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Monday, May 21, 2007

It Pays To Be "Nice."

In this photo, try to find my agent, Carrie Hannigan. Here's a hint: she's somewhere near the beautiful bouquet of peonies I sent her to say thanks for - ahem - SELLING MY FIRST YOUNG ADULT NOVEL, FOLLOWING THE NAIL!!!

Yup, Harcourt has acquired FOLLOWING THE NAIL, which is scheduled for a Spring 2009 pub date. (Hey, how cool. A book of the post-Bush era! Unless, god forbid, his idiot brother joins the race. Okay, let's not even go there.) Now, where was I?

Oh, yes. FOLLOWING THE NAIL. It's about a smart, sarcastic girl named Veronica who takes a summer job at a vintage clothing store - based on Cambridge, MA's fabulous store The Garment District, where I researched the book! - to avoid peers who persecute her and ends up drawn into an emotional tug of war between two cruel yet charismatic older girls and a very bizarre boy. It is a book about trusting others and trusting your own heart, and how terrifying this can be if you've been burned before. I really, really love it, but I confess I'm kind of biased.

Carrie also reported to me that Publishers Marketplace, the web-hive of book industry buzz, just made note of my book deal, reporting that Picture Book author Erica Perl sold her first Young Adult novel to Gretchen Hirsch at Harcourt in a nice deal. I liked this sound of that. It is a nice deal, I thought to myself happily! But then I realized that the phrase a nice deal sounded less like a compliment and more like industry code. I pressed Carrie to explain, so she did:

"Nice Deal" means under $50K; "Very Nice Deal" means $50K to $100K; "Good Deal" means $100K to $250K; "Significant Deal" means $250K to $500K; and last but by definition not least "Major Deal" means $500K and up.


Suddenly, I felt less "nice" and more "insignificant." In fact, I felt downright "minor."

So I made up my own amendments to the code. For future reference, "Not-so-bad deal" is $5K-10K, "Just okay deal" is $3K-$4.9K, "Mildly embarrassing deal" is $1.5-$2.9K and "Painful deal" is $1K-1.4K.

Oh yes, and I almost forgot "truly pathetic deal." That's when you pay them to publish your book (not to be confused with self-publishing, which is totally respectable in my book if your book is good enough... as is the case with my friend Rhoda Trooboff's delightful book Ben, The Bells and The Peacocks).

And in case you were wondering, Carrie is BEHIND the flowers! See?

Yeah, I told her not to quit her day job. She's a great agent but she's not ready to give Where's Waldo a run for his money.

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