Bethany Hensel The Latest Button

Interview – Lara Perkins Part One

5648775Today I am so thrilled to have agent Lara Perkins of the Andrea Brown Literary Agency on the site today. She’s so cool and awesome and a great professional. Read any interview and you’ll see what I mean. She’s just that impressive. Some of Lara’s recent titles include THE FANTASTIC FAMILY WHIPPLE by Matthew Ward (Razorbill/Penguin)*, A MILLION WAYS HOME by Dianna Dorisi Winget (Scholastic Press), IF YOUR MONSTER WON’T GO TO BED by Denise Vega (Knopf/Random House), THE STEPSISTER’S TALE by Tracy Barrett (Harlequin Teen)*, and I’M NEW HERE by Anne Sibley O’Brien (Charlesbridge). Noteworthy deals include a two-book, six figure deal to Razorbill/Penguin and a two-book deal to Harlequin Teen (*together with Laura Rennert).*

See? Told you she was impressive. :) In fact, when Lara agreed to the interview and I realized I would actually be able to ask her questions, I went a bit overboard and came up with a lot. So many, in fact, that I separated this interview into two parts. So enjoy part one, and see you tomorrow for part two.

 

QUESTIONS

 

  1. You’re an an agent with the very esteemed Andrea Brown Agencyand you got to work with the awesome Laura Rennert, who reps some major authors. Can you talk to us about what sort of things you learned from Laura that are especially meaningful to you, and that you’ve carried over into your own agenting style?

I feel incredibly lucky to work with the amazing Laura Rennert and to have her as a mentor and colleague. I’ve learned so much from her that I feel I could write an entire article just answering this question! Since I can’t do that, I’ll instead say that her creative, strategic, and rigorous approach to all aspects of agenting has had the most meaningful and lasting affect on my agenting style. Observing Laura’s approach, which is always considered, well-informed, and imaginative, is what originally made me want to be an agent. Her perceptive and rigorously thoughtful approach to understanding the market, to strategizing the arc of her authors’ careers, to negotiating, to giving editorial feedback and more, is something I strive to replicate and is the reason I know I will never be bored at this job. I continue to learn every day from Laura and from my other amazing colleagues at ABLA, all of whom are inspiring, brilliant, and incredibly generous with their expertise and knowledge.

  1. At Andrea Brown, you’re not only an agent, but you’re also their Digital Manager. What does that job mean exactly? Can you give us a glimpse inside what you do?

I’m happy to! As Digital Manager, I help strategize our agency’s approach to all aspects of digital publishing and help keep the agency up to date on new players, new programs, current wisdom, and new publishing possibilities that may benefit our clients. I attend conferences focused on digital publishing and marketing on the agency’s behalf, and I support my agency’s efforts in helping our clients independently publish by creating resources and systems within the agency and by making myself available as a resource for any questions. I do my best to take the big picture view of what’s working and what isn’t in digital publishing and marketing both within our agency and more broadly in the market, and use that perspective to help the agency shape our approach to all things digital.

  1. There’s still a ton of dialogue going on about digital publishing, which isn’t necessarily the same as self-publishing. Some agented authors get digital only deals, or digital first deals. One thing for sure is that digital publishing is pretty powerful. It practically created the New Adult genre. What sort of things do you see happening in the digital publishing world right now, as you are right in the thick of things! :) 

Subscription services have been predicted for a long time, and now that they’re rolling out in earnest (as evidenced by Kindle Unlimited’s launch two months ago, though some others like Scribd have been around a bit longer), it will be very interesting to see the long term effect across digital publishing, both for traditionally published and self-published ebooks. I’m hardly the first to mention this, but the declining price of ebooks is also having an effect industry-wide, with the average price of a best-selling ebook dipping to $7.26 (as pointed out in Rich Bellis’s article in Digital Book World on 9/24/14). One of the effects (of this and of the “tsunami of content” as Jon Fine of Amazon put it) is that I do think it’s becoming harder across the board to draw attention to a new ebook title, even (or especially) through low prices and price promotions, which for a long time were a self-published author’s best friend. They’re still effective, but for new titles, they are not as effective as they used to be, and price promotion amplification sites like Bookbub are becoming more central to a promotion’s success.

