Hurling Questions

Not only are we a super-cool blog on the internet, talking about the ins-and-outs of publishing and writing, but we’re a literary agency, first and foremost!

Some things you may wonder about us (or agencies in general) may be misguided by other postings on the internet. It’s best to ask the source directly to find out if the match is real! This doesn’t go for us, it goes for anyone you manage to get in touch with!

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  1. Ask the individual you’ve made contact with how they got to where they are (in life, not your inbox.) Knowing our background helps give you perspective on our passions and how they may or may not coincide with yours.
    1. A great follow-up is asking how long we’ve been in the biz. Passion and credentials.
  2. Sales are really important in this part of the business. Don’t shy away from asking. We won’t give you the nitty-gritty details but we will tell you bout some of our accomplishments as of late!
  3. Before you query, ask us if we’re looking! And if we are, what are we looking for! Each agency has criteria (and posts it on their website most likely) which must be met. Realistically speaking, “The Great American Novel” is not one of them.
  4. Our expertise is important to note as well. Each agency covers every aspect of publishing, but sometimes – sometimes – you’ll come across an agency that’s REALLY good at something. What is it?
  5. Communication is so important to both agency and client. Get it done as soon as possible: how would you like to touch base with your agency? Establish it! Most situations now involve email, but who knows, we can set up calls, video chats, dinner and a movie (no book adaptations, thank you)…(totally joking!)

The most important thing to remember is every agency is different and the people within differ from the others you may have spoken to. It’s always good to keep an open mind to whoever you come across, inside the publishing world and out!

This Week! (& Last Week!)

It’s been awhile since we’ve updated everyone on our recently published audio. This post is to serve as an update for the last couple of weeks, but things are going to be a bit different…

We’re going to start re-directing you to where the audio books can be purchased!

Without further ado, here they are!


Bree Livingston

Her Second Chance Billionaire Boyfriend


Eva Chase

Falling For Gods


Ivy Layne

Unraveled

Compromising the Billionaire

The Counterfeit Billionaire


BJ Harvey

Third Strike


London Lovett

Death in the Park


RK Lander

Path of a Novice

Audiobooks Making International Waves

Audiobooks are a great source of extra income for many authors, an extra revenue stream that otherwise wouldn’t be there. The audiobook market within the United States is a booming industry, increasing each and every year. Putting their success here in America aside, the possibilities for the future of audiobooks is still endless. According to an article in The Japan Times, audiobooks in the U.S. account for 10% of book sales- amounting to a $160 billion industry. But, this isn’t the case internationally. For example, in Japan the audiobook industry caps off at $5 billion. On the international scene, audiobooks have so much left to do and leave so much to be excited for in the future.

Audio publishers, like Audible, are just beginning to figure out how to be successful overseas. Recently, Audible launched an international initiative in countries just like Japan. In these countries they offer unlimited audiobooks for a monthly fee. The pay per book model that we have in the United States and the United Kingdom just doesn’t work in most other countries. There just isn’t enough awareness or accessibility to audiobooks that are needed for such a model. So, publishers are starting to get creative.

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The use of smartphones and their apps are greatly changing the audiobook landscape in countries like Japan. These apps offer easy access to audiobooks that once wasn’t there. In Japan, many people use public transportation and are looking for things to entertain them on their long commutes that don’t pack a lot of weight- downloadable audiobooks are the perfect answer. Febe, a downloading site, was launched in 2007. The site offers over 19,000 books on a variety of topics and genres. Since it’s launch, the number of users has increased from 2,000 to about 180,000- proving that if the content is there and accessible, people will use it.

There is still a long way to go with cultivating a real audiobook culture overseas, but the future is very promising. Audio publishers have found that the key to stimulating interest in audiobooks abroad is to use famous people, poets, or authors as readers. Since it’s a relatively new market, there needs to be something that pulls the listener in to giving the whole audio thing a try. This poses a slight problem because production costs of making an audiobook are already pretty high, let alone needing to commission a celebrity to do the reading. High costs along with low recognition of audiobooks are audio publishers two biggest obstacles when thinking of expanding abroad. But if the audio trend does catch on, the risk will be well worth the reward.

