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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

15 Gail Carriger: The Business of Writing

I have a friend at work who reads a lot of the same books I love. We're constantly trading book recommendations. One day, I stopped by her counter and she had this new book: SOULLESS by Gail Carriger. I read the back and couldn't wait to read the whole thing. It's an amazing comedic blend of Victorian steampunk and fantasy (think werewolves and vampires, out in society, winning wars for the crown and influencing fashion). I was hooked. I wasn't the only one: it was a NYT Bestseller, won an ALA award, and forced debut author Gail to learn a lot about the publishing industry, like NOW.

On this call, she shared her knowledge with us, for when it's our turn. Some (but not all, by a long shot) highlights:

  • It is still possible to be plucked from a publishing house slush pile.
  • Pick an agent who can help you negotiate a favorable contract, and who has time for you on her client list. (Gail's agent is Kristin Nelson of Nelson Literary Agency. Kristin also blogs at Pub Rants.)
  • Pick a publishing house with an editor you can trust to be professional, and with whom you can relate (Gail's publisher for the SOULLESS series is Orbit Books).
  • Your publisher's marketing efforts will likely correspond to the size of your advance.
  • There are a lot of things an author can do to market her own books--calling in favors is often involved.
  • Blending genres is cool, but can be confusing to marketing departments, bookstores, and other industry professionals. Be prepared to explain your book, but you might get to help design your cover. :) (Well, at least Gail did.)
  • If you perform well in public, your publisher will give you more opportunities to do so.
  • Publishing money comes in stages: upon signing, upon delivery, upon publication, upon winning of awards, hitting benchmarks, out-earning advance, etc. Don't expect a big fat check all at once.
Gail stayed extra long to answer caller questions and to make sure we knew everything she thought we should. Plus, she pointed us to this post on her blog, where she talks in detail about her post-sale events and marketing efforts. Be sure to check it out!

You can access the MP3 by clicking here, or you can listen to the call below.


  1. Thank you Gail Carriger for such an informative and down-to-earth conference call. I feel I learned more in that one hour than I had all last year.

    And a big thanks to the Advisory crew. Lisa Weeks did a great job moderating the call. She kept things lively and on-topic.

    -- david j.

  2. Thanks, David--I loved this call. So much excellent info!

    And my name is Robin Weeks. Not Lisa Weeks. :) Glad you enjoyed it!

  3. Sorry for that, Robin! I've got no excuse. I have no idea where I got the name Lisa.

    Won't make that mistake again XD.

    -- david j.

  4. Dave,

    Please, for the love of all that is sweet and kind, put these calls on an RSS feed. Or put a link up to the feed, if you have one and I somehow missed finding it. Feedburner is a good one, or popular one at least. And there is always itunes. I would be willing to bet you would have a much larger listener base if these calls were findable via a podcatcher.

    Thanks for doing these, and keep up the good work :)

    Silver Bowen

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