Sunday, May 17, 2009

Author Spotlight: Anthony Cardieri

This begins the first Author Spotlight. Today we have a special interview with Anthony Cardieri, who has had an amazing journey through the agenting and publishing process.

Welcome Anthony! First, I’d like to congratulate you on debut novel. Tell us a little bit about it and what inspired you to write this particular story.

Actually, this is not my debut novel, kind of. I did self-publish a book five years ago titled Our Own Worst Enemy. That one is a sci-fi novel with some of my best thought-provoking ideas I ever had. It is still available over the web at Barnes & Noble, Amazon, etc. But it is not nearly at the level of the one coming soon. I do consider the following to be my debut since I went the traditional way with it.

It is a murder/mystery coming out through St. Martin’s Press called Luck of the Draw. It is scheduled for a December 2009 release and is available for pre-order on Amazon. The story follows an elite New York City homicide detective named Deke Durgess as he tried to track down the most brutal killer the city had ever seen. This guy is murdering people each and every day, wiping out entire households of people as he goes. New York comes under a grip of fear not seen since Son of Sam and all eyes of the world are focused on the case. The killer doesn’t leave any kind of forensic evidence behind except for a short note to the cops—BETTER LUCK NEXT TIME. The killings seem completely random but Deke knows there must be some selection process being used by the killer and, until he finds out what it is, many more people would be dying every day.

I really can’t tell you what inspired me to write this story. To tell you that would give away the plot and clue the audience in to how the killer chooses victims. I was very careful to craft the story so it will be a surprise when revealed, and it will make complete sense when told. Also, the killer will be hard to figure out. No murder mystery is worth its weight if you know who’s doing it right away.

Your journey to publication was a little bit different than many others. Can you share your experience?

I have been at this game since 1997, when I completed Enemy. I sent out queries to every agent I thought would be interested. I got a few bites from some who wanted to read it, including Nancy Coffey, who now represents me. She, at the time, turned me down, as did all others. After seven years of retooling it, I became completely frustrated and self-published it just so I could see it in book form and give people the opportunity to read it.

Shortly thereafter, I got the idea for my second book, Dark Side of the Sun. About halfway through Dark Side, I got a great idea for my third book, Luck of the Draw. I quickly finished Dark Side and began writing Luck since I liked it so much. I tend to write about good ideas more than genres. What’s the sense in doing all sci-fis if your ideas suck or have been done before. I like to come up with something new that will make the reader think, “hey, this can happen.” It keeps them more involved. Anyhow, after I wrote Luck, I didn’t expect it to go anywhere because unknown authors never have that kind of luck. I was wrong.

I sent out my queries to all the agents again, about 40 in all, and every one of them turned me down, Nancy Coffey included, although she did request a full manuscript from me for a read. I had a friend who suggested I send queries directly to editors and asked Ruth Cavin, Senior Editor at St Martins Press if I could submit a few chapters. Ms. Cavin agreed and I sent them by e-mail figuring she would just delete them after opening. A couple of months later I got an e-mail from her saying she liked the first chapters very much and would love to see the rest, but that I should print it out and send it. This was my chance, I thought. I ran right to Staples and bought the best cotton paper they had and a brand new inkjet cartridge to print it with. I did it page by page and placed it in a nice manuscript box and sent it off.

About a month after that, Ms. Cavin sent me an e-mail saying that she read through the whole thing and wanted to buy it. She then made suggestions for some changes I could make that would make the story stronger and to try and keep the story going so we could make it a series. The same day I got the YES from Ms. Cavin, I got Nancy Coffey’s rejection letter. I found it ironic but funny. I decided to go it alone through the contract process, pretty much knowing that I was going to take whatever they offered me to get this deal done. I wasn’t going to blow my one big chance by asking for a few more dollars. It turned out that their offer was very fair and they signed me in August of 2008. I figured I would give the agents another try since I was no longer a no-name author, somewhat. Nancy was #1 on my list and the only one I queried. She asked for a reading of the updated version of the manuscript along with whatever I had written to that point on the sequel. She called me a few days later saying that she loved both and would be glad to represent me. I didn’t care the reasons she decided to take me on. I got the agent I wanted and that was good enough for me.

