Tag Archives: books

Happy 2013, folks!

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I hope you all got the chance to bid adieu to 2012 with fond memories under your belts and welcome 2013 with pomp and panache. Mine involved going to Vegas with the hubby for three nights, and falling sick on my last night there. Really, why do I have to be such a party pooper? I just do not know.

I realize my blog has been catching cobwebs and hearing crickets. That’s right. I heard it too. One of my New Year’s resolutions for this year is to try and be more regular about posting things up. To be honest, I spend a lot of time making lists of things I want to write about. I promise myself that this is going to be my bedtime routine. Sadly, my bedtime routine over the past six months, that’s right, ever since I became an agent, has been to work until I pass out with my face pasted to my computer screen. Then the hubby will prod me gingerly with a hanger or spoon, just in case I wake up and begin barking like a crazy person. He does this hoping I’ll join him in bed. Unfortunately, my brief sleep usually rejuvenates me to continue working some more, until the wee hours of the morning. It’s a vicious cycle, I tell you.

But life is great. No complaints. I’ve signed on three more clients since my last post.

Katherine Ernst & Chelle Bruhns- Their amazing YA Sci-fi novel is something I’m looking forward to bringing out into the world.

Eric Delapp- A YA fantasy novel that literally took my breath away, one I finished in one sitting, I might add.

Pat Esden- A YA Gothic novel that had me up until 4am! With chills running up and down my body while I read it no less!

I’m blessed that all 5 of my clients are wonderful writers, wonderful people, who really love what they do, and are willing to work (super hard) toward making their dreams come true. And I’m blessed to be able to work alongside them to make this happen.

We’ve all been hard at work. My clients with their revisions and writing, myself with revisions and learning more and more about the book business from my two amazing mentors, Kimberley and Liz. And I cannot wait for the next step. To begin shopping their amazing manuscripts out. This is going to happen REAL soon.

I will keep you folks updated with their websites and details! 🙂

On an end note, here are some of the things I’m thankful for:

1) My family. They continue to be wonderful, my never-ending source of support, love, and comfort. Although I wish they lived closer, finding a surrogate family here, in the US (my husband’s family), has been something I could not be happier about. It’s hard enough to live so far away from the people you grew up with and love. Life would have been unbearable without the support of my husband and his family.

2) An amazing job I’m lucky to have, and the staunch support of my mentors. When I try to entertain the idea of doing something else, my mind draws a resounding blank. I know without a doubt that this is what I’m meant to be doing.

3) Living in a beautiful city-the people are friendly and laid-back, the weather is amazing, and there are so many things to do, sets my head spinning!

4) A roof over my head, and a husband (the best!) who provides me with this and more, along with putting up with my discussions on books, my clients, the book market and…need I go on? Not only does he put up with me, he remembers and contributes to my musings every single time. This is a man who would rather talk about cars and the latest tech than read books.

5) Awesome friends. Really, true friends are a diamond in the rough, super hard to find. Moving to a new country has only reminded me of how lucky I am.

Things I could benefit from doing/remembering:

1) Patience. My job requires me to have the patience of a saint, and I’m not a patient person by nature. I tell my clients this all the time. The book business is a frustrating place, but the rewards, when they come, are beyond anything you can compare. However, this is something I need to remind myself from time to time.

2) All work and no play makes Pooja a dull person. Live a little more, travel more, do activities I’ve always wanted to do, learn things I’ve always wanted to learn, and remember that I work so I can enjoy life. (Something my husband keeps telling me.)

3) Lead a more active life. Go on hikes and walks, take up salsa and cooking, learn how to bake.

What are some of the things you guys are thankful for? What are your NY’s resolutions?

Why I chose to become an agent?

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My recent promotion as Associate Agent for KC&A had my knickers in a twist for weeks. Not only could I tell people that I was now a ‘lit agent’, I could actually do so knowing how much I enjoyed my job. I know, shocking, right? These days, being in love with your job is unheard off. You take what you get, and as long as it puts food on the table (in my case, wine), we should be thankful. But this kind of thinking filled my stomach with dread. I could not imagine waking up and doing a 9 to 5 that, literally, sucked my brains out. Thankfully, my brain is still intact.

Now, a recent phenomenon that I noticed is that people don’t really know what agents do. When I began to flaunt my new position to people who were not writers/agents/publishing folk, most often, I was met with wide-eyed stares of confusion. Few things people thought I did were: Publish books. Sell books and be on my way, onto the next one! Or rather, just read all day for pleasure. I smiled politely (because I’m still at that point where I love talking about what we do) and gave them the most succinct explanation, which invariably made them question why I become an agent in the first place? Especially since we do not get paid a monthly salary.

Agents make a 15% commission from our clients earnings. People in the publishing industry understand and recognize each others willingness to be a part of the common pauper’s struggle that all writers, editorial assistants, editors, agents, and other publishing folk go through at the beginning, albeit with helpless resignation. However, try explaining that to a room full of relatives and family members who have been ingrained since centuries/decades/lifetimes to a kind of work ethic that is closely tied with responsibility, practicality, stability, and money than the kind that ties you to love, passion, belief, possible money someday, and definite prestige in the long haul (Ah, Sonny Mehta, why do you haunt me so?).

