royalties you get paid for how many books you sell anyway. Either way you’re going to make money if people read the book, so for me one thing just cancels out the other. In fact, one of the biggest worries I’ve always had was making sure I earned out with each book when I was paid an advance. I have always done this, too. But I know authors who haven’t and that really sucks.

Evan Gregory’s blog is called, Flaubert’s Pyramid, and he seems to be all over the place in social media. He’s affiliated with the Ethan Ellenberg Literary Agency and you can read more about him there. I would imagine he’s at BEA right now and he’ll be posting more about his experiences there in the coming weeks. I’m not sure about how he deals with queries or how he takes on clients, but I’m sure that information is out there somewhere. I’ve always found agentquery most helpful.

It’s nice to see someone fresh and new in the arena. It’s also nice to see a literary agent actually giving new authors all the advice they need, not just the advice that works for the agent. This, I believe, is the agent of the future.

New Release: Daddy Knows Best

My German editor with Bruno Gmunder Publishing e-mailed me yesterday about a new release date for the upcoming anthology I’m part of titled, Daddy Knows Best. The actual release date is July 10, 2013, and I’ll be posting more about that in the future. But I wanted to post a free excerpt today for anyone who might be interested in reading something different over the weekend.

The title of my story is Ring My Bells, and it’s never been published anywhere before…even though a hard copy version had been sitting in my files for fifteen years. This is the raw unedited version, and I did have to censor a few things because this blog is rated PG. But nothing more than a line or two, and the set-up to the storyline begins here.

About a year ago the telephone wasn’t working. No dial tone at all; just a soft beep sound when I pressed the talk button, and the small screen lighting up pale green for a couple of seconds. There had been severe thunderstorms the night before, but the electricity hadn’t gone out and there didn’t seem to be any wires down on the property.  Maybe it just had to be re-set, I thought. Unplug the cord and plug it back in a half hour later. I remembered that had happened once before, after I’d left the phone off the hook for a while.

            But after leaving it unplugged for a half hour it still wasn’t working when I re-set it. So with the telephone in my hand, I went down to the basement to see if everything was connected correctly. Attached to wooden beams, I found red, blue, white and black wires all screwed tightly to where they should be screwed. Everything seemed fine. And then I noticed a phone line going to the burglar alarm system, with phone jack at the base of a one square foot, locked metal box. I hesitantly unplugged the phone cord from the alarm box (I hate to touch things I don’t understand), pushed the talk button on the phone and I immediately had a dial tone. The problem, evidently, was with the alarm system; not the telephone.

            It only took one phone call to the alarm company for them to tell me they knew the problem well and they’d send someone out to fix it that day. A surge protector, so they said, had burned out during the severe thunderstorms. Not a big deal was how they’d put it, and as long as I didn’t plug the phone back into the alarm it would work perfectly normal. The same thing had happened to several other homes in my area, so they’d said.

            This all happened very early in the morning, before I’d had time for my ritual workout routine. Though I work at home for the most part, I’m usually up at five thirty or six every day so I can cram an hour workout into the day with weights and cardio. I’m usually dressed, showered and shaved by eight and seated in front of the computer no later than eight-thirty. I’d assumed the alarm guy wouldn’t show up until sometime that afternoon; they usually make you wait all day. So I ran a half hour on the treadmill and then did another half hour with free weights. This routine was strenuous, and often dull; but the workouts kept my waist at size thirty, my chest popping at forty-two inches and my ass hard and firm. The small of my back, which is deeply curved (more so when I arch my back on purpose), is what guys always said they liked most about my body. At twenty-five years old, I like to think that what I do now as exercise will benefit me in the future when things begin change.  

            But that’s also the ironic part about me. I’m usually more attracted to men with silver in their hair, a few lines on their faces, and mature looks. I’ve been known to go weak in the knees for men who have slight middle age paunches. I think men reach their sexiest point around age forty and it keeps getting better as they approach their late fifties. Why I once jumped in between a couple of men in their sixties just to see what it would be like for both of them to tackle me.

            I’m not sure why, but if there is a good looking guy in his twenties or thirties in the room, and a good looking guy in his forties or fifties in the same room, I go out of my way to make eye contact with the older instead of the younger. And it’s always been that way, ever since I was three years old and I used to sit on Uncle Joe’s lap. He would bounce me up and down, thinking nothing of it. And I would get a thrill deep in my body I couldn’t explain at the time. When I kissed him hello or good-bye, I made sure I rubbed my cheek against his rough beard on purpose.

