Originally posted HERE
I just got back from the BookExpo. Wow! Can I just say WOW! I had more movie producers and TV producers talk to me, as well as a talent agency (Gwyn Foxx) who may be interested in selling my book to the movie industry--which is good, since the other talent agency I met at the LA Times Festival of Books never showed up. I got a solid offer from a Canadian independent publisher (robotpress.net) as well as some solid interest from large publishers, including an affiliate of Disney (ModernPublishing.com). The head acquisitions director for Sony (eBooks) talked to me for nearly 30 minutes and is very excited about my book. She even offered to connect me with Richard Curtis (literary agent). When I got home, an email from another literary agent, Katie Menick from Howard Morhaim Literary Agency, awaited me. She asked for a copy of my book. The agent I met on day 2 was Jenoyne Adams with Bliss Literary Agency International. After doing some research, I’ve discovered that there are pluses and minuses with both of the agencies. I’m debating whether I should shop around for some more agents, while the excitement is still strong. Oh, I got invited to present at several school/library events and to speak on several radio stations. Not a bad way to end the BookExpo.
Now the key to all of this is follow-up. Will any of these people actually call me like they said they will? Most of them gave me their business cards, so at least I can follow up myself if they don't contact me. I’ve proven that my book is marketable (it hit the BarnesAndNoble.com bestseller list and is now placing in contests). And I have a strong offer on the table and some interest from some bigger fish. The offer from Robot Binaries & Press would probably entail a 15,000 print run with about $15,000 set aside for promotions, and a great distributor with a national sales force. The owner of the company asked me what I was looking for in an advance, but I didn't give him a figure, because I wanted to leave that to an agent.
I'm concerned about going with another independent press, however, especially because their first book hasn't even come out yet (it will come out in September, and it's called "I, robot" -- Foreword Magazine actually said it was better than the original book and movie) and because they might have shipping issues by being located in Canada. They don’t have a track record, but I know the president, Howard Smith, has spent maybe $60,000 on the first book, and after talking to him for a while I could see that he really means business and knows what he’s talking about. Heck, he spent $5,000+ for a booth at the BookExpo to promote a book that’s not even coming out for four more months! Every question I asked was answered with a positive answer such as distribution, promotion, etc.
I do have real concerns regarding the pricing of the book, however. The headquarters of Borders or B&N (I can’t remember which) sent me a letter once telling me they didn’t want to stock my book, Paraworld Zero, because it couldn’t compete price-wise with the other books. Many stores stocked it anyway because of the demand. But they told me in their letter that $14.95 is too much for a trade paperback. I somewhat agree. If you go into Borders and B&N, you’ll see some hardbacks for that price, but no paperbacks that high. Robot Binaries is selling “I, robot” for $17.95. I’ve had complaints from bookstores regarding the price of $16.95 that Paraworld Zero is currently at. I can only imagine how hard it’s going to be for a B&N or Borders to sell a $17.95 trade paperback book when all the other books are going for $5 less than that.
All those uncertainties are troubling. What if the first and second book he has lined up don’t do well? What if he can’t pay me a decent advance? The mistake I made with my current publisher is that I opted for a higher royalty instead of an advance, with the intentions of making even more money in the long run. What happened was that my publisher wasn’t vested enough in the project because they didn’t have as much to lose. I now see the value in a good advance. High advance = High interest in making the book successful (so they can get their money back). Regardless of all this, I’m betting an agent would push the Disney-affiliated company first. But I certainly like Howard's zeal. He seems to be doing a lot of the right things.
So, to wrap things up, the BEA was a WONDERFUL event! I can't say it was wonderful for most of the other authors there. Many were very discouraged. I seemed to strike gold, though. I had a wonderful pitch: "Harry Potter meets Star Wars!" I gave away about 400 books. My booth was very nice to look at as well (I had an 8x8 foot backdrop of the characters from my book). I had a laptop which showed my video trailer, and I think that's what got all of the movie peoples' attention. What's funny is that quite a few people told me that they had already seen the video trailer or that they had already bought my book. Several MySpace friends came to see me in person for the first time, including John Kremer (book marketing guru).
I was so fired up that I drove home right after the BEA (6 hour drive) and then stayed up another 6 hours working until my boys woke up. Then I realized I better get a couple hours of sleep. Oh boy, am I tired!