So I explained to everyone that my true reason for choosing to become an agent, rather than a plumber/electrician/mason/doctor/engineer/mountain-climber is because, quite simply, I cannot live without books. I do not mean the ebook or the kindle. I mean the paperback kind of books that send me into a girlish bout of madness when I step into a bookstore or look at my bookshelf or touch a beautiful cover.

Even more, I love coming across a manuscript in my pile that makes my heart skip a few beats. A manuscript that I then envision all the way to greatness- breaking a million records, making a million bucks, bringing in a millions fans, playing in a million theaters worldwide, and touching a milling lives. NOTHING, makes me happier. When I was a kid growing up in the Dubai of the late 80s/early 90s, it was a different city. It was a dry, barren, scarcely populated place that was mostly desert. I never got to hike, or camp, or go on road-trips, or fish, etc. In fact, my mother would not let me out of her sight until I turned a shameful twelve (after which I became an insane rebel and tried to make up for those lost years). That was when I turned to books. Adventure books, mystery books, girly boarding-school books, detective/spy books, emotional-magical books…I would read under the quilt with a torch, long after the night light was switched off, and I was in heaven. This love stayed with me all through my graduation, when I also discovered that I loved writing books as much as I loved reading them.

When I began at KC&A, I realized that there was a different path available to people like me. Agenting, where I would not write as much, but I would still be involved in the initial process of helping an author to shape up the kind of book that I believed would inspire people to read more. I would be able to handpick books across all genres, as long as they inspired me with the same fire. The thought of being a part-editor/part-avocate/part-businesswoman/part-friend excited me. The idea of seeing my future clients works, envisioning their covers at B&N, and being able to talk about them proudly to all and sunder excited me. The idea of being surrounded with manuscripts until the wee hours of the morning, subsisting only on coffee excited me. The idea of mingling with other publishing folk and attending conferences (meeting prospective writers with my prospective dream projects) excited me. The process of negotiating contracts to get the best ones for my (future) clients excited me. What excited me even more was that I was going to be able to do all of this under the loving and supportive umbrella of my boss, Kimberley, who has built a legacy of hard-work and good taste over her years in the industry.

Tell me, is there any other profession that could be better?

On an end note, here are a few links for my fellow readers and writers to peruse.

http://www.mcsweeneys.net/articles/some-good-news-from-the-world-of-books (This article on the state of publishing filled me with great hope for the future).

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/05/books/tom-wolfe-ian-mcewan-and-j-k-rowling-among-fall-authors.html?_r=2ref=books& (Could the Fall be anymore thrilling?)

http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2012/08/the-publishing-process-in-gif-form.html (The Writing Process, a dash of humor from Agent-turned-Social Media Guru Nathan Bransford).

Enjoy!

@FriscoDreamer

Who is the new Literary Agent in Town? ( Wink Wink )

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That’s right. I am one out of two people that have been taken into the fold by Kimberley Cameron of the Kimberley Cameron & Associates! Forgive me for gloating, but this has been a much awaited moment and I am beyond excited. Therefore, where else can I gloat with abandon?

As a fresh intern in the fall of last year, being a literary agent seemed so glamorous and fun. And it is. Don’t get me wrong, fun or not, it’s a shit load of work to do. But I believe the adages, “love what you do”, and “if you love what you do, not a day at work seems like actual work”, completely apply in this profession. Because despite the unpredictability of the publishing industry at present, there is no other industry I would want to be a part of. The challenge brought about by the business aspect of Agenting is equally balanced with the creative side of the business. Finding new voices, helping nurture talent that is already present, and bringing life-changing books to the public…aah! What better job could there be? Have I mentioned already that a truly beautiful cover for a book can make me feel really…itchy. From then on, I cannot rest until I have the book in my hands. Wouldn’t it be great to help more people feel this way?

Yes, the industry is going through a slump at the moment. Yes, the future of books seem to be in peril, and yes, the arrival of e-books/Kindle/a renewed fervor in self-publishing has rocked the boat a little. But I do believe that the industry will survive. Very much so. It has in the past, and there is no reason why it shouldn’t in the future. People still love to write, which means people still love to read. Be it via Kindle or paperback, the demand for books is still very much alive. And if we move with the times and figure out ways to integrate the modes of e-publishing/self-publishing into the traditional route of publishing, great things could happen. We’ve already begun to see a growth spurt in this area.

Anyway, I shall leave such thoughts and advice for future posts. For now, though, I would like to give you guys a little heads-up of what I’m looking for.

Before I go into this, however, I do have one piece of advice.

Do not submit a half-arsed manuscript. No matter how much you want to see your name in print, take a moment to see if your manuscript is ready for an agent. Be cruelly objective and critical. If this is something writers cannot handle, it’s going to be a big blow to them in the journey ahead.

