Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Interviewed by Lazy Day Pub

Yesterday, I had the great pleasure of being featured on the blog of new digital publisher, Lazy Day Publishing. Below is a copy of the interview. Be sure to check the initial post for replies to comments left.

We are honored to have Saritza Hernández, ePub Agent with L. Perkins Agency answer some questions for us today!

1. Please tell us a little bit about you.

Well, let’s see, I suppose I should start with the obvious, married with three children bit. Married my junior high school sweetheart at the age of 20 and by 25 had three amazing children who took up a lot of my time. Have worked in the textbook publishing industry for 10 years and in print media prior to that. I’ve always enjoyed the pub industry even with its ups and downs but as the industry changed, I started to look for something more. I decided to go back to school and finish my degree but as many have found, the piece of paper doesn’t always guarantee anything beyond a mountain of student loans.

My passion has always been in representing the interests of the authors whose works I admire, so shortly after finishing my college degree, I started looking for a way to do that. I found the L. Perkins agency and agreed to a mentor-ship where I quickly found myself being the sole ePub agent in the industry.

2. What does an ePub Agent do? How would this benefit an author?

An ePub agent does the same tasks a traditional literary agent performs but with an eye toward the digital era and it’s evolution. In today’s evolving industry, having an advocate who understands both the print and digital sides of the industry and can fight for the author’s rights is crucial.

3. How is an ePub Agent different than a typical Agent?

The differences are subtle. Where my colleagues take out editors to lunch to discuss pitches, I pitch via phone and email. The latter more than the former, to be honest. Everything else is exactly the same. I review contracts, discuss career planning with my clients and most of all, fight for my clients’ to get the best deal for their amazing talent. I also help my clients with their marketing and self-promotion. ePubs generally do not have the huge marketing departments traditional publishers have and much of the promotion for the book falls to the author.

4. What are you looking for in an author?

It’s cliché, I know and authors get tired of hearing about voice but really, that’s the most important thing. You either have the writing ability needed to engage the reader or you don’t. I can help polish a work for submission and often times do when I know the story is salable but I can’t teach you how to write.

I’m also looking for an author who is willing to learn or is already digitally savvy. An author with a web presence, Facebook and Twitter, yes but also a desire and ability to self-promote.

5. Since you are an ePub Agent, will you try to get an author’s book in print?

Absolutely! I always negotiate for print rights in the contract and if these are not available through the epub, I can reach out to my colleagues at the agency to help me place the work with a traditional publisher.

6. What are your feelings on Social Media? Is there one type you prefer over another?

Social Media is an invaluable tool that every author should take advantage of. I don’t prefer any one over the other but I find that Facebook and Twitter open the author to a vast readership. Having a blog is also a crucial marketing tool for any author. These tools allow for your readers to “connect” with you and when the readers feel like they know the author, they buy more of that author’s works.

7. What are your feelings on the future of the ebook vs. book?

I think there really should not be a rivalry but a merging and we are at the cusp of an incredible revolution in the pub industry. While I prefer to buy the epub version of any book, I don’t see how we could be without print as well. To me it’s just another format to provide the reader, hardcover, paperback, audiobook, epub.

8. What do you feel are the genres of today and the genres of the future?

What a great question! Just as the industry is evolving so are the genres. I see more genre straddling in the future than single-genre publishing. Romance and YA are timeless. These genres, I believe will continue to remain strong sellers. Cross-genre fiction, though is what seems to be paving the way in the digital marketplace. Suspense, paranormal erotic romance is one I’d like to see continue to grow.

9. What advice do you have for an author looking for representation?

Write the best book you can, then have it edited by someone not related or a friend. Study the industry by reading Writer’s Market, Publisher’s Weekly and Galleycat. Follow agents and editors on Twitter and read (& follow) their submission guidelines. Then send your baby in and don’t be discouraged by rejection. What one agent/editor is looking for may be (and usually is) vastly different from what another is looking for.

10. Is there anything else you would like to add?

Keep reading and keep writing! If you wake up in the morning with your characters screaming for their story to be told, write it! Don’t focus on what’s selling or not selling in today’s market. If your story is good, there is a publisher out there just dying to publish it!

