Monday, May 12, 2008

Marcela Landres has a new E-BOOK! Worth a Look! Order today!

Former Simon & Schuster editor Marcela Landres is a wonderful editorial consultant and she has just released a new E-Book entitled HOW EDITORS THINK, which offers useful insights into the publishing world for writers who might be wondering, "hey, I have talent, and I can't seem to get a book deal."

If you buy the book, you get Marcela's TEN PLATFORM BUILDING TIPS as a bonus.

To order the E-Book, go to:

Thursday, April 03, 2008

No Advances, Coming Soon!

Marking a radical departure from traditional book-publishing practices, HarperCollins Publishers says it will launch a new book imprint that won't accept returns from retailers or pay advances to authors.

To be headed by veteran publishing executive Robert S. Miller, the imprint also likely won't pay for more desirable display space in the front of bookstores, a common practice. Instead, the as-yet-unnamed unit will share its profit with writers and focus much of its sales efforts on the Internet, where a growing portion of book sales are shifting.

The new venture is aimed at improving the economics of book publishing!

New Changes Coming for Publishing Industry

Hyperion's Bob Miller in Harper Start-Up
Founding publisher at Hyperion Bob Miller is leaving the company after 17 years to "launch a new global publishing program based on a non-traditional business model" starting on April 14 described as a "creative publishing 'studio' that challenges conventional trade publishing standards." They add: "Miller will publish approximately 25 popular-priced books per year in multiple physical and digital formats including those as yet unspecified, with the aim to combine the best practices of trade publishing while taking full advantage of the internet for sales, marketing and distribution. Authors will be compensated through a profit sharing model as opposed to a traditional royalty, and books will be promoted utilizing on-line publicity, advertising and marketing.

Miller adds in the release, "Our goal will be to effectively publish books that might not otherwise emerge in an increasingly 'big book' environment, an environment in which established authors are under enormous pressure to top their previous successes, while new authors are finding it harder and harder to be published at all."

What this will mean for agents and authors insofar as the Agency Contract is that agents may have to change their approach to commissions. Anything that changes traditional royalty structures must impact how authors pay agents.

More on that soon: And here it is from 4/5/08:

Bob Miller's new experimental start-up with HarperCollins took shape quickly after a casual discussion over drinks with Harper ceo Jane Friedman at the end of February. Miller says that he was "feeling restless and didn't know what next mountain to climb" and was "talking about my frustration with the paradigms in this business." He explained to Friedman how we would theoretically "do it all over again" and she encouraged him to put that plan into action. "I realized this was my time," Miller says.

On some of the specific intentions of the new line, a 50/50 profit share with authors (and minimal advances) is a central tenet. But the idea of selling everything on a non-returnable basis was overstated in a WSJ report. Miller says "I definitely want to sell non-returnable if possible" particularly since that maximizes the profits to be shared and "the goal is to try and stop wasting money on things that don't actually help sell books." But he recognizes that conversations with retailers are an essential element of such a plan and that the process may "evolve after we start."

As Miller notes, publishing today is "a race for margin" and "the current model is pretty broken," adding that "it's too tempting not to try" to improve on that paradigm.

If you intuited that the statement in the press release expressing the intention of "taking full advantage of the internet for sales, marketing and distribution" signals a desire for more direct selling online, then you were correct. "Definitely one of the things we want to experiment with is direct selling to consumers," Miller told us, along with working in partnership with a variety of internet booksellers and other entities. He also hopes to "experiment with selling other formats" so that, for example, "people get the e-book and the audiobook with their purchase" of a print book.

Miller sees his "studio"--called that so as "to not be trapped by the definitions that already exist for publishing companies we know"--as comprising a "handful" of dedicated staff focused on "mostly nonfiction" titles. While recognizing that "an established author who is already making more than the publisher probably wouldn't be interested" in the joint profit-sharing model, he adds that "I'd love it if established authors want to try off-the-beaten track" projects and experiments with the new venture. He says that "short low-price hardcovers" are "where I think the market is, and where I've had repeated success," ranging from short books by David Halberstam and Steve Martin to FISH and the Mitch Albom titles. Which also allows for the wide-ranging experimentation to include books that are longer than magazine articles but shorter than conventional book titles.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

2008 Agency Update

Authors LeClair and Warshaw are no longer clients. I will be glad to keep promoting their work out of admiration for their talent, and I will keep mention of Professor LeClair on this blog out of respect and admiration for his talent as a novelist, literary critic, and literature professor.

Southern Sunrise Agency is now charging an industry standard 15% commission for domestic rights and 20% for foreign and non-book rights.

If you have submitted a query or sample and are awaiting a response, feel free to send an e-mail reminder after 1 month.

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Author James R. Flynn's visit to the University of Cincinnati

On Tuesday, November 20th, 2007, I had the honor of hosting an appearance in Cincinnati by author and professor James R. Flynn, whose newest book was just published by Cambridge University Press, entitled:

What is Intelligence? Beyond the Flynn Effect

Dr. John Wright, Professor at the University of Cincinnati's Criminal Justice Division (College of CECH), wrote that: Flynn "is a giant in the field of IQ research. His work has challenged even the most ardent scientists" and "his intellectual reputation is stellar." Not only is Professor Flynn all that, he's a remarkable fellow insofar as being a really nice guy, a superbly fit athlete (at age 73 he can still break 53 minutes for a 10-kilometer run), and an ardent Moral Philosopher who left the United States for New Zealand in the 1960s, where he made a wonderful career teaching and research and writing. Today, he is Professor Emeritus at the University of Otago.

If you ever get a chance to meet Dr. Flynn, or hear him give a talk, you'll be pleased.

I booked Dr. Flynn's radio show appearance, an interview with Mike McConnell on 700 WLW AM, drove Dr. Flynn to and from the airport and hotel, coordinated the publicity (distributing flyers and sending out a press-release and coordinated mass e-mailings) and arranged the book-signing, with the help of Cambridge University Press, Follett and the University of Cincinnati Book Store, and of course the Criminal Justice Division at U.C., with special assistance from Janice Miller and Dr. Wright.

For any prospective literary agent clients who might want a reference as to the quality and quantity of my efforts to promote an author (who is not a client) feel free to contact Dr. Flynn at:

Dr. Flynn's website is:

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Recommended Blog For Writers

Especially if you're new to searching for literary agents. Strauss et al., have posted information that will allow you to avoid the worst aspects of the industry. Their blog is:

At Last! Writer Beware Blogs! A.C. Crispin and Victoria Strauss Reveal All!

On Strauss's blog you'll find warnings about fee-charging agents and more.

Other websites for writers seeking to avoid fee-charging agents:





Sunday, November 25, 2007

November 2007 Reading List

Funding Evil, Rachel Ehrenfeld, Bonus Books, 2003

The Higher Power of Lucky, Susan Patron, with illustrations by Matt Phelan, Atheneum 2006.

Saturday, November 24, 2007

My comments on a article

Query Letters and Literary Agents 101

This is a quick course describing the query process for beginning authors and a nice refresher for you old pros. This is not a complete list, just a quick reference.

Why write a query letter?
Unless you already know a literary agent, book publisher, famous author, or are extremely lucky, a query letter is your best chance to get your foot into the publishing business.

My Comment: even if you know someone, you have to write them a letter or an e-mail about your book, (yes, even if you call them first) so you write a query letter because you have to describe in writing what you have created, or what you want, or to thank them for something--such as arranging a pitch meeting.

What is a query letter?
A query letter is a ONE PAGE professional letter describing your book and yourself to a literary agent.

My Comment: A query letter is ideally shorter than a page, and is a formal business letter describing the basic facts of your book and asking for a result (representation or publication) and NOTHING ELSE--it is NOT a sales letter or pitch or plea or a chatty "tell-all" about your creative process or your goals or aspirations or personal life.

If the literary agent is interested in your book he/she will typically write back and request that you send a portion or completed manuscript which he/she will then read and review. If he/she likes the manuscript and thinks it has potential to sell, the literary agent may offer to represent your book, which means they will then attempt to sell the book to a publisher.

Some literary agents may request that you include the first few pages of your manuscript or a separate synopsis with your query, but that is strictly up to the individual literary agent.

What goes into a query letter?

  • Your manuscript's title.
  • Word count.
  • Genre.
  • A short synopsis.
  • Any writing related credits you may have such as previous publications or contest awards.
  • The reason why you have chosen to query this particular literary agent.
My Comment: I disagree with that last item. Although for some agents, it's important to know why the reader queried them, it's not here. I don't need to know why you chose me--in fact I regularly respond to letters sent from services such as Scriptblaster. Good writing is what is important here--not why you're sending the query to me in particular.

What does NOT go into a query letter?

  • How much your mother, brother, uncle, neighbor liked the book.
  • How often you have queried.
  • Never mention you have never been published (they probably know that already.)
  • Never mention this is your first book (they know that, too.)
  • Don't tell them how great the book is, let your writing speak for itself.
  • Don't tell them how much money your book is sure to make, it's their job to determine that.

What is the perfect query letter?
No one knows. Every literary agent seems to have their own idea of what makes a perfect query letter. Some like quirky and clever, some like professional and reserved (most lean towards professional and reserved, so use quirky sparingly.) But even the literary agents who have very specific ideas of what they do or do not like will often highlight and praise a query that breaks the rules they themselves set down. So, what does this mean for you? It means there is no easy answer. Your best bet is to read as many sample query letters as you can find, pick the style you like best and give it a try.

My Comment: True that if you do anything well, the rules sort of fly out the window. But there is a perfect query letter RESULT. The perfect query letter gives the agent or publisher ZERO excuses to say "NO" to reading your work.

If you don't get a response, do not resend the same query. Follow up with a short polite "just checking in" letter after allowing a reasonable amount of time (I recommend one month) to elapse since your query arrived.

Here's a sample an "afterquery:"

Dear Agent:

On October 25, 2007, I sent you a query via e-mail on my Thriller (89,473 words) entitled: THE BIG FAT MONEYMACHINE. I am just following up to make sure my query was received and is in your queue.

Thank you,


See: for more information on the business of communicating with agents and publishers.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Give to

The time to act is NOW. To date, has more than 300 applications for these trips. In 2007, approximately 1,200 World War II veterans die each DAY. The average life expectancy for an American male is 74.4 years. The youngest WWII veteran is over 79 years old. In another 5-10 years almost all of our WWII veterans will be gone.

This trip will probably be their “last hurrah,” the last time they will be recognized as heroes and conquering victors that collectively and literally saved the world. All day long they will be thanked, recognized and admired for their service. These veterans will remember the kindness and adoration shown to them for the rest of their lives. They will all have a deeper appreciation for how much their country loves them and will miss them.


Honor Flight is a 501C-3 Non-Profit organization. All donations are 100% tax deductible.

To make a donation via PayPal or Credit Card, please click below.

You can also mail your donation to:

Honor Flight, Inc.

Attn: Margaret Morse

300 E. Auburn Ave.

Springfield, OH 45505


And don't forget to thank a Vet near you!

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Query of the Month

I know I harp on "brevity" as being a key aspect of good query writing but you can write a longer query if you execute the form superbly. Below is a fine example of a query that "oozes" writer-smarts (chops). It's one of the best fiction queries I've ever read:

October 31, 2007

Dear Justin,

In the spirit of Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist, Beyond Coincidence is a modern quest for personal fulfillment, directed by dream signs and played out along the California coast. A battle between free will and destiny ensues, enhanced by teasing skirmishes of luck, love and immortality. This women’s fiction novel is the tale of a divinely unfulfilled love triangle between Emily, a compulsion driven photographer, her dead husband Daniel, and an unnamed and unfocused shadow.

Emily Elliott’s life was neatly categorized and pigeonholed. She approached her life with the same zest and ambition as a stapler salesman. That is, until the day Daniel died. Having acknowledged that she and her husband lived at opposite ends of life’s spectrum, Emily unavoidably finds she is horribly unbalanced.

Oddly, Daniel’s death does not delete him from view. Instead, he becomes a guide in Emily’s pursuit of peace. Daniel brings a shadow to Emily. This hazy, vague spirit has a voice that speaks to Emily’s soul and a wit that challenges her sanity.

An arsenal of highly detailed memories and recurrent dreams of gingerbread men launch Emily’s journey to regain her happiness. Abandoning her corporate ways for the passion of modern art, she embraces the camaraderie of the beach community. An art gallery owner encourages Emily to use her photography to bridge her dream world with reality. Back in her dreams, the enticing introduction to the obscure shadow captivates Emily’s imagination and finding him in reality becomes her mission.

The accidental discovery of the fourth floor home, the source of her dreams, in a forsaken Los Angeles neighborhood, blurs the boundaries of time with rays of reality. As Emily nears her journey’s end in a Malibu coffee house, she realizes she is a pearl, a solitary grain of sand evolved into a gem. And she finds Richard. Never again will the reader be able to doubt the validity of dreams, the true meaning of déjà vu, or that a resounding YES is the answer to the question, “Is there anything more?”

After several years in journalism writing for two New England newspapers, I worked many years as a trade magazine photographer and writer. The basis of the fourth floor is born from my own recurring dreams and this is only one of its stories. Beyond Coincidence is an amusing and poignant tale of the layered lives of the people who touch our souls while offering a surprisingly quirky twist on fate. I look forward to your reply.



Saturday, October 27, 2007

Autumn 2007 Non-Fiction Reading List And Commentary

If you think you "know" the Holocaust but you haven't read:

Hitler's Willing Executioners, Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust, Daniel Jonah Goldhagen, Knopf, 1996

A Moral Reckoning, The Role of the Catholic Church in the Holocaust and its Unfulfilled Duty of Repair, Daniel Jonah Goldhagen, Knopf, 2002

Then you've missed out on important scholarly works that should be required reading on the topic. Also of interest is:

Nuremberg, Infamy On Trial, Joseph E. Persico, Penguin, 1994

While Daniel Jonah Goldhagen's writing is at times dry and a little belabored in places for my taste, his scholarship seems superb, and his books are well worth reading. Hopefully, his contributions will awaken others, as it did me, to a core truth of the Holocaust that is vastly under-publicized: that there were many willing executioners, and assistants, who as ordinary citizens helped torture and kill Jews despite having a CHOICE not to do so, and that by extension today there are many willing executioners who will not fight against true evil (anyone who, for example, claims that the Holocaust did not happen or that Israel should be wiped off the map) or protect the Jews any better than Germans, many of whom were their neighbors, or Christians in general and the Vatican in particular did during the Nazi occupation.

These individuals are almost all gone now but the lesson is so appropriate for our era. And it's disgusting to see all the double standards out there concerning under-reactions to sources of well-organized, well-financed, and intentionally murderous anti-semitism (is it necessary to mention which "religion" I'm talking about by name?) and gross over-reactions to disgust or impatience that is so often mislabeled as "racism" and then an incredibly big deal is made over the act while the same people remain absolutely silent about anti-semitism.

So when Imus says "nappy headed hos" or Isiah Thomas of the Knicks calls a woman a "bitch" THAT, to some people, is a big deal, and those same people will not be or act bothered, in the least, when some wacko President of a country says that the Holocaust did not happen or that Israeli Jews should be exterminated.