The Instant Approval Process

It’s been about six months since we launched our new ‘Submission Page’ and it’s about time we talk more about this revolutionary process.

As manager of Hershman Rights Management (HRM), a literary agency founded in July 2015, I am always looking for ways to better serve my authors and future authors. HRM represents about 100 authors and has successfully sold hundreds of their titles to audio publishers such as Audible, Tantor Media/Recorded Books, Brillance, ListenUp, and MMB Media to name a few. We have also assisted our authors in expanding their works internationally with our most popular translations being into Chinese, Korean, Spanish, Turkish, and French.

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As a literary agency, we constantly receive submissions and queries from authors for unpublished works through our ‘Contact Page.’ We love hearing from new talent and cherish the opportunity to be one of the first eyes to peruse the fruits of their labor. But, we also love working with our many self-published authors and have started an Instant Approval Offer Process (IAOP) to make their submission process easier and more accessible. If you are a published author (either self-published or traditionally published) and are looking for ways to expand your reach via audiobooks, foreign translations, etc. then our instant approval process is just what you have been looking for. IAOP allows published authors to enter in some simple information about their work based on criteria that we know publishers are looking for. If your information matches the criteria, you will instantly be given an opportunity to be represented by HRM.

The IAOP is helpful because authors no longer need to wait extended amounts of time to hear back from a literary agent or publishing company they might attempt to query themselves. Representation by HRM allows authors to invest more of their time in writing more books rather than trying to figure out the audiobook process or international publishing process themselves, which often times becomes much more complicated and confusing than the author initially imagined.

The goal of the IAOP is to allow authors who like the freedom of being self-published, but still want to explore other avenues in which they can profit off their work, to get a hassle and worry free offer from a literary agency designed to cater to their specific needs.

See below for a brief FAQ about our IAOP:

-How long does it take to hear directly from HRM after I am approved for representation?

If after filling out the form you receive an approval for representation by HRM, you will hear from us within 48 hours with some information about our agency and a draft contract for you to look over.

-What happens if my information doesn’t match the criteria you are looking for?

The simple answer, nothing. If you don’t get approved for representation, you are more than welcome to keep trying once you have garnered more sales, reviews, or social media followings for your work. If only some of your information matched our criteria you might get a message saying that we need to further review your submission information before we can make a decision about whether or not we think representation by HRM would be a good fit for you. Fingers and toes crossed!

-Are there any obligations when filling out the IAOP?

Nope, there are no obligations on either party when filling out the IAOP. If you get approved for representation and after talking more with HRM you decide you aren’t interested, that’s perfectly fine. You are under absolutely no obligation to sign on for representation with HRM just because you did the IAOP. We also aren’t obligated to extend representation to you if we don’t think we would be able to help you in any way. The last thing we want to do is spread false hope.

To learn more about HRM, click here.

To use the IAOP, click here.

Write on.

 

Innovative Technology Leading Us Into Our 2nd Year

Hershman Rights Management (HRM) officially launched in July 2015, so you know what that means? Yes, you’re doing your math correct- it’s been over a year! We couldn’t do it without all our amazing authors and publishing partners. We have so many people to thank for making our first year such a success. At HRM we pride ourselves on our customer service. It is always our primary goal to keep our clients happy. In order to continue to reach that goal, HRM needs to focus on growth and adapt to every fluid market.

That’s why we are rolling out a couple new things this month. First, and most importantly, we have created a new way in which authors can submit their already published work to us for consideration of representation. Check it out on our new ‘Submission’ Page. The best part? Your answer is instant! If we think you will be a good fit for HRM based on the information you provide on the form, you will know about it right away. If you aren’t… well, you will know that too. We are so excited about this new addition to our agency because the concept of instant results/answers in the literary agency industry is innovative and a first of its kind. Every author knows the harrowing pain of waiting for months just to hear that your work has been rejected. At HRM, we want to eliminate that wait time as much as possible and we have the newest technology that will allows us to do just that.

Second, we are looking to expand our social media reach and visibility. We just launched HRM’s Facebook Page, so we definitely think you should all head over and check it out. Give us a ‘like’ if you dare. Even if you aren’t a part of the HRM family it will be a great place to stay up to date with everything we are doing and everything our fabulous authors accomplish.

