Agent Savant

The musings of literary agent Laurie McLean

Indie Authors: Make Your Book Work Harder!

Written By: laurie - Sep• 14•16

Some smart literary agent is going to start a business one day that simply sells subsidiary rights for the millions of indie (aka self-published) authors out there and make a bundle.

If you’re an indie author, maybe you didn’t realize that you’re leaving a pile of money on the virtual table by just selling your book in ebook and maybe print format. All the secondary rights outside of print and ebook rights, are yours to use or license to another entity to publish.

What are your subsidiary rights? Well, the most obvious one is audiobook rights. You can produce your own audiobook with yourself as the voice talent, and sell it from your website in mp3 format. Cheap, but not very professional. Consider it a very long podcast. As a step up, you can hire professional voice talent or find one on, Amazon’s self-published audiobook platform. This way your audiobook sounds more professional and Audible distributes the final product, paying you between 25% to 40% based on choices you make for production and distribution.

You also own all the foreign language translation rights to your book. Think about it. Your English language book does not reach all its potential readers who do not prefer to read books in English. And here’s another area that is ripe for change. If there was an exchange like ACX that paired foreign language translators with authors it would be a game changer. Are you listening Amazon? But since that is not yet available, you can find translators yourself, scan to find the foreign publishers who have licensed translation rights to books similar in genre or category to yours and contact them, or hire an agency for this purpose. You’ll have a more difficult time finding an agent who will just license these rights for you, nothing else, but they also will emerge over time.

The number one subsidiary right that every author dreams about is dramatic right licensing: movies, television, stage productions, readings, etc. Every author knows that their book would make a great movie. But so few authors ever have that happy event take place. Even creating a script yourself or hiring a screenwriter to write a script will not give you a leg up in Hollywood. But you can field emails and phone calls from studios and producers, send them your book, and follow up. Who knows? A miracle can happen!

The last of the major subsidiary rights is commercial/merchandise. This is when you see a children’s book in a cereal box or a toy at a fast food chain. One way to find the companies that turn your characters into merchandise is to attend conventions in your book’s genre, like Comic-Con, World Fantasy Con, DragonCon, etc. Head to the dealer room (or the main floor if it’s a huge convention) and examine the merchandise booths there. If your efforts start to turn into a big deal, then hire an agent to help you through the contract process and plan for future merchandise deals. But you can get a jeweler to make jewelry based on your book, aprons for your cookbook, a bottle of wine named for your mystery novel. Carefully think about the opportunities hidden inside your book before you reach out to these very busy merchandising companies. Also realize that often movie studios want to keep these rights in case the movie or TV show hits big so they can sell them. So don’t give them away lightly.

Short Fuse Guide to PUblishing Rights by Laurie McLean

There are a lot more subsidiary rights than I can fit into one blog post. But I wrote a small ebook about them and you can pick up a copy of my SHORT FUSE GUIDE TO BOOK PUBLISHING RIGHTS at Smashwords by clicking here. It’s only 99 cents and will give you a great overview about the subject. Have fun finding the hidden money inside your book!

The Creature’s Cookbook Rebecca Interview

Written By: laurie - May• 12•16

The Creature’s Cookbook debuted yesterday on the Tapas app (the app is free to download at Apple or Android app stores), and fans ate it up. So we thought it might be fun to interview author/monster Simon Alkenmayer’s first human friend, Rebecca (no last names please), about the chef.

The Creature's Cookbook

So, Rebecca, you seem like a nice, quiet woman. How did you become friends with a monster like Simon?

That’s a pretty easy question. I went out one night to get a bagel, and there was this gross dude looking through all the shop windows. I saw him go into this corner store, and used the opportunity to escape. I didn’t want him to see me walk home, so I went around the back of the building and walked up the service drive. There’s these warehouses all linked, and I thought I was being pretty clever, because unless he looked down every alley, he wouldn’t see me. I guess I wasn’t really being clever. It didn’t occur to me that the guy might have been waiting for me to leave and to see where I went.

Anyway, he grabbed me from behind and put a knife to my throat. He said he was going to kill me if I didn’t do what he said. He pushed me really hard, and I fell behind some trashcans. I cut myself on some glass, and got scraped up pretty badly. I was sure I was going to die, or worse, when he started hitting me. Then all of a sudden, there’s this noise, like when a car reeves its engine, and the dude is laying about ten feet away with this thing— I don’t know, like, sitting on top of him. There was all this blood. I wasn’t really paying attention. I was looking for the knife.

When I picked it up, everything was quiet, and there was Simon, covered in goo, but watching me. After a while, I realized what was going on, and that he wasn’t going to hurt me. That he was like, waiting for me to say something. Being polite, you know?

