We had another educational and inspiring meeting last Saturday, with two phenomenal guest speakers: literary agent Kevan Lyon, of Marsal Lyon Literary Agency, and writing coach Marni Freedman, the author of the recently released 7 Essential Writing Tools.
In the morning, Kevan untangled the twisted web of subsidiary rights, helping to demystify some of the more complicated elements of a publishing contract. Subsidiary rights are the rights pertaining to the production or publication of your work in different formats, such as audio, film, or foreign translations. Kevan explained the ins and outs of navigating this convoluted section of your contract, including how to determine the split on the payout, what a standard payout is considered (for example, 75/25 for translation rights vs 50/50 for audio), and when to expect to see your earnings (hint: it’ll take a really, really long time to see money from foreign markets).
She also discussed the advantages and disadvantages of signing your subsidiary rights away to a publisher as opposed to keeping them and trying to sell them elsewhere. The biggest advantage of selling them separately is that the author sees a higher cut; on the other hand, it can be hard to sell these rights, particularly if you’re a debut author. However, she mentioned that translation rights can be a negotiating point in your contract. For example, if your publisher wants to keep them, you might be able to obtain a higher advance.
Translation rights, according to Kevan, are the most valuable of all your subsidiary rights, followed by audio, and finally film. She encouraged us all to be realistic about our hopes of our books being made into a film or television show; the number of projects that are actually produced into finished films or television series are one in a million. Far more common, she said, is the sale of an option – where a producer, screenwriter, or other filmmaker reserves the rights to create an adaption of your novel for a specified period of time. The odds of those options progressing to a full-blown production, though, are slim.
The biggest takeaway from this discussion was that we should all keep a close eye on our contracts to make sure we’re protecting ourselves and our work.
While Kevan took pitches from our members in the afternoon (good luck to everyone who is sending in requested material!), we were treated to a speech from Marni Goldman, who inspired us to take our writing career into our own hands. We live in one of the best times for writers ever, she said; agents are accessible, self-publishing is possible, and hybrid careers are taking off. In many ways, though, our self-limiting beliefs can block us from achieving our true potential.
Marni said that there are several ways we can bust down those blocks we’ve placed in our way.
- Find your unique voice. Realize that they’re just words, and words can be moved around. Think of your book as a sandbox; before you can build a castle, you need a little sand to play with. So allow yourself to fail, to write those crappy first drafts. The important thing is to make progress, to let go and trust yourself.
- Make a bold plan. Push yourself beyond your comfort level when setting your career goals. When you feel like you’re in a place of discomfort with your ideas and your aspirations, you’re doing the right thing.
- Submit like a maniac. If you don’t send your work in, you’ll never win that contest or get that contract. Success comes from being tenacious and never giving up, even when you’re at the end of your rope.
She encouraged us all to embrace the “Feisty Writer” within us and shift our internal attitudes from one of self-defeat to one of self-surrender and “authentic courage.”
Speaking of “authentic courage,” our Member of the Month was Lisa Kessler. While Lisa routinely goes above and beyond her duties for our chapter, she was nominated by Megan Just for her extraordinary support and mentorship in helping her fellow chapter mates succeed in their quests for publication.
Additionally, our chapter members celebrated all of the following Good News:
- Carmen Paul applied and was accepted to the Writers Guild of America (WGA) Veterans’ Writing Retreat.
- Tessa McFionn signed a contract for her third book.
- Tameri Etherton’s Developing Cassandra won the silver medal in the Independent Publisher Book Awards.
- Bob Richard had a full request of his manuscript from Harlequin.
- Donnamaie White released seven books, with three more in the pipe.
- Sarah Richmond sold her book, Do Be Sensible, Miss Wynchcomb. Also, her workshop, A 19th Century Fashion Show, was accepted for presentation at RWA 2016.
- JQ Anderson’s debut novel, Intercepted, hit #2 on the Kindle Best Sellers lists for Romance: New Adult and College, as well as Kindle Free Books.
- C.J. Corbin made PAN.
Join us next month for an extremely special event: we’ll be hosting NYC Medical Examiner Jonathan Hayes and Detective Tenaya Webb to discuss how to get our murder scenes right, and uncover how police solve crimes. Don’t miss it!