Posts Tagged ‘publisher’

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Literary Agent Jen Rofe (Andrea Brown Literary) for Nick James’s YA novel, Skyship Academy: The Pearl Wars (Sept. 2011; Flux). The book was called “a fast-paced adventure that delivers solid action sequences throughout” by Publishers Weekly, while Booklist said, “This first novel is a refreshing departure from the strict dystopian trend. There are plenty of plot surprises and action sequences to keep the pages turning, and the treatment of terrorist attacks and environmental concerns will prompt readers to make connections with their own lives.”

Dear Ms. Rofe:

Fifteen-year-old Jesse Fisher can’t pass a test, pilot a space shuttle, or make it through a day without tripping over his own feet.

Now his clumsiness has cost Skyship Academy a precious Pearl. While on a foolproof mission designed for a trainee, Jesse is ambushed by Cassius, star operative of Madame, the Academy’s ruthless archenemy. And instead of fighting back, he nearly gets himself killed.

In a future Earth drained of its natural resources, Pearls are more valuable than a stack of gold. Just one can power an entire city for months. Madame, the leader of the depleted American government, seeks Pearls to further her own profit. To control them, she needs the power locked inside of Jesse–a power he’s completely oblivious to.

When Madame sends Cassius to capture him, Jesse–eternal klutz and clueless fighter–has a chance to prove he’s not as mondo pathetic as everyone thinks he is. But round two with Cassius yields unexpected revelations as both boys begin to unravel a past that ties them directly to the mystery of Pearls.

Of course, none of this will matter if Jesse can’t find the skill to fight back before Madame’s forces close in and shut him down forever.

Skyship Academy is a 45,000-word YA adventure with series potential aimed at the middle school market. As requested in your submission guidelines, the first ten pages are included at the bottom of this email. A full manuscript is available upon request. I look forward to hearing from you.

Nick James

Commentary From Jen:

Sci-fi has never been my “thing.” I’m not a fan of Star Trek, Star Wars puts me to sleep, and I can count on one hand the number of sci-fi books I’ve read (until recently, the answer was one — and that’s because I literally had no other book option at the time).

Then I received a query for Skyship Academy: The Pearl Wars by Nick James. Nick’s query wasn’t perfect — the storyline was muddled and he labeled his manuscript a YA aimed at the middle grade market. Still, there are a number of reasons why I was compelled to review Nick’s sample pages. Here are four, in a nutshell:

In September 2008, Nick’s query stood out from the multitudes in my inbox for paranormal romance and suicidal teen YAs. Skyship fell into a genre that wasn’t yet popular but that wasn’t too far off from what was gaining traction — dystopian. Hunger Games had been released around the time I received Nick’s email, and I anticipated that light sci-fi in the vein of Skyship would take hold in the market, as well.
The storyline captured my interest. Mysterious pearls from space are the world’s most important energy source, but nobody knows where they come from, and a clumsy teen can control them, except he doesn’t even realize it?! Wow!! Count me in.
The conflict seemed exciting. The government is after Jesse because of his power to control pearls, so he’s on the run. He also has limited time to figure out how he’s connected to the pearls. Which, to me, meant two things: ticking clock and action! Which leads to reason four.
I felt certain this story would appeal to teen boys. From where I sit, finding books that will appeal to boys is no easy feat. Writing them is even harder. As far as I was concerned, Nick James had it in the bag.

In 2009, we sold Skyship Academy to Brian Farrey at Flux. The book was released this fall (2011). Nick is presently writing a sequel.

Courtesy: Chuck Sambuchino (GLA), Tn Odu
For Phantom House Books Nigeria

“All description is an opinion about the world.” — Anne Enright

In some books, you scarcely recall where the narrative took place. Others could have unfolded anywhere, at any time. Perhaps this was a purposeful decision by the author – universality, timelessness. But if the story is intended to be a product of its setting, how to render that setting in a living way? How do you take it from backdrop to character?

For me, historical fiction is no different than contemporary fiction in at least this way: I hope to glimpse my life. I may move through prehistoric caves, or walk the streets of Depression-era New York, or in the case of my novel, The Luminist, inhabit the neglected Ceylon estate of a colonial wife and the Tamil boy she draws into her obsessive pursuit of the first photographs. Wherever I am, I sift details of meals eaten in the upper and lower classes, clothes worn, slang uttered, how they slept and where they worked; I pin them to the prevailing forces of their world. Through those details, even fiction removed in time becomes immediate to me.

There are ways to uncover those details. I am drawn to old photographs, for example. Julia Margaret Cameron’s iconic portraits and her lesser known images of colonial Ceylon captivated me upon first encountering them, and they fueled my exploration of the themes that became the foundation of my book.