It was overwhelming. I didn’t really have any time to sort through how I felt, because he saved my life! He killed the bad guy, and was super nice about it, but duh, he’s got sharp teeth and says he’s a monster. What could I do with that?

I guess, that’s when we became friends.

Are you afraid he’ll eat you when he gets hungry?

Life with Simon is kind of a balancing act. You have to learn to read his face and know what things will worry or upset him, because whenever he goes through emotions, he gets really hungry. Like his brain needs more calories, or something. If he spends any time with you, then he can smell you. I guess he retains like, a memory of people’s smells? Kind of how we remember what a person looks like. When he zones out, you know, like when he gets so hungry he can’t control himself, then you have to worry. That’s when he reverts back to what he remembers and tracks down what he knows. It’s never happened to any of us, but it’s something he’s always warning us against.

There have been a couple times where I thought he was about to pounce on me, but he really has self-control down to a science.

It probably seems weird that any person would put up with that kind of danger, but not to me. I grew up in a broken home. I’ve been in abusive relationships. What it’s taught me is that anyone can hurt you, really badly. Anyone can hide who they really are and then turn into an animal. Simon is so much better than that. He doesn’t lie about it. At least, not to me. I knew from the beginning that he doesn’t want anything from me, he wants to protect me.

I guess I kind of think of his hangry side as like, a mental illness, and it’s just my job to help him through it.

Is it difficult keeping this part of your life a secret?

It’s not as bad as you might think. I’m not the only one who knows. It’s kind of like a club. We get together over cocktails and dish. I guess the only time it bothers me is when I go to therapy. I really can’t talk about it with my therapist. I don’t think she’d call the cops or anything. I just think she’d assume I was losing my mind.

I guess that’s kind of what Simon feels when he tries to tell people he’s really a monster, and they don’t believe him. It has to be hard on his self-esteem. That’s probably one of the reasons he started coming out on the internet, you know?

There are times I want to explain why he is behaving weirdly, but I can’t. So instead, I just have to feel embarrassed and look out for him. You know, like if we are out together and he suddenly gets hungry. He does this thing where he goes all still and closes his eyes, like all of a sudden he’s meditating. Except his face is all scrunched up. I can tell he’s concentrating really hard. I know now that I have to get him something to eat that has proteinv in it, before his nose starts to wiggle, or he won’t be him anymore.

Like one time it happened at a grocery store, because there was this fight that broke out, and I guess Simon hadn’t eaten properly. Anyway, I had to — right then and there — open a package of beef jerky and just shove it in his face. And people were like, “What’s wrong with that woman? Is she going to pay for that?” And they stared at us.

But whatever. I don’t mind. It’s worth it. Simon is worth it.

How do you feel about being featured in Simon’s writings? Were you worried about being interviewed?

Well, on the one hand it’s a little flattering but awkward, having my private life put out on the internet. Sometimes I worry my ex will see it, or that some mistake I make will come back to bite me in the ass. Then on the other hand, no one knows that me, this Rebecca, is the Rebecca. Like Simon is always saying, no one believes it, so even if my boss read the book, he’d probably just assume it was a coincidence.

I think it’s pretty telling that none of Simon’s friends care about his obsession with chronicling his life. It says how much we enjoy being his friends. Not just because it’s cool to know something that no one else does, or know a monster who can get rid of your dickhead coworker if you ask. But because he makes our lives better. We’re all kind of messed up in our way, and he just patches us up. He’s very good at fixing things.

As for this interview — I’ve never done one before, and I’m a little embarrassed that anyone would ask me questions, but at the same time, I believe in what Simon is doing. If I can help him make his point, I’ll do it.

What do you actually want from Simon? I mean, it’s easier to have normal human friends, yes?

Not really. See, that’s what I’m saying. Humans are way harder. People lie and have all these weird issues, where they’re all jockeying for position. It’s like one big competition reality show. They friend you on Facebook, and suddenly you get to see all their opinions on everything. They expect you to help them move, care about their head cold, or coo at their kids.

Simon doesn’t care what I do. I can walk into his house, walk right up to his fridge, eat an entire plate of brownies, take a shower, and then pass out in his bed, and he’ll just be like, “Hello, my dear. Would you like me to fetch you another blanket?”

And I know what you’re thinking. You think I just want a butler, or like, a gay best friend, or whatever. No! That’s not it. I mean it’s nice that he takes care of me and stuff, but that’s not why. He respects me. I don’t think a lot of people, women especially, know what that word really means. He finds me interesting. He listens to me speak and thinks about what I say. He is like, the walking, talking epitome of the phrase “water off a duck’s back”, and I just think that’s so refreshing.

