Thursday, March 29, 2012

Literary Agency and LitPow: Up to Speed.

Hey folks... lots going on here! This post started as a brief hello on Facebook this morning, but it as it turned out, I had lots of catching up to do and lots to say... no surprise to anyone on that later note I'm sure ;). I'm sorry that I haven't been been doing as much social media interacting as I'd like, but with the launch of the new Corvisiero Literary Agency, the new Literary Powerhouse Consulting site and the Growth of my law firm The Corvisiero Law Practice, I've been a little occupied.

At the Agency, we are in the process of creating... a process. Yes, lots to do to get the machine going. My two Jr. Agents, Jordy Albert and Brittany Booker, are fabulous and are working the butts off with reviewing queries, reading manuscripts, pitching clients, etc, etc. We have two new interns Stacy Donaghy and Brittany Howard, who are now actively reading manuscripts and have started to get little 'projects'.

I am busy with coordinating, preparing my current clients to sell, and selling. Many of my clients have submitted new project to me too, so I'm busy reading those. I'm also working with some contacts to bring in more talent to the Agency! And are still considering bringing in more interns, but I'm holding off on that because that is still more work for me (in managing). So if you're wondering why I haven't read your ms or why you haven't heard back yet... now you know. As always clients come first. I have lots of work to do with them before I take on new projects. But you should know that in spite of the crazy schedule, I have been reading every day, here and there, and have put some things aside for serious consideration. Some of you reading this may be very happy, very soon ;) Click here to see the Agency's new Facebook Page.

With Literary Powerhouse, my partner JoAnn Kairys are in the process of converting the site to WordPress. We hope that this will enable the site to better merge with current big social media plugins and be easier use, with hopefully less glitches. The membership to the LitPow Portal will soon be FREE for everyone! Yes, this is a big step, but we decided that we can better build a fabulous network on the site if you can all log in freely, share with your social media platform and connect easier with everyone. Our LitPow Facebook Writer's Network has almost reached 300 people in less than a month! Our goal is to have this network commune happily and enjoy all of the resources LitPow offers as soon as the site is functional again. With membership you will be able to use the Forum, the social media platform, chat, e-mail, blog, etc, etc. Then if you wish, you can upgrade ($) your membership to the Literary Membership to access the resources, and PowerTools beyond the Portal. We know that this will work much better for you, and can't wait to do our weekly Live Chats and Workshops on the site. And yes, members get discounts to the Workshops of course!

By the way don't forget that tomorrow is the last Friday of the month, that means that we are doing the Live YA Chat. Check out the site and the LitPow Facebook Page for the time and place! The live Chats by genre schedule will be posted soon. We are doing them on a weekly basis. First week of the month- Romance Wednesdays. Second Week- Thriller Mondays. Third week- SciFi/Fantasy/Paranormal Thursdays. And the last week- YA Fridays.

Oh and #LitPow and #CorvisieroLaw are both now on Twitter too! So be sure to follow us! :)

So yes, busy busy, as always... and just the way I like it. ;)   I'm very exited about all of this, and hope that you all stick with me... because together are going to make success seem like author's play! oxox


Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Taming the Evil Monster! (Platform)

Guest Blogger: Dean Sault

Countless hours spent revising, editing and polishing your manuscript led to query letters and nerve-racking long waits for responses from those literary gargoyles that regulate admission to traditional publishing houses. In a twisted logic, quick rejections become desirable, providing relief from the mounting anxiety of waiting. Then, it happens! One of the literary agents requests a full manuscript reading and actually likes the story. You’re on cloud nine.

Evil lurks just around the corner, though. You and the agent begin talks about representation, and a contract seems imminent. Suddenly, your surging literary locomotive derails! The agent asks about your “platform.” She warns that publishers want to know your credentials. Without a platform, she claims, they’re not going to accept you as an author. Soaring expectations crash under the evil assault of the platform-monster. Why? Because you have no special platform. You’re commonplace. Perhaps, you’re a stay-at-home mom and wife, or maybe, a lifetime insurance broker who spent twenty years kissing customer asses in order to support the family’s needs.

What are you going to do? Hopes fade.

My commoner examples of a homemaker and insurance agent are not random choices. JK Rowling was a stay-at-home mom, on welfare no less, before she and Harry Potter became household names around the world. Tom Clancy was a boring insurance broker before The Hunt for Red October exploded into the book world. Neither author offered much “platform” for publishing companies to consider.