Writings (journals, newspapers, etc.) that are contemporaneous to the period, if available, can convey authentic voices and idioms. Old maps, their boundaries long since redrawn, nevertheless speak of vanished villages, dead rivers, or historic plagues. Biographies are wonderful tools for locating the threads of character and sociological/political backdrops from amongst the tangle of a finished life.

These are tools that can be used to do what is so difficult to do in creating your setting: resurrecting something that stopped existing before you started writing about it. The town, the house, the atmospherics of history, shift a little or a lot the moment your character begins to consider them.

Now, about the messy business of infusing place with character.

Imagine visiting someone you know well. Imagine sitting with them as you have a thousand times. Describe them. Now, tell yourself that they had a twin, who died tragically at an early age. You never knew that before. The narrative of your life with them has proceeded to this point without this information. But now you know.

Look at them again, and observe what has changed. What is different about the look in their eyes or the way they dress, or where they choose to live or what they do for work? Nothing. Everything. To render these differences, whether granular in detail or broadly stroked, is to make the character breathe.

Let’s apply this to setting. Find a room you’ve never seen. It has no meaning to you and holds nothing of your past life. You don’t know its contours, or how it looks on a cloudy morning. You can literally find one and occupy it, or find a picture and imagine yourself into it. Describe it. Tell the readers what we see. What we could touch, if only we were really there.

Now, describe the same room a second time. This time, give the room a story. This is where someone died. That chair was where a husband sat as his wife told him that she was leaving him. Out that window, a single mother watched a moving van pull up after losing the house to foreclosure.

What just happened? The room’s physical description changed, didn’t it? That’s not merely a bed. That’s not simply a street outside. The walls and their peeled paint have something akin to a voice. This setting isn’t just an edifice or a space anymore. It bears witness.
I think of Fitzgerald’s fictionalized Long Island, its eastern and western sides and the inlet between. DeLillo’s New York, violently reborn in the collapse of the twin towers. Hemingway’s sea, washing an old man away and back again, to a home that may no longer hold a place for him. I think of settings such as these and cannot help but know the characters that populate them.

Guest column by David Rocklin, author of THE LUMINIST (Oct. 2011,
Hawthorne Books), a debut Publishers Weekly called “beautifully written. Rocklin
grew up in Chicago and graduated from Indiana University. He lives in
California with his wife and children. Courtesy: Writer’s Digest | http://www.writersdigest.com

a D.A.R.E review is a primal form of a book review and simply means you Delete After Reading and Evaluating the manuscript (finished/unfinished).

The Review is done in three simple sweeps.

First SWEEP. The first sweep is the first read. During this sweep, it is paramount you get the general feel of the book.

DO NOT read for errors. DO NOT attempt to make any corrections during this sweep. Reading is all that is required.

Several Reviews have questionnaires attached to the review script to make it easier to sweep paragraphs, whole sections, and pages. If they are attached, answer them.

The basic questions that should be cruising through your mind during this sweep are:

Why you think this book/chapter/page/section will work/why it won’t work?

What makes it difficult to read/easy to read?

Is the story plausible/commendable/a sham?

IT IS IMPORTANT HERE TO NOTE: the fewer your words at this stage the more critical/direct/and unbiased your review will sound, which is constructive for the writer whose work is been reviewed, good or bad.

Second SWEEP. The second sweep is the second read. During this sweep, you are allowed to make changes following what software/editing tool you decide to use. You can also inculcate your own reading/editing strategy. You’re free to do as you wish. Read for syntax errors, spelling errors, and construction error; that is errors that you think rob a phrase or sentence of the intended or implied meaning.

The basic questions that should be cruising through your mind during this sweep are:

No one is that perfect, where are the bloody errors?!

Why can’t I understand a line? When and how did I get to this page?

What did he do wrong, why am I confused right about here?

IT IS IMPORTANT HERE TO NOTE: the more verbose/grandiose/explicit the words you use in this stage, the more constructive and easier it will be for the writer whose work is being reviewed to connect to your suggestions and the intended meaning of your review.

Last SWEEP. The third sweep is the final read. During this sweep you are allowed to read the story with your corrections to edit yourself and the reviewed writer. It is easier of the reviews and much simpler now. You are also allowed to check for disproportionate facts and figures, and changes in story content.

The basic questions that should be cruising through your mind during this sweep are:

Is he kidding? Did the writer just lie to me? But, the writer said a totally different name/number/subject/object/thing at the start of this episode?