Plus, he knows a lot of stuff, tells me all these stories about his lives. He’s a great cook. He enjoys spending time with me, with nothing but that as his reward. I don’t know if I’ve ever had a friend like that. I don’t know if it’s possible for a human to be a friend like that. Simon has forever, he doesn’t need anything…well, except to eat people.

About the only bad thing about being his friend is finding body parts.

Do you find Simon sexy?

He’s going to read this, isn’t he? Oh man, I’m in for a huge lecture on “the perils of survival landscapes”. Oh well.

So first of all, Simon is weird looking. Like, reads Mary Shelly at a coffee shop on a rainy day, works swing shift at a morgue, leans out from dark corners in the dead of night, kind of weird. His eyes are like, wide and staring, and his nose is funny. Well, you know, you’ve seen him. Point is, he’s not what people would think of as being attractive. Well, okay, that’s not entirely true. When he dresses like a woman, he’s pretty hot. Make-up suits him and he’s a master at costumes.

But that’s not important. What is, is that he has a way about him. Like, always courteous, always kind. He’ll be walking along, and suddenly he’s staring into space with this little smile on his face, and I just know he’s remembering something from a long-ass time ago and thinking profound thoughts about the human race, or whatever. He almost never interrupts people when they talk. He can be snarky, sure, but seldom out loud. He even bows. Who does that?

The first time I read his website and saw all the stuff he was actually thinking, it made me laugh, because it’s so different from how quiet he seems.

Anyway, Simon is also ridiculously protective. I feel really safe with him, in a way I guess I can’t feel with men. I know that if he’s within hearing distance, if I make one tiny sound of unhappiness, he’ll be there in a flash. And I know what he’ll do.

So yeah, in that way, he’s pretty sexy.

Have you ever eaten human?

Oh my god, I hope not! *gag*

We figured out, pretty quick that if I was always going to be coming over to spend time with him, there’d have to be a system. So we went to every department store in the county and bought all these Tupperware containers. Anything that has people parts in it goes into a red container. Anything that is Rebecca-safe, goes into a blue. And because he’s really organized (borderline OCD, if monsters can be OCD), he even uses separate cookware and whatnot. There’s a whole human-compatible cupboard of stuff with color-coded handles.

But I have to admit, it still freaks me out when I open the fridge and there’s like a bowl of brains, or like fingers just sitting in mustard. I mean, he’s pretty good at keeping stuff like that hidden, but I’m kind of always in his business, so I see things I shouldn’t. I try to just ignore it, or tell myself it’s fake, which he’ll probably also lecture me about.

If I found out I’d accidentally eaten human…I don’t know. I’d probably throw up.

Tell us about your life before Simon.

Boring. And not so great. I grew up in a small town. Lots of cows, dirt, fields. My dad was a complete asshole. Sick. Drank a lot. Not a nice person. I met a guy in high school and moved out of my house as soon as I could, but then it turned out that I went from one bad situation to another. He was abusive and had a drug problem. I got to the point where I knew that if I didn’t leave, I was going to die. Something just clicked. I put all my stuff in my car, emptied my bank account, and drove. When I got here, I sold my car. I went to a local support group, where I met my friend Lisa, and she helped me get a job. Then I got an apartment. Right across the street from a monster.

I would make a joke about my luck, but it turns out, my luck is pretty good.

Happy National Eat What You Want Day!

Written By: laurie - May• 11•16

SAN FRANCISCO, California, May 11, 2016—In a literary nod to celebrating National Eat What You Want Day, Tapas Media and the monster known as Simon Alkenmayer today announced the publication of THE CREATURE’S COOKBOOK, a fictionalized diary of an immortal monster that deals with the human condition, friendship, love, murder, mystery, and recipes for cooking humans.

The book debuted on the Tapas app, a game-inspired, immersive comics and fiction app that can be downloaded free at the Apple or Android App stores. Tapas specializes in bite-sized content that can be consumed in a brief moment in a mobile environment…morsels for today’s millennial generation to consume on their cell phones while standing in line at Starbucks, waiting for the bus, even hanging out at the laundromat.

National Eat What You Want Day is a holiday where people can skip their diets and give up their regulation for a day, eating whatever they want and enjoying their lives. It was created by Thomas and Ruth Roy of to help people break away from the frustrating health and diet trends of our times if only for one day. Most nutritionists agree that giving yourself a break every now and then can actually be good for you.

Simon Alkenmayer apparently agrees. He’s an immortal monster who must eat humans to survive. He blogs at His book deal came about when he became interested in the bite-sized content description of Tapas Media’s new app and his literary agent decided to see if they’d want to showcase his work.