Let’s strip the frightening fangs from this platform-monster. When a publishing company, or literary agent, asks about your platform, what is the real question lurking behind those ominous, red-glowing eyes staring at you from the literary abyss? It really comes down to, “Can you sell books?” Pretty simple, huh? All platforms boil down to the business of selling books. Publishing companies balance potential for profit against money at risk. They are not philanthropic or not-for-profit agencies. Every aspect of an author’s platform must suggest, or prove by historic results, that the author is a good business gamble.

So, what happens if mythical author, Karen Stoddard, wrote the world’s best romance novel, but this is her first foray into the publishing industry? She has no sales history. She dropped out of college, got married and started a family. Her life experience revolves around PTA meetings, soccer cheering, shopping and wiping noses until her spoiled kids get over their colds. She feels she has no platform to offer an agent.

Is she right?

Depends. Let’s start with her “business” experience. She runs a family. That involves all kinds of valuable skills. When she dropped out of college, she had been a police science major and performed volunteer work as an intern in juvenile hall for extra class credit. PTA meetings forced her to stand up and be heard on school issues. What about leadership skills? Yes--leadership! Turns out, organizing that annual PTA Pancake Breakfast makes her an experienced community leader. Now, let’s re-visit her “platform.”

“Karen Stoddard, author of romance novel, Delinquent Love, offers a background in criminal justice with experience in community leadership. Her management skills include organization, scheduling and public speaking. She looks forward to using her life experience and public persona to actively market her books, both in person, and through active internet promotion.”

Sound better? I will admit I was tempted to add “skilled in hostage negotiations,” but I worried that she might have to explain that it meant negotiating with her 12-year-old son for the return of her 8-year-old daughter’s hidden Barbie doll. That might not quite fly if asked.

Here’s the good news. Everybody HAS a platform. It might take a bit of creativity to identify it, but all the publishing industry wants to know is, “Can you sell books?” It is that simple. And, if you don’t have a rich history of marketing-compatible experiences, then go make some. That’s right. You can build a platform over night. Join Toastmasters or volunteer as a teacher’s helper at school. Set up a volunteer-student daycare program at your local community college. Anything you do to show publishers that you ARE a public figure with community involvement will improve expectations of your book-selling potential.

You can also borrow prestige. I know a woman who writes serial-killer thrillers. She set up an internet-based, discussion group for writers in her genre. She attracted the attention of one of the most well known serial killer profilers who agreed to speak with the group on a regular basis. It’s a big deal! Her platform borrows prestige from this guy’s awesome reputation and obvious endorsement.

Have I defanged the platform monster? While your bio can make or break your marketability to publishing companies, if you understand their motivation, it is much easier to build an acceptable platform. Let’s see, how can I redefine cleaning toilets? I’ve got it! “Extensive knowledge of the Coriolis Effect in the northern hemisphere.” (For those who don’t know, flushed water in the northern hemisphere always circles clockwise. It’s called the Coriolis Effect.)

Friday, March 2, 2012

The Corvisiero Literary Agency

Yesterday was the Grand Opening of the Corvisiero Literary Agency. We would like to give a special thank you to all of you who have sent us good wishes and goodies. We appreciate the support and look forward to many years of service to our literary community. Our goal will always be to find good talent and ideas, to foster both, to make best sellers out of our clients and to help them enjoy the process.

Writing is an art, but it is also a business. A difficult one at that. The publishing industry is influenced by many factors from pop trends, to economic cycles, to technological advances. Our job is to keep abreast of all trends, developments, and demands of the market and connect our talented clients with the right publishers in order to take advantage of such trends, satisfy the demands and utilize the newest technology  to accomplish our goals... which aren't just to sell books, but to spread the wonderful written word. 

The Corvisiero Literary Agency website is now up. We have included agent profiles, submission guidelines and links to our clients' sites and blogs. We also have a fan page on Facebook, are a part of the LitPow Writers' Network Group on Facebook, and participate on the Literary Powerhouse Forum every day for special events. Please feel free to check them all out and stay in touch! 

~ Marisa

Interview Of Marisa: by Sarah Hoss

Interview with Literary Agent, MARISA CORVISIERO

Thank you for stopping by Heart of Romance. You all know that I am a pre-published author. As with anyone, part of my job is to research all aspects of this career. We all have questions we would like to ask an agent and I have been given the opportunity to do just that and I wanted to share this interview with you.

I would like to introduce to you, Literary Agent, MARISA CORVISIERO, of The Corvisiero Literary Agency, New York.

SARAH- Marisa, Thank you for coming to Heart of Romance today!

MARISA- Thanks for having me!  

SARAH-Let me start off with asking what exactly is the job of a Literary Agent?

