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The New York Public Library is gearing up to exhibit a rare copy of the Declaration of Independence, which was handwritten by Thomas Jefferson.
The document will be on display in the Celeste Bartos Forum of the Library’s landmark Stephen A. Schwarzman Building on Fifth Avenue and 42nd Street from June 27 to July 3. The exhibit is free. Here is more about the historic form: “The Declaration of Independence was completed on July 1, but before it was ratified on July 4, several changes were made to the text, including the removal of Jefferson’s lengthy condemnation of the slave trade, an excision intended to appease delegates from Georgia and South Carolina. In the days after July 4, a distressed Jefferson wrote out several fair copies of his original text and sent them to five or six friends. The Library’s copy is one of the two copies that have survived intact.”
It will also be part of a naturalization ceremony that is scheduled for July 2nd.
Owner Christina Brashear has returned as publisher of the romance imprint Samhain Publishing.
Brashear’s return is part of the imprint’s redirection. In a move to keep the publishing house agile in a growing eBook world, Brashear has restructured the editorial team. The imprint’s current publisher Lindsey Faber is leaving her post and will only stay on in a consulting role. In addition, Heather Osborn will transition from Editorial Director to freelance editor.
“As part of this reorganization, Samhain will be returning to its roots of finding and publishing best-‐selling romance writers. The careers of New York Times best-‐selling authors like Maya Banks and Lorelei James started at Samhain nearly a decade ago,” stated Brashear. ”Now that I’m back at the helm, I’ll continue to nurture and support our current authors while looking to find that next generation of best-‐selling writers to take their work to the next level and continue to do what Samhain does best.”
You may have noticed that there are now far more books available to readers than ever before in history. The rise of digital publishing has led to a tenfold increase in the number of books published each year, from about 300,000 to more than 3 million.
In this crowded field, discoverability is the biggest challenge for an author. You must grapple with the question of how your readers will find you.
Therefore, keeping readers once you’ve snagged them is essential. You want readers to finish your book and immediately want more. You don’t want to have to keep wooing them over and over. You want to win them and make permanent fans of them.
Once you lose those fans—disappoint them with a book that’s not up to your usual standard—they may be gone forever.
If you are a regular reader of Pub Crawl, my guess is that you are very busy person. Our readers span from full time authors, to authors maintaining day jobs, publishing industry professionals, writers at the start of their career and more. No matter which group you fall under, one thing is clear. We all have a lot on our daily, weekly, monthly, and lifelong to-do lists.
I’m here today to remind all of our readers that every now and then you need to take a break and spend some time simply relaxing.
I recently took an eight day vacation with my husband to celebrate our anniversary. I was out of the office for an entire week and didn’t check my work e-mail until the 7th day. My phone was off the entire trip. It was pretty magical.
My subway ride to and from work every day is when I do the majority of my submission reading. Before I wrote this post on Monday night, I got home and edited for another hour before I let myself catch up on this season of Food Network Star. (I don’t even have the Food Network! Cooking shows are my ultimate chill-out reward.)
When I was on my vacation, I spent a lot of time at the beach, but I also had the chance to read some books outside of my specific area that I edit and acquire. I was finally able to read Daryl Gregory’s latest science fiction novel, AFTERPARTY. I don’t have any science fiction on my list at the moment, so this was a nice break from the YA and all of the wonderful horror I’ve been editing recently. I also read FROM SCRATCH: INSIDE THE FOOD NETWORK, a great non-fiction book about the formation of the Food Network. (Yes, the Food Network is an important aspect of my life.)
In addition to reading some awesome books, I finally started watching Band of Brothers. Now that I’m home, I’m not sure when I’ll finish it, but it was a nice addition to my vacation relaxation time, even if it could get intense at times. And like many people the second weekend of June, I started the second season of Orange is the New Black.
And to be honest, I caught up on a lot of sleep.
When I came back to work last week, I was refreshed and excited to get back to work on my list and had a renewed sense of energy. I know not everyone can take a week off of work, but I do believe that finding those quiet moments each week to have for yourself, not related to your work, is important to keeping your creative endeavors fresh. I have a regular Saturday morning routine that is all about giving me some time for myself. It involves watching a lot of Chopped. (I promise, I am not a paid Food Network shill. I just love competitive cooking shows.)