“Simon is a very talented chef as well as a master wordsmith,” said his agent Laurie McLean of Fuse Literary. “Tapas is the perfect place to show off his way with words, and National Eat What You Want Day is tailor-made for Simon. Not that he’d care if someone approved of his culinary tastes or not. He’s very self-assured.”

To find The Creature’s Cookbook, go to the Apple App store or Android App Store and download the Tapas app. Open the app, click on the in-app books, and start reading The Creature’s Cookbook or any of the fabulous noshes found there. The book costs 15 cents per “tapisode” after a free sampling.

Eat what you want! Even if it is with your eyes!

Simon Alkenmayer
The Monster known as
Simon Alkenmayer

13 Predictions for Publishing in 2016

Written By: laurie - Jan• 25•16


(Regardless of what you’ve heard)

Fortune Teller 2

From the title of this post, you can tell I’m at odds with the notion that the digital publishing revolution is now over, ebooks are slipping in popularity, print is once again king of the world, indie bookstores are back on a steady footing, and adult coloring books are saving the world. Well, except for that last one. I agree with traditional publishing that adult coloring books are propping up print book sales big time. But as far as the other “facts” go, I say hogwash.

That’s a lot to digest, so let me bullet point these 13 predictions for ease of digestion…and hopefully inspiration…for 2016!


  1. Ebook sales are NOT stagnating. I’ve always been a firm believer that you can make numbers and statistics dance to any beat you play and I believe the Big Five are skewing these numbers with their newly won agency pricing models. Last year I saw several of my clients’ debut novels come out with an ebook price that was higher than the print book price. Check it out on Amazon. I’m not kidding. That’s part of the “decline” scenario, because honestly who would not buy a hardcover print book if it was cheaper than a digital book. Most people would make that choice. And because of this, ebook sales from traditional publishers large and small seem to be declining. Once you add Amazon ebook sales into the calculation, however, it all falls apart. Unfortunately that is not what most reports have done. They only concentrated on traditional retail sales numbers from their usual cast of publishers. So you’re getting fed false numbers. Ebooks are healthy and should continue to be healthy throughout 2016 and beyond. They are here to stay. Once ebook pricing stabilizes, because while I’m sure the traditional booksellers and publishers are trying to help their physical retail partners (aka bookstores) by increasing print sales, they will see that they went too far and the smart ones will adjust. At least that is my opinion.
  2. Physical bookstore sales will continue to decline. Amazon already sells the vast majority of print and digital books. They are a healthy company. Heck, they signed up 3 million new Prime members at $99 a pop during the third week of December alone! So I’m betting that they will continue to discount books, support indie authors through KDP Select and Kindle Unlimited, and the local bookstores and chains will simply not be able to keep up. I’ll talk about Google and Apple as possible white knights a bit later, but for now I’m predicting that Amazon is just going to keep growing and taking market share from bookstores in 2016.
  3. Kindle Unlimited will continue to become a larger part of KDP Select author revenues. Amazon is always fine-tuning the customer experience. It’s their obsession. And with KDP, authors are their customers too. When Kindle Unlimited disproportionately rewarded short-story-size books, causing a proliferation of 14 page erotic fiction and episodic novels where 14 books should really be counted as one, Amazon adjusted things. Now they pay per page read and this upset a lot of writers who were trying to game the system. But my hybrid client-authors have seen a steady increase over time in their Kindle Unlimited subscription revenue and I believe this is going to keep growing.
  4. Library lending of ebooks will increase. I have several author-clients who are librarians as well, and they unanimously inform me that the ebook lending side of the library business is booming. As indie authors recognize this missing link in their distribution plans, more libraries will flock to them as sources of inexpensive books (especially when it is so expensive to buy those bestsellers in print and ebook formats). Sure, Smashwords, Overdrive and others allow libraries access to indie published ebooks, but it is a cumbersome system. Libraries and publishers will eventually figure out the user interface and back office processes, and once they do library ebook lending will accelerate in popularity. Especially for all those lucky readers who received a $49 Kindle Fire for the holidays!
  5. Midlist authors will be pushed to self-publish. This is not really a prediction since it’s been going on for years now. But if you’re a debut author it’s worth noting that if your debut trilogy or series or even a stand alone book does not reach a high altitude in sales within the first 6 months (and I’m being generous), you’re probably going to see your advances dwindle, your future contracted books put out in digital only, or canceled altogether, and you had better be building your author platform with social media and some self-published material to be ready for the inevitable slide. I’m not being an alarmist. I’m just trying to get you prepared in case it happens, as it is happening more often these days and I believe that trend will continue.
  6. The Hollywood Blockbuster mentality will continue with the Big Five. Just like the Hollywood “tent pole” blockbuster, the bestseller is still the Holy Grail for traditional publishing. They’re willing to roll the dice on debut authors because they might become bestselling authors, but generally all their marketing dollars go to support their established bestselling books and authors. That’s the way it’s been in the past, and it has become more and more prevalent now. That’s where all the big advance money goes. That’s where all the innovative social media marketing and book tour money goes. Hey, it works for Hollywood, it stands to reason it’s a good model for New York publishing too. Indie books, like indie movies, will fill the void.


Okay. Those are the easy ones. I could predict those without a crystal ball. But let’s have some fun and I’ll share what might happen in publishing in 2016. These are riskier predictions, but they might come to pass.


  1. Apple’s iBookstore will make a run for market share against Amazon. I’m not sure about this one, but if anyone can take aim at reducing Amazon’s market share in books, it would be either Apple or Google. Google Play is not getting any traction, so I don’t see Google busting through. But Apple got serious with its operating system finally and included iBooks as a stand alone app instead of making the reader jump through hoops on iTunes (where half of them probably bought the new Adele song instead!) If Apple could just swallow their ginormous pride for one second and make an Android app for iBooks, imagine what could happen. Apple…are you listening?
  2. Geographic boundaries for translated ebooks will disappear. This is already a thought in Amazon’s mind with English-language books. You can select a myriad of countries where your ebook can be sold through Amazon France or Germany or India or Brazil, etc. Now if they can only figure out how to do that with translated ebooks, we’re in for a revolution of another sort. Maybe some enterprising company (Apple? Google? Amazon?) will create a peer-to-peer ADX type of exchange for translations, where authors can pair up with translator talent and get those books distributed in other languages themselves. Audiobooks too. Why not? That would certainly shake up contracts from the Big Five. Oh, man. Can’t wait. More upheaval is good for everybody.
  3. More “lost” novels will resurface. We saw how wildly popular Go Set a Watchman from Harper Lee was last year…and it was basically a rougher draft of To Kill a Mockingbird! A lot of descendants of famous authors are going to be rooting through attics, storage lockers and safe deposit boxes, looking for their ancestors’ long lost, unfinished works. Could be good. Probably not. But it will be lucrative.
  4. There will be a breakout novel created specifically for the mobile environment. I have long believed that a shorter, episodic story, filled with cliffhangers, is perfect for the millennial generation of readers. You can read a quick bit while waiting in line for your latte or Frappuccino at Starbucks. Or when you’re on the light rail to work. Or if you’re bored with your lunch companions. I know of one company, Tapas Media, that will launch this spring, that is combining a sexy gaming interface with what they’re calling “bite-size” content. For authors this might mean you want to start imagining what a story could look like if it were optimized for this new environment. Charles Dickens would be pleased!
  5. Adult coloring books will expand. These things were such a huge success, and as I mentioned previously, single-handedly boosting print book publishing last year, that publishers will expand them in number as well as branch out to other formerly youthful books. One of our authors, Helen Wrath, just debuted Drawing with a Vengeance, which is Cards Against Humanity with doodles. I expect there to be a huge variety of doodling, coloring, structure-building and other relaxation books for adults. I hope so anyway. I’m kind of tired of crayons and mandalas.
  6. Traditional ebook royalties will escalate. This is a fight that agents have been waging since 2008. Today’s standard 25% royalty rate for ebooks is simply too low. Publisher overhead had already been figured into the original 6%-12.5% royalty rates for print books eons ago. So for a publisher to take 75% of the revenues from ebooks with very little if any additional overhead is unfair. In fact, ebooks have no printing/binding/distribution costs, and near zero return expenses, plus the marketing dollars they spend are format agnostic, so they are even more profitable to publishers. I am going to go out on a limb and say that in 2016 we’ll see royalties for ebooks begin to escalate commensurate with increases in sales. It might not get to the totally fair 50-50 split that agents have been screaming for, but even 40% would make my day.
  7. Indie authors will continue to take market share from traditionally published authors. If you’re a fan of Hugh Howey and Data Guy and their Author Earnings report (and I am!), you already know that the statistics being handed to us by publishers and traditional organizations like Pew, BookScan, and BISG are way skewed towards the old publishing paradigms. Indie authors ARE grabbing market share from traditionally published authors and I believe that trend will continue. In fact I think there is a schism in the reading marketplace developing between those readers who will not blink an eye spending $35 for a hardcover first edition book from their favorite author and those who regularly balk at paying more than 99 cents for an indie author ebook—or even a multi-author anthology! This is especially true in genres like romance, science fiction, mysteries, fantasy, thrillers and graphic novels/comics. The traditional book market is shrinking while the indie market is growing. It’s not difficult to see where the growth is coming from Indie books are eating away at big book publishers. This should become indisputably obvious this year.