Despite the success, knowing what you know now, what would you have done differently?
I don’t see much that I could have done differently. I went the traditional route early on and it got me nowhere. I got a lucky break by getting into Ms. Cavin and the rest is history. I do think it tremendously unfair that good writers with good stories continually get shut out of the publishing game just because they have no name recognition. I know it’s a highly-competitive field but once in a while, rookies have to be able to get in there.

Many aspiring writers think that once they land that agent, or get that book contract, life is easy. But writers instead must deal with editing, among other things. What has your journey been like?
I never knew it would take so long to get the book published after getting the contract done. And even that took almost two months to do. I’m sure if my name were Grisham or Patterson, they would have been in more of a hurry to get the title out there. But still, I signed the contract in August 2008 and the book comes out in December 2009. That’s a long time! It’s very frustrating to sit and wait for news on your book. I would check in once a month with my editor to see what was new. Here and there, stuff would spill in: release date, cover art, galleys, and then the copyedited version came to my house. My God, I have never seen anything like that! This poor girl who copyedited for me, she must have needed a vacation afterward. There were marks all over the place, mostly for punctuation and incorrectly spelled words. She went over the thing letter by letter and caught stuff I never even knew existed. I was more impressed with that step than with any other. The grasp of the English language and the ability to remember even the smallest detail about the book blew me away. She remembered minute details that I had no idea about and I wrote the thing! Copyeditors have a very tough and tedious job. I do not envy them. As for me, I had to read the whole thing over and approve or disapprove of every single mark or change she made. And I only had a window of 14 days to get it down. That in itself was a job. I even posted pictures of it on my Facebook page. And that’s pretty much where I am right now. The book is in production and I have to wait until December for it to come out. But it looks real good so far. You can see what the cover looks like if you go to my blog.

Tell us about your work in progress.
I have just finished the storyline for the sequel to Luck and am now going over it revising. It is the second in the series, as requested by St. Martin’s and it continues to follow Detective Durgess as he attempts to track down another serial killer in New York. It focuses more extensively on the detective and builds him up a bit in case there is a third book in the series requested. If not, then I have a great idea for a new sci-fi book that I am working out in my head. Dark Side of the Sun is presently in the hands of Joanna Stampfel, of Nancy Coffey Literary, so we will see what becomes of that.

Thank you for sharing all of your great insights Anthony. Be sure to look for Luck of the Draw in December 2009, from St. Martin’s Press.
Thank you again, Jennifer, for affording me this opportunity to share some thoughts with you and your readers. Maybe we can do this again after the book comes out and we can discuss the book signings and such. That should be interesting, especially since I have never done it before and have no idea what to expect.

Anthony Cardieri is a 43-year-old—soon to be 44 on July 16—married father of three young children. He lives in New York and work for the NYC Dept. of Sanitation as a District Superintendent. He is within a year of retirement and plans to devote all his time to writing afterward.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Changes at the Top-April

Amanda Bergeron
, editorial assistant, added to list of acquisitions editors

Grand Central
Celia Johnson
, assistant editor, added to list of acquisitions editors


Barbara Jones, named editorial director for Hyperion and Voice Imprints

Medallion Press
Jessica Vicich
, listed as acquisitions editor

New American Library (NAL)
Becky Binter
, assistant editor, added to list of acquisitions editors
Lisa Shwartz, editorial assistant, no longer listed as acquisition editor

Penguin Group
Denise Roy, named senior editor for Plume Imprint

Random House
Laura Ford, named editor for Ballantine Imprint

Random House UK

Rebecca Carter, named editor-at-large for Harvill Secker line
Stuart Williams, named editorial director for Harvill Secker line

Literary Agency
Janet Silver, agent for Zachary Shuster Harmsworth

Jim McCarthy, named senior agent for Dystel & Goderich Literary Management

Chasya Milgrom, named royalties manager and agent for Dystel & Goderich Literary Management