I sound right/logical/funny/witty/smart/straight to the point/unbiased. What is making my review work?

On a scale of one to ten, do you think the featured author deserves to be a writer?

IT IS IMPORTANT HERE TO: SEND the Reviewed copy to its respectively Literary Agency and DELETE the document on your computer and in the recycle bin and the email through which it was sent immediately!!!

it is a standard practice, and the most valuable task you can do for the author.

THESE ARE THE BASIC RULES FOR A GOOD/GREAT REVIEW. THE ACT OF REVIEWING IS FUN, HILARIOUS, EXCITING AND A CHANCE TO REWRITE A MANUSCRIPT YOUR OWN WAY AND USUALLY ISN’T TEDIOUS. BOREDOM/TIREDNESS IN A REVIEW INDICATES ONLY ONE THING: THE WRITER DOESN’T DESERVE TO WRITE HENCE ISN’T WORTHY OF YOUR REVIEW. SAVE YOURSELF THE TROUBLE. THE WORK IS FAR FROM PERFECT/COMPLETE.

With the turn of the century, Nigeria as a country has bagged almost every conceivable literary prize that matters…save the Pulitzer. Nonetheless, these are only few who’ve escaped the bottleneck of a lacking book industry. Still, its book industry and appreciation of creative fiction is a charade. It’s no surprise why recognized authors at home are usually African’s in Diaspora with the help of their wealthy and effective power pushers, or is it mongers, but we thank God/god/nature/the universe (whichever you believe in) for the turn of the century.
Blessed are the LNG and the Lumina foundation trying to redress the current situation by giving writers & publishers a little reason to step into the fray. $100,000 and $20,000 is still too little make the changes necessary. I first they up the prize to $300,000, splitting an even hundred across the classes of literature (and the writers of course) for the prize or an even 20 for the Wole Soyinka award. Who seconds? We’re not asking for hands here, our forefathers having ruined it all. It’s the least they can do.
Nigerian fiction has a lot to offer creatively. New authors come up with ideas and creative writing style to please editors. Believe me, I read them everyday. Unfortunately for these authors, only a few editors are privy to review their works. And fewer publishers to publish them.
Why many of these authors think they can make foreign publishing houses by querying foreign agencies, puzzles me. Many foreign publishing houses (I having worked closely with one) prefer to take up local book authors/writers than their foreign counterparts. Same goes for the agencies. And why wouldn’t they? Aside from the fact that it’s far cheaper and wedges a hole in the communication gap thing? So, I ask you. Would you, if you knew your writers were equally as good?
Of what use is fighting against the system as basic as the rain. Every country for its industry. Every industry for its people. Every people for their country. The cycle is as simple as that, dummies! (dummies being a very loose word to fit). As long as resident Nigerian authors don’t figure this trend out, they continue to bask in their cloudy castles hoping for the rains to bring down an acceptance letter. Even more enticing—an advance? Huh?
Humph! The Nigerian Book Industry will always hinge on its parent the Nigerian Book Industry! No fruit goes bigger than its nursing tree, that’s for sure. Since that affects the average Nigerian writer, let me rephrase that, ‘Since the Nigerian book market is failing, the average Nigerian is left abandoned, and unexplored.’ Poor, if you’d prefer the term. We aren’t just loosing a reading culture. We are loosing a writing culture as well. The two feed off the same cord.
For more of these creative fictional works (and their authors) to be emphasized, Nigeria has to rework her book market. We need scores of awards? We need scores of publishers? We need scores of agencies and authors? Where is the red carpet, or ^&$&*’s sake?
Having worked on both sides of the coin(publishing that is), I see better. Self-publishing is highly scorned at by agencies not willing to sign resident Nigerians up (apart from the fact that no publisher who wants an author whom squanders his/her advance to tackle a visa to meet up your book signing. Unless, you would. If you were half-human). But, what more do you expect from Nigerians in general. It’s all they have.
None the less, without our own publishing houses and self-created agencies showcasing and appreciating our work, our industry will continue to linger at the bottom of the sea, not to be seen across our vast literary landscape. We kill ourselves here. Our country eats us alive. We eat what’s left of our writers raw. Don’t even get me started on the huge margins of 150 million people…We eat what’s left of our literary, day by day.
Enough bitching about the government and the publishing houses…everyone knows we impaled that gander already. To the writer’s involvement in this whole charade. Stop blowing hot air about how good you write. Get published and let the people decide how good it is!
No writer writes not to be read, silly. No matter who you are and what you write.
Ps. This is blog post. Not a manuscript. all you loose pair of eyes

