Thursday, March 22, 2012

Remembering Jack Scovil

The problem with the deluge of email we all endure is that all too often something gets by you that you would really want to know.  Thus, it is only today that I noticed an obituary for my old friend, boss, and mentor, Jack Scovil.

I met Jack when I joined Scovil Chichak Galen as a literary agent in the early nineties.  Jack and his partners, Russ Galen and Ted Chichak, had left the Scott Meredith Literary Agency to launch their own firm.  Coming from the editorial side to the agent side was quite the transition and I deeply appreciated Jack's advice and, more importantly, his sense of humor, which I can only describe as "dry."  As in the Sahara.

Like any growing firm, SCG had its issues and I will always have the deepest gratitude for Jack's practical and insightful advice.  Of everyone there, Jack always seemed the most willing to take the time to counsel a young agent.  He was a true gentleman, a publishing professional from the "old school," and someone I will genuinely miss.


Better Late than Never. The February Round-up.

Ruh roh!  Looks like I completely spaced on doing the February round-up on submissions and queries.  C'mon, people!  You have to remind me.

Quick and dirty:

  • 60 queries received; 94 declined!
  • 11 sample chapters received; 10 declined;
  • 0 proposals received; 1 declined;
  • 3 full manuscripts received; 3 declined (not the same 3 that were received; we aren't that fast!).

  • 9 sample chapters were requested in the month;
  • 1 proposal was requested;
  • 2 full manuscripts were requested.

  • I currently have 5 sample chapters on-hand to read;
  • I currently have 49 eQueries to read;
  • I currently have at least 13 full manuscripts to read.

As always, if we request materials from your eQuery and don't hear back, we'll check in a month or so later and then discard your query if we don't hear from you in another month or so.

For those of you waiting for answers from us, your patience is always appreciated.


Thursday, March 15, 2012

Running for a Cure

Okay, time again to see who is paying attention to my blog posts.

My lovely wife, Nadene, has started training for a 1/2 marathon with Team in Training.  As a part of her commitment, she is raising funds for the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society.  Those of you who read this blog regularly may be aware that I've done five century or century+ bike rides with TNT and that Nadene has done a couple also.  In fact, we got engaged at the end of the first one we did together!

So here's the deal:  I hereby give you permission to submit an unsolicited sample chapter (not to exceed 25 pages and make it the first chapter in your book), along with a synopsis (not to exceed 5 pages, double-spaced).  It must follow our formatting guidelines, found here:  You must include a self-addressed, stamped #10 envelope for a response.  I will read your sample chapter and I will give you my feedback on what works and doesn't work.  If I love it, I'll ask for more. If I don't, you'll know why.  There will be no form rejects!

But here's the catch:  You must contribute $100 to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society in support of my wife's efforts.  You must do it by credit card at their site.  And you must include a copy of the receipt they send you so we know you made the contribution.  All contributions go straight to LLS.  They are 100% tax deductible.  Neither TZC nor me benefits in any way.  My wife benefits only because you help her reach her fundraising goal.  (Okay, I benefit if my wife isn't freaking out about reaching her fundraising goal, you got me there.)

Last but not least, please write "LLS offer" on the envelope when you submit.

Here's the link to donate:



Monday, March 05, 2012

Thinking of Trying a "Virtual" Internship

Regular readers of this blog may have noticed that I seem to have two things that plague me.  One is QuickBooks, a soul- and time-sucking piece of software that I unfortunately can't do business without, so I have to keep beating Intuit over the head with its failures in hopes that it will get better.  The other is interns.  Don't get me wrong.  I love interns.  Most of them are great and hard-working and earnest.  But lately I have had a hard time finding interns and keeping them.  Why is this?  Well, I have a couple of theories...

San Diego is home to a number of state and community colleges.  A lot of the students here are working their way through school or living on very restricted budgets.  While an unpaid internship provides a valuable learning experience, if you need that job at Starbucks to pay the rent, you're not going to give it up or change your schedule to do the internship.

The other issue is traffic.  When I get an intern from SDSU or "down south," as we say here in San Diego, she often don't realize what commuting during rush hour will do to her day.  Add on the cost of gas in this day and age and the fact that most interns aren't driving a Nissan Leaf, and you get an even greater burden.

So, I am considering taking on a "virtual" intern or two.  What would this mean?  Well, for starters, you wouldn't have to come into the office.  But you would need some kind of set hours, so that I would know when I could reach you and so that we could do some Skype interaction.  I'm a firm believer that interns are not just free labor.  I have to put time into the internship also and use that time to teach you something about the publishing business.  But not computers, okay?

My last intern, who lasted a week or so, was a Mac user.  Okay.  But I found myself constantly coaching her on how to use the Windows computer in the office.  Hence, requirement number one:  You must be using a Windows-based computer.

Requirement number two:  You must have an eBook Reader.  I don't care if it's a Sony, iPad, Kindle, or Nook, but you have to have one of them or you won't be able to read the manuscripts I send.

With all of my interns, I constantly find myself teaching them how to use Microsoft Outlook to track email, use tasks, and the like.  But if you are a virtual intern, I can't do that.  Hence, requirement number three:  You must own and know how to use Microsoft Outlook, including Tasks.  Why?  Because I'm going to have to set you up with your own email account and because I'm going to be using Outlook to assign you tasks, which will be tracked in Outlook.

Interns in the office can get fairly complex tasks that I have to explain and then do a few examples, etc.  This will be difficult with a virtual intern.  Hence, requirement number four:  You must be able to work independently.  You must have the intelligence to figure out what needs to be done and the confidence to then do it.  Examples?  I have no idea.  I've never had a "virtual" intern before.

Requirement number five:  You must be incredibly trustworthy and have references.  You must be discreet.  You will have to sign an NDA.

So what do I think my virtual intern will do?  First, read and report on a full manuscript per week.  You will be given a template for a Reader's Report and I will review your reports and give you feedback.  You will also write rejection letters for those projects we don't want to consider further.

You will proofread eGalleys for the eBooks we are producing.  If you have experience proofreading, you will be a stronger contender for this internship.

You will generate front matter for the eBooks we are producing.  You  may also write copy to appear with the books on Amazon and other websites.

You will draft press releases.  If you have experience in this area, you will be a stronger candidate.

You will update the web site and Facebook group.  If you have experience with Joomla and K2, you will rock!  If you have social-media marketing expertise, I will hug you...virtually, of course.

You will write submission letters.  Let's say you find an amazing novel during your reading and we take it on.  Then you will write the submission letter for it to go out to publishers.  Yes, I will revise it, tweak it, etc., but you will take the first shot, for sure.

So, if this sounds interesting and you think you have the skills required, hop on over to the Internships page on our site and apply.

Last but not least, I'm still in the "how would this work?" stage.  I don't promise to take on anyone at all in this role, but if I get the right candidate(s), I certainly will.