by Dave Rosenberg
Once again, our faculty for 2016 will feature world-class authors and literary agents. To date we have commitments from Priya Parmar, Nicolas Delbanco (who will also teach a two-day master class on fiction during the workshops), Jill Landis (our local fiction-writing star), Elena Delbanco (The Silver Swan) and literary agent Andy Ross. Here are their bios:
Click here for Priya's bio
Nicholas Delbanco is the Robert Frost Distinguished University Professor of English Language and Literature at the University of Michigan and Chair of the Hopwood Committee. He has published twenty-five books of fiction and non-fiction. His most recent novels are The Count of Concord and Spring and Fall; his most recent works of non-fiction are The Countess of Stanlein Restored and The Lost Suitcase: Reflections on the Literary Life. As editor he has compiled the work of, among others, John Gardner and Bernard Malamud. The long-term Director of the MFA Program as well as the Hopwood Awards Program at the University of Michigan, he has served as Chair of the Fiction Panel for the National Book Awards, received a Guggenheim Fellowship and, twice, a National Endowment for the Arts Writing Fellowship. Professor Delbanco has just completed a teaching text for McGraw-Hill entitled Literature: Craft and Voice, a three-volume Introduction to Literature of which he is the co-editor with Alan Cheuse; in 2004 he published The Sincerest Form: Writiing Fiction by Imitation. His new non-fiction book, Lastingness: The Art of Old Age was published by Grand Central Publishing in 2011.
Click here for Jill's bio.
Elena Delbanco has recently published her debut novel The Silver Swan with Other Press at age 70. Before moving to Ann Arbor, she worked at Bennington College in Vermont, where she and her husband, the writer Nicholas Delbanco, together with the late John Gardner, founded the Bennington Writing Workshops. Delbanco has long been engaged in the world of classical music. Her father was the renowned cellist Bernard Greenhouse (of the Beaux Arts Trio), who owned the Countess of Stainlein ex-Paganini Stradivarius violoncello of 1707. The imagined fate of that instrument, upon her father’s death, inspired The Silver Swan. She retired after teaching for twenty-seven years at the University of Michigan’s Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy.
Click here for Andy's bio.
Insights from Agents
by Dave Rosenberg
In researching faculty members for our 2016 conference, we came upon an interview with a variety of prominent literary agents on YouTube. (You'll find it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qL5bcAXTZys.) It is jam-packed with interesting tidbits of information. Here are a few that jumped out at me:
Adaptations of Books for Film
Most of the agents described the process of adapting novels into movies as very frustrating.The question seemed to be, why does a film company option a book when they often don't bother to use most of it in the film script? Interestingly, one of the agents characterized YA authors as having more clout in keeping the film faithful to their books because their fans are much more "rabid" and much more likely to use social media to condemn a movie that isn't faithful to the original.
Demand for Books in Cable TV Industry
The cable TV industry has a much higher demand for books (as the basis of series and specials) than the film industry. However, the TV industry doesn't have a lot of money to spend on books, so the demand doesn't translate into big advances. However, being picked up by TV is probably the best marketing your book can get.
Publishers Chase Trends that Work
Publishers often shy away from fresh, new ideas (e.g. ideas that haven't been proven by the market). But once an idea has been shown to work, publishing companies look for other works that are derivative. That's why we see trends like zombies and vampire books, dystopian novels, and so on.
The agents seemed to agree that the memoirs they keep an eye out for are the ones that are written by the subject and which have a literary approach. Much of the discussion involved celebrity memoirs, and quite obviously, fame or notoriety can be of great help in selling a memoir. So developing your author's platform and being able to show that you have an audience is quite important for memoir writers.
The Blogosphere is Critical to the Promotion of Books
Positive reviews of books in well-followed blogs has more impact on sales than all other media. This is even more the case in YA. In general, having a relationship with your fans through blogs, Twitter, Facebook and social media is critical to successful sales. Knowing who your audience is and interacting with them "informs the rest of the process."
There's much more in the interview and I think you'll find watching it interesting and worth while. Of course, none of this is to diminish the fact that we write because we're committed to telling/discovering our stories. But it can be nice to sell those stories....'Nuff said.