I’m sure I’ve talked your ear off and you may be cross-eyed by the time you get through this interview but I want to thank Lazy Day Publishing for this opportunity.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Rejection and Fearlessness

When I was little, I think my parents assumed I would one day be on stage and screen. I started singing lessons when I was 4, was reading and performing poetry and plays in church and school at age 5 and led the children's choir and youth groups at an early age. I was never afraid of stepping onto the stage and cracking a joke, singing a song or performing in a play. I have always loved the limelight and rarely suffered from stage fright.

As I got older, the fearlessness continued. I would always throw myself into whatever I did with reckless abandon and found it pretty easy to adapt to new environments. When I was 15, I decided that I needed a job. My parents both worked and while we were never without food or clothing, I wanted to earn a paycheck. I heard that the local Winn Dixie hired 15-year-olds as bag girls and bag boys so I went and applied (this has since changed and I swear it wasn't because of me). When the manager came out to talk to me he gave me the once-over took my application in his hands and sighing said, "I'm sorry kid. But you have to be 15 to work here."

"I AM 15," I told him quickly moving to stand between him and the door to his office. Pulling my ID out of back pocket, I handed it to him and pointed at my date of birth. He looked me up and down again and asked me how much I could lift. I can't even remember what I told him but I know it was not a number. It was likely something along the lines of "what do you need me to lift?"

He kept trying to find something to reject my application and finally I just looked at him and said what I say in my head every time I go for a job, "You need me. I know you need me and you know you need me but for some reason you don't think I can do the job. Give me a chance and I'll prove to you I can do this job better than anyone!" Did I mention I've always been a good salesperson? Like Tommy Boy and his father before him, I can sell a ketchup popsicle to a lady wearing white gloves.

At some point, that 15-year-old fearless kid who came home with more tips than anyone and who's held down a job since she was 15, started to fade in a barrage of rejections I didn't quite always understand. As child, I was never rejected. I wasn't doted upon, don't get me wrong. There were plenty of people in my life (especially in the church but that's another story for another day) to tell me no but very few people rejected me outright. Believe it or not, it wasn't until I started applying for colleges with my average SAT and less than stellar ACT scores that I started to feel the true sting of rejection. When I hit the job market again in the early 90s, I found more rejection. Some harsher than others and suddenly the stage was enormous, the crowd seemed mocking and the world too vast to traverse.

Eventually, I remembered that 15-year-old girl who would take the proverbial bull by the horns and make it behave. It wasn't about what others thought of me, or what they thought they knew about me, it's always been about what I allow others to see.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Call for Submissions: GIRLS WHO BITE! - Cleis Press

Girls Who Bite

Editor: Delilah Devlin

Publisher: Cleis Press in Fall 2011

Deadline: November 1, 2010 (earlier submissions preferred)

Girls Who Bite is open to all authors.

Editor Delilah Devlin is looking for lesbian vampire stories for a romantic erotica anthology entitled Girls Who Bite.

“Dark hungers, shocking thirsts… For blood, for connection… A sharing of nourishment and comfort… Infliction and acceptance of pain…”

A vampire is the ultimate bad girl. The word invokes images of dark, shadowy liaisons, forbidden desires, and sensual blood lust. Whether the story depicts a traditional blood-drinker seducing a meal, a psychic vampire stealing life-force from an unknowing host, or a real-life sanguinarian seeking a partner to share a ritual bloodletting to cement a bond, the stories should be varied and unexpected. Writers are encouraged to investigate vampire myths from around the world, looking for something fresh to add to the pantheon. Published authors with an established vampire world may use that setting for their original short story.

The stories may be as kinky or vanilla as the writer wants—but a deep sensuality should linger in every word. Exotic locations and scenarios are welcome. Keep in mind there must be a romantic element with a happy-for-now or happy-ever-after ending. Strong plots, engaging characters and unique twists are the ultimate goal. Please no reprints. We are seeking original stories.

How to submit: Prepare your 2,000 to 4,500 words story in a double-spaced, Times or Times New Roman, 12 point, black font Word document with pages numbered (.doc, NOT.docx) OR rich text format. Indent the first line of each paragraph half an inch and double space (regular double spacing, do not add extra lines between paragraphs or do any other irregular spacing). US grammar (double quotation marks around dialogue, etc.) is required. Include your legal name (and pseudonym if applicable), mailing address, and 50 word or less bio in the third person to girlswhobite@gmail.com. If you are using a pseudonym, please provide your real name and pseudonym and make it clear which one you’d like to be credited as. Authors may submit up to 2 stories. Delilah will respond to you in November 2010. The publisher has final approval over the manuscript.

