Restored Faith in Literacy

 

Taking a step away from our usual posts, I wanted to talk about something I saw earlier this week that truly touched my heart in more ways than one, and shed a tear in the privacy of my own home.

Without getting into too much detail in setting up the scene (I know, I am going against my own advice on this one), I live in a very urban area by the coast of the Long Island Sound where houses must have sprouted from the ground like wildflowers. To set this up a bit further, my neighbor owns the home next to my apartment where he spent some time outside building what I thought was a bird house.

It’s not a rarity to see younger kids walking up and down the block in packs in my neighborhood, but there was one group that for some reason really caught my eye. One night, as I pulled into my driveway after a day’s worth of work I saw a  group of adolescent girls bickering and laughing with each other as they headed up the avenue. They were singing a song released before their time and one girl kept saying, “That song is so annoying!”

One girl held a basketball under her arm and stopped at the birdhouse. Her friends kept walking as she fell behind. I then began to realize it wasn’t a bird house – but a free little library. She peered in through both glass doors, opened it up and pulled a couple out to examine the covers, read the summaries, and truly admired the weight of the chosen ones.

free library.jpg

Her friends had made it a couple houses down and turned around to see where the girl was. They yelled down the street, “What are you doing? I thought we were going to play.” She held a book in her hand, closed the doors to the library, and ran towards her friends. They heckled her for grabbing a book, but she kept smiling down at what she picked.

In that moment – I couldn’t help but feel full of happiness and love because the universe restored my faith in the beauty of literacy.

– Tania

The Bedtime Book Club

blog reading in bed.jpgThe only free time I get to transport myself to another world within the pages of a book is in bed. Reading the right bedtime book is sometimes hard to do. I enjoy lighthearted reads before bed, but some people enjoy a good thriller to fuel their nightmarish dreams. Some prefer to read an action-packed chapter to tire themselves out. Everyone deserves a bedtime read – and now we have a way to get that book in our hands before resting our eyes at night.

As of 2018, HarperCollins UK has teamed up with the Heart radio station and Dreams, a bed retailer, to begin what will be known as the Bedtime Book Club. With the radio station broadcasting to listeners, the hosts will discuss a variety of HarperCollins novels, different themes, and genres to encourage reading. But just because the station is only broadcasting in the UK, doesn’t mean you can’t find your own nighttime reads.

If having a Bedtime Book Club isn’t reason enough to read before bed, maybe I should tell you why it can be important to get your nose in a book while under the sheets. It’s simple – if you want better sleep, read. You read me right. Sleep better. It’ll help reduce stress by distracting your brain from the life stresses that can get the best of you. I’m guilty of blaring my TV to help me fall asleep but it’s actually a good idea to read rather than watch. It’ll reassure your brain that you are at peace. And if you’re also like me, scrolling through Facebook, Twitter, Instagram (whatever social media platform you choose), reading can help you concentrate better. In the long run, reading before bed can improve two other things: your empathy and your creativity. In a good way!

Reading is a powerful tool, so why not start your own Bedtime Book Club and start curling up with a good book to help rest your eyes and your brain.

HRM’s School Survival Guide

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Old or young, going back to school can always be hard. High school can be vicious and college or graduate school can be intimidating enough to keep you cooped up in your dorm or off-campus apartment/house. But, here at HRM we want to alleviate some of the pain of back-to-school shopping and the hefty price tag of purchasing textbooks from your university store. It’s easier said than done, but sometimes you need to find an outlet for all this stress in order to survive the year. The perfect book could just be your perfect escape when the real world has you down.

For high schoolers, there is a book for everyone in your local or school library or bookstore- whether you’re a wallflower (I’m looking at you, Perks of Being a Wallflower), a heavy gamer (pick up The Feed). If you are dealing with a particular issue at school or have a unique interest that no one else seems to have, there’s likely a book about it. Check out this diverse list of books from Brightly for young readers; there’s a book for everyone on this list!

For the ones going off to college for the first time or returning for another year, there will be many challenges you will face throughout the year: professors being dull during lectures, exams starting just one week into the semester before you even had time to settle down, or having nothing to do during the weekends if the nightlife scene is not your cup of tea. Again, books make the perfect survival tool because there’s a book for everything. Since there were so many options to choose from, I chose to highlight this long list of book essentials for every college student to indulge in.

So hang around by your locker, study hall, university quad, dorm room, or coffee shop with your newest book and let us know how it helps you cope with the school year!

A Reader’s Dream Fulfilled

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Imagine a world where you, the reader, don’t have to browse bookshelves pondering if you’ll enjoy the book you’ve selected. Oh, wait… there is a world like that.

Book of the Month has been in effect for 90 years. “90 years of literary heritage,” is how they like to put it. It is a monthly subscription service built to your liking. There are a handful of different packages you could pay for, varying from receiving only a month’s subscription up to a year – meaning up to 12 new books to jump into. What better life could there be?

Every month you are given five books to choose from – some are popular best sellers and others are debut books from rising authors. You get the opportunity to pick the book you wish to read with the help from the judges. Judges range from publishing professionals to popular writers. Typically there are five judges each month. Each judge picks a book and writes a brief reaction to the book of their choosing. They explain why they picked the book and why the member should read it, along with some of their favorite scenes or characters. A synopsis and preview of the book is also provided through the BotM website. Members can vote on whether they enjoyed the book as well. The website rates the books like Rotten Tomatoes, minus the green vomit image next to the percentage. What’s also fun about BotM is the exclusive branded items they have for members. If a certain amount of money is put towards the membership, a free tote is included with the package!

BotM is a great option for avid readers who try to maximize their reading options. Or to the new reader who just isn’t sure how to find their next read. \ The benefits of the service make it enticing- you read the books you want to read, you pay a lot less for a hardcover, and you can skip a month if none of the options are appealing. The power in your hands is used to create more pleasurable reading for yourself and it’s likely that you will discover a book you never would have else wise. A reader’s dream is bound to come true with access to BotM endless possibilities.

Read on.

Top Publishers of 2016

A few weeks ago, Publisher’s Weekly came out with a ranking of America’s top 20 publishing houses for 2016. It’s no surprise who the top 5 were, but what’s really important is what came after.

The sixth and seventh publisher were both that of children’s books- Scholastic and Disney came in right under the ‘Big Five.’ It’s quite a refreshing thing to see. Children’s literature has always been a tough genre to crack because the audience is smaller, the interests change rapidly, and the surge of technology has threatened to turn some children away from reading and the love of books. Nevertheless, books sales for 2016 has proved that there is still so much to love about children’s publishing. For Disney, Star Wars and Rick Riordan books led the way.

tops publishers

Houghton and Workman come in next, showing us that non-fiction titles still have a big impact on our consumption market as well. For Workman, Atlas Obscura and What to Expect When You’re Expecting were their bestsellers. But for most publishers, their fiction titles landed them on this list. For Sourcebooks, The Cellar by Natasha Preston sold the most units.

Some other cool trends to see were that a few religious publishers made the cut, John Wiley’s business books proved fruitful once again, and adult coloring books are still in high demand from publishers like Dover and Sterling.

Here is the complete list:

  1. Penguin Random House
  2. HarperCollins
  3. Simon & Schuster
  4. Hachette
  5. Macmillan
  6. Scholastic
  7. Disney
  8. Houghton
  9. Workman
  10. Sourcebooks
  11. Sterling
  12. John Wiley
  13. Abrams
  14. Dover
  15. Candlewick
  16. W.W. Norton
  17. Kensington
  18. Chronicle
  19. B&H Publishing
  20. Tyndale

Write on.

 

 

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.

iaop

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.

 

The Success of Content

The more content there is out in the world and the more accessible it becomes, the more people will read or listen to that content. This is true with the audiobook industry. In a January 10th article, Marketwired published some interesting results about library trends for 2016. When I worked directly in the audio publishing world, I constantly saw the rise and power of the library. As more audiobooks were becoming available to them and the more they made those audiobooks accessible to their patrons via electronic borrowing  sites, the more sales increased weekly, monthly, and yearly. Now, as a literary agent I continue to see the rise of these sales within libraries and their borrowing sites and it doesn’t seem like it’s going to stop any time soon.

audio

In 2016, there was a huge increase in borrowed audiobooks thanks to digital sites like Overdrive. There was a 34% increase in audiobooks borrowed from local and school libraries’ digital catalogs compared to 2015. The growth is attributed to many things- an increase in digital bookclubs hosted by librares, more people listening to audiobooks (which jumped 67% on Overdrive), more young adult readers using library services, and an increased participation from international and multi-language readers.