            In any event, somewhere between seven-thirty and eight that morning, as I was stepping out of the shower, the doorbell rang. Knowing it had to be the alarm guy, and wanting to have the problem fixed, I haphazardly dried myself off, pulled on a pair of jeans and ran to answer the door in my bare feet. As I recall, they were faded, loose fitting jeans, which hung slightly below my waistline. I didn’t think twice about not wearing a shirt or having wet hair. It wasn’t a fashion show and I didn’t really give a damn how I looked. At least not until I opened the door and noticed the expression of shock on the repair man’s face, as I stood there half nude, hair still dripping wet, without a care in the world. 

            “I’m here to replace the surge protector,” he said.  But he couldn’t look me in the eye. He did look at my face for a moment, and then his brown eyes quickly examined my exposed torso, before they dropped to the floor. He looked to be about forty-five (maybe a year or two younger), he stood about five feet nine inches tall, and he was bulky and stocky, with a slight paunch. But by no means fat or what I would consider out of shape. And though his head was shaved clean, he had a perfectly trimmed goatee that framed full lips, with just the right amount of silver specks mixed with dark brown. And to top all this off, he wore white V-neck tee-shirt and dark jeans that fastened below his waist in a loose casual way. I glanced at his thick, tan leather tool belt that appeared heavy and awkward and took a quick breath. And when I glanced at a small, gunmetal tool case in his right hand I had to focus on not sighing aloud.

            “Sorry,” I said, with the most innocent voice I could find, wishing I’d at least combed my hair. “I thought you’d be here later in the day. I just got out of the shower and I thought you were someone else.”  The guy seemed decent. He just smiled. I had trouble looking into his eyes for fear he would read my mind and see how I felt about him. 

            He told me he’d been in the neighborhood when I’d called the office, and that he never was quite sure of the exact time he’d arrive for a service call.  He said, “It’s pretty much hit or miss, buddy, depending on how much work has to be done.”

Questionable Advice Literary Agents Gave to New Adult Author Colleen Hoover

In a post I wrote yesterday about New Adult fiction, I linked to an article where they mentioned self-published New Adult author, Colleen Hoover, where literary agents gave her questionable advice even after her book had come out and hit the NYT bestseller list.

I found it interesting that Colleen Hoover was told by literary agents that she had to change the novel from the first person to the third person…for my own personal reasons.

“I did try to query agents and I got a lot of rejection letters and about how I should change it to third person and take out the poetry,” Hoover said. “The book had already come out and I was getting rejection letters after it hit the New York Times.”

That’s right. The New York Times. Hoover bypassed publishers and literary agents and made it onto the acclaimed bestseller list five months after it was a Christmas present to her mother. Hoover cleverly gave away free copies of “Slammed” to key influencers and word of mouth ricocheted around the Internet.

I can back this up from my own personal experiences. Although I don’t have any published novels out in the first person, I did once try to query agents with a novel written in the first person and I received the same exact advice from them. That novel is in my files and hasn’t seen light in years. In fact, one of the reasons why I don’t have any published novels out in the first person to date is because of that advice. I eventually plan to change this.

The short stories I have out written in the first person have always been bestsellers in their genre. In most cases they’ve sold more copies than stories I’ve written in the third person. And I’ve received more reader feedback from them. To be honest, I prefer writing in the third person because it’s a comfort zone for me, and I think I get more freedom with my characters. But I do plan to write a novel in the first person very soon just to see how it works for me. When I tell you that I truly feared writing anything in the first person for years because of this advice I’d received from agents I’m not exaggerating. Unfortunately, writers take this seriously.

To take this to another level, I’ve seen and read other recent books written in the first person that have surprised everyone and become huge bestsellers. And one of the reasons I was so surprised these books became bestsellers is because of that old advice I’d received from Literary Agents about not writing in the first person. I literally read excerpts thinking, “Wow. How could this be? He wrote this in the first person.”

I don’t have a huge point with this post other than this: take all advice you get from anyone and then listen to your heart. Colleen Hoover did that and she proved that all the advice she received was questionable advice.

Although I’m pro-agent, and I believe authors need good agents, I’m not a fan of many of the things associated with the query system as we’ve always known it. And agents handing out this kind of advice to new writers is one of them. This may have worked ten years ago when we depended on the specific tastes of literary agents for our published books, but it’s becoming more evident each day (with proof) this same advice isn’t working anymore.

And this isn’t the only example of where you’re going to get bad advice as an author. I’m not singling out agents in this post by any means. I have a future post about something that happened to me with an editor that I’ve been wanting to write for a long time. It deals with how one single editor can rip the emotion from the most intense scene in a book. And how I let the editor do it because I wanted to avoid confrontation. I still regret this. The reason I’ve waited to post about this is because I wanted to be far removed enough from the topic to keep my own emotions separate.

Do what you think is best for you, and for your readers. They are the only ones that matter.

Some Positive Agent News; Internet Tax; Largest Human Penis

Since there have been so many negative things going around the Interwebs lately about literary agents, I figured that since I really am, and always have been, pro-agent I’d look for some positive things to post for a change. We need agents, good agents who are moving forward with the times, now more than ever before. And while I don’t actually have an agent in a literal sense, I do know a few, I am close to them, and I value their advice on the rare occasions that I shamelessly hock them for advice.

Here’s an excellent post from the Dystel & Goderich Agent Blog about how they look at self-publishing, and how they work with their clients who are indie publishers. I have read about what they’ve been doing in the past, I’ve been following their blog since it started, and this recent post made me feel as if they are thinking realistically about the changes in publishing.

We’ve learned a tremendous amount from these authors about how to successfully self-publish and these lessons have direct and significant application to traditional publishing. The smarter houses have committed to a partnership with us and our clients, showing tremendous vision and flexibility in the way they have modified their systems to accommodate the special needs of people who can sell oodles of books on their own, thank you very much.

Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, Grand Central, and PenguinUSA have all been aggressive in offering huge deals that are enticing to our authors not just because of the money involved but because of their afore-mentioned flexibility in terms of publishing schedules, contractual terms (including options and non-compete clauses), marketing and promotion, and their genuine desire to help grow these writers’ careers. And, here’s where the partnership aspect is important.

This next link has nothing to do with self-publishing, but I’ve been working with Lori Perkins in an author/editor relationship for a long time now and I’ve come to respect her as a publishing professional. In fact, she’s the one who helped choose a lot of the titles by my published romances with RR. I’ve always considered her the consummate editor. And, she’s a very nice person, too. But she’s also a literary agent who has been around for a very long time. Though I’ve never worked with her as a client, I have been following her agent blog for probably about seven years now. And I recently read where she landed a nice deal for someone in the adult entertainment industry.

As many of you know, I’ve been working with Jenna Jameson for about a decade. Getting HOW TO MAKE LOVE LIKE A PORN STAR on the NY Times best-seller list in 2004 was one of the high points of my agent career, an I am hoping we are going to do it again with Jenna’s first novel, SUGAR, an erotic romance she is co-authoring with romance maven Hope Tarr.

Again, this next link is unrelated to self-publishing, but I often go to this agent’s web site to find books I might like to read. As far as agent web sites go, this agency has nailed it with regard to showcasing their clients published books. I found one of my favorite YA authors there, Michael Northrope, and I’m constantly going back, odd as that sounds, to find more books I might want to read. I wish all agent web sites were designed like this. It would make book shopping/vetting so much easier.

You can get there from here. The agency is Harvey Klinger, Inc. and the homepage focuses on book covers.

If you look around, and you pay attention, you’ll find many literary agencies that offer far more positive things than negative. They are working with authors to help move forward in changing times, and I would imagine there are going to be a few screw ups along the way. And I thought it was worth mentioning a few of the positive things agents are doing now, to off-set the negative things we’ve been seeing all month. The fact remains that a good literary agent is one of the most important people to an author’s career.

Internet Tax

The US senate, bless their dear little souls, have passed a bill to tax Internet sales. As if things aren’t hard enough on the US consumer with gas prices, school loans, and interest rates, they want to drain a little more from us. Pardon my sarcasm, but I have little faith in any politicians these days.

Opponents say the bill amounts to a multibillion-dollar tax hike on American consumers. The National Taxpayers Union set up a petition to Congress in March that said the tax was “really just a way to unleash state tax collectors on the Internet,” and 15 conservative groups also sent a letter to members of Congress saying an Internet tax law is is “bad news for conservative principles and the cause of limited government.”

I’ve been in the market for an iPad mini for a while now. So I placed my order this week to avoid paying tax in the future. It looks as if this is going to happen, and frankly I’m not at all surprised.

Largest Human Penis

This isn’t something that’s going to change the world, but when I saw it on twitter this week I made a note to post a link about it. Frankly, I don’t know if it’s possible to measure the longest penis in the world because I would imagine the guy with the biggest one isn’t going to stand up and scream about it. For all we know, it could be the man we least expect. When I was single I was stunned on more than one occasion. And once, when I was on the beach in P’town, I saw a guy walking nude through the dunes that left me speechless, and that doesn’t happen often. But never the less, this is the largest one on record.

Jonah Falcon is known the world over for having the worlds largest human penis, measuring in at 13.5 inches in length. He isn’t a porn star,and doesn’t aspire to be one. In-fact Jonahs dream is to become an actor in major motion pictures, not low budget porno films. Interesting fact about Jonah, he was “discovered” after being approached by security in the airport. They feared he was carrying a bomb in his pants.

That made the evening news, literally, but Jonah didn’t become world famous until he was featured on the HBO Special: Private Dicks: Men Exposed. He was asked about the experience, and is quoted as saying;

“I went to their office in bike shorts with my c–k wrapped around the side of my leg,”

You can read more here, where they also mention the world’s smallest penis.

Agent Lori Perkins Looking For "Trunk Novel Submissions"

Who: Literary Agent Lori Perkins

OK, so I’ve been a literary agent for 25 years.

 I’ve had 8 titles on the NY Times best seller list.

What: She wrote a blog post recently about “Trunk Novels.”

Or tell the author to come up with something new, and to put this one in the trunk (thus the term “trunk novels,” which always makes me think of that scene from The Hunger).
Why: She’s interested in reading “Trunk Novels.” As stated above, trunk novels are novels that never sold, and authors put them away in the proverbial trunk.

So send me your trunk novels. Tell your agent friends to send me their trunk novels.

When: You can submit them to her agency right now. She’s actively looking for them.

Where: Here’s a link to the original post on Agent In the Middle. You can do a search for her lit agency web site. It’s not hard to find.

And who doesn’t have trunk novels? I have at least three that I can remember. In my case all three are actually in hard copy, in a file cabinet I haven’t touched in about six years. I’ve been meaning to dust them off and see if I can do anything with them. They aren’t LGBT fiction. These are mainstream novels I tried to shop and didn’t sell well over ten years ago. One, I think, deserves to remain in the trunk, but the other two are novels I’ve thought about over the years all the time.

In any event, if you have trunk novels you should check this out.

Truth About Amazon Sales Ranks; Great Blogging; Dumbass Bloggers

Amazon Sales Ranks

This week I found a new literary agent publishing blog by Victoria Marini I think I like. It’s too soon to tell at this point, but I’m going to follow the posts for a while before I form an opinion. I did enjoy this post: Amazon Bestseller Ranking System: The Myth and the Magnificent.

I don’t want to burst anyone’s bubble, here. My goal here is not to de-wind your proverbial sales, but rather explain why a high Amazon bestseller ranking does not necessarily equate to mammoth sales figures.

This very smart post goes on to explain how Amazon sales ranks work, and I can back the above statement up from my own personal experiences. I have had Amazon bestsellers more than once…I had one book hit number one for a few weeks in the UK in the gay romance category. This, however, did not mean the sales of that book outweighed the sales of my other books.

So I find Amazon sales ranks to be deceiving at best, and when I see another author get snarky and suggest she knows how a book or author is selling just by looking at the Amazon sales ranks, I know how little she really knows. There are a lot of factors to consider with Amazon sales ranks…and all bestseller lists you see these days everywhere. And just because you see a book or author on a bestseller list don’t always mean spectacular monetary sales for authors. Books I’ve had released that never made Amazon bestseller lists did far better in sales than those with the lowest sales ranks on Amazon bestseller lists. It took me a while to get that, too. Sounds like that doesn’t make sense. But check out the post to which I linked above and you’ll see what I mean. I’m also going to link to this agent’s blog on the blog list here so you can get there easily on a regular basis. Reading blogs like this educates us and it doesn’t cost a dime.

Great Blogging

I just read another interesting post about blogging over at, written by literary agent, Pamela van Hycklama Vlieg.

So it isn’t really a saga, but I wanted it to be dramatic, and if SMeyer can do it so can I!

Basically this post is going to take you through the very basics of starting a blog, posting on it, and networking to find bloggy friends.

If you have more technical questions I will be available in the forums to answer!

It’s interesting to me because I found her blog by doing a basic search for literary agent blogs, and while that is a form of networking it’s really the most basic and what most bloggers hope to achieve. I’m also tired of the same literary agent blogs I’ve been reading for the last five or six years and Vlieg’s blog looks different. I’m not tired of them all, I still follow Pub Rants and Lori Perkins, but that query nonsense lost me about two years ago because it never changes. I think part of being a blogger is learning how to adapt and change with the times…moving forward. Pub Rants does that; Lori Perkins does that…Dystel & Goderich does that. But a few don’t, and they tend to become obsolete…or they wind up catering to a readership that doesn’t know any better. And most writers (not all) nowadays know far more than they knew five years ago. The smart lit agent blogs that didn’t want to move forward have closed up shop and moved into social media like Facebook and Twitter and they seem to be thriving there.

Dumbass Bloggers

Now, hold on to your seat for this one. I’m not joking. When I found this next blog, Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dave, the title of one post caught my attention: Are Book Bloggers the “Literary Agents of our Time?” You know how I’m always talking about watch what you read online. This is a perfect example of sharing bad information. I thought I would wind up reading a post about how book bloggers are going to help authors get publishing contracts and how book bloggers are going to represent authors as business people, but what I found was something so bizarre I had to read it a few times just to make sure I wasn’t mistaken. No links to THIS blog on the sidebar either.

Evidently, no one told this author/airline pilot what a literary agent actually does:

The definition of an agent is “a person who acts on behalf of another.” If bloggers writing about and reviewing new books doesn’t fall under the definition of an author’s “literary agent” then I don’t know what does. The best part? I have yet to have one ask me for fifteen percent!

You’re right! You don’t know “what does.” Agents don’t work on behalf of authors to hock their books to readers all over the Internet by writing about and reviewing books. Agents work on behalf of authors with publishers.

I have read more than my share of dumb blog posts over the years, but I have to say this one tops the list. First, the post is all about book bloggers reviewing books (in this case I’m assuming self-pubbed books). And there’s nothing wrong with that. That’s what book bloggers are supposed to do. I even do it sometimes. But the problem is that’s not what literary agents are supposed to do. Literary agents don’t review books for marketing and promotional reasons. If they review books on a personal level, that’s fine and it’s their business. But to assume that book bloggers reviewing books makes them “agents” because they promote and market authors is taking the entire concept of what a literary agent actually does and spinning it around to the point where it doesn’t even make sense.

Literary agents are supposed to guide authors and careers. They are there to protect authors when it comes to contracts and they work on behalf of authors when dealing with publishers. Book bloggers don’t do this. Book bloggers review books and no publisher is going to deal with them as literary agents. So watch out for posts like this. The person who wrote it clearly has no idea what a literary agent does, and she doesn’t have a clue as to how publishing works as an industry…and didn’t even take the time to learn. She should stick to flying planes. If and when book bloggers start acting as literary agents, I’ll be the first to post about it.

To take this to another level, this is highly insulting to literary agents in general. And on behalf of all authors who know better, I apologize that something this dumb was published in print.

If Your Literary Agent E-Publishes Your Book Through Their E-Publishing Service Are You Still Considered Self-Published?

If your literary agent e-publishes your book through their e-publishing service are you still considered self-published is an interesting question. But before I get into this I’d like to get one thing out of the way. Literary agents have been quietly introducing e-publishing services to their clients. They don’t call it self-publishing services, they call it e-publishing services. There has been a great deal written and discussed about this with regard to conflict of interest. I’m not getting into that here. Frankly, I’m on the fence about it.

What I’m talking about has more to do with what is actually considered self-publishing. When I started my own self-publishing venture with Ryan Field Press last spring and self-published “Chase of a Lifetime,” “Jonah Sweet of Delancey Street,” and “Chase of a Dream,” I wrote about it openly and told my readers exactly what I was doing, how I was doing it, and what my motivations were for doing it. You can read these posts here. And if anyone has any questions I’m more than willing to answer them because I’m not hiding anything from you.

What I didn’t do with my self-publishing venture was contact a literary agent and ask her if I could use her e-publishing services. My motivation with this was that I wanted complete control and I didn’t see the need to pay a fee…or to have an agent take 15% off the back end of my self-published books. It would have been much easier for me to submit my books to a literary agent with e-publishing services. I wouldn’t have had to deal with all the business issues, I wouldn’t have had to worry about formatting, and I wouldn’t have had to hire a copy editor or cover artist. In other words, from what I’ve gathered, literary agents who offer e-publishing services do all these things for their clients/authors.

But the tricky thing is that not all work the same way. One fairly young literary agent offers e-publishing services in two packages. One package includes everything, from editorial to distribution and the other package just offers distribution. I can’t single anyone out because it seems they are all doing it differently (and very quietly for some reason)…but my point here again is are these authors actually self-publishing if they are going through an experienced literary agent who is offering e-publishing services that do basically everything an e-publisher would do?

There are few interesting situations that confuse me about all this a little. Last night I was checking out a few books by published authors who recently claim they self-published .99 e-books. I went to Kobo to see who they listed as the publisher, and then I went to Amazon to see who they listed as the publisher. On Kobo they listed a literary agent who offers e-publishing services and on Amazon the author listed her own name as the publisher. So who is actually the publisher…or self-publisher? You see where I’m going with this.

Interesting. And it’s a detail I wouldn’t have overlooked when putting up the product description. In this case, it’s a huge mistake (and dumb) to overlook that kind of continuity. I want to know who the publisher is, and if I see two different publishers for the same book on different web sites I’m going to question this.

In my case, you can go from Amazon to iTunes to Smashwords and you’ll see Ryan Field Press listed as the publisher with my self-published books. I did it the hard way and I have the proverbial scars to prove it. I’m still dealing with issues regarding Kobo and a few other web sites. But with the three novels I released this past spring I consider myself a self-published author. I wrote the book, hired a copy editor, hired a cover artist, and then I pushed the buttons to self-publish those books. My partner, Tony, did a lot of the technical work, but we worked as a team and he’s just as much Ryan Field Press as I am.

There are, indeed, e-publishing sevices out there that self-published authors can hire to do a lot of the technical work for them. For those who are not tech oriented but are interested in self-publishing I recommend looking into those services. From what I’ve seen the author pays a flat fee and that’s it. These e-publishing services are not literary agents. You don’t have to be their client or query them to use their e-publishing services. All you have to do is hire them as a service. In this case, you’re still a self-published author and from what I gather your name/press will be listed as the publisher.

But I’m not sure about about an author who uses her agent as an e-publishing service and then lists the e-publishing service as the publisher. I guess I’m on the fence about that as well. And that’s because I self-published my books with Ryan Field Press alone and you can check that out wherever you see my books for sale. But when I see an author claim she’s self-published her books and then I see the name of her literary agent’s e-publishing service listed on Kobo as the publisher, I have to wonder if that’s really considered self-publishing…and is the agent a literary service for e-publishing or is the agent an e-publisher?

And how fair is this to all those hard-working authors out there who have been self-publishing that hard way like I’ve been doing it? I have twenty years of experience in getting my fiction published with traditional publishers. This gave me a slight edge over an author with less experience. But even with my experience I found self-publishing ALONE to be difficult.

All interesting questions I can’t answer in this blog post without more information. The problem is finding this information because so many are so silent about it. One literary agency who started a venture like this actually shut down her blog and moved to Alaska. I’m only joking about Alaska, but the blog went dead fast when readers started asking questions.

In any event, Ryan Field Press might venture into this happy little arena next year and join all the fun. Why not? I’m not a literary agent and there would be no conflict of interest. I’m not hiding anything, I’ve never been anything but honest about what I do, and I have no reason to be quiet about it. I would offer e-publishing services to a select group of authors who are interested in using my e-publishing services. But no tricks and gimmicks, I promise. If I do it, I’ll post about it openly and answer any and all questions. I’m just not sure if I would be considered an e-publishing service or an e-publisher if the books were distrubuted under Ryan Field Press on Kobo.

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