But also remember…books and reading are only one facet of the multi-billion dollar entertainment industry. It will be interesting to see how the publishing industry continues to evolve as it not only fights for profitability against books published outside of its purview, but also against movies, videogames, network television, streaming shows, and all the other entertainment items literally at consumer fingertips.


So there you have it. My 13 predictions for the coming year? I’d love to hear your predictions for anything I’ve missed. Or if you agree or disagree with anything I’ve presented. I have an agent’s viewpoint, which is pretty much in the eye of the storm at all times. But I welcome viewpoints from authors, publishers, pundits and anyone who loves books as much as I do!

**This article originally appeared on Anne R. Allen’s blog.

Happy Merry Joy!

Written By: laurie - Dec• 17•15

Fuse Holiday Card

How to Survive Narroweve (Halloween)

Written By: laurie - Oct• 29•15


The following excerpt came from a weathered old tome I found on the shelf of a tiny bookshop in Edinburgh. Both the bookshop and the street where it resided have long since vanished, and all attempts to find either have proven fruitless. Thankfully, I was so puzzled by the following passage that I made note of it. You may question, as I had, if the following is fiction or a prank, but the odd…qualities of the original manuscript convinced me of its truths. The book itself held declarations of another realm; a place called the Grimwytch. A land where a monstrous people seek to protect themselves from humans on Halloween night. Or Narroweve as they call it.

On protection from humans on Narroweve 

It is a singularly strange fact that human beings, or Drearspawn as most of us more accurately call them, are absolutely terrified of Narroweve. On this night, which they call Halloween, they wear costumes that make a mockery of us denizens of the Grimwytch. Ironically, the purpose of this is a wretched attempt to fend off the very same spirits we too seek to be free of on this night.

But alas, human beings tend to wander like lost sheep on Narroweve and from time to time they slip through the veil into the Grimwytch. And from there cause all manner of havoc, disturb the peace with their perpetual screams and gibbers, and even go as far as to attack our citizens. So here, for your consideration, are five ways to repel humans.

Distilled Essence of Fear

Pure Essence of Fear is both difficult and expensive to acquire. Fortunately there are merchants, particularly in the market on the Vashhaal wharf, who can procure such things. So if your funds are plentiful, Essence of Fear will make a most effective remedy to repel humans. Simply spray it into their ears, allow it to spread and creep, and their fevered minds will take care of the rest.


While Lumpathumps are difficult to find on account of being invisible, you should be able to lure them using fried rat tails or copper pennies. Lumpathumps make perfect deterrents and are especially effective in warding off young humans. This is due to their propensity for hiding beneath beds, as well as the fearsome noises they make when threatened by a din of snoring.


Oddly, spiders are a very common fear for Drearspawn. Why these friendly and articulate pets bother human beings is certainly beyond this writer’s comprehension. And whilst I’d never condone frightening a spider with a human, needs must as the drivel drives.

Cheesedung fly

As there are spiders, so there are flies. And the almost indescribable stench of a Cheesedung fly, especially one gathered at dusk, is enough to deter even the angriest of Hoardspikes let alone a Drearspawn. Needless to say coating oneself in a scent so vile should be a last measure as the wearer can expect to carry this most noxious scent for the rest of their life. Or lives.


While it should be noted this author has little regard for Drearspawn, I do not mean them harm. I only wish they’d leave us in peace and that our citizens would stop opening the portals between our worlds. But if a human is armed and intent on causing mischief, then let the Hackthins at them. And whatever’s left will almost certainly make a most pleasant purse or scarf. 

So now you have five means to repel humans. Although removal and disposal of them is another problem entirely. See chapter five for more on this troublesome topic.


After noting this intriguing passage, I discovered a so-called novel by a writer called Eldritch Black titled The Book of Kindly Deaths. This rather strange author has portrayed the Grimwytch as fiction in his book of very curious stories, but it’s quite clear to me that the monsters he chose to write about are terrifyingly real.

You can win a copy of The Book of Kindly Deaths on Goodreads from now until November 9th 2015, and read a lost tale from the book here.

Be careful out there. You never know what’s behind you.


World Teachers’ Day

Written By: laurie - Oct• 05•15

As the child of not one but two teachers, I had to celebrate with this infographic. If you can read books, thank a teacher!

World Teacher Day

World Teacher Day

Top 10 Ways to De-Stress in a Multi-Book Deal

Written By: laurie - Sep• 10•15

My fantasy author/client, J.M. Frey (@scifrey), has landed her second three-book publishing deal in less than a year. Ambitious. Terrifying. She must have a plan or face total annihilation!!! And she’s nice enough to share her top 10 tips for surviving the next two years with six books to write, edit, and promote.

