simon and schuster author

I’m delighted to announce that I have signed up to a partnership with my first literary agent, Rob Dunsdale, over at Independent Literary. One of Rob’s other authors, Jamie Sawyer of the Lazarus War series, read Red Tithe and recommended it to Rob, who enjoyed it enough to reach out to me and offer representation. From next year I hope to be starting my own military sci-fi series. Don’t worry though, I very much intend to remain a Black Library writer through-and-through.

For those of you wondering what a literary agent is or why this is a big deal:

Keep reading

my book comes out in two weeks, and i have done nothing promoting it. so buy it maybe?

Betrayal is thicker than blood.

Xavier Delacroix has made his choice at last. Eleanor Black has her King.

Yet, the Dark World is without a King sanctioned by Dracula, one to rule the Dark World in his stead, and it is suffering for his absence…

Christian Delacroix is hidden away in the Vampire City with Alexandria Stone, the woman whose blood continues to surround him, yet he cannot deny the connection that lingers between them. And as he trains with renowned Vampire Westley Rivers to better defend himself against deadly threats, the truth of his involvement under Dracula’s plans is revealed and he must stand where his brother could not, become the King the Dark World has needed since Dracula’s death.

But he is not so sure he can easily shake the smell of Alexandria Stone’s cold blood long enough to do what must be done.

The top 10 audiobooks on best-sellers for week ending March 17:


1. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by J.K. Rowling, narrated by Eddie Redmayne (Pottermore from J.K. Rowling)

2. The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die by April Henry, narrated by Cristina Panfilio (Brilliance Audio)

3. Norse Mythology by Neil Gaiman, narrated by the author (HarperAudio)

4. The Shack by William Paul Young, narrated by Roger Mueller (Hachette Audio)

5. Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, narrated by Stephen Fry (Audible Studios)

6. Big Little Lies by Liane Moriarty, narrated by Caroline Lee (Penguin Audio)

7. SpecOps by Craig Alanson, narrated by R.C. Bray (Podium Publishing)

8. Lyrebird Hill by Anna Romer, narrated by Eloise Oxer (Bolinda Publishing)

9. Columbus Day by Craig Alanson, narrated by R.C. Bray (Podium Publishing)

10. The Cutthroat by Clive Cussler and Justin Scott, narrated by Justin Scott and Scott Brick (Penguin Audio)


1. English Grammar Boot Camp by The Great Courses, narrated by Professor Anne Curzan (The Great Courses)

2. The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F(asterisk)ck: A Counterintuitive Approach to Living a Good Life by Mark Manson, narrated by Roger Wayne (HarperAudio)

3. Unshakeable: Your Financial Freedom Playbook by Tony Robbins, narrated by the author and Jeremy Bobb (Simon & Schuster Audio)

4. Born a Crime: Stories from a South African Childhood by Trevor Noah, narrated by the author (Audible Studios)

5. The Immortal Irishman: The Irish Revolutionary Who Became an American Hero by Timothy Egan, narrated by Gerard Doyle (Brilliance Audio)

6. Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis by J.D. Vance, narrated by the author (HarperAudio)

7. No One Would Listen: A True Financial Thriller by Harry Markopolos, narrated by Scott Brick and author (Audible Studios)

8. How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carngie, narrated by Andrew MacMillan (Simon & Schuster Audio)

9. The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, narrated by Mike Chamberlain (Random House Audio)

10. The 5 Second Rule: Transform Your Life, Work, and Confidence with Everyday Courage by Mel Robbins, narrated by the author (Mel Robbins Productions Inc.)



“A Glossary of Parental Expressions,” from Judith Martin’s Miss Manners’ Guide to Rearing Perfect Children (1985, Simon&Schuster) – perhaps an inspiration for the tendency of another author with a pen name to explain certain social turns of phrase… which here means, “Daniel Handler has indeed appraised Miss Manners’ wisdom of social etiquette, and the dry wit she shares it with”:

The NYTimes: What books do you find yourself returning to again and again?

Daniel Handler: Everything by Judith Martin, a.k.a. Miss Manners. She’s an extremely useful philosopher, and I consult her frequently, in order to behave better.

Incidentally, last week (September 13th), Judith Martin has celebrated her 79th birthday; We’d like to congratulate her belatedly (and hope she’ll forgive our faux pas of not having posted this then)!