We all spend so much time devoted to our careers that it’s important to find time for ourselves, as well.
What are some of the ways you give yourself a break?
Jordan Hamessley London is an Editor at Egmont USA, where she edits middle grade and YA. Her current titles include Isla J. Bick’s new series, The Dark Passages (#1 White Space), Bree DeSpain’s new series Into the Dark (#1 The Shadow Prince), and more. Prior to Egmont, Jordan worked at Grosset and Dunlap, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers where she edited Adam-Troy Castro’s middle grade horror series Gustav Gloom, Ben H. Winters and Adam F. Watkin’s book of horror poetry Literally Disturbed, Michelle Schusterman’s I Heart Band series, Adam F. Watkins’s alphabet picture book R is for Robot and more. When not editing, Jordan can be found on twitter talking about books, scary movies, and musical theater.
The Monster Within Release Tomorrow! Tomorrow is the big day! I wrote The Monster Within the first twelve days of 2012, and I signed with Spencer Hill Press the following September. It's been a long wait, and I'm so excited to share Sam and Ethan's story with you all.
Face of Death is the Kindle Big Deal Face of Death is part of the Kindle Big Deal June 13 through June 28th! That means you can grab a copy for only $2.99! Get yours here. Oh, and Touch of Death is now only $2.99 as well since the full series is out. :)
Out on Submission Today my YA contemporary written under my pen name, Ashelyn Drake, goes out on submission. I'm excited and nervous!
Father's Day I hope all you dads had a great Father's Day. I didn't get to see my dad, but I we'll celebrate another day. I did have a nice day with my husband, daughter, and my in-laws though.
Revisions I'm finishing up revisions on a YA title my CPs got back to me last week. My goal is to send it to my agent in the next couple of days.
Solarcide is known as the Home of Weird Fiction, a gallery of the dark and dangerous. What an honor to be considered such. What an even bigger honor to be their featured author for June 2014! Feast your eyes on the opening paragraphs of my noir thriller, “The Youngest Brother,” and follow the link at the end to read the full story at Solarcide.
The Youngest Brother
by Sara Dobie Bauer
In the crowded bar, it was easy to spot the man who’d just lost his father, come straight from the funeral to forget as much. He looked gentle, quiet. The youngest of four brothers, he was a senior at Harvard, where he attended as a history major, of all the wasteful things. He had not been admitted to the prestigious university thanks to his father’s funding, which was sizeable, but on the basis of his own intellect.
Of the four brothers, she considered him the second most handsome, shadowed only by the eldest—the man who’d hired her.
Yes, she easily pulled the young man from the crowd of posh academics, near as they were to the university where he studied. Not that he looked very different; on the contrary, he was clean-shaven and in an expensive, black suit. Expensive? She recognized those sorts of things; considered those sorts of things part of her job. Knowing the cut of a man’s suit said a lot about him, and she was all about knowing.
For instance, take the mournful youngest brother at the bar: simple black meant he wasn’t showy, didn’t have a big ego, not like the men who wore suits with silver pinstripes or slick, red ties. Thin lapels meant modern, not retro, so he didn’t look to the past for respite. Finally, the suit was slimly cut, snugly tailored, which meant someone who was used to movement—someone in good shape, athletic.
Of course, she cheated on all accounts. She knew these things about the young man; his brother had told her. She knew he was intelligent and subdued. She knew he swam laps every night at six PM, and his name was Duncan Sadler.
She had arranged to be surrounded by people that night so as not to arouse suspicion. Being an attractive woman, alone in a bar, playing pool, only attracted attention from men, and there was only one man she planned on talking to at the Sphinx, Duncan Sadler’s bar of choice. She knew that about him, too.
Her so-called friends, more like acquaintances, were in on it, in her same profession. They understood the need to blend in, so they all played pool together until someone won. Then, she took a sip of beer. With her eyes, she told them she was going in and didn’t need their backup anymore.
It had all been arranged; once she struck up the youngest Sadler in conversation, her friends would leave, say they were going somewhere else. She could play the lonely damsel card, if only long enough to get Duncan to the alley.
(So what happens to Duncan Sadler? Find out at Solarcide!)