SkylarksSongCast by JM Frey


by J.M. Frey

YAY! After ten years of writing, slogging, submitting, revising, shopping, and marketing, I have two fantastic series coming out in the next three years. What I am talking about, of course, are my two very awesome three-book deals with REUTS Publications – The Accidental Turn Series and The Skylark’s Saga.

But. Uh-oh. I have six books to write.

So, in order to combat the worrying, the fear, and the amount of writing to be done (I estimate I will have written about 446,000 words in novels/novellas alone between June 2015 and September 2016 if I meet my own deadlines, not counting the blog posts and screenplays), this is how I handle it:

  • Write
    • Carve out time every day. Mine is between 1pm and 4pm, and I try to write an average of 4k in that time. And starting with my next book, I’m hoping to do it on my recumbent exercise-bike desk so I can do my words and my physio at the same time!
  • Don’t Write
    • Don’t. Go do anything else. Hang out with friends at the pub or play board games. Watch TV or a go to the cinema, or the theatre. Go for a walk. Read a book. Play with a kitten. Go to the spa. Refill your creative well, and think through your plot-problems away from the pressure of the blank page and the blinking curser. As tempting as it might be to tell yourself that you are going to just sit there and write and write and write until it’s all done, you’ll burn yourself out. Headaches, eyestrain, and aching shoulders and wrists help no one.
  • Talk it out with other writers/your betas
    • The hardest part of this writing-a-series thing for me has been “And then what happens next, and how does that relate back to what’s already been written, and how will that support what I want to do after?” Finding the perfect balance of plot continuation, over-arching Big Bads, but enough minute interest in the details of the individual scenes and moments in the books has been a struggle. Luckily, the beta readers who all read book #1 have made themselves available to me to do books #2 and #3 as well, so I have people intimately familiar with the book who can help me when I’m stuck.
    • Other writers’ perspectives might help, too. I often tell large chunks of my plots to other writers, bouncing ideas off of them, or getting feedback. Often, when I hear, “Oh, that reminds me of so-and-so’s book” or “Oh, just like in That Important Book” from someone else, I pay attention to that. And generally I use it as a springboard into “Okay, if that’s the way that bit is usually told, what twist can I put on it? How can I make it fresh, different, or told from another perspective?”
  • Talk about literally anything else with people who are not writers
    • Again, take the time to breathe, to de-stress, to touch base with the rest of your life and friends.
  • Carry it with you
    • I have my manuscripts with me all the time when I’m in the editing stage. That way if I’m waiting for an appointment, or in transit, or waiting for a friend, I can do small bursts of red-pen editing.
    • I also have notebooks with me so I can write; alternately, I open a new email addressed to myself and tap out a scene or two.
    • It seems kind of silly, but in this way, you’ll see the grains in the hourglass of the tasks you have to perform trickling down. Even if it’s one at a time, at least they’re moving!
  • But don’t carry it to bed
    • Get enough rest, and make your sleep space your serene space. No work allowed between the sheets!
  • Use your support system
    • Your agent and editors are there for a reason. Bounce ideas off them, ask what they wish they could read in the next books, and don’t be afraid to outright ask, “Well, what would you write if you could write it?” I’ve found that asking always leads me down paths I hadn’t originally thought I’d go, and usually for the better.
    • Let them know what your planned writing schedule is, when they can expect drafts, what you’re working on now, etc. and generally keep them in the loop. That way you don’t feel like you’re writing into the void and they don’t feel kept in the dark. And be realistic about your deadlines. (Note to self: Editing always takes twice as long as I think it will.)
    • Ask for their preferred dates and schedules, too. Don’t be afraid of being honest about whether you think you can meet their deadlines.
  • Be organized
    • Have a file or a selection of note cards with each character’s physical attributes, their common phrases, and their preferences. It makes you look silly if a character hates coffee in book one and loves it in book two.
    • I keep separate notebooks for the two separate series so I can keep all the drabbles, good one liners, and plot ideas separate.
    • I also have a wall of note cards that have reminder notes, plot notes, due dates, etc. in big sharpie so it’s easy to read from my desk.
    • I also keep a folder of files for each separate book on my desktop. And another folder marked “Templates”. Each time I begin to work on a new project, I copy the templates into the novel’s folder and fill them out – pitch, one page-synopsis, three-page synopsis, potential series synopsis, press release, about the author, list of desired places to solicit reviews, appropriate reviewers, appropriate awards submissions, etc. That way I have lots of useful marketing documents when it comes time to do the marketing.
  • Offload what you can – the less you have on your plate, the less heavy it feels
    • Hire a publicity manager, if you can afford it.
    • Buy a book-blog tour from a company you like instead of trying to organize one yourself, if you can afford it.
    • Ask friends to take care of organizing the launch party.
    • Find an intern to help write/send out press releases or update your social media, if they’re willing.
    • Don’t be afraid to ask for help – even if that’s housework help, or editing help, or organizing help. Literally the worst thing someone can say is “No, sorry.”
  • Compartmentalize
    • I choose specific days to work on specific projects, so I’m not trying to do everything at once. And from there I also break that down to “write the thing” and “market the thing” so I know what sort of hat I should be wearing as soon as I sit down.
    • Lists
    • All the lists.
    • All of them.
    • With small, cumulative goals that you can achieve easily.
    • Taped to the wall.
    • Checking things off feels so nice.

