Agent Savant

The musings of literary agent Laurie McLean

Amazon versus Hachette: the authors lose

Written By: laurie - Jun• 20•14

I was recently interviewed on a great podcast called The Shared Desk run by two of my clients: veteran podcasters Tee Morris and Pip Ballantine. Give us a listen if you want to hear my views on the ongoing battle between Amazon and Hachette Books over ebook royalty rates and other sundry things. Pundits are billing this as the fight to determine publishing supremacy–the very future of publishing itself! I try to remind everyone that it is ultimately the authors who are the losers in this scuffle.

The Shared Desk

News Corp Buys Harlequin

Written By: laurie - May• 02•14

Parent company to HarperCollins, News Corp., is buying Harlequin Enterprises from Torstar Corporation for $415 million in cash and will make it a division of HarperCollins. Harlequin’s headquarters will remain in Toronto, as will the offices of HarperCollins Canada.


Founded in 1949 and bought by Torstar in 1981, Harlequin publishes more than 110 titles monthly in 34 languages in more than 100 markets. In 2013, Harlequin revenues were US$363 million, about 95% of which came from outside Canada.

“Harlequin has a devoted audience around the globe and an empathetic insight into contemporary cultures, which is itself a remarkable resource,” News Corp. CEO Robert Thomson said. “This acquisition will broaden the boundaries of both HarperCollins and Harlequin, and is a significant step in our strategy to establish a network of digital properties in the growth regions of the world.”

Brian Murray, HarperCollins president and CEO, commented: “Harlequin has built one of the largest and most widely recognized consumer brands in publishing with a highly focused publishing program for women…. The Harlequin name and rich heritage will be preserved independently, with the aim to leverage capabilities to bring the book-reading public more choices. Harlequin’s business has grown internationally, and will give HarperCollins an immediate foothold in 11 new countries from which we can expand into dozens of foreign languages for authors who choose to work with us globally.”

–originally from Shelf Awareness 5/2/14

TALON Cover Revealed!

Written By: laurie - Apr• 15•14

NYT/USA Today/international bestselling YA author Julie Kagawa has hit it out of the park with her new cover for fall release TALON. The bold, ruby-colored dragonskin cover makes you want to pet it! Universal Studios producer Chris Morgan (“The Fast & the Furious”), who is making the book into a movie said, “its elegance, mystery and understated sensuality are resonant of what the readers will experience when devouring Julie’s words…”

Check out the cover for yourself here at the exclusive cover reveal at

The Book Release: Now the Work Begins

Written By: laurie - Mar• 26•14

A guest post by my client, Tee Morris


It’s 8:15 p.m. as I begin work on this blogpost. We got snow today in the Nation’s Capitol which is still hard for all of us in the area to wrap our brains around. It is, after all, the first week of Spring. Tonight, our daughter decided to cop an attitude about dinner which sparked a familial confrontation, driving the nine-year-old-teenager to call me “a mean daddy.” I should mention she said this before I drove her to dance class. All this, coming on the heels of a textbook that I finished writing up for a Social Media Master Class for Writers that my wife Pip and I are teaching Friday. The “go” sign was given to the modest print shop to make a fistful of these teaching materials just after I received email from another client for my Social Media know-how. They were “not that impressed” with the curriculum I was offering his “experts” who, apparently, aren’t that expert to begin with seeing as they need me to come in and train them on better blogging strategy. All in all, it’s been a busy day.

Oh yeah, I almost forgot — Dawn’s Early Light, the third book in the award-winning Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series, was released into the wild today.

Welcome to the glamorous life of a modern-day author.

I would love to say “Life goes on…” but this is the part where people think “Okay, the book’s out, let’s kick back, bury our toes in the sand, and drink Mojitos until the sun stops setting and the tide ceases to roll in and out.” While this sounds like an overture to a new Jimmy Buffett ballad and a wonderful idea, the modern-day author cannot do this. I’ve already written about the unbridled fear of what writers face every morning before a premiere, but here I’m going to talk about what you do after the book comes out. See, the hard part has only begun. It’s not writing the book. It’s not getting the book published. It’s getting people to buy your book.