  1. To keep going regarding digital….earlier this year at the great IndieReCon, you talked about the hybrid author, which is an author who publishes both traditionally (with a house) and on their own. So if I may, let’s focus on the “on their own” part of the equation for a moment. :) You’re obviously not afraid to take on clients who have self-published. But what are some of the challenges with negotiating and career-advising an author who has x number of books self-published and now wants to publish x number of books through Penguin or Entangled or any other publishing firm? Conversely, what are some real rewards you see when you take on a hybrid author? You mentioned quite a number of pros for the author, but what are some benefits that come to you as an agent?

I would say one of the challenges is that self-published authors are used to things moving very quickly, and unfortunately traditional publishing usually just cannot move as quickly. There are valid reasons why it takes a lot longer for a traditional publisher to release a book, but adjusting to a traditional timeline can cause some hybrid author “jet lag” and be frustrating for the author. There are so many benefits to  working with hybrid authors–too many to list!  Since agents are usually deeply invested in our clients’ careers, the benefits for them are also benefits for us. But I feel the greatest benefit is that an author who has self-published successfully is already very business savvy and ready to take an active hand in shaping his or her career. If their self-published books have been successful, they’re also usually very connected to their core readership, as well as  connected within the larger publishing community, active on social media, and able to bring a lot to the table in terms of marketing.

  1. Is there ever an instance when you take on a self-published author for a new series or title but then, for one reason or another, can’t find a home for the work they would like traditionally placed? What do you do then? Do you self-publish it? Do you wait? Do you revise and resubmit? 

This does happen, and it depends on the project and the reason that the title isn’t getting traction with traditional publishers. If the author and I agree that the feedback we’ve received indicates that the project is a good fit for the traditional market, but perhaps has elements that need to be re-thought, then we will likely revise and resubmit. If we feel that the title isn’t getting traction because of market concerns by publishers but we feel that readers will still respond to the title, then I would likely recommend that the author self-publish it. If the issue is a market concern that might extend to readers, then we might wait. But, of course, there are other individual factors that could come into play, too, including category, format, other projects in development, etc.

  1. I imagine you take on authors whose work you absolutely love, so you have tons of faith in it. Do you ever think that some work is best suited toward being self-published while others aren’t?

Yes, definitely! Beginning with category, adult and young adult fiction are still by far the strongest contenders for self-publishing, at least in my experience. Books for younger audiences are still a challenge to self-publish, though certainly Amazon and other digital players are actively investing in making this easier and more lucrative. Within those categories, I think certain genres lend themselves much more to self-publishing–and these unsurprisingly are the genres in which ebook sales tend to be the strongest (and the genres in which mass market sales used to be the strongest). So a YA thriller might be an excellent candidate for self-publishing, but I might hesitate with a MG nonfiction title, just as one example.

  1. Kristin Nelson, another big advocate for hybrid authors, wrote a great blog post on the partnership between agent and author in regards to hybrid publishing. She said that it’s not so much of a question as to WHY partner with an agent, but WHEN. It’s such an interesting statement. When do you think is the best time for a self-published author to reach out to an agent in the hopes of becoming a hybrid author? 

I loved that blog post and thought Ms. Nelson made an excellent point. As with everything, I think this does vary author-to-author. Certainly, I think she is right that for an author who is beginning to see substantial success with self-publishing, that is an ideal moment to partner with an agent who can help amplify and leverage that success, particularly on the subrights front (foreign, film, etc). Another moment that makes sense to me is when an author who has had strong success with a number of self-published titles is about to launch a new series. If they are looking to broaden their readership even further with the new series and have stronger paper distribution, as well as subrights support for all their work, that moment may also be a good time to partner with an agent.

Check back for part two tomorrow!

*taken from the Andrea Brown website

 

 

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Review – The Headmaster by Tiffany Reisz

At the remote Marshall School, Gwen Ashby stumbles upon the job—and the man—of her dreams. Stern, enigmatic Edwin Yorke with a heat Gwen longs to unleash. But Edwin knows all too well that forbidden love can end in tragedy….