Here are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. Topics covered this week include book lists and awards, diversity and gender, growing bookworms, the kidlitosphere, parenting, reading, writing, publishing, schools, libraries, and summer reading.
Penguin Random House has unveiled its new logo.
The original logos of the 250 imprints within the company will be retained. The executives plan to print the new company brand image alongside the imprint logos on the spines of books. The animated video embedded below features several examples to illustrate how this would look.
Here's more from the press release: "The new corporate wordmark underscores the importance of the written word to the company’s culture and work and will most often be paired with one of Penguin Random House’s 250 widely recognized and respected publishing divisions, imprints, and brands. The brand system, as this pairing design framework is called, is flexible and can be employed not just at the publishing level, but also territorially."
How does one create an iconic book jacket? Riverhead Books art director Helen Yentus Delete and Knopf designer Oliver Munday tried to tackle that question at a Book Expo America panel. We've collected three design tips that they shared during the discussion.
When I talk about a logline, I mean a quick and effective sales pitch for your story. It is the same as the “elevator pitch” or your snappy “meets” comparison (Harry Potter meets Where the Wild Things Are!). However, not everyone’s book fits the “meets” way of doing this, so they’re left with constructing their own short sentence to encapsulate their work. That’s where things often get hairy.
If you think queries and synopses are hard, loglines are often a whole new world of pain for writers. Boiling down an entire book into four pages? Doable. Into a few paragraphs? Questionable. Into a sentence or two?! Impossible.
Or not. The first secret to crafting a good logline is that you should probably stop freaking out about it. If you can get it, good. If not, you can still pitch an agent or editor with a query or a one-minute summation of your story at a conference or if you do happen to be stuck with them in an elevator. Nailing it in one sentence is more of an exercise for you than a requirement of getting published.
That said, my surefire way to think about loglines is as follows:
1) Connect your character to your audience
2) Connect your plot to the market
Let’s examine this. First, begin your logline with your character and their main struggle. This is a way of getting your audience on board. For example, with Hunger Games, Katniss would be “A girl hell-bent on survival…” or “A girl who volunteers herself to save those she loves…”
Now let’s bring plot into it. When you pitch your plot, you always want to be thinking about where it fits in the marketplace. At the time that the first Hunger Games was published, dystopian fiction was white hot as a genre. That’s not so much the case anymore, but if I had been pitching this story at that time, I would’ve definitely capitalized on the sinister dystopian world building. To connect the plot to the market, I would’ve said something like, “…in a world where children fight to the death to keep the population under the control of a cruel government.” This says to the book or film agent, “Dystopian! Right here! Get your dystopian!”
So to put it together, “A girl volunteers herself to save those she loves in a world where children fight to the death to keep the population under the control of a cruel government.” That’s a bit long, and not necessarily elegant, but it definitely hits all of the high notes of the market at that time, while also appealing emotionally to the audience. (Volunteering for a “fight to the death” contest is a really ballsy thing to do, so we automatically want to learn more.)
Notice that here, even the character part involves plot (it focuses on Katniss volunteering).
If I’m working on a contemporary realistic novel, the “plot to market” part is less salient because we’re not exactly within the confines of any buzzy genre. That’s fine, too. You should probably be aware early on whether you’re writing a more character-driven or plot-driven story. The Hunger Games nails some strong character work, but I would argue that it’s primarily plot-driven, or “high concept.” With character-driven books, the former part of the logline construction becomes more important. Let’s look at Sara Zarr’s excellent Story of a Girl. The title is pretty indicative of the contents. It’s literally the story of a girl, and the girl is more important than necessarily each plot point that happens to her.
With character-driven, I’d spend most of my time connecting character to audience. I’d say, for example, “A girl from a small town struggles with the gossips around her who refuse to forgive her past mistakes…” This is the girl’s situation for most of the book, and part of her biggest “pain point” as a person. Then I’ll need to indicate the rest of the plot with something like “…must step out from the shadows of her reputation and find out who she really is.”
Notice that here, even the plot part involves character (it focuses on the more subtle work of figuring herself out rather than, say, battling to the death).
Both are solid loglines because both communicate the core of the story and the emphasis of the book (plot-driven vs. character-driven, genre-focused vs. realistic). Try this two-step exercise with your own WIP.