“Originality, fetish object of the young and naive, is no virtue in itself, (…) If it were, every free jazz collective, no matter how inept, would be superior to the Rolling Stones.” – Poet and critic Michael Robbins has written the best new book of pop-criticism so far this year: Equipment for Living: On Poetry and Pop Music.  Just out from Simon and Schuster.  Read it. “Rilke to Taylor Swift.”  Read.

On Upgrading Your Writing Career

Congratulations on updating Your Writing Career to version 2.0! By publishing your debut novel two months ago, you have been auto-subscribed to a series of updates that will transform your entire life in ways you could not have expected. But fear not, many of our users find themselves automatically downgraded again at some arbitrary point in the future! Before perusing the attached 120-page EULA (End-User License Agreement), please take a tour of all the new features and improvements included in this update.

New Features included in Your Writing Career v2.0:

Deadlines! Can the user remember the days when he could take as long as he wanted to finish a project, because nobody in the universe cared the slightest bit what he said or did at all? Well, say goodbye to all that! Your Writing Career v2.0 includes contractually-stipulated delivery dates! And what is the user doing blogging, by the way? Get back to work, user!

Feedback! Can the user remember the days when he could write about whatever he wanted, because nobody other than the agents’ assistants who tossed his work in the trash after reading a few sentences ever saw a word he wrote? Well, hasta la vista, baby! Your Writing Career v2.0 provides the user with new Amazon and Goodreads reviews every single day. And if the user is worried that the authors of these reviews might pull their punches or worry about the user’s feelings, allow us to set the user’s heart at ease: they will not!

Expectations! Can the user remember the days when he could just come up with any old crappy idea, because he had no past career to compare it to? Well, not any more, mon frere! Your Writing Career v2.0 requires that everything the user writes be better than the user’s previous projects, or else the program will cease functioning entirely! Remember Night Film, or Only Revolutions, or The Man of My Dreams, or The Autograph Man, or number9dream? Neither do we!

IMPORTANT USABILITY NOTE: Your Writing Career v2.0 no longer includes an offline mode. This means the user must remain online at all times, unless he wants everyone to think he’s a pretentious dick.

Updates to Fears and Anxieties in Your Writing Career v2.0:

- The fear that the user will never receive any recognition because he is utterly talentless, wasting hours every day writing things no one will ever read, has been updated to the fear that the user has received recognition in spite of being utterly talentless, and any minute now that fact will be revealed in the form of a review in the New York Times, in which Michiko Kakutani will employ the user’s novel as a jumping off point to mourn the moribund state of literature, the arts, and humanity as a whole.

- The fear that the user will never make enough money to afford dental care has been replaced with the fear that he will never make as much money as a mid-career dental hygienist.

- The existential anxiety that writing is a narcissistic and solipsistic exercise, utterly meaningless in a world teetering on the brink of political and climatic catastrophe, has remained unchanged, aside from a few minor aesthetic improvements to the UI.

Updates to Hopes and Dreams in Your Writing Career v2.0:

- The user’s hope to someday be published has been totally overhauled, and is now the hope that the user will someday be satisfied with what he already has, instead of constantly seeking something more, such as a date with Scarlett Johansson, or a Tesla Roadster, or inner peace.

- The user’s dream of writing the great American novel has been replaced with the dream of writing something that might translate well to film.

- The user’s hope one day to create something that the user’s ex-girlfriends will hear about and think to themselves, “Why did I ever let him go?”, has been replaced with the simple hope that the user’s ex-girlfriends will purchase his book, because every sale counts towards earning out the user’s advance.

Minor Tweaks Included in Your Writing Career v2.0:

- Removed compatibility with PCs, in recognition of the fact that it’s no longer 2002.

- Removed a bug in which the user believed that publishing a book would solve all of his problems relating to other people romantically, socially, and professionally.

- Fixed an error where, after the user answered the question “What do you do for a living?” with “I’m a writer,” the questioner would then ask, “But, I mean, what do you actually do?”


I Dissent hammers home why it’s easy to admire Ruth Bader Ginsburg

I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark
by Debbie Levy (author) and Elizabeth Baddeley (illustrator)
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
2016, 40 pages, 8.5 x 11 x 0.6 inches (hardcover)
$14 Buy a copy on Amazon

I’m going to be upfront here: this book made me cry. As a woman, mother to a daughter, and formerly outspoken little girl in a time and place where “feminism” was was an anachronistic term for bra-burning rather than the badge of pride and call to action it is today, this book made me grateful and proud. I was already an RBG fan – it’s pretty hard not to be – but I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark hammered home all of the reasons why it’s easy to admire the influential Supreme Court Justice through a beautiful, illustrated biography that stresses the importance of standing up for what’s right.