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Tiffany Reisz’s newest novella, The Headmaster, is a joy to read from beginning to end. It’s different from her Original Sinners series, no doubt, but it still contains wonderful sensuality, incredible chemistry between all the characters, and Reisz’s trademark one-liners. Reisz is a masterful storyteller, so don’t let the fact that the Unholy Trinity doesn’t make an appearance scare you away from this solid standalone. As I said in a recent Twitter chat with the author herself, it’s as if, instead of giving her audience a 100 piece orchestral concerto, she gave us a haunting, bittersweet aria filled with all sorts of soaring notes and sweeping melodies. Such is the work of one of the most versatile authors working today. (Just in the last year, she’s given us a sexy rom-com, a dark, brilliant origin story, a male/male erotica short and a fun Navy SEAL serial. Talk about range!)

I began this book at eleven o’clock at night. It was a quick read, barely taking me ninety minutes. But I stayed awake for a long time after, not only because her book was such an adrenaline shock (I know that sounds like hyperbole. It’s not.) but because the ending…that ending…left my heart aching. But since this is a no spoilers site, you’ll just have to read the story and find out what I mean. :)

All in all, The Headmaster is a great story to fill the cooling days and chilly nights. It’s a great reminder at how tremendously crazy and brilliant Tiffany Reisz’s imagination is (and her work ethic.). Not that we ever forgot in the first place.

Kiss Final

Deleted Scenes #6 and #7 – Safe Haven and Final Word

*A Kiss Before Lying was a MUCH different book when I first wrote it. Totally different. I was aiming to write another Revolutionary Road. (I know…so lofty.) Suffice to say, I did not end up writing another Revolutionary Road. Instead, I wrote a 150,000 word mess with a few nice turns of phrases in it. But still…a mess. As the years went on, I revised and revised (which means I deleted and deleted) until I finally came up with what you can now currently buy at Amazon. But one of the things I actually did really like in my hot mess of a book were these little one-page section breaks, as told by the main character. (His name is Derek in the final draft, but for a long time, it was Leo. So you’ll see that name a lot. Know that it’s not a new character, but just Derek still.)  He’s a medical student, so each of these chapter breaks had something to do with medical terminology. I loved those! I wish I could’ve kept them in the final draft, but after much thought and some great advice by my awesome critique partner and editor extraordinaire, Caitlin McNulty, we decided that they affected the pacing too much to stay.

However, those medical scenes were never deleted permanently! They have been living quietly on my hard drive…until now. Now, they’re here, unedited, though dying to be read. :)

Enjoy!

SAFE HAVEN

The immune system is, for all intents and purposes, a shield.  It provides our body with protection from diseases, whether that disease be a common cold, the flu, or something more severe.  It is a complex series of cells and chemicals and processes in which things called lymphocytes react to and eliminate antigens.  The immune system develops during the third month of pregnancy and matures several weeks after a person’s birth and continues to function right up until their death.

So you see?  Even after you’ve given up, there are things still willing to fight for you.

 

 FINAL WORD

There are so many things that can go wrong with the human body, it’s almost incomprehensible. One little thing wrong can throw the entire thing off.  People are always so surprised when they get sick.  They’re always shocked by the diagnosis.  But think about it.  Think about how many things have to be exactly right to be healthy.  Think of it, and you’ll see it’s more shocking to not be sick than it is to be sick. But you know what?  For all I know, for all I’m continuing to learn, here’s what I know better than anything.  The human body is miraculous.  It can stand up against lots of devastation. It can be loved, and it can love back.

And yes, while it can be broken, it can also be healed.

That’s what I think of, those are the words I remember, whenever I miss her most.

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Deleted Scene #5 – Twist and Tear

*A Kiss Before Lying was a MUCH different book when I first wrote it. Totally different. I was aiming to write another Revolutionary Road. (I know…so lofty.) Suffice to say, I did not end up writing another Revolutionary Road. Instead, I wrote a 150,000 word mess with a few nice turns of phrases in it. But still…a mess. As the years went on, I revised and revised (which means I deleted and deleted) until I finally came up with what you can now currently buy at Amazon. But one of the things I actually did really like in my hot mess of a book were these little one-page section breaks, as told by the main character. (His name is Derek in the final draft, but for a long time, it was Leo. So you’ll see that name a lot. Know that it’s not a new character, but just Derek still.)  He’s a medical student, so each of these chapter breaks had something to do with medical terminology. I loved those! I wish I could’ve kept them in the final draft, but after much thought and some great advice by my awesome critique partner and editor extraordinaire, Caitlin McNulty, we decided that they affected the pacing too much to stay.

