the cuckoo’s calling

Literary Agent For Zimmerman Juror; J.K. Rowling Sales Soar

Lit Agent for Zimmerman Juror

There was buzz circulating recently where one of the six jurors from the Zimmerman trial allegedly signed with a literary agent and was working on a book deal. The book was supposed to explain the verdict and discuss why the jury found George Zimmerman not guilty of murdering Trayvon Martin after an altercation that ended in Trayvon Martin’s death.

The juror did not spell out the reasons for her change of heart but said her isolation in the jury room meant she had not been fully aware of the outrage over the case.

“The potential book was always intended to be a respectful observation of the trial from my and my husband’s perspectives solely and it was to be an observation that our ‘system’ of justice can get so complicated that it creates a conflict with our ‘spirit’ of justice,” she said in the written statement.

“Now that I am returned to my family and to society in general, I have realized that the best direction for me to go is away from writing any sort of book and return instead to my life as it was before I was called to sit on this jury,” she added.

The literary agency who signed the juror is Martin Literary Management based in Mercer Island, Washington. This is their web site. They are also listed here, at P&E. In addition to representing what seems like only nonfiction authors, the Martin Agency also has an editorial service that charges fees for a what looks like a number of services that range from ghostwriting to copy editing.

This is part of what is stated on the editoral page of their web site:

We cannot read samples for analysis without charge, for the obvious reasons of time and labor cost. The fee for this service is $500, paid by check via postal mail at the time that work begins.

I could be wrong, but from what I read there the $500 fee is only an intial fee, and it can go higher.

There’s an interesting discussion about this agency here on Absolutewrite.com that dates back to 2007. This is a more recent thread on AW that discusses their contract terms and mentions the editoral fees once again. And this time The Martin Agency actually responds to people on the thread, and then Dave Kuzminski of P&E addresses a few things. It’s actually a very interesting thread in a general sense for anyone interesting in querying who doesn’t know much about it.

Although the Martin Agency makes it clear they charge no reading fees up front when someone queries, I’ve never been a huge fan of agents or small publishers that offer services for a fee of any kind. I once had a small LGBT publisher offer to publish a novel if I paid him $600 to edit the book. You all know THAT did NOT happen.

And if you really want to read something interesting, here’s a web site I never even knew existed before today. It’s called Ripoffreport.com, and an unhappy client who worked with the Martin Agency left a long explanation of his experiences, to which the Martin Agency replied.

I personally know nothing about Martin Literary Management, so I have no comment.

J.K. Rowling Sales Soar

I posted about Harry Potter author, J.K. Rowling, yesterday with regard to how she used the pen name Robert Galbraith to recently hop genres and publish a mystery suspense, The Cuckoo’s Calling. And since her identity has been revealed book sales have soared for a book that no one would ever have known about if she’d continued to use the pen name…a male pen name.

After selling around 450 copies by early July, the novel shot up to No 1 on the Amazon bestseller chart after the announcement, and there was a run on bookshops. “About 1,500 copies [had been] sent out [to shops], just like for any novel by an unknown author,” said Waterstones spokesman Jon Howells. “By the end of Sunday they were all gone.”

Amazon’s predicted waiting time for new orders is currently between five and nine days as the publisher rushes out a reprint, having managed the whole of the publishing process as if for a debut author. In the past, journalists have tapped printers for stories, and in the case of Harry Potter one even went undercover, taking a job at the printing press in an attempt to uncover the latest closely guarded plot.

Interesting. You can read more here.

As a side note, I read somewhere yesterday where a blogger made reference to the fact that J.K. Rowling chose a man’s name for the pen name, as if a man’s name would sell more books? Or that a man’s name somehow has more influence than a woman’s name with book sales? I find that highly subjective from my own experience in publishing, especially in the m/m romance genre where books about gay MEN, with gay male content, are mainly written by women using female pen names (or real names), not to mention that women predominantly control the m/m romance genre, from author to editor to publisher…to book reviewer.

But even more important, the male pen name Rowling chose obviously wasn’t doing her much good, and now that she’s using her own name…as a woman powerhouse in publishing…book sales are soaring. So I often wonder how people come to some of these conclusions and get away with it. My take is that Rowling chose a male name to distance herself from her own identity as much as possible. Just like I might choose a female pen name to distance myself from gay books I’ve written in the past so I could write pg rated hetero romance novels. Because no one is dismissed or ignored in publishing more than the gay man.