Debbie Levy frames RBG’s story with objections, beginning with her mother, Celia Amster Bader, who sets the tone for the book and for her daughter’s trajectory by encouraging little Ruth to strive for more in life than finding a husband. “Ruth’s mother disagreed,” is the first of many hand-lettered, marquee-like pronouncements that tie together Levy’s text and Elizabeth Baddeley’s visual storytelling. This bold dissention (“Then she protested.” “She resisted. And persisted.” “Ruth really, really disagreed with this!”) in the face of prejudice and sexism allows readers to feel the weight of injustice and the power of speaking up as they straighten their shoulders, square their feet, and shout with Ruth, “I dissent!”

I learned a lot through this book. Who knew that RBG and Antonin Scalia were friends? Or that Justice Ginsburg’s mother was such a driving force in her life? There is also a section for further reading after the story ends, including photos of RBG, information on cases referenced in the story, and a selected bibliography, which serves as a great resource for curious readers who want to learn more. – Marykate Smith Despres

October 18, 2016

Fanfiction: How Fifty Shades Is Dominating the Literary Scene | Vanity Fair

“We’re getting deals everywhere,” explained London-based literary agent Lorella Belli, who snagged a six-figure advance from Simon & Schuster for her author Sophie Jackson’s forthcoming trilogy, A Pound of Flesh, which also started out as Twilight fanfic. “[Fan-fiction writers] already have such a huge following without doing any kind of promotion,” she continued. Jackson’s story drew more than 4 million reads on, and she’s gone from being a schoolteacher in Britain to having three major publishing houses bid up her debut novel. Just last month, Hollywood agent Steve Fisher at Agency for the Performing Arts signed on to secure the film rights.

Belli and her colleagues have gotten into the practice of scouring popular fan-fiction sites, as well as Amazon’s comparatively new fanfic portal Kindle Worlds, for potential talent. But her current crop of writers from the fan-fiction pool solicited her, she noted, adding that the submissions she receives from fan-fiction authors are often higher in quality than the average submission. “Readers of fan fiction are much more sophisticated than most people give them credit for—they’re quite discerning.” Accordingly, they’re not shy in expressing their opinions about stories.

“It’s almost like having thousands of editors at one time,” said first-time novelist Anna Todd who credits fan fiction and its open-forum style with helping develop her writing chops. She was fast becoming one of the top writers on Wattpad, with the read-count on her fanfic about One Direction heartthrob Harry Styles topping a million in just two months, when representatives from the online writing community approached her about her plans for the story.

Although she had been courted by traditional literary agents on Wattpad—which skews millennial and sees a lot of real-person fiction (“R.P.F.”) like her story After—she put her fate in the hands of the site’s head of content, Ashleigh Gardner, who secured Todd a mid six-figure advance from Simon & Schuster’s Gallery Books imprint—which has published the first three After books and will release the fourth in the series this month. Gardner also helped facilitate a movie deal with Paramount via United Talent Agency.

“We’re seeing lots of agents, lots of publishers join Wattpad, especially in the wake of big stories like After,” said Gardner. “We’re also seeing a lot of authors going out to agents include their Wattpad stats as a badge of honor.” This kind of data, along with geographical breakdowns of readership, makes fanfic appealing to both publishers and studios as it comes complete with a built-in audience. “It was all about the numbers,“ said Todd of her After movie deal. "Even without a published book, having those kind of numbers is hard to look away from.”

Jennifer Udden, a literary agent at Donald Maass in New York concurred, adding: “[The film studios] don’t care about the stories; they just care about numbers, for better or worse.” As an avid fan-fic reader, Udden is less focused on fanfic page views, and more interested in connecting with authors who can develop compelling characters and a good story structure, to see if they have any original work that doesn’t involve copyrighted characters. Caitlin McDonald, an associate literary agent at Sterling Lord Literistic in New York and vocal champion of fan fiction, admitted, “Fanfic is always treading that fine line,” between fiction-inspired original writing and copyright-infringing work.

(I posted the RTMI bits here. It’s an interesting look at how some publishers are looking more closely at fanfiction: read the entire article here: