Saturday, July 31, 2010

Agent Panel: Ginger Clark

Ginger Clark has worked as an agent at Curtis Brown, Ltd. for about five years. She represents science fiction, fantasy, paranormal romance, literary horror, and YA and MG fiction. She handles British and Commonwealth rights for the entire Curtis Brown List.

Follow her on Twitter at @Ginger_Clark.

From her introduction: 

"A good agent thinks globally. A lot of my clients have made as much money abroad as in the U.S., and in some cases, more. The market for a certain kind of fiction is doing well here and it's doing really well abroad."

On editor lunches: Middle Grade is coming back. Editors are looking for series and good MG in general. "We've neglected the 8- to 12-year-olds."

On the YA side: She represents high fantasy, urban fantasy, paranormal romance. "We've had a lot of vampires and werewolves and it's now time to look at the more unusual creatures," she says.

From the Q&A portion, moderated by Lin Oliver:

About international publishing: Think about how you can make sure your book isn't super, super American. A brilliant book about American football isn't going to win over British editors. A good agent should be aware that you can make money when your work is translated. (They have a man on the ground in Bulgaria—interesting! Or, as they say in Bulgaria, "интересен.")

What are subsidiary rights, and what should authors consider retaining: Publishers want to set audio rights as boilerplate—something that's been discussed and settled. Multimedia rights are an issue (especially "enhanced ebook rights," such as gently animated picture books). The problems she has with that: Film companies wouldn't want that to happen. If you're doing a film deal, film companies want the rights or want to "freeze" them so other people can't have them. Good agents think about these issues and talk them over with publishers, as opposed to just agreeing to the boilerplate.

How should writers feel about the simultaneous release of their book in digital format? When you start ebook negotiations, major publishers start by offering 25 percent of net. She's hoping that changes. The giant news last week was that Andrew Wylie had started his own e-publisher. "It was certainly an interesting shot across the bow of publishers."

How would you assess the business, in terms of the centralization of power? What are the opportunities for mid-list authors and unpublished writers? We're about to head into the golden age in terms of power for children's books. Interest in the children's markets is growing.

"The snobbier side of the industry is taking what we do seriously. As they should. Frequently it is the children's division that is making profits and paying people's salaries," she says.

What are the primary services you provide your clients? She's not your therapist, accountant, best friend or mother. "I am your bad cop. Your man on the ground in NY ... When it comes to sitting on the phone with you for two hours, talking about your problems, I'm not the right person for that. Sorry."

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