J.K. Rowling Reveals Secret Pen Name; Indiana Gay Marriage Myths

J.K. Rowling Reveals Secret Pen Name

This morning I read that J.K. Rowling’s secret pen name, Robert Galbraith, was revealed. Rowling, AKA Robert Galbraith, wrote a mystery crime novel titled, The Cuckoo’s Calling.

In top-secret fashion, she published “The Cuckoo’s Calling” under the name Robert Galbraith. Her publisher, Mulholland Books — an imprint of Little, Brown and Company — described the author as a former member of the Special Investigative Branch of the Royal Military Police.

“He left the military in 2003 and has been working since then in the civilian security industry,” the publisher’s website said. “The idea for (protagonist) Cormoran Strike grew directly out of his own experiences and those of his military friends who returned to the civilian world. ‘Robert Galbraith’ is a pseudonym.”
 
The Sunday Times, curious about who this mystery novelist really was, connected the dots — noting that “he” used an agent, editor and publisher who had worked with Rowling.
 
Well. I think I hear the call of the wild on Amazon and Goodreads.  
 
And then, I read this article that talks about a review for The Cuckoo’s Calling that came out a week before the pen name name was revealed. Someone was on the ball.
 
An oddly prescient review of THE CUCKOO’S CALLING from July 7 — almost a full week before J.K. Rowling was revealed as the author behind the pseudonym.
 
Rowling made this comment, here.
 
“It has been wonderful to publish without hype or expectation, and pure pleasure to get feedback from publishers and readers under a different name.”
 
For those who aren’t familiar with authors using pen names, this isn’t something new. Any author who has been branded to death in one particular genre and wants to break into another, or associated with one particular style, knows the only way to do that is by taking on a pen name. If you don’t believe me just look at the reviews for Rowling’s novel, The Casual Vacancy, which I loved but many reviewed poorly. And I think that had a great deal to do with Rowling using her own name and being associated with Harry Potter.
 
I admire Rowling for taking the chance, and I also admire her for writing in another genre. Many authors with her kind of fame would have continued doing what they became famous for and wouldn’t have tried to reinvent themselves…most don’t have the capacity with which to do that…or the talent. And to be honest, I usually wait to see what authors like Rowling or E.L. James do after they have the big books. In this case, it tells me that Rowling is a true career writer and she’s not just in this for the money or the fame. And if I had to guess, I would imagine she would have preferred to keep the pen name a secret.
 
In any event, I think I’m going to check the book out now. I’ve been looking for something different to read, in a different genre, and this just might be the thing. I think what she did is inspiring.
 
Thank you, Robert Galbraith, for giving me something good to read this summer.  
 
Indiana Gay Marriage Myths
 
This past weekend I was watching something I’d recorded on DVR and I noticed a message come across the screen that said something about gay marriage and Indiana. I jumped back thirty seconds and re-read it. Basically it was an announcement about a new law that states if someone even files for a marriage license in Indiana they can be arrested.
 
I don’t know about most people, but when I see something that doesn’t make sense I look it up. And that didn’t make sense to me, and this is what I found:
 

The laws make it a felony for a same-sex couple even to apply for a marriage license and a misdemeanor for a clergy member to solemnize such a marriage.

But while several blogs portray those crimes as new laws passed this year by the Republican-controlled General Assembly, they’ve been on the books for more than a decade.

They date back at least to 1997, when the state’s marriage laws were recodified by the legislature. And they may have been on the books much longer, since they don’t specifically address same-sex marriage. Instead, they generally address perjury on a marriage license application and attempts to perform marriages not allowed by law.

I think that’s a good example of how much bad information there is going around about gay marriage (and dumb blogging). I know some zealots that would go berserk over that statement I saw in TV without even bothering to look it up. When in reality, the laws don’t even target same-sex marriage, and that’s most likely due to the fact that when the laws were written no one even thought same-sex marriage was an option.

There is a lot of other misguided information floating around with the recent SCOTUS ruling, so take what you see with that proverbial grain of salt and double check it before you start posting about it. I’m still trying to find out if same sex couples who live in states were same-sex marriage is NOT legal can marry in states where it is legal and benefit from not paying federal inheritance taxes. So far, I’ve had discussions with more friends about this than I can count and half say yes and half say no. So I’m not posting anything on that topic until I know for certain. If anyone has any links about this, please e-mail me.