Yes, young Padawan, your journey has only begun. In today’s modern world of the blue collar author, amidst the dinosaurs bemoaning technology and lamenting for the days of wine and roses, we young upstarts of science fiction, fantasy, and things that go boom in our books, are refusing to go gently into that good night. What you should have done up to this point, as the modern-day author, is build up anticipation and momentum on your title. You wanted to get people excited about your new book; and depending on how you look at the activity on your social media channels, you should be getting pinged hard and pinged often with activity and interactions. No matter how you cut it, a publisher has made a gamble on your latest work and on your series. They are expecting this gamble to deliver. This is what it means to be a professional writer in today’s publishing industry. The likes of Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clarke, and even the more modern sensations like J.K Rowling, Stephen King and George R.R. Martin never had to bother themselves with issues like market performance, analytics, and R.O.I. “Sure, take your time on writing that next book. We’ll be here when you want publish that bad bear.” It’s a different game now, Sparky. You can’t kick back and enjoy a few years between titles. You’re measured by your last book, and even if it’s been a day like it has been for Pip and myself, that last book now includes that one-day-old title currently sitting on the bookshelves.

It’s your job to get it off the bookshelves and into readers’ hands. What do you do?

Keep the Blogging Pace You’ve Set. The best thing about recent blog tours I’ve participated in has been the habit of blogging I’ve developed. I’m figuring if I can keep up the pace of two blogposts a week at and the Ministry blog, this will keep people tuned in to what’s going on with me and Dawn’s Early Light. The increase in post frequency, I know, has been working. Between February and March on the Ministry blog, we have seen a 400% increase in traffic, and my own blog has been enjoying its fair share of new visitors as well. I’ve just recently added Tumblr to my blogging platforms, so it’s time to play in a new arena.

Continue Podcasting Appearances. Something I’ve seen often with podcast tours is once the book is out, the promotion stops cold. Truth is the key time for promotion is a month before and a month after a book’s release. Make sure that when you schedule interviews on podcasts, you have some appearances reaching into the weeks following the book’s birthday. (I’ve got three interviews on the books, and am hoping to schedule a few more before the month is out.) With an additional month, you can keep your title on readers’ and potential readers’ RADAR.

Another promotional avenue that can be an ongoing venture, and not as aggressive as a media onslaught or constant bombardment of promotion, is producing short stories set in your works’ universe. Our own award-winning Tales from the Archives just dropped its third story of its third season. We have nine more planned. Free short stories in either digital or audio formats are a fantastic way to introduce new readers to your titles.

Continue to Post in Social Networks within Reason. This is a hard avenue to traverse because you don’t want to turn your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or Google+ accounts into noise as enough writers tend to make this mistake. However, promotions on these channels are key. For every one promotional post, mix up your content with three or four other posts of either personal or community nature. That way, you are still active on your platforms and active in your communities; but not indulging in an “All About Me” party.

Maybe you’re wondering “When will I be able to write again?” You will. That drive to create eventually comes back; but while the month before a release date is important to the visibility of the new title, the following month is just as important to its success. These two months matter. Once the weeks slip by (and they will as I’m stunned that today was the day), you can scale back the posts about reviews. You still need to be visible, but less about the book and more about the author. As you move on and (hopefully) let the book continue without aggressive promotion, you need to strap in and begin work on the next project. As I mentioned before, you’re only as good as your last book. This means for there to be a last book, you’re going to need a new book either underway or nearly complete. Otherwise, your last book truly will be your last book.

So with the new title on the shelves, I’m suiting up for battle. I’ve got my ætherpistol set to “Confound” and my armored pith helmet secured on my head. Goggles are down. Time to get to work. My first step in post-release promotion?

Congratulations. You’re reading it.

Tee Morris has been writing adventures in far-off lands and far-off worlds since elementary school. Inspired by numerous Choose Your Own Adventure titles and Terry Brooks’ Shannara series, he wrote not-so-short short stories of his own, unaware that working on a typewriter when sick-from-school and, later, on a computer (which was a lot quieter…that meant more time to write at night…) would pave a way for his writings.