Hello Myne,
I received your email. Thank you for wanting to interview our publishing house on your website, we appreciate the extra publicity. My name is Tn Odu. It stands for Tejiri Nuvie, Odu. I do some writing, I edit, and have published 9 books. I worked with Trafford Publishing for five years under Bruce Batchelor, who was then CEO, and only started freelancing a year and a half ago, much after the split and trade-off. Trafford Publishing was once a small conventional publishing house formerly in Canada—Now in the US—before it switched to self-publishing its authors at the introduction of the Print-On-Demand publishing by its former CEO.
A little on working as an agent in Nigeria. I would say this has been swell and tough. I focused my attention on Nigeria’s failing literary culture when a cousin of mine beguiled me into accepting an invitation by the then General Manager of NTA international, Ngozi Nssien, and attending an interview by Nwadi. Since then, I have attended many other interviews and been to many literary functions in Abuja and Lagos, and have come to realize we are a country blessed with many literary talents; writers, playwrights, poets, performance poets, even songwriters! I have seen, read, and interacted firsthand with simple people of grander thoughts, gifts and charisma of the highly vaunted and applauded. But, sadly I’m left to ponder why they too haven’t been raised up a pedestal in the very least!
Which brings me to the reason for Phantom House Books and the passion behind introducing this Publishing House and Literary Agency to Nigeria. At first, I would like you to know Phantom House Books NGR is a small self-publishing firm that partners with Amazon’s Createspace Charleston and DHL Nigeria. We just started operations and aren’t a big publishing house—yet. And unlike Cassava Republic, our goal is to focus on the everyday Nigerian writer without the skills or means to get their works out there for others to see. Keeping out of perspective, the challenges we face in economics, polity, and readership. ‘out there’ being the definition of publishing for us.
Another is that the company is an offspring from my dealings with Trafford Publishing. Many of the editors that help us edit and bring our Nigerian works to world class standard were former employees or contacts of Trafford who have once been editors and agents. When I left Trafford, they sought to help as a favor to Phantom House Books and Nigeria in general, and do not do it for the money. Which is great! Similar to what happens when we trade scripts. You can read a little about the other editors who will be reviewing your work on the website. http://www.phantomhouseafrica.co.cc
Lastly, the Agency arm of the firm I run in Abuja. Linking writers and their published works to book readings, presentations and signings with our partners and various small literary groups; the Abuja Literary Society, the Association of Nigerian Authors, an association I believe, despite being handicapped in reaching out, every Nigerian writer & poet should belong to, the British Council and the Silverbird Group. We don’t go by traditional norms trying to publish and market authors in Nigeria, which is the case of our competitors. Reading Nigeria and her open 150 million powered market makes publishing in Nigeria a fluid business, the outcome of which is highly profitable if we take time analyzing the feedback. A point much buttressed with the firm’s relationship with the British Council, Ogale and Chikodi. Ogale is the Council’s current Art and Project developer, here in Nigeria, while Chikodi is the New Business Manager. Writing is an honorable as well as lucrative practice all around the world, and not the part-time hobby our poor reading culture and economy have bludgeoned it into. The others arms of the Publishing House are only arms of what we do here.
I’d also like you to realize, Myne, that there has been a shift in Nigeria when its come to appreciating art. Personally, I believe Nigeria is a country waiting to be heard. She’s loud and bold. The writers here are just itching to leave an impression on the world, despite the fact that Hollywood has taken a certain liking to Nigeria. I am guessing by now you can spot the trend in the swift turn-over of the movie industry, and the music industry. What’s next in line is the book industry, which is important to us as Nigerians, and writers, since the reading culture determines the literacy of a country. I hope this helps.
Thank you for taking the time to talk with us, Ms. Myne. I have also answered your questions. Contact us anytime. We appreciate the publicity.
Ps: For all who care to know, we are currently accepting clients and screening manuscripts for our lists in September. Some will sponsored by Phantom House Books, others wouldn’t be so lucky, which all depends on their proficiency, eligibility, and the marketability of their work by our partners.

Tn Odu
For Phantom House Books, NGR
House L, National Assembly Quarters,
Life Camp, Abuja. Nigeria.

1. What Genres do you represent?
Actually different editors, different genres. I prefer fiction, from commercial fiction all the way to experimental fiction. I also do poetry. The last piece I finished up was Inspirational/Religious. But, Phantom House Books covers all genres.