There were five reasons HRM decided to amp things up in this way:

  1. We need to be accessible. It’s easy to have a standard contact form on our website that just filters to an e-mail address with an ever growing pile of mail waiting to be answered. Anyone can do that. It’s great to get that mail and see that your business is getting recognition enough for people to reach out to you, but the ability to follow through on those contacts in a timely manner is what really matters. We need to be able to give our potential clients answers- quickly. We want to be an open channel of communication, not a dead end. We hope that with instant conditional offers for representation, we will be better able to serve our authors and give them a brand new tool to help them reach their career goals that they won’t be able to find anywhere else.
  2. We want to be visible. We want authors and publishing professionals to know our name. We want to automatically be seen as a trusted service because well, we are! We have helped many authors advance their career over the last year and we want other authors who are looking for help to know that.
  3. Our client’s (and potential client’s) time is important. The one thing I hate the most is wasting people’s time. It’s a priceless commodity that we can never get back. If we aren’t going to be able to help you, I want you to know that right away so you aren’t sitting around waiting for a hopeful answer. If we think we can help you, I want you to know that right away as well. I want to start working with you as soon as possible so we can start accomplishing your goals together. Your book sitting in a submission pile isn’t doing anyone any good.
  4. We always need to be growing. We can’t get comfortable. Sometimes, we need to push ourselves outside our normalcy and comfort zone to truly succeed. We will never know how successful we can be if we just do the same thing day in and day out. We need to push our limits in order to see just how big we can grow.
  5. We need to have the ability to adapt. Being in the publishing industry, it’s no news to us how important the digital world has become. Therefore, we need to use the digital industry to our advantage to both grow our business and reach our desired clientele. There isn’t a person (let alone author) who doesn’t spend part of their day on some form of digital outlet. The prime way to market a business or product has become digital. You need to go where your clients are going, you need to reach the markets in which they visit every day. By making our submission process and business name more digitally friendly, we hope to reach our masses in the most appropriate way possible.

Buckle in for another innovative year and please, write on!

How To Query

One my favorite things about launching my own literary agency has been the flow of query letters I have received from authors. I love hearing from authors about their creative and bold stories (literature nerd, much?) and I love listening to people describe work that they are passionate about. Their energy is inspiring and their optimism contagious. Unfortunately, I haven’t had as much time as I would like in the past several months to tend to the rapidly growing submission pile in my office (insert immense apologies to those still waiting here). One of my main goals going into this spring/summer is to tackle that entire pile head on- let’s not hold our breath here but rather pray some mighty prayers to whatever higher power exists out there.

I started to dig through the pile again after a rather lengthy hiatus from it and it really hit me just how important a query letter is. This might come off as a stupid realization because well, duh query letters are super important. But, it’s not until you put yourself in the shoes of those people reading these letters that the importance really strikes you. Think about it for a second, you are faced with a pile of 100 book submissions- what’s going to make you stop and ask for more rather than tossing it directly into the ‘reject pile’? What sets one letter apart from another? What key information are you looking for?

See the dilemma of the query letter now? Yes, yes you do.

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Catching an agent’s or publisher’s eye can be at times pure luck. Maybe the agent/editor has a special affinity towards your genre or writing style. Maybe they had good luck with a similar book recently. Or maybe it just sounds so different enough that it’s worth a shot. Whatever the case may be, you are one step closer to getting published and you couldn’t be happier about the opportunity.