Tee has now returned to writing fiction with The Ministry of Peculiar Occurrences series, written with his wife, Pip Ballantine. Their first title in the series, Phoenix Rising, won the 2011 Airship Award for Best in Steampunk Literature, while both Phoenix Rising and The Janus Affair were finalists in Goodreads Best in Science Fiction of 2011 and 2012. In 2013 Tee and Pip released Ministry Protocol, an original anthology of short stories set in the Ministry universe. Now in 2014, following a Parsec win for their companion podcast, Tales from the Archives, Tee and Pip celebrate the arrival of their third book, Dawn’s Early Light and launch a new venture—One Stop Writer Shop—offering a variety of services to up-and-coming and established indie authors.


Goodreads Author Tips

Written By: laurie - Mar• 05•14

As a former marketing pro with 25+ years in that industry before I became a literary agent a decade ago, I am bullish on establishing a strong author brand. I speak about it a lot at conferences and in webinars. So I was delighted that a recent Forbes magazine article entitled “The Strongest Brand in Publishing” featured my client, science fiction and fantasy author Michael J. Sullivan. Towards the end of the article, Michael J. gives you three tips on how he became one of the “most effective authors” on Goodreads according to Patrick Brown, Goodreads’ Director for Author Marketing.

Michael J.’s strategy has to do with building and participating in community, as well as interacting with your fans and giving away books. Another tip is that he started out as a reader and knows both sides of a story. It’s a fascinating article and well worth a couple minutes of your time to read. Find the Forbes article here:



UPDATE: Michael has added more detail to his advice here:

Hollow World Cover 1200 x 1900

My client, AR Kahler, Nominated for 2 Book Awards!

Written By: laurie - Jan• 23•14

My client, debut fantasy author A.R. Kahler has made me a proud mama today by sharing the news that his The Immortal Circus fantasy trilogy (Amazon 47North) has been nominated for two awards for 2013: The Endeavor Award for best science fiction or fantasy written by a Pacific Northwest author and published in the previous year, and the Compton Crook Award for best first novel of the year written by an individual author from the Baltimore Science Fiction Society. He is also eligible for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer and will be in their 2014 Campbellian anthology. Way to go Alex! Plus look at his cool photo. And did I mention that he’s a circus aerialist as well as an author. You go, sir!

Alex Kahler author

Kindra Nikole Photography

Wild 2014 Publishing Predictions

Written By: laurie - Jan• 02•14

If you’re wondering what to expect in the new year, hop on over to Foreword Literary’s blog and see what zany predictions we cooked up in our last staff meeting of 2013. Remember that this was at the end of an hour long Facebook chat, so forgive us in advance if we got a bit irreverent.

Iron King Motion Comic Debuts!

Written By: laurie - Dec• 14•13

Here’s a great idea for a stocking stuffer!

The best-selling young adult novel The Iron King has been transformed into a new medium – a comic book series and now an interactive digital comic book.  Bluewater Productions has released the first two issues of the 4-issue mini series.

Bluewater Productions has partnered with Piglion Studios in developing an animated comic book version, which  released this week on iTunes for $1.99.  The full-length interactive animated manga motion comic book app will also be released on the Android platforms later this month.

Iron King Motion Comic

Julie Kagawa, New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Iron Fey and Blood of Eden series of books for young adults, said “My fans know that I am a huge comic, manga, and anime enthusiast, and I write in a very cinematic and visual manner in part due to my love of this medium.”  Julie’s new title in the spinoff Iron Fey series The Iron Traitor just hit bookstores.

To view a sample of the motion comic book cover:

The 4-issue Iron King comic book series features the art of Lidia Chan, and is written by Julie Kagawa and Sara Gundell.

The app on ITunes can be viewed here:

“We believe giving subtle movements to make the work dynamic and interactive at the same time will help augment the readers’ imagination. Piglion Studio is excited to see the success of this partnership and the fans should be too!” said Melch Valimento from Piglion Studio.

The Iron King is a young adult novel that was on the best-seller lists for the New York Times and USA Today while getting amazing reviews. The Iron King is the first book in the Iron Fey series, and follows the adventures of a girl named Meghan Chase. On her sixteenth birthday, Meghan discovers her little brother has been kidnapped by a faery race known as the “Fey” and even worse, replaced with an evil changeling and taken into the “Nevernever.” Meghan bravely ventures into the faery realm to rescue him, and that’s where an epic plot unfolds.