The Holocaust is still not deeply understood enough for what it was: an insight into how easily humans get drunk on entertainment and religion in combination with a cult of personality and politics. Proof of this is when Israeli leaders negotiate with Palestinians, Arabs, and other middle eastern countries, who financially and morally support the armed thugs who are actively living out their Holocaust fantasies, one Israeli at a time, every day, right now, in 2007.

There is nothing to negotiate with these people over. Not until every last one of them stops killing Jews, accepts Israel's right to exist, and renounces violence as a means of negotiating political solutions.

And if you can't renounce violence, then don't whine about not having a land or a country or a job or whatever the hell it is you claim to want because sensible people who understand the Holocaust DO NOT NEGOTIATE WITH VIOLENT ANTI-SEMITES.

Or, at least, should know better!

Thursday, October 18, 2007

Southern Sunrise Agency Profile

Full Service Literary Agency

Representation: 10% Commissions. 4% Commissions Available for certain projects/authors (quoted on a project by project basis).

Managing Agent Justin E. Fernandez is a licensed attorney, published book author, and a former professional book editor, with NYC and LA Entertainment/Literary Agency experience -- trained in the Literary Agenting business by Sandra Martin of Paraview, Inc., New York, NY. Prior book sales include: Millennium Prophecies, Mark Thurston, Kensington (while with Paraview); The Positive Power of Praising People, Jerry Twentier, NTC-Contemporary Press (now McGraw-Hill); and Viscount Victorious, Seeking Celeste, and By Way of a Wager, by Hayley Ann Solomon, three Romance Novels to Kensington/Zebra Books. Mr. Fernandez is also the author of Drug Illegality is Bad Public Policy: The Other End of the Chain, 25 University of West Los Angeles Law Review, 151-191, (Summer, 1992); an article on Literary Agenting in the 2000 Writer's Digest Guide to Literary Agents, and three books for Chelsea House Publishers (library market young-adult non-fiction).


1. Send your query via e-mail to:

2. Don't sweat it, just do your best to write a concise factual e-mail with TITLE, GENRE, and WORD-COUNT (at minimum).

3. Please mention if you were referred here, or where you found Southern Sunrise Agency.

4. Follow-up in one month if you hear nothing.

If you are looking for an agent with a large client list, or celebrity clients, or a NYC-based operation, then Southern Sunrise is probably not the right agency for you.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

From Coast to Coast AM's site, a call for personal anecdotes

We're looking for personal anecdotal stories from people who have had spiritual enlightenments or awakenings. For example, people who have had intuitive experiences, people who tried exercises from Worker and were able to see the future, find peace and solve problems through meditation, discover aspects about themselves, engage in lucid dreaming, and determine that there is an alternate reality that's as real as our everyday reality. We're looking for these stories to publish them in our sequel book to Worker in the Light to be called WORKERS IN THE LIGHT. Please send correspondence to

--George Noory
--William J. Birnes

Attention Antioch College Grads

Now that Professor Capecchi (Antioch 1961) has won a Nobel Prize for Medicine it is time for all Antioch College (Yellow Springs) grads who have a "platform" to consider banding together to help make sure that Antioch returns from its planned 4-year shut-down. For any of you who have ever been to Yellow Springs, and visited the campus, you know how important Antioch College is to the local scene. Professor Capecchi's recognition is the latest proof of Antioch's contribution to Ohio and to the world.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Praise for POD-DY MOUTH (a retired blog)

Go, read, enjoy, mourn her withdrawal from the blogosphere, praise her, get inspired, we need more light to shine upon the talented authors who labor in the world of Print on Demand (POD).

Good stuff.

Also of note is how copy-editing errors can even creep into texts published by the major NYC publishers. Don't let that serve as an excuse for you to ignore careful proofreading and line editing.

If you don't want to do all that yourself, or cannot proofread or edit your own work well, go find a good editor/proofreader. Even Tiger Woods uses a swing coach.

Be a Tiger!

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

More good "how-to" books for aspiring writers

Worlds of Wonder, David Gerrold, Writers Digest Books (2001)

Get it, read it, apply it EVEN IF YOU ARE NOT WRITING SCI-FI or FANTASY.

and...another good one:

Marge Percy and Ira Wood have put out a new expanded edition of:


Friday, August 03, 2007

Summer 2007 reading

What I've been reading lately includes:

Richistan: A Journey Through the American Wealth Boom and the Lives of the New Rich, Robert Frank, Crown (2007);
The Writing Life, Ellen Gilchrist, University Press of Mississippi (2005)

The Speed of Light, Javier Cercas, Bloomsbury (2006);
America's Last Days, Douglas Mackinnon, Dorchester (2007)

Monday, July 30, 2007

Bulletproof Book Proposals

I recommend non-fiction writers obtain a copy of Bulletproof Book Proposals, by Pam Brodowksy and Eric Neuhaus, Writer's Digest Books, (2006). The book offers 12 real-life proposals that were accepted, agent-editor analysis of each proposal, and a 10-step plan for writing your proposal.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Read Stephen King's ON WRITING

Read Stephen King's ON WRITING, A Memoir on the Craft. It is superb. For aspiring novelists who have not yet obtained their first bona-fide commercial book deal, it is essential reading along with The First Five Pages and The Art of Fiction.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

My Favorite Recently Read Books

America Alone MARK STEYN (Regnery) 2006
Kabul in Winter ANN JONES 2006 (Metropolitan Books, Henry Holt)
The Authentic Adam Smith JAMES BUCHAN 2006 (Atlas Books, Norton)
The Three Pound Enigma SHANNON MOFFETT 2006 (Algonquin)
American Theocracy KEVIN PHILLIPS 2006 (Viking)
The Places In Between RORY STEWART 2004 (Harcourt)
God's Terrorists: The Wahhabi Cult and the Hidden Roots of Modern Jihad CHARLES ALLEN 2006 (Da Capo Press)

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Noah Lukeman's The First Five Pages: The Best Book for Writers Trying To Get Their First Book Deal

Mr. Lukeman is a Literary Agent based in Brooklyn, NY. In The First Five Pages, Mr. Lukeman provides a wealth of useful information for writers--particularly for those writers who are trying to get their first book deal.

A book publishing truism: Agents reject 99% of what they're sent. Publishers reject 96% of what Agents submit. Getting a bona-fide book deal--one where the publisher pays you an advance and royalties--is very difficult. Hundreds of book deals are made each year. Hundreds of thousands of writers compete for them!

The First Five Pages will help you avoid giving agents and editors any easy reasons to say "no" to your manuscript.

I highly recommend reading (and applying) The First Five Pages to your writing before you submit your work to agents or editors.

Look up Lukeman on Amazon, he's written some other good books too. He's one of the best resources for writers today.

Meet My Father!

My Father, Enrique O. Fernandez, D-Day Veteran, served in the U.S. Navy from 1942-1946, seeing action in both the European and Pacific theatres, witness to the invasion of Sicily and of course the landings at Normandy, weathered some monster typhoons off the coast of Japan, survived kamikaze attacks, and spent some time in China after the war.

This pic was taken on the road from Santa Barbara to Los Olivos, near Lake Cachuma in Calfornia, June, 2005.

My father turns 90 years old this November 21st (2006). He keeps lifting weights, taking lots of nutritional supplements, and maintaining a good, positive attitude despite some vertebral discs that could use some help from stem cells!

He's my inspiration and my hero. He is modest about his life accomplishments but they are anything but modest! He has served his country, raised a family--after quitting grade school to financially support his brothers and sisters during the Great Depression--and accomplished volunteer work in his community (including stints as President of the local Kiwanis Club and VFW Post Commander), earning his place amongst those of the "Greatest Generation" with distinction!

In his modesty, my Dad is most proud of himself for going back to college at age 52 and finishing his B.A. and M.A. and then teaching school (Dover High School in New Jersey) for more than twenty years starting at age 55!