Payment will be $50.00 USD and two copies of the published book upon publication.

About the editor: Ms. Devlin has published over sixty erotic stories in multiple genres and lengths. Her published print titles include Into the Darkness, Seduced by Darkness, Darkness Captured, Down in Texas and Texas Men. Her short stories are features in Zane’s Purple Panties, and Cleis Press’s Lesbian Cowboys, Girl Crush, Fairy Tale Lust, Lesbian Lust, and will be featured in Carnal Machines and Passion. She is published by Avon, Kensington, Atria/Strebor, Ellora’s Cave, Samhain Publishing, and in 2011, Berkley.

Direct any questions you have regarding your story or the submission process to Delilah at girlswhobite@gmail.com.

Friday, September 3, 2010

I was recently interviewed

I really enjoy being interviewed. It makes it easier to talk about myself without feeling like a prat for running my mouth off about what I do. So when Ravenous Romance author, Ryan Field asked me if he could interview me for his blog, I jumped at the chance.

Here's a copy of the interview and link to his very informative blog. Ryan will be guest-blogging here soon.


These days I've been posting a lot about the differences between self-publishing and e-publishing, so I decided to contact Saritza Hernández, an ePub Agent with the Lori Perkins Agency in New York. I was curious about what an epub agent does, and she was gracious enough to answer few questions. And I can't thank her enough. I've learned a lot just from reading through the answers.



Could you explain to people who don't know what an e-pub agent does what your job entails?


Sure! My job is not any different from the other Literary Agents out there, to be honest. Most of the time I'm reviewing query letters, reviewing contracts, preparing pitches, creating submission lists for my clients and networking with editors. I suppose what is most different is the communication medium. While NY agents are talking with editors on the phone and face to face, most of my contact with editors and publishers is done via email. We meet in person at conferences and do spend some time on the phone together going over discussions better suited for the phone than novel-length emails but a good portion of my communication is via e-mail. My Blackberry is my constant companion. I'm also the marketing department, editor, cheerleader and shoulder to cry on (or punch) for my clients. I spend as much time some nights working on ways to improve a book's exposure as I do "talking down" an author whose works are out to submission and begins the self-doubt train of thought.

How does an e-pub agent differ from traditional agent, or is there any difference at all?

The job, I believe is really the same. But having an agent familiar with electronic rights and one passionate about the evolution of publishing in the digital marketplace is crucial to the success of those authors who venture into this new frontier. We (traditional agents and epub agents) both work for the author and serve to obtain the best possible contract for the author. One aspect of my job that I've found to be most important (and perhaps a little different from traditional agents) is the need to be the liaison between the author and the publisher in all aspects including marketing, publicity and editing. Because self-pub'd and e-pub'd authors have to do most, if not all, of their own marketing and publicity, having someone who can help guide that path is crucial to the author's success.

Do authors query you with traditional query letters, or do you go after them when you see something you like?

A little of both, actually. Most of my clients came to me through traditional query letters but a few of my clients are authors whose works I've followed for a while and who, quite honestly, I've fangirled for some time. We joke about not being sure which one of us squeed more when the offer of representation was accepted, them or me. I've even had authors approach me after receiving their first offer for publication from an ePublisher and upon reading the contract realizing they have no idea what to do. Yes, having an offer of publication from a publisher will get my attention quickly. That and the promise of strong cuban coffee being delivered daily by hot cabana boys, but I digress.

How did you become an e-pub agent?