Ever notice when you pick up a bad habit it’s easier to keep it than shed it? Yeah, my bad habit is ignoring my blog. This time, for a couple months. I know. I give no warning. Disappear. Then try to pick up the pieces of a blog that’s feeling the pangs of rejection from it’s very own mama.
Here I offer up my top 5 excuses; or as I like to say to that sweet police office writing me a speeding ticket, my “Mitigating Circumstances.”
1. That cough-up-a-lung illness that was going around. I am a germ-magnet. Not only did I catch it, but it decided we needed to have a “relationship” that lasted 5 weeks.
2. Normally, I teach 2-4 independent studies in the Spring Semester on top of my regular credit hour load. This Spring I did 9. *Thumps Head*
3. Three kids. The oldest is a senior in highschool, the middle one runs on Energizer rabbit batteries, and the youngest is currently channeling Cersei Lannister (the attitude, not the extracurricular activities). I know, it could be worse. Could be Joffrey. Or that Ramsay guy.
4. I started a children’s publishing company with my parents, because you know, I don’t have enough stuff crammed into my life. Then I wrote 2-1/3 books for the publishing company to publish. Yeah, that 1/3 is a WIP I’m still working on.
5. When faced with the choice of writing for the blog or taking a nap, I’ve napped. Because, well, see excuses 1-4.
So why are things different now? Well, my semester is over. My oldest is poised to get his drivers license and his HS diploma. *Fist Pump* My other two kids can play outside all day because the temperature in Rockford is finally above freezing. With a renewed respect for germs, I’m starting to rub elbows instead of shaking hands. And that little publishing company is in its third trimester, ready to birth some books into the world.
Here are highlights from the links that I shared on Twitter this week @JensBookPage. There are a few links from last week, too, shared from my iPad while I was on vacation in Disney World. Topics this week include authors, book lists and awards, common core, diversity, events, growing bookworms, reading, publishing, schools, libraries, and summer reading.
As a writer, you’re always going to find it necessary to “sell your stuff.” To do that, you need to create those all important sales materials for your book: The one-sentence summary. The query. The pitch paragraph. The elevator pitch. The proposal.
I want to focus on fiction here today (since our blog survey revealed 78% of you are writing fiction!) So, how do you create those sales materials for a novel? The main elements of a fiction pitch are:
The main character
Their choice, conflict, or goal
What’s at stake (may be implied)
But it’s still hard figuring out exactly the right way to pitch. You have to simplify your story and pitch a single plot thread and as few characters as possible. You have to be precise, and use specific (not vague) language. And you have to make it interesting, which means you need to find the most unique and special aspect of your story and make sure it’s covered in the pitch.
So I’ve come up with a set of 11 questions that I recommend novelists work through before even starting to craft a pitch or summary. If you think about the answers to these questions, and write them down, you’ll be more equipped to find the right elements of your story to include in the pitch.
I rarely talk about my disability here, because really, who wants to talk about that ugly word? It suggests that we CANNOT. Others have decided to label me “disabled,” not me. From the parking spaces I gladly pull into (who doesn’t want to be right by the front door?), to the forms I fill out, I’m reminded of this label constantly. I accept this label but this label doesn’t define me. It’s the last ingredient in the complex recipe that is me. It’s there, but it’s not important. My cake will rise without it. (Oh boy, that’s corny. But hey, that’s me.)
Me and my cane with the “Good Luck Cow” in Brandon, Vermont, May 2014.
Multiple Sclerosis hit me in late 2009, just as my career was catching fire (excuse the blatant allusion to Suzanne Collins). In fact, when I was being interviewed by literary agents, I was on an anti-anxiety medication that made my anxiety WORSE, although it took my doctors and me a few weeks to realize this. I took the medication before bed and then couldn’t even speak in the morning until it wore off, around 11am or so. That’s right, I was so full of worry that I could barely force my voice into a whisper. Yet an agent, excited about my submission, called me 90 minutes earlier than our agreed-upon noon conference call. I had to suck it up and somehow appear brilliant and enthusiastic. I don’t know how I made it through that call.
The year 2010 was a blur. I don’t remember most of it. I know I signed with my agent and received my first book deal for THE MONSTORE, but it barely registered. All I could think about was that I would never walk properly again, that I would never figure skate again, never play tennis again, never take family hiking vacations. I couldn’t even drive a car. I couldn’t pick my children up from school, which was only 2/10 of a mile from my home. I focused on the COULDN’Ts. There seemed to be an avalanche of them.