2. What plans do you have for marketing the work of your clients?
Like I mentioned earlier, the business is fluid. We strongly believe the new audio book technology will work in Nigeria, but do not believe solely in one way to break into the market here. We’ve began talks with the British Council and ETF Nigeria to kick off diverse projects as well. Everyone of our clients is entitled to having their audio works generated, but we’ll see how far that goes. The Agency intends to amass the published creative works of many aspiring writers, so when the British Council writer-mentorship program comes again, their works will be reviewed and selected works will be pushed on to grander publishers or distributors. But the important thing to us, is getting these writers ‘out there’, and having all the relevant bodies know they are out there. So, if you strongly believe in your manuscript, previously published or unpublished, no matter who you are or where you hail from, query us. We’ll probably publish it for you and make it easily accessible to these organizations. DO NOTE; we only sponsor really, really, and I can’t fail to stress the word, ‘really’ good manuscripts. So, I suggest you do a lot of editing and hire a pair of eyes before you submit to us. Although we get lots of queries and manuscripts everyday, we always go through them honestly. If you’re Nigerian and you have a good script. We can never turn our eyes from it. I know I can’t.

3. How much do you charge? Do you charge for expenses? How much is your commission?
Concerning how much we charge, it depends. $0 or N0 for sponsored manuscripts, which is inclusive of editing and production expenses. All other manuscripts go for $10 per manuscript for editing, and $100 dollars for our book ‘n’ print package. Concerning literary representation, you’d have to sign our contractual agreement, which comes default for all who use for our book ‘n’ print package. Else, you’d have to contact a Phantom House agent for already published material, and your publishers as well to know if you have the full privilege of signing your work to us. We take 15% (not a kobo more, and not a kobo less) off whatever deals we make on your book’s behalf.

4. How many publishers will you send manuscripts to? How will you send it, individually or as a batch job with others? Will it be to only Nigerian publishers or also international ones?
Local and foreign. Batch.
PN: Phantom House Book Award consideration package submits to foreign agencies and programs for award consideration.

5. What sort of agency agreement do you have? Written? Oral? What is the duration of the contract?
A written contract. The duration of the contract is flexible, but at first signing lasts a year. The author has the choice to renew the contract after a year, and set the duration between the span of 1 to 3 years (max.) The contract is binding on both sides, but also comes with an exit clause. The author reserves the right to terminate the agency’s contract within 1-72 hours after it was signed. We use digital signatures. For more on this, and its use, visit our blog site, phantomhouse.wordpress.com

6. What happens to the unsold rights after the contract is terminated. Does the agent retain control, or do they revert back to the author?
Here at Phantom House Books, you own a 100% of the copyright. Hence, you reserve all rights save on the life expectancy of agency deals, where we maintain a steady 15%.

7. Are you the only agent for the Phantom House Publishing in Nigeria, or will writers have to work with other agents too?
No. Nigerian writers deserve the best and my fellow editors and I will do our best to bring it to them. Thank you.

8. If you feel the manuscript or proposal needs edits before you begin pitching the book to publishers, what will be the next step? Will the writer have to pay for edits?
If sponsored, no. otherwise, probably. Depending on how much work needs to be done. But I can’t reiterate how important it is for you to lend another pair of eyes to review your manuscript before submitting to us, and avoid editing fees. See our blog post on how to do a D.A.R.E review | a simple guide to a professional review. No pitching is done, until your manuscript is ready for print.

9. How can people contact you? Do you have a website, and what is your email address?
You have my private email. I don’t disclose it. The agency and Phantom House Books has a centralized mailing system and a mailing list. All emails are automatically forwarded to every agent. To contact the agency, use the submission procedures on the website. After that, Phantom House Books Africa will contact you. To visit the official website or blog site go to http://www.phantomhouseafrica.co.cc or phantomhouse.wordpress.com

10. How many authors do you currently represent? How many of your current clients are published?
In total, Phantom House Books represents a little over 200. For Phantom House Books, Ngr, the number is 25 and counting. In the meantime only 2 authors are through finalizing their contracts. One in Lagos. the other in Abuja.

11. What are your expectations of your potential clients?
We get flooded with lots of work, so we expect our clients to put a lot of work into their manuscripts before submitting. I’d suggest joining a critique group or a literary society. Everyone loves a talented musician, but people prefer a talented musician whose gone to music school. Work on your manuscript!

12. Do you have a list of Do’s and Don’ts for your clients that will enable our members decide if they want to contact you?
Do not submit unedited work. Edit your work, in the least do three sweeps.
Always lend a pair of eyes. It saves us time. It saves you money.
Have a good history with a literary organization or group (online forums help a lot). Believe me, it tells on your adeptness.
Respect the art and write for the beauty of it. Not just to increase your money earning power. Money is secondary and tails good artwork. It also makes it easier for us to represent your work.

I hope this helps and thank you. We do our best.
Regards.