MARISA- A Literary Agent’s job is to represent an author and his/her work for the purpose of selling it to the best suitable publisher and get the best possible deal. Although the relationship continues, especially when the client writes anther book that the agent agrees to sell, the agent will guide and advice the client and look out for the client’s best interest for as long as that person is a client. Contrary to popular misconceptions, that’s about it. Some of us are more active in our client’s lives and careers, but the agreement is basically that the agent will sell the author’s book.

SARAH- Not only are you a Literary Agent, but you are also a Lawyer. How do the two go hand in hand and does it give you an edge over other agents?

MARISA- My knowledge base, experience, and skills as an attorney come to play every single day in many facets of agenting. My legal knowledge and contract experience helps me with drafting, editing, and negotiating contracts. The analytical and active reading skills make me a good reader, and an organized problem solver. I also have a Bachelors in International Business and Marketing. I feel that part of my education and business experience also give me an edge in making deals, seeing opportunities, helping my clients with different ventures and ideas for placing them into the right markets with the right editors at the right time; and also to help them market and promote their work, expand their platforms, and build their brand.

SARAH- What constitutes a good query letter?

MARISA- A query letter is the cover letter that is sent to Agents to introduce their work and offer their work to the agent for consideration. A letter should be professional and well written. It should contain the genre and word count of the finished work (rounded off to the nearest K); a brief description of the work in one or two paragraphs of 4-5 sentences each at most. The last paragraph should contain relevant information about the author that shows their qualifications or formal writing training, involvement in the industry (conferences, publications, awards, associations, critique groups, etc.), and their platform if it is significant and relevant to the work they are pitching.

SARAH- What tips would you give to a writer starting the querying process?

MARISA- Do your research. Knowing that the agent is taking queries, how they want submissions made, likes the type of work that you are shopping, and is a reputable agent, are key items that you must know to avoid wasting your time. Give your self the best probability of receiving a favorable response.

SARAH- What seems to be the new trend coming in the next year? Werewolves? Pirates?

MARISA- Editors are tired of the Werewolves, Fae, Vampires, cliché superpowers, etc. They are searching high and low for really creative ideas, high concepts, and well developed character driven stories.

SARAH- What do you expect from an author who signs with you?

MARISA- Any author who signs with me needs to be responsive, open minded, professional, respectful and willing to communicate. They need to understand that we will be partners and that together we will have the best chance of achieving success. They need to be willing to do revisions and at least listen to advice and discuss options in a flexible manner. And they need to be willing and able to work their butts off to meet deadlines and do whatever it takes to promote their work.

SARAH- Okay, let’s switch it around. What can an author expect who signs with you?

MARISA- Any author that signs with me can expect to always get my honest opinion, and someone who will be in their corner always looking to propel their careers forward. We will be business partners in this endeavor and both of our goals will always be to get as many books sold as possible. However, they need to understand that as with any other business, a huge part of being successful is to build relationships. So we need to communicate with each other and foster a bond that will help us present a unified front and a professional image. This will help us to create better relationships with our editors, publicists, and readers.

SARAH- With the trend of authors self-publishing, do you see this as a negative for the author who may later decide to try traditional publishing?

MARISA- Although some still believe that self publishing is a negative or a deterrent to becoming a successful author, I will say that the trend has changed a lot in the past few years, and it continues to change. In the past, vanity press was frowned upon. Now, with so many resources and the ease of self publishing in contrast with the time delays and decreased acquisitions by traditional publishers, many more authors have turned to self publishing. Being self published no longer means that the book is just not good enough or that the author is difficult to work with. It may just mean that the author is willing to spend time and money to sell their book and that they are eager to create a following. So the old perceptions are shifting into a more neutral and acceptable plane. I have recently sent out questions to some contacts at NYC top ten traditional houses and all ten told me that if they love the work and the book has been doing well, they will try to acquire it. The magic number for “doing well” is about 5K book sales! That is not an impossible number to achieve today with all of the social marketing and e-book opportunities that cost almost nothing! I always say, “the work speaks for itself”… when the editors love the book, they will usually not turn it down.

SARAH- Jo Ann Kairys and you started a new company called Literary Powerhouse. Please tell us about this new endeavor.

MARISA- Literary Powerhouse is an entity that Jo Ann and I created for authors. The idea of starting this business was an evolution of a demand that each of us was experiencing separately in our jobs. Jo Ann is a children’s book award winning author and a publisher, and like me, she would be constantly approached by people in the industry for advice. So one day during one of our extensive chats about the industry and trends and the lack of homogeneity, consistency, quantifiability, accessibility, and overall practical availability of information that is available in this industry, we decided that we should do something that is helpful and fun for authors. We both agreed that it would also be helpful for us to have one place where we can provide all of these things. So we created Literary Powerhouse Consulting, and started to offer consulting services for anyone that needed it in a professional controlled setting that is separate from our other endeavors and therefore clear of any conflicts or confusion as to what the client could expect.