However, those medical scenes were never deleted permanently! They have been living quietly on my hard drive…until now. Now, they’re here, unedited, though dying to be read. :)

Enjoy!

 

TWIST AND TEAR

Ligamentous Sprain.  It’s when a joint is twisted or wrenched so violently, so suddenly, that  the ligaments – hence the name – or fibers, will stretch or tear completely.  Blood vessels will rupture and hemorrhage into tissue.  These sprains occur most in ankles, knees, fingers and wrists, and while it is not gender specific, these sprains seem to happen to adults more often then children.  Children, you see, are more flexible; they’ll fracture, not tear.  Adults are unbending.  They’ll split clean in two.

There are three types of a ligamentous sprain: Grade One, Grade Two, and Grade Three.

Grade One is the least serious, where one third of the fibers are torn.  There’s pain, but you can still walk on the ankle, you can still move the wrist.

In Grade Two, two-thirds of the fibers are torn.  There is visible swelling, skin discoloration, and more pain.  Definite decrease in mobility, too.

Finally, there is Grade Three, the most serious of them all.  It is a complete disconnect, a total tear in the ligament.  The swelling and skin discoloration and pain and instability are even more pronounced.  The symptoms of a Grade Three tear are severe, and the long term effects of it can be dire.

When I first learned about ligamentous sprains, what surprised me most was the fact that an x-ray would not reveal these problems.   You’d think you’d be able to see a tear that complete, but, no.  This is the kind of injury that you can only feel, way deep inside you.  It’s the kind of injury that doctors can do little to help you with.  Casts, splints, maybe even surgery…but really, they only go so far.

You see, when you tear something, how you heal really depends on how strong you are to begin with.  The more whole you are, the more unblemished and unhurt, the better your chances to mend.  But for those who have been broken before, who have experienced similar wounds and tears, they may never fully recover.  They’ll always experience some pain, and they’ll always remember how it got there.

So you see. There’s only so much a body can take, any body, before it breaks.

“This book will keep you up until 3am

Deleted Scenes #3 and #4 – Breakable You and Coming to Terms

*A Kiss Before Lying was a MUCH different book when I first wrote it. Totally different. I was aiming to write another Revolutionary Road. (I know…so lofty.) Suffice to say, I did not end up writing another Revolutionary Road. Instead, I wrote a 150,000 word mess with a few nice turns of phrases in it. But still…a mess. As the years went on, I revised and revised (which means I deleted and deleted) until I finally came up with what you can now currently buy at Amazon. But one of the things I actually did really like in my hot mess of a book were these little one-page section breaks, as told by the main character. (His name is Derek in the final draft, but for a long time, it was Leo. So you’ll see that name a lot. Know that it’s not a new character, but just Derek still.)  He’s a medical student, so each of these chapter breaks had something to do with medical terminology. I loved those! I wish I could’ve kept them in the final draft, but after much thought and some great advice by my awesome critique partner and editor extraordinaire, Caitlin McNulty, we decided that they affected the pacing too much to stay.

However, those medical scenes were never deleted permanently! They have been living quietly on my hard drive…until now. Now, they’re here, unedited, though dying to be read. :)

Enjoy!

 

BREAKABLE YOU

When you break a whole thing, you end up with pieces.

It’s very easy to literally see how the human body can break.  Ribs break.  Wrists break.  Tail bones break.  Clavicles break.  Ankles break, toes break, fingers break.

But what about things that aren’t connected by blood and tissue?  The unquantifiable stuff?  The things that make me me and you you.  Pride, love, honor, integrity? What happens when those break?.How do you possibly mend shattered faith?  Fading hope? How do you possibly fix what you can’t begin to describe?

And what happens when you don’t even want to?

 

 COMING TO TERMS

Cardiomyoplasty.

Some words, you never want to say.  They look scary, they sound scary, their meanings are terrifying.  But then other words…they’ll surprise you.

Cardio.  Heart.

Myo.  Muscle.

Plasty.  To mold or shape.

I know this answer like I know my name.  I put my pencil to paper and fill in the blank.