The most popular library borrowed audiobooks for 2016 were:

  1. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
  2. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr
  3. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

Keep writing, because people are reading. Keep creating audiobooks, because people are listening.

Write on.

The Listening Explosion

Seeking out audiobook deals seems to be a popular request from many of my authors/clients, if not all of them. I worked in the audiobook industry myself before starting my own literary agency, so I always knew and understood the importance of the audio format and it always warms my heart when I see authors possessing that same understanding. But, there are many authors out there that I speak with that don’t see the value in putting their work into audio and see it more as a waste of time or just too complicated to deal with at the moment. They rather focus on writing new content to be released in e-book and print because that’s where the biggest pay-off tends to be. I totally get that too, but it really pains me to see these authors leave a great opportunity on the table. I often can’t iterate enough why audio is a market that shouldn’t be left untapped. If you don’t listen to audiobooks yourself, of course it’s going to be a lot harder to understand why you should pursue this format for your work. If we don’t understand something, we tend to shy away from it until a ‘better day.’ Well, thanks to The Wall Street Journal, hopefully that ‘better day’ is sooner rather than later.

In a recent article, The Wall Street Journal talks about how audiobooks are the fastest growing format in publishing. In 2015, sales jumped 21% from the previous year in the United States and Canada. In today’s world, it really shouldn’t be a mystery about why audiobooks are becoming so appealing. People are getting busier and busier. With jobs, children, hobbies, and other commitments we rarely have or take the time to sit down with a good book. I know for myself I have a huge list of books I would love to read and I have no idea how I will ever be able to tackle it. I just don’t have the time. Well, that is exactly what is making audiobooks so successful. They are portable and can be listened to while multi-tasking, voilà!

audiobooks

A big part of the listening explosion is due to the availability of digital downloads, rather than bulky physical CD’s. According to The Association of American Publishers, revenue from digital downloads grew 38% in 2015 from 2014. Revenue from hardcover books grew 8%, paperbacks grew 3%, and revenue from e-books actually declined by 11%.

The predictions for 2016 don’t seem be slowing down either. In January/February, researchers found that digital download audio sales were up 37% already compared with the same time period in 2015. Audible is also projecting that their listeners will listen to 2 billion hours of audio, doubling that number from 2014. Looking at these numbers, it really doesn’t make sense for any authors to be missing out on this upsurge.

Smartphones and new technology have been a godsend for the audiobook industry. 64% of adults in the United States have a smartphone, making it very easy to access digital download audiobooks right from the very device they carry with them 24/7. This year, 63% of all cars are being sold with some sort of smartphone hook-up. Listening to an audiobook while commuting literally can’t be any easier.

Both consumers and authors are catching onto the audio trend. In 2015, 35,574 books were published in audio format- an astounding number compared to the 7,237 audio titles published in 2011. Audible’s membership has also grown by 40% last year compared to 2014.

This doesn’t mean people are starting to prefer listening to reading. The reading trend will never disappear. There’s nothing better than holding a great book in your hands and getting lost in it for a few hours. And audio sales aren’t about to make any author the next Daddy Warbucks alone. In 2015, audiobooks sold 81 million units only making up 3% of the 2.5 billion trade books that were sold the same year. Audio isn’t just a convenient medium for busy folks, it’s also been proved to encourage book lovers to actually buy more books. Listeners who use Audible are reported to buy 40% more books in all formats after becoming members. Amazon’s Whispersync sales were also up by 60% in 2015 compared to 2014. The audio bug lights a fire under consumers for more content, increasing the likelihood that they will reach out to other formats as well.

It doesn’t matter whether you listen to audiobooks yourself or not, the truth of the matter is that other people do. More and more listeners are tuning in each year. In the age of multi-tasking, audio is just one small way to give  consumers what they want. Audio also introduces your work to a whole new audience and puts a little extra money in your pocket at the same time. Maybe we shouldn’t be so hesitant after all.

Write on.