What finally pulled me out of my funk? Was it reaching the elusive goal of publication?
Sure, that helped. But this lifelong goal realized had little to do with my recovery.
Time did. And so often, this is not what people in crisis want to hear. They think there is some magical solution to get through the hard times. And sorry, but I don’t have one. I just had time. And the great thing about time is that EVERYONE has it. It’s available to anyone who’s going through a rough patch.
I had time to process what had happened to me. Time to understand how my body had changed. Time to make adjustments in my daily life. Time to realize that the inner core of ME hadn’t been altered. I was the same goofy, bookish, creative, foodie, writer and loving wife and mother. Albeit with a cane and a mobility scooter. Big freakin’ deal!
Time also made me realize how much time I had missed. I never wanted another “lost year” in my life. All that worrying didn’t solve anything. Worrying rarely does. It makes you miss out on the here and now. The present is so precious. I didn’t want to miss another second of it.
So I got back to being ME. I started writing again. I sold more manuscripts. I began teaching and speaking at conferences. The word “adapt” became my mantra. I learned that I COULD do all that I intended, just with preparation and adjustment.
I’m here to tell you all that you can indeed reach your goals. You’re in charge. If you encounter a roadblock, it is only a temporary one. You will find a way around it. It may take time, but try to see time as a gift rather than a burden. We authors know that it takes years to get published and years to see our books in print. We eventually learn to accept time, as time brings great things.
The only way you won’t reach your goals is by quitting. (Or by excessive worrying.) Envision success, not failure. Focus on the elements within your control, not those beyond it.
Go ahead, make a list. What can you control? What can you NOT control? Then rip the paper in half and throw away the “beyond” section. (There’s a reason I made that section black.)
Today I’m happier than I’ve ever been, even though I can only walk the length of my driveway before needing to sit.
So guess what? I sit.
And then I get up—time and time again.
Tara speaks to audiences big and small about overcoming disabilities big and small. Contact her at tarawrites (at) yahoo (dot) com for more information.
Atria Publishing Group has teamed up with United Talent Agency to launch a new imprint called Keywords Press.
The new imprint will publish books by "digital influencers." The publisher will put out 6-10 titles a year, all of which will be available digitally and in print. Shay “ShayCarl” Butler, Shane Dawson, Justine “iJustine” Ezarik, Connor Franta and Joey Graceffa are the first authors on the imprint.
"Keywords Press is being built to work with new authors who not only have unique voices, but also have a special and direct relationship with their fans," stated Judith Curr. "We believe that this generation of digital stars, who are unprecedented in how they’ve built their brands and relate to their audiences, gives us an opportunity to rethink the traditional publishing model."
Last month I talked about how editors approach the submission pile hoping that the next submission they read will make them fall in love. This month I’m going to discuss what happens next.
An editor falling in love with a submission is the first of many steps to making an offer on the project. Every publishing house handles acquisitions differently, but I’m going to describe the typical steps I go through to make an offer.
Get Others Reading
Once I’ve fallen in love with a book, I pass it along to other members of the editorial team to get their thoughts on the book. In most cases, we discuss the book at an editorial meeting and talk about what’s working, what’s not working, and where it fits on our list. Depending on how the discussion goes, I’ll get in touch with the agent to say that we’re passing or that I’m moving along to the acquisitions stage. One other option after this meeting is to have a call with the author to talk our editorial thoughts. The call with the author can come at multiple stages in the process.
Call with the author
One of my favorite parts of my job is having editorial discussions with my authors. I’m a huge fan of the phone. My pre-offer phone calls with authors allow me to get to know the author beyond their bio and twitter feed (yes, we twitter stalk you) and get a sense of their process. I’ll go over specific things I love about the submission and discuss parts that need work and how I see the two of us working together to make the book even stronger. Much like getting “the call” from an agent, an author should use these editorial phone calls to ask the editor any questions about the editor’s process and approach and get a sense of how the imprint works.
