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Friday, November 26, 2010

Ford Street Books and Sarah: Sales Force Extraordinairre

I can't believe it was nearly a month ago but it appears it was. 
After my last day as an intern with Black Dog Books (but before I started my temporary work with them) I started the first part of a placement/internship/work attachment with Ford Street Publishing. The task for the day was to run a successful book launch for a beautiful new picture book, The Glasshouse text by Paul Collins and illustrations by Jo Thompson. 

I was the sales force, in charge of the money and the merchandise.
I have to admit, I haven't been to many book launches, but the ones I have been to in the past were boring. I learnt that I did not like book launches. Since The Glasshouse launch I've changed my mind though. I met so many fantastic people who love writing, love illustrating or just love reading! It felt like the Aussie kid-lit crowd all turned up. I was among kindred spirits, you might say, so  I definitely want to go to more launches.

The launch of the book about a girl and her pumpkin growing glasshouse was held at the end of October (clever, right? Because of Halloween?) not in a bookstore, but at Prahran Market which was a creative choice in venue. Families were already out in force, enjoying their Saturday morning together, therefore the launch attracted parents and kids (sometimes kids without their parents, and the odd dog) to just wander over and check out what was going on since they were there already.

The speeches were a bit hard to hear over the noise of shoppers shopping, especially as Paul was ill so couldn't speak loudly if he wanted to. I think a microphone is all they need for next time.

There was supposed to be book-signing after the official launch and speeches but guests just couldn't help themselves and as soon as I sold them a book or two they had to get them signed!

Above is some of the artwork from the picture book, and paper pumpkins for the kids to have a crack at making! (Photo courtesy of Megan Burke)

And here are Paul and Jo (Photo also courtesy of Megan Burke). 

All in all, it was a great day with great people. I am taking a bit of a break after finishing up with Black Dog Books, finishing my assignments and finishing my novel. Getting into my summer job routine and then I'll be heading back to Ford Street for more learnings! And either revising a novel or plotting my next one.

Ciao for now,


Tuesday, November 16, 2010

When Identity Theft Happens To You

I thought I was done with this blog. Thought I had posted on it for the last time.

Why? Because Nigerian hackers got into my google email account (so my whole Google account, including Blogger), changed my password and then sent this email to nearly everyone I have ever emailed.

Subject: Horrible Experience!!

Sorry I did not inform you about our trip.We actually made a quick travel to Brighton and unfortunately we were attacked at gun point on the way to our hotel,all cash,credit card and cell phone were taken away from us but luckily we still have our passport with us.

I`ve been to the embassy here but they're not helping issues at all and our return flight leaves today but we`re having problems settling the hotel bills and the hotel manager won't let us leave until we settle the bills

Am freaked out at the moment and i need your help right away

Yeah, I mentioned the EVER part, in "they sent this email to anyone I had ever emailed. Ever." right?
Considering I had 1600 emails in my InBox which doesn't include Facebook or Twitter notifications or anything, they sent it to a lot of people.

The publisher I am soon to be interning with left a voicemail for me while I was at work about it. Today I got a call from my property agent. My parents had international phone calls from friends and family overseas.

The people that replied to this email were then asked to send between $1300-1800 via Western Union and though the people I have managed to contact know it's a scam (though some were worried) I don't know how to contact others.

Though I doubt anyone would have sent money - I sure hope they wouldn't - I have no way of knowing who it went out to. Oh yeah - did I mention they deleted my contacts list too? I imagine it went out to all of the agents and publishers I have queried over the years. I'm so sorry. My records of who I queried were in my Google account.

Oh - and when I say I HAD 1600 emails in my inbox, I say HAD because they are not there anymore. Every email I ever sent or received was deleted. I don't know why they would do that. Anyone? Do you know why hackers delete your emails and contacts?

So I finally managed to get back into my account today. The hackers had changed the email address to send a security code, and they'd changed the phone number for it as well. They had set it so that all of my emails were being forwarded to another email address, but when they replied it would look like they were coming from me.