Cardiomyoplasty.  A procedure that gives hope to those who have none.

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Deleted Scene #2 – Heart Beat

*A Kiss Before Lying was a MUCH different book when I first wrote it. Totally different. I was aiming to write another Revolutionary Road. (I know…so lofty.) Suffice to say, I did not end up writing another Revolutionary Road. Instead, I wrote a 150,000 word mess with a few nice turns of phrases in it. But still…a mess. As the years went on, I revised and revised (which means I deleted and deleted) until I finally came up with what you can now currently buy at Amazon. But one of the things I actually did really like in my hot mess of a book were these little one-page section breaks, as told by the main character. (His name is Derek in the final draft, but for a long time, it was Leo. So you’ll see that name a lot. Know that it’s not a new character, but just Derek still.)  He’s a medical student, so each of these chapter breaks had something to do with medical terminology. I loved those! I wish I could’ve kept them in the final draft, but after much thought and some great advice by my awesome critique partner and editor extraordinaire, Caitlin McNulty, we decided that they affected the pacing too much to stay.

However, those medical scenes were never deleted permanently! They have been living quietly on my hard drive…until now. Now, they’re here, unedited, though dying to be read. :)

Enjoy!

HEART BEAT

A cardiac cycle is is the alternating contractions and relaxations of the heart chambers and it takes about one second to occur.  Most people don’t actually use the words cardiac cycle though.  Most people just say heart beat.

During a healthy, normal heart beat, a pair of chambers called the atria contract, while another pair of chambers called ventricles relax.  Blood flows into a ventricle or through an artery.  Valves open and shut.  A lot of things go on during the cardiac cycle, and it all can be clearly heard.

But here’s the thing.  You don’t need to put a stethoscope to your chest to hear someone’s heart; bits and pieces of it sound off all the time.  Sometimes, they’ll stick to the raw sound of a cry, or twine tightly around a piercing keen, or insulate a hopeless moan.  You hear these things, and you know instantly.

Someone’s heart has broken.

Kiss Final

Deleted Scene #1 – Inspiration

*A Kiss Before Lying was a MUCH different book when I first wrote it. Totally different. I was aiming to write another Revolutionary Road. (I know…so lofty.) Suffice to say, I did not end up writing another Revolutionary Road. Instead, I wrote a 150,000 word mess with a few nice turns of phrases in it. But still…a mess. As the years went on, I revised and revised (which means I deleted and deleted) until I finally came up with what you can now currently buy at Amazon. But one of the things I actually did really like in my hot mess of a book were these little one-page section breaks, as told by the main character. (His name is Derek in the final draft, but for a long time, it was Leo. So you’ll see that name a lot. Know that it’s not a new character, but just Derek still.)  He’s a medical student, so each of these chapter breaks had something to do with medical terminology. I loved those! I wish I could’ve kept them in the final draft, but after much thought and some great advice by my awesome critique partner and editor extraordinaire, Caitlin McNulty, we decided that they affected the pacing too much to stay.

However, those medical scenes were never deleted permanently! They have been living quietly on my hard drive…until now. Now, they’re here, unedited, though dying to be read. :)

Enjoy!

 INSPIRATION

The word inspiration brings with it all sorts of images: a painter who suddenly sees a beautiful woman and must immediately capture the image; a dancer who hears extraordinary music and starts to move; a composer who sees a sunset and is struck by a melody.

Inspiration is so often linked with the arts and creativity that it’s easy to forget it’s also a medical term, too.  The very act of breathing is called inspiration, or at least, the first part of breathing.  When the chest expands and the air moves into the lungs, that’s inspiration.  When the chest relaxes and the air moves out, that’s expiration.

During inspiration, the major muscles involved are the diaphragm and external intercostal muscles.  During expiration, the major muscles involved are the internal oblique, external oblique, transverse abdominis, and rectus abdominus.

Forget paint brushes and pointe shoes, right?

Now, the whole process of inspiration and expiration is a largely passive one.  The muscles contract then relax, contract then relax.  However, there are times this pattern is interrupted.  Coughing, sneezing, sighing, yawning, laughing, hiccupping.  Crying will do it, too.  After all, inspiration can’t occur when you feel like your life is over.

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