“The goal is to get people reading.  I was a reluctant reader growing up and comic books helped my reading skills.  Comic books are not only for pop culture fun, but also can be used as a tool.  We are always trying to think outside the box to get people reading, this motion comic book will be another incentive,” said Bluewater publisher Darren G. Davis.
“Motion comic books have come along way since our first one we did on Wrath of the Titans.  It is pretty amazing how the technology has advanced. I have watched the Iron King #1 over and over and still amazed at how polished it is,” added Davis.

More motion comic books are on the horizon at Bluewater with a partnership with Authorly.  In January, Female Force: Julia Child and Dorian Gray will be released as digital interactive comic books.

Bluewater has previously worked with best-selling novelists such as John Saul, SE Hinton, William F. Nolan and William Shatner to develop novel-based comic book series.

Interviews and PDF review copies are available upon request.

Bluewater Productions:  Bluewater is a full-service publishing and production company specializing in comic books, graphic novels and multimedia. Dedicated to pairing high-quality art with innovative storytelling, Bluewater creates a wide variety of intellectual properties that engage a growing readership and bridge the gap between comic books and the diverse multimedia marketplace. With more titles than ever, including smash hits such as the 10th Muse, VSS and The Legend of Isis; Bluewater has worked with many best selling novelists in developing comic book series. The company also has a line of biographical comics featuring The Beatles, Stephenie Meyer, JRR Tolkien, Justin Bieber, and etc.

About Julie Kagawa Julie Kagawa is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the award-winning Iron Fey and Blood of Eden series. Born in Sacramento, California, she moved to Hawaii at the age of nine. There she learned many things: how to body board, that teachers scream when you put centipedes in their desks and that writing stories in math class is a fantastic way to kill time. Her teachers were glad to see her graduate. Julie now lives near Louisville, Kentucky, with her husband and a plethora of pets. She still laughs whenever she sees a centipede. For more information on Julie visit .

About Piglion Studio
Piglion Studio, based in Markham, Canada, is focused on creating Motion Panels+, an application that combines a standard comic book and animation with added interactivies. To exemplify this application, the team converted its flagship web comic, Coin & Flour, to Motion Panels+, which can be downloaded from app stores.

Media Contact:
Darren Davis, Publisher
Bluewater Productions
Twitter: @bluewaterprod


Congratulations to the 2013 Goodreads Winners!

Written By: laurie - Dec• 03•13

From Publisher’s Marketplace: announced the winners of their Goodread Choice Awards, based on close to 2 million online votes. Among the 20 winners:

Fiction: And the Mountains Echoed, Khaled Hosseini

Mystery & Thriller: Inferno, Dan Brown

Historical Fiction: Life After Life, Kate Atkinson

Fantasy: The Ocean at the End of the Lane, Neil Gaiman

Science Fiction: MaddAddam, Margaret Atwood

Horror: Doctor Sleep, Stephen King

Memoir & Autobiography: I Am Malala, Malala Yousafzai

History & Biography: Jim Henson: The Biography, Brian Jay Jones

Nonfiction: The Autistic Brain, Temple Grandin

Humor: Hyperbole and a Half, Allie Brosh

YA Fiction: Eleanor & Park, Rainbow Rowell

YA Fantasy/Sci-fi: Allegiant, Veronica Roth

Middle Grade: House of Hades, Rick Riordan

Though Stephen King took the No. 1 spot for horror, his son Joe Hill was right behind him at No. 2 for NOS4A2. Rainbow Rowell took both first and second place in the YA competition, with Fangirl about 5,000 votes behind Eleanor & Park.

Welcome Emily Keyes to Foreword Literary

Written By: laurie - Nov• 05•13

We are so happy to announce a new agent has joined the team. Emily Keyes, formerly an agent at the L. Perkins Agency in New York. She also worked at Simon & Schuster in the contracts department for five years prior to that. Emily is based in Manhattan.

Emily will be representing middle grade and young adult children’s books, as well as fantasy, science fiction, women’s fiction, and new adult. For non-fiction, she’s looking for pop culture, humor, and “everything nerdy”.

Check out the press release here, and her interview with my co-founding partner Gordon Warnock here.

Welcome aboard, Emily!

Emily Keyes