A good chunk of my time after I’ve decided to move forward with a project is spent looking for comp titles. Comp titles are books that are similar in tone/content to the submission. Sometimes an agent will list comps in their pitch and that makes this part a little easier. Other times, I’ll spend hours looking up books with similar themes and running sales numbers to see how my submission will stand up in the marketplace.
Acquisitions meetings vary from house to house. Sometimes the acquisitions meeting is truly a large meeting of various sales, marketing, publicity team members discussing the project while other times this step is simply a conversation between the editor and their publisher. This is the point where the book is discussed in the big picture of the list and the editor gets a good idea of the level of sales everyone thinks the book can reach.
The Nitty Gritty of the P&L
There are so many little things that go into creating the profit and loss statement that the editor creates to show how much money they can offer.
The physical cost of the book: In addition to including how many copies of the book we think we can sell, we have to know how much each copy will cost to produce. This involves coming up with a page count and getting pricing on various effects to the cover/jacket. If I’m working on a submission based on a proposal, I won’t have a word count to go off of, so this is a question I ask in those author calls. “What is your anticipated word count for the final book?” Depending on if the book is YA or middle grade, I’ll have to take font into account when coming up with page count.
Return rate: Every book gets returns. It’s a fact of life. Most imprints have a standard return rate for their books that they use in the P&Ls.
Marketing budget: Some P&Ls have a standard percentage set aside for the marketing budget, others account for specific marketing plans.
Advance and royalties: This is the fun part where editors see how much they can offer on the project and still make a profit.
Making the offer
Once I have a fully approved P&L, it is time to make the offer! I usually call the agent with the good news and then follow up with an email breaking out all of the specifics (advance, royalty rates, subrights, etc). Then it’s my turn to wait and find out if the author wants to go with me or not! If there are multiple offers, the agent will go into an auction, but that is a whole different post for another day!
Making an offer is an exciting and time consuming process. From the initial submission to the time I make the offer, I probably have exchanged at least 20 emails with members of the team in-house and had multiple conversations in person about a single book. This is why we have to love a submission. Before we even get to edit it, we have to support it and discuss it at length before the offer is ever made. It all goes back to the love of the project.
— Jordan Hamessley London is an Editor at Egmont USA, where she edits middle grade and YA. Her current titles include Isla J. Bick’s new series, The Dark Passages (#1 White Space), Bree DeSpain’s new series Into the Dark (#1 The Shadow Prince), and more. Prior to Egmont, Jordan worked at Grosset and Dunlap, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers where she edited Adam-Troy Castro’s middle grade horror series Gustav Gloom, Ben H. Winters and Adam F. Watkin’s book of horror poetry Literally Disturbed, Michelle Schusterman’s I Heart Band series, Adam F. Watkins’s alphabet picture book R is for Robot and more. When not editing, Jordan can be found on twitter talking about books, scary movies, and musical theater.
Today over at Books & Such, I’ve got an overview of the standard editorial process that many publishers use. Here’s a snippet:
When you’re thinking about getting your first book contract, you might be curious about what the editing process will be like. Every publisher has their own process, and they may call each step by a different name. It’s basically three steps, and they’re usually done sequentially, although there is overlap and not every publisher does all three of these steps. The edits might be done by one person, or two or three.
Here’s a general framework.
1. The Macro Edit (developmental, substantive, or content edit; often simply called revisions.) This is where the editor gives big-picture notes on plot, characterization, scene crafting, POV’s, and all the other elements of your story. In non-fiction, they comment on clarity of ideas, flow, maintaining reader interest, and other big-picture concerns. They don’t actually edit your work, they simply give you a set of notes and send you back to work on your revisions.
Art book publisher Phaidon has teamed up with The New Art Dealers Alliance (NADA) to host a series of art shows in different cities around the globe. The first, which opens today, will be held in New York at Pier 36/ Basketball City (299 South Street).
The program at the show is inspired by the Phaidon book Art Cities of the Future. Non-profits from San Juan, Puerto Rico and Detroit, will present interactive project spaces showcasing their work to facilitate creative communities in the economically-challenged cities. Beta-Local from San Juan will feature work from sound artist Joel Rodriguez. The Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit's contribution will explore the impact of musician Sun Ra and artist Mike Kelley on the city.
The show will be up through the weekend.
Some students want to write more than what is required of them in writing workshop. Enter independent writing projects! But how do you go from being another set of eyes on some additional writing a student does to helping him/her go public with their work?
The Internet is full of great advice about how to sell a book, but what about after the sale? When my first book came out, I found it was surprisingly hard to find answers to some basic questions. Like most authors, I learned most of the answers through trial and error. And so in anticipation of the launch of my new novel,The Night Gardener, I’ve decided to write down everything I learned so I don’t make the same mistakes twice!
AFTER THE BOOK DEALis a month-long blog series detailing the twenty things I wish someone had told me before entering the exciting world of children’s publishing. Each weekday from now until MAY 20, I will be posting an article on a different blog. Follow along and please spread the word!
School Days: Crafting an Effective School Program
Yesterday I talked about how to do Skype visits with classrooms, now I want to move on to school assemblies! When my first book came out, I did almost nonstop school events for seven months—it was exhausting but extremely rewarding. I picked up a few things along the way that might be worth sharing …
Be a Storyteller, not an Author
In the vast majority of cases, you will be coming to these kids as a complete stranger. Most kids will not have read (or even heard of) your books. This is important to remember as you’re crafting your presentation: don’t assume they will be impressed by the fact that you’re a published author. Your only job is to convince them that your story is something they want to read. The best way to do this is by BEING A STORYTELLER. Don’t just read an excerpt and give a summary—instead invite them into the world of your story, put them in the shoes of your hero, make the book come alive right there on the stage.
Play to Your Strengths
Take careful inventory of personal skills that you can bring to the table. Some authors draw on giant notepads. Others perform music. Others juggle or teach dance routines or fold origami. I exploited my past career as a professional yo-yo demonstrator by incorporating a yo-yo into my routine. It is hands-down the most popular part of every presentation! Chances are, you’ve got some silly talent that can be turned into a memorable moment in your presentations—make the most of it! Here’s a video of my yo-yo presentation, for the curious: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tbmSYeyVDtI
There’s no question that wrangling a crowd of kids can be tricky. I have a loud voice, but with groups over 100, I always require that schools provide a microphone. Even with a mic, however, a hall full of squirming kids can get pretty loud. I always request that the teacher/librarian who introduces me gives the kids a special reminder about appropriate assembly behavior. And when the classes are streaming into the room, I go to every one of the teachers and introduce myself, thank them for coming, and ask them where their students are sitting—this is a subtle way of encouraging the teachers to be more proactive with crowd control. My final crowd control trick is to start every presentation by showing the Peter Nimble book trailer. Not only does this give kids something to visualize the story, but it creates a baseline of actual silence from the crowd. I’ve found that when I don’t show the trailer, I’m never able to eliminate the dull roar of whispers and fidgeting that passes for “quiet” in other circumstances.
Build a Flexible Program
Every school runs on a different schedule. Generally speaking, assemblies will run between 40-60 minutes. It’s important that you have a program that can expand or contract to fit these requirements. Your goal should be to have discrete “bits” that you can add and remove at will depending on the needs of your audience. If I’m talking to a restless crowd, for example, I can trade out a more serious literary discussion for an extra game. Flexibility goes beyond time-management. When I started touring, I carried around two vintage suitcases full of props. The suitcases looked cool, but they were a serious pain in the neck. I’ve since learned to pare down my props—fitting everything I need into a single shoulder bag. Likewise, when showing my book trailer, I used to haul my laptop computer (school computers were just too unreliable). Recently, however, I’ve ditched the laptop for a small VGA adaptor that plugs directly into my iPhone … so much easier!
You always want to be working with a local bookseller that can handle sales—you don’t have time to deal with that stuff yourself. If the school doesn’t have a store they regularly work with, then offer to connect them to someone. In most cases, a store will give 10-20% of all proceeds back to the school … which you should encourage them to do. Every store has a different way of handling book sales. I’ve found the best method is to send out pre-order forms in advance of the event as well as a “last chance” order form that kids take home the day that you visit—then once all orders are collected, you can sign books at the store, which will deliver them to the school later in the week.
That’s it for AFTER THE BOOK DEAL! Tomorrow we’ll be talking about how how and when to charge for appearances. In the meantime, you can catch up on previous posts (listed below), and please-oh-please spread the word!
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Hi, folks! Welcome to the blog! This month I am offering a series that shares some of