I had to give a statement at the police station on Sunday, and their (under-resourced and under-funded) E-crimes division are on it. Mind you if it's international there's nothing they can really do.
Google recorded the IP addresses of some foreign activity, and there were 3 different IP addresses in Nigeria and 1 in the United States that had been accessing my email. I've forwarded them to the police but I doubt they can do anything.

I have to say, it made me feel quite vulnerable. I had no control over stopping these a-holes from scamming my friends. And they got into my facebook and deleted any mention of them as well when I had been warning my friends not to email me. They changed my passwords in Facebook as well but I managed to get back in. I must be more computer-savvy than they anticipated.

Anyway, that's my story. I'm sorry everyone, and I hope no one gave "me" any money to get me home.

Be careful on the internet everyone. It's not always your friend.


Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Bad stuff happens in threes, right?

So I'm going through a bit of a "don't let Sarah touch your computer, she'll break it" phase right now.

My lap top's power cord is busted so I sent it away to get fixed. It's cool, I still have my 3 month old netbook, it's shiny and new and a novelty so I do most of my work on that anyway. I can totally get those last four assignments for the year done. It'll be fine.

Yeah well while the laptop was away my computer is hacking its guts up because it sure has one doozy of a virus.

But I managed to back up all my documents onto the usb drive on my key ring, so it's fine. It's still good. I don't physically have a computer of my own to use but I could use somebody else's (like my sister's right now) if I could get my hands on it. I'm getting the assignments in. It's happening.

And then my usb drive fell off my keyring and disappeared into oblivion.


I'm currently working two jobs, (as Maryann at Black Dog Books said the other day: "This is Sarah, she was here on work placement but she just never left") and GETTING MY ASSIGNMENTS DONE.

My sister found the USB though - thank God it fell off in the house. But my bad computer karma is over now right, that's three. It has to be over. And let's not mention the fact that Black Dog use Macs and I'm a PC girl through and through (how do you use a Mac, anyway??).

Anyway, sorry for the no new expose's. I'm a little tied up.

I have lots of things to tell you about the fabulous Ford Street Press book launch for The Glasshouse by Paul Collins, illustrated by Jo Thompson. It was lots of fun and I met some fab people. I was the sales department. But I'll tell you all about that later.

Oh! And I found the notebook! So there are writing pearls of wisdom from Steph Bowe, Lili Wilkinson and Penni Russon coming your way.

Hope you're enjoying the sunshine if you're in the southern hemisphere like me, or the cold and snow (if its started) up north. I can't believe it's that time of year again.

How are you NaNoWriMoer's doing?

More later,


Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Getting Published: With an Agent vs Without an Agent PART 2

Okay so yesterday I spoke with Robin Mellom about the process of getting published WITH an agent.

Today I'm talking with Shirley Marr about the process of getting published WITHOUT an agent. I actually met Shirley the week before I started my placement with Black Dog Books, her publisher. It was some bizarre yet awesome coincidence.

This is Shirley

There's an awful lot of emphasis these days on the importance of having an agent in order to get your book into publishers hands. And it's true, it's pretty difficult when most publishers don't accept submissions that have NOT come through an agent.

Shirley Marr, however is a non-agented success story.

Let's see how she did it, hmm?

Was it an active choice to NOT employ an agent, or did you not really think about it?

I was quite naive when I decided to submit Fury. I didn't really know what an agent was or did. I was under the mistaken illusion it was for "famous authors" that dealt with huge publishing houses. I thought I didn't need one if I only aimed for the small indie houses.

You said you aimed to target smaller publishers, why was that?

I was unsure of my manuscript, but I thought it had potential and I really liked it. In my mind I thought if I found someone small, that maybe I would get a more "hands on" approach. When I saw on their website their goal was to foster authors and not just find one-off novels, I thought that looked perfect. As it turned out, my path to publication with black dog books was sort of like a mentorship. Just what I was after.

How many publishers did you submit to before Black Dog?

Black Dog was my first and only one! I'm a rejection letter virgin.