Funny you should ask that. I blame my family and friends for anything I do that pushes my boundaries beyond what I think is possible. One of my friends, Kele Moon, writes amazing stories. I've known her for several years and every story she would send me would make me wish it were a book I could buy or send to a huge publisher that would one day make her famous. Well, I opened my big mouth and told her that one day to which she quickly countered with "You should totally be my agent!" I had no idea how to be an agent. I knew what they did. Have known that side of the publishing business in periphery after working in the production side of publishing for nearly a decade but actually sitting down and taking on clients and helping them with their submissions! I thought she was crazy! Well, others started saying the same thing to me and after helping several of them put together their submission packets and get their work out to publishers, I realized I really love this side of the business! Shortly after helping a few friends get contracts from ePubs, I approached Lori Perkins. After reading her blog "Agent in the Middle" and following her tweet feed, I sent her a private message asking for guidance or an opportunity for mentorship in how to become an agent. She called me that day and asked me if I wanted to join her agency as their sole ePub Agent. She took me under her wing and has been helping me traverse through the waters with far greater ease than I could have, had I been alone. Having her as a mentor means my clients also have the backing of the L. Perkins Agency for any project that could fit the scope of the NY pubs that the other agents in the office represent. Together, we can help our clients secure both print and digital rights at the onset of the contract negotiations and thereby increase the potential revenue stream for everyone involved.

I read publishing blogs all the time and I rarely ever see e-publishers mentioned, which makes me wonder if all authors are getting the information they should be getting on traditional publishing blogs. Do you find there are still authors who don't know about e-publishing?

It baffles me how little about ePublishing anyone knows. It's a poor sentence, I know but it really is astounding. I get emails every day from authors who ask me what ePublishing is and "why would anyone need an agent when self-publishing" as if the two were one and the same. They are not. Even among my colleagues in the publishing industry, very little is known about this new frontier and, of course, where there is little information, panic and chaos reign. I hear more negativity out of the print publishers than I do the digital ones and I think a lot of it is due to fear of the unknown.

Though it's difficult to portend anything these days in publishing, where do you see e-publishers, in a general sense, ten years from now?

The future of publishing does not yet exist and I think we're in a great renaissance where the best ideas are being formulated and the needs of the new generation are being assessed and used as inspiration for innovation. I've heard everything from "print is dying" to "publishing is the new music record label" and while I can't foretell what the next decade will bring for publishing, I'm extremely excited about seeing its transformation. I truly believe that ePublishers and traditional publishers will not exist one day. It will just be publishing where you will be able to carry your library in your pocket just as easily as you'll be able to fill your bookshelves but I do see the great opportunity for ePublishers to pave the way toward that future.

I've posted my thoughts in this blog about the differences between e-publishers and self-publishers often, from my own experiences. In your own words, could you explain the differences?

I think the biggest misconception today is the belief that self-publishing and ePublishing are the same. They are as different as traditional publishing and self-publishing are. Self-published works are those the author takes the time and cost to publish on their own and for some, this venue has been a very profitable one. They cut out the publisher's fees, the warehouse fees, the bookshop fees, the agent fees right out of the picture and deal directly with the manufacturer. These brave people take upon themselves the roles and responsibilities of the business of writing and still manage to crank out some pretty amazing reads.

ePublishers, like the traditional publishers, produce the book the author has written and incur the costs associated with its production. These costs are usually less than those of the traditional publishers but they are not any less important or "short-cut" in any way. Manuscripts go through rounds of editing proof, galleys are created, cover art is requested, designed and paid for, digital converters (the equivalent of the press run) are hired and third-party affiliates (the equivalent of the bookstores) are contracted to maximize exposure. The ePublisher does this while the author continues working on their next book. Is one any better than the other? It completely depends on the author and their business-savvy. Some authors don't want to deal with the book production. They just want to write. Others want to be involved in every aspect of the business and can likely recite contract lingo better than the most well-versed literary attorney.

What is the most common question people ask you?

Do you ever sleep? To which I usually answer, who needs sleep when there are so many great books to sell and read? I'll catch up on all my sleeping when I'm dead.


Thanks Ryan for the opportunity. You can read more about Ryan and his published works on his blog.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Never too old to fall in love again

My parents, who have been divorced for several years, remarried on Sunday in a small ceremony and party with a few friends and family in attendance. It was such a beautiful day and they looked so cute that all of us could barely contain our tears of joy and smiles through the whole event.




I think hubby said it best on his Facebook status message this weekend when he said "Today I learned that you're never too old to fall in love again." I'm so happy for my parents! They look so happy!

Remember to hug your loved ones hard and never be afraid to fall in love all over again.