Unfortunately, we all can’t depend on luck. Authors and writers need to take their querying seriously if they want to have even the slightest chance of getting noticed. You might feel like you are spending the same amount of time drafting a one page letter as it took you to write your entire novel. It might not feel like it at the time, but that’s a good thing. If your query doesn’t catch, your novel or book isn’t going to either. This morning I came across some helpful tips on GalleyCat that all writers should keep in mind as they are drafting their next query letter:

  1. Nail the “hook.” What’s the main point of your story? What makes your story so interesting? What makes it so different from other novels already out there? Why should the reader care about what you have to say? What does every word you put down on paper lead up to? Once you figure that out, nail it home in the query letter. Agents and editors don’t have time to read every manuscript in full, so you need to tell us what makes your story so special so maybe, just maybe we will take the time to read it. Don’t try to hide things in an effort to build suspense.
  2. Offer comparative titles. Since the agent/editor has never read your book before and is just reading a short summary of it, it’s helpful to include some comparative titles in your letter that maybe that agent/editor has already read or has at least heard about. It gives us some sort of base line to compare to and conveys the overall feeling of your story perhaps better than you ever could in your own words. Pick the right titles that actually compare to your book- you aren’t tricking anyone if you just rattle off a few bestsellers.
  3. Share your own story. The biographical section of your query letter is just as important as the summary of your book. We want to get to know the person behind the writing because that’s what helps to sells a book as well. Make sure to highlight the most interesting facts about yourself and what makes you, well… you.
  4. Acknowledge what you are looking for. Let the agent/editor know what type of relationship you are looking for with them. Are you solely just looking for a channel in which your work will get noticed? Do you want to work with them in order to improve your writing? Are you an experienced writer or are you looking for someone who will really be able to explain every step of the process to you? Neither of these options are ‘bad,’ you just need to be upfront about what you are looking for so that we can better access if we will be able to fulfill your desires.
  5. Talk about future plans. If you have other projects in the works or have ideas for future projects, include that information as well. It’s helpful to know where you want to go as an author and if we can see ourselves taking that ride with you. It’s always refreshing to hear from a writer with a vision for themselves, so don’t be afraid to share.

Write (or query) on!

The POV Debate

One of my favorite parts of being a literary agent is getting to work closely with so many talented writers. The best part is being able to collaborate on their latest project together. It’s a privilege, really. I love seeing each individual’s writing process and watching each layer of their work unfold until the final product somehow miraculously declares itself finished. During this process a lot of interesting questions come up. Some questions have straight forward answers. But, it’s not all that easy. One of my authors recently asked me about point of view (POV) for her new series she is working on. This was one of those not so easy questions. Do particular genres have rules about POV? Is dual POV a ‘no-no’? Do POV rules change depending on gender? How about age, does that affect POV too? Are publisher’s looking for a certain POV? See? Not so easy.

At one point, the answer to these questions would probably have been ‘yes.’ Writing used to be more formulated and possessed rules that writer’s dare not break unless they wanted to send their career to an early grave. But now, authors are breaking every possible boundary and are doing so successfully. We aren’t so focused on the rules, but rather our story.

My initial response was ‘no,’ it doesn’t matter. But, out of curiosity I wanted to see what others had to say about it. I came across some general rules. Romance is often written in the third person because love involves more than one person and we want to be able to understand all characters equally. Young adult is written in the first person. You can only switch POV or ‘head hop’ after a scene is complete or a new chapter has arrived. Despite all these said to be ‘rules’ most people came to the same conclusion- it doesn’t matter. Every genre doesn’t have a correct POV, but every story does.

My favorite article I came across was by Alan Rinzler, an experienced book editor. He only has one rule when it comes to POV- does your manuscript work? At the end of the day our goal is to create something that is readable, that keeps readers wanting to come back for more. As long as you can make that happen- anything goes. Crazy and adventurous sells.

I wish I could give you a list of rules here that would solve all your problems and save you hours of brain-numbing torture flip flopping back and forth on your decision, hoping you are making the right one. But after all that’s what writing is all about, right? To help ease the pain, Rinzler provided three basic tips on POV. Maybe it will shed some light on one of your toughest decisions:

  1. Get to know your characters first. Know who your protagonist is and their particular strengths and weaknesses. Does it make sense to tell their story from the inside or the outside?
  2. Don’t give your story away. Whatever POV you choose, craft your story carefully. Don’t tell your readers anything, let them do the discovering for themselves.
  3. Go ahead, break the rules. Of course we all like a reliable narrator, but don’t feel like you need to give your readers one. The best stories end in the most unexpected ways.

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Rinzler also gave some examples of how he has helped authors find the correct POV for their story so if you’re on the POV struggle bus, check it out.

Write on.