[Do you remember me saying yesterday that you would hate Shirley, readers? This is why. She is an author who has never received a rejection letter. She’s not supposed to EXIST. Let’s all glare at her some, shall we?]

How awesome was "the call" and can you tell me about it?

I was so surprised. I got an email from Melissa Keil. Below is the exact email. It wasn't an immediate fairytale "yes" though, it was a series of talks and revisions (I had to submit a new draft) before it became that way. Nevertheless, the first contact letter was still exciting!

From: Melissa

Subject: Submission - 'Fury'

Date: 25 March 2009 9:17:16 AM AWDT

To: Shirley Marr

Hi Shirley

Thank you for submitting the sample of your young adult novel 'Fury'. I have to say that your cover letter was one of the better letters I have received (it was nice to read something with a smattering of personality, something strangely lacking from many submissions!)

I would be interested to read the rest of your novel - it would be great if you could submit it electronically, preferably as a word doc.

Looking forward to finishing your book - and ps, thank you for the chocolates, they were much appreciated by a sugar-starved editorial team.


Melissa Keil


How did you find negotiations and contracts, going it alone. Did you struggle through it yourself or have a lawyer look it all over and negotiate?

It was easy because bdb is small, so there wasn't a lot of "red tape" - I met the publisher, Andrew Kelly, almost straight away. I did have a lawyer look at the contract and a few things were changed. A small publishing house meant I could negotiate everything with Andrew himself.

Do you feel you made the right choice for you?

For Fury, definitely yes.

Anything of particular interest happen/things you think were unique to your situation that you'd like to talk about?

My decision not to go with an agent was a personal choice. It felt right for the novel and for my situation back then as a writer. If I had felt I wanted to go international, or I felt I wanted to go with a bigger publisher, then having an agent would have been the better choice. I encourage people to go accordingly what their aspirations are.

Was Fury the first novel you wrote?

The first published novel yes, but I have written almost my entire lifetime so there are a lot of dodgy, unpublishable novels languishing on my hard drive!

How many times did you edit it?

About five times before I sent it out. With my bdb editor Melissa, it went through another four drafts.

Do you have a critique group/partner/go it alone?

I have one "beta" - Ee Von Loo. I trust her with my life. Nothing goes to bdb unless she's seen it first. I pay her in steak, alcohol and Pai Gow.

Were you on the slush pile or get picked up some other way?

I went on that slush pile! But bdb don't use the term slush, they call it "treasure chest" which is really nice!

Are you a pantser/outliner?

More of a pantser actually! This horrifies people. Including all of bdb.

How much editing was involved with your Black Dog editor?

A lot! So much in fact I had to blog a dedication to Melissa here:

If you're working on something new, can you tell us a little about it?

Yes! I am working on something new. It's not a sequel, I won't rule out calling it a prequel, but it'll be in the same universe. Maybe you might meet some "old friends" from Fury. But they might have changed (in a weird TV-show-Heroes way). Good guys might be more like bad guys and vice versa.

A Rejection Virgin and Slush Pile Success Story!


Let me tell you my story.
Not just the facts I know you want to hear.
If I’m going to tell you my story,
I’m telling it my way.

Strap yourself in...

Eliza Boans has everything.
A big house.
A great education.
A bright future.

So why is she sitting in a police station confessing to murder?

Fury is available in Australia through Black Dog Books right now. Go get it!

Monday, November 1, 2010

Getting Published: With an Agent vs Without an Agent PART 1

Hello gentle readers!

I have finished my internship with Black Dogs Book (sad face) but that is not the last they have seen of me yet. As bdb publicist extraordinaire Jess had a terrible accident last week and can't work at the moment (rest assured, to my knowledge she will recover shortly!) I have been asked to temporarily take over Publicity and keep it running smoothly until she is all mended and can come back to work, which for her sake (not mine) I hope is soon.

Oooh the power. I have lots of ideas, but maybe not enough time to implement them. We'll find out.

Anyway! Today we are talking about getting published, and the two routes you could take.