Submissions have to be polished to look their best. I do not mean to be condescending or horrible. Only helpful. Many times, as an intern, I’ve come across submissions that have made me cringe. The lack of research and forethought that has gone into writing the query letters, the number of grammatical and editing mistakes, the angry emails demanding why we haven’t written back to offer representation…all of it has been truly flabbergasting.

Isn’t the whole purpose behind sending query letters to an agent to actually SELL the idea of your work first? Nobody said it would be easy. In fact, haven’t all our legendary literary voices had to face the same process of rejection and acceptance at some point themselves? So how are we any different? Will taking a step back, sipping some green tea, and spending time reflecting and waiting be such a bad thing?

Being a writer or an artist requires patience and devotion. Trust me, being impatient myself, I know how hard and frustrating it is to see your dreams at a standstill. But I do believe we should only want people to see the best we can produce. If writers are in such a hurry to get published that the quality of their work is not up to the mark, then it’s rather disappointing.

But I shall stop this downpour on your parades and pick it up as and when the need comes up at a later date. Without further ado, here is what I’m looking for, so all you debut novelists and veteran writers out there, please take note. I cannot wait to read some mind-blowing submissions!

– Writing that has a unique perspective and a strong voice. One that will linger in my head even after I have shut the book. I do believe that even a tried before plot can be handled in a way that is fresh, different and never-seen-before. These are what I would like to see. Not well-used formulas, but an idea or story that is different and will add to the wonderful books already out there. Books that contain a subtle life lesson or two is pretty important to me, as this was why I used to read vicariously myself. To search for answers to questions I do not have, and to find more questions that force me to think in new ways.

– In fiction, my tastes tend to be eclectic and varied. Therefore, it’s rather hard to pinpoint what I’m looking for. But interesting and thought-provoking fiction in any genre will get me in knots. Be it literary, commercial, high-brand women’s fiction, or historical. Good fiction is simply hard to put down. However, I do tend to lean towards International fiction quite a bit. Vibrant and complex characters, multi-cultural themes, and lush exotic settings…painted against a contemporary, political, or historical backdrop…how can I not? Being from a different background myself, these kinds of stories resound soundly within me. Thankfully, there is a rather huge market for books like this, so I’m looking forward to reading things that make me forget to breathe.

Did I mention that I have a passion for historical novels set in time periods that haven’t been explored too much, or events that haven’t been talked about/talked about much yet? (Think Sarah Dunant, for example.)

I recently read a manuscript submission that totally blew me away. A story set in South America during a difficult time politically, but told from the point of view of a young girl. It made me want to research the situation as soon as I came home. That is what I call good fiction. However, as an intern, I did not have the good fortune to offer her a representation. But now that I am in that position, hopefully such a manuscript will come my way. (Hint all you historical writers out there!)

In fantasy, I’m okay with stories being completely experimental or set in our reality, as long as the story is believable and fleshed out well. I don’t mean to sound cliched, but J.K Rowling, Tolkien, Philip Pullman, Katie Marie Moning, Deborah Harkness, and a bunch of other great writers had me locked up in my room for days! Test the boundaries people, but make me believe it!

Shall we switch over to non-fiction? Do you folks need a minute to breathe or take a loo break, because I realize this is one darn long post. But I promise, I’m almost done. Almost. 🙂

For my fellow writers who prefer to burn the midnight oil with the non-fiction genre, I tend to gravitate towards adventure and travel memoirs, journalism and human-interest memoirs set in politically unsound countries, self-help books addressing relationships and human psychology from a fresh angle, and submissions that deal with educative or interesting subjects that are as yet unexplored. If you have any of these under your bed, do not hesitate to send them to me without fail.

However, the only question I have to ask is, do you have a decent enough platform? Or can you create this before approaching agents? Most agents will not undertake projects that have no platform because of how hard it’s become to sell books these days. Trust me people, get tapping on those blogs, publicize your subject at various speaking engagements. Twitter and sing about your subject is what I say. Radio appearances, public speaking engagements, blogs with high traffic…all of it helps like magic!

Finally, the last stop. Young Adult fiction. Do I hear sighs of relief, or sadness, perhaps?

I will admit, I haven’t spend too much time reading in this particular genre, but I do enjoy them if they are spectacular (don’t we all!). Think, Speak/Fever by Laura Henderson, for example. Stories set in dystopian, fantasy, magical-realism, and historical contexts are all welcome, but so are those dealing with serious, prevalent issues facing our teenagers today. Like bulimia, anorexia, bullying, finding one’s identity…in a fictional context.

On an end note (cannot be that greedy) I will admit, mysteries and thrillers aren’t really my cup of tea. But if you have one that is dark, edgy, and a bit of a psychological spinner, I would definitely be intrigued.

You can send ALL of the above to Pooja@kimberleycameron.com.

I bet you guys are clutching your head and screaming ENOUGH! with terror. So I shall stop and step away from this laptop, but I do have some visual treats for my next post. A couple of my girlfriends and I are going on vacation to Istanbul soon. Hopefully, I will have some great pictures to share with you all.

Have a great day folks!

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