Then as time went by we started coming up with all of these really useful resources, high tech modules and platforms that we have started to incorporate into our site for the purpose of providing “PowerTools” to folks in the industry that would help them achieve so much more in an efficient and stress free manner. The first thing that we did was put up a Forum. This is an interactive chat board on our site where authors can sign up as free members and enjoy asking questions, posting answers or just reading what others are discussing. We recently added the LitPow Portal. The portal is a literary industry exclusive social media platform that is only available to paid members. Members of the Forum can upgrade these memberships to Literary Memberships at reduced rates to access the Portal where they can use social media platform, chat, e-mail, blog, use the PowerTools and access all of our resources and participate in special events (Weekly chats with agents and editors live, workshops, telecasts, valuable resource lists (publishers, agents, conferences, publicists, contests, reviewers, etc), and tips. We have started filling the portal up with all of these goodies and loading up the PowerTools a little at a time. As we add these things we are working out the glitches and are enjoying the growth and progress the site is making as users have flocked to the site and have been raving about what is up so far. Some of them have no idea that we have so much more planned for them. It’s super exiting!

SARAH- You just started your own Literary Agency. Can you tell us about the plans you have for it and what made you decide to go out on your own?

MARISA- Yes I have finally hung up my own agency shingle. The name is not a very creative one, but it has some recognition- Corvisiero Literary Agency, which I intend to grow into a prominent and quality home for talented agents and authors to succeed together for a long time. Some may say that that’s a smoky answer, but it’s exactly what I mean. I want this agency to be a place that is known for representing excellent work that does well. I want publishers to trust us when we tell them that they have to acquire a certain book. I want authors to know that they will be treated well, with respect and sensitivity to their needs and time. And I want us all to make a happy living while we do what we love!

SARAH- How do you differentiate the two or are they meant to work together?

MARISA- The two entities are completely separate legal entities that provide different services. The agency, as all agencies do, will be a place where authors query their chosen agent to get them to represent their work. In return, we will consider such work as quickly as possible, and if we like it, we will contract the author as a client and do our best to sell their work. There will never be any fees charged to prospective or agented clients for any services rendered. Our agents will earn the industry standard commission of 15% for national sales and 20% of international sales.

In the consulting business our model is different. This business operates much more like a law firm would in that we charge clients fixed fees per project, or on an hourly basis for specific services rendered. If anyone in the industry (an author, agent, publisher, printer, distributors, reviewer, publicists, conference, etc) has a need for a knowledge base or a service to be provided for their projects, or issues they may have encountered, we will give them a proposal illustrating how we can help them and how much it will cost. We often have more than two options in these proposals unless it’s as simple as me critiquing their query and helping them find a good target agent. A more complex project may be editing a manuscript, deciding how to get it published (traditional with an agent, small press, e-pub, or self pub), getting them into brick and mortar stores, helping them apply to the right writing contests, getting them reviews or quotes from people with healthy platforms, and creating a publicity plan. We also help agents organize their submission process; set up publishing companies; design professional websites with blogs, etc. We have a wonderful staff and network that can assist us in many different tasks and projects as the need arise and as budgets permit.

SARAH- Is there anything I haven’t covered that you think would be beneficial to know for authors everywhere?

MARISA- I have type A+ blood. ;) Just kidding…actually it’s true…. But to answer the question, I would love to tell people to check out everything that we offer on our Literary Powerhouse website and become a part of our growing network. We also have a LitPow Writer’s Network group on Facebook that is a lot of fun and a great way to share info with other writers. So far we have about 150 members, including 4 National Best Selling Authors.

SARAH- Last but not least, would you please tell my readers all the places they can find you?

MARISA- Sure! I’m including links… (links omitted by Marisa for brevity)

SARAH- I want to thank you again for taking time out of your busy schedule to speak with us today. I know I can speak for all of us when I say that we really appreciate your advice and time. I would like to wish you luck in your future and I hope you have a great rest of 2012!

MARISA- Thank you so much, Sarah. I appreciate the opportunity to share with you and your readers.

This interview was posted on Sarah Hoss' wonderful Blog the Heart of Romance. Check out her blog for an endless array of info and insightful interviews.

Thanks Sarah!! ox