In today's entry and in the "With an Agent" corner, we have Robin Mellom, fellow Herman Agency client who just this year signed a two-book deal with Disney-Hyperion for DITCHED--in which a girl finds herself lying in a ditch the morning after her prom with no memory of the last twelve hours which includes a disappearing prom date and a punk Tinkerbell tattoo. It's set to be published in March 2012! It's being hailed as "The Hangover for teens" which to me means it will be hilarious.

Robin Mellom

So let's get cracking!

What made you decide to get an agent?

I spent years trying to get through the slushpile. Which, at the time, was through the actual U.S. mail system (i.e. it took forever!!) But after experiencing that whole “close but no cigar” thing, I realized an agent would guide me editorially and be my best bet for finding that right editor.

How difficult was that process?

Lots of form rejections but a couple of agents were willing to work on revisions without a contract. But Jill showed the most excitement. To me, nothing is more important than “excitement.”

How awesome was "the call" and can you tell me about it?

She was so cute…she emailed me with her thoughts on the manuscript as she was reading it throughout the night. “On p. 66. Loving it!!” Then page 132, etc. I was on pins and needles all night, but was so exhausted I fell asleep waiting. My husband came in around midnight to tell me the news that she had just sent an email that said “Offer of Representation!” I slept very well that night.

How did you find contracts and negotiations, with an agent?

Not a problem…her contract was pretty much industry standard, so no negotiations needed.

Do you feel you made the right choice for you, agent vs no agent?

Absolutely. She has pushed me in ways I never would have pushed myself. I think of it like having a personal trainer at a state-of-the-art gym versus using some hand weights in my living room. The personal trainer will whip my butt into shape, but there is a TV in my living room so…flabby butt.

Anything of particular interest happen/things you think were unique to your situation that you'd like to talk about?

I do think it’s important to share that the manuscript that landed me an agent was not the one that ultimately sold. In fact, the one that sold was the third book I wrote since working with her. And she was the one who convinced me I should try writing humor for teens. It simply had not occurred to me. But she was convinced I could do it—thank goodness I listened!

Was Ditched your first novel?

I’ve written other middle grade books, so DITCHED is the sixth book I’ve written.

How many times did you edit Ditched?

Maybe three or four.

Do you have a critique group/partner/go it alone?

In the past I’ve had a critique group, but for this one I worked on it alone. Usually Jill gives me editorial suggestions, but for this one she didn’t have any changes and we went out with it right away. (Sort of unusual for me, as she normally has LOTS of suggestions.)

How many rejections did you get before Disney bought Ditched?

About three or four rejections I think. Then we had interest from three houses.

Are you a pantser or an outliner?

I am both, actually. First I come up with a premise and a problem. Then I just start writing so I can see if I can get the voice and if I have insane amounts of excitement about the project. (Because you have to be insanely excited to devote that much time and energy to a book, right? Or just be insane.) Then when I get to about chapter three, I stop and seriously outline. I don’t detail chapter by chapter, but I outline events that occur from one turning point to the next—I use a screenplay outline and put it on big butcher paper on the wall. Color-coded and everything! (I used to be a teacher.)

How much editing is involved with your Disney editor?

I just finished the first BIG revision, which took me about three months. Then we may have one more smaller revision that I will have about a month or less to work on. Then we move on to line edits and finally copy edits.

If you're working on something new, can you tell us a little about it?

Right now it is “Un-named YA Title.” Fascinating, yes? Ha! I sent in a sample and synopsis and just have to wait for it to get approved before we announce the book. Soon, I hope! But it is another fun, rompy, romance adventure.

Thanks for having me, Sarah! Can’t wait to hear about news of your books selling!!!

Any questions I missed? Anything you wish I had asked? Let me know in the comments!

Tomorrow, in the "Without An Agent" corner we have Shirley Marr, fellow Australian writer who had her first novel Fury published through Black Dog Books. I have a bit of a girl-crush on this lady, but there is a reason you, budding authors, will want to hate her. Find out why tomorrow.