Anyway, so that’s how I’m handling it. Every time that little voice from the shadowed corner speaks up, I tell it to hush. I remember that I have nothing to fear, because my publisher, my agent, my editor – they wouldn’t have signed if they didn’t think I could do it. And then I get back at it. I do the thing. I check something off the list nearly every day, even if that’s just “Write 1k words” and that makes me feel like I’ve accomplished something, that I’m getting there, that I’m one step closer on this 446,000 step journey. So…yeah. I got this.

Skylarks Song Deal

Author JM Frey

Fall Titles of Note

Written By: laurie - Aug• 24•15

Wow, everyone! Fuse Literary clients have a ton of great books coming out this Fall! Check out these titles and maybe something will excite your imagination as we head into the colder weather. Nothing like a hot beverage and an exciting book for a cold day or night.

  • A young adult Sherlock Holmes origin story with a female Moriarty as his crime-solving partner instead of his arch-nemesis. Lock & Mori by Heather W. Petty.
  • An Aurealis-award winning epic fantasy from a talented new Australian novelist. A Curcible of Souls by Mitchell Hogan.
  • The final book in the bestselling YA Iron Fey series. Yes, we finally have to say goodbye to Ash and Meghan! (Nooooooooo…) The Iron Warrior by Julie Kagawa.
  • A Fight Club with werewolves paranormal romance. Harvest Moon by Lisa Kessler.
  • A spin off series in the bestselling Immortal Circus universe featuring Mab’s changeling assassin hunting in our world. Yow! Pale Queen Rising by A.R. Kahler.

See more here:


TEEN FUSE: Gideon’s War (Guest Blog Post)

Written By: laurie - Jul• 07•15

I have known award-winning children’s author, Douglas Rees, for a long, long time. When Fuse Literary acquired the assets of Ambush Books, a publishing company that Doug and I founded three years ago, we were thrilled that four of his young adult historical fiction titles would once again shine in the spotlight. Doug is a teen librarian in San Jose, California. And when he was informed recently that kids don’t want to read historical fiction, he got angry. “If we don’t understand history we are doomed to repeat it,” he said. Then he wrote this:   -Laurie


By Douglas Rees

Why write a book about the Spanish-American War, especially one aimed at teens? Because of how totally current it is. Today, the Middle East is full of young Americans slogging through mountain passes that deterred Alexander the Great, or risking their lives in semi-secret service on the plains of Iraq. Beyond these, there are over 400 overseas military posts in almost every corner of what we used to call “The Free World”. The majority of our young people, even if they are not in military service themselves, know someone who has been. Most often this is someone who is a veteran of the fighting in the Great War On Terrorism. (And Not At All For Oil.)

It goes straight back to 1898, to Manila Bay, San Juan Heights, and the coast of Santiago. In July of 1898, the United States was not an imperial nation. In December, it was. In between, in a hundred days of active conflict, at a cost of 365 battle deaths, the United States acquired Puerto Rico, Guam, and title to the Philippines. It created a protectorate over Cuba, arrogating to itself the right to overthrow its government. To secure its Pacific dominions, it connived the takeover of Hawaii from some wealthy and seditious sugar planters who had overthrown the legitimate government. We were Imperial, with an imperial military. In 1898, the U.S. Army, such as it was, had no overseas garrisons. By 1901, it was fighting its way into the Forbidden City of Beijing.

It was a revolutionary change, and we today all live in the world it created. We rely on today’s young Americans to maintain it, and they will be stuck with the bill. It may be that some of them are wondering why. Gideon’s War is a book for them.


Gideon’s War, a previously unpublished historical novel about Teddy Roosevelt’s Rough Riders and the Spanish-American War, is out now from Teen Fuse. It joins three of Douglas Rees’ YA backlist titles: Smoking Mirror (a tale of Paul Gauguin in the South Seas), Lightning Time (a pre-Civil War story about the infamous John Brown), and The Janus Gate (a ghost story about a famous John Singer Sargent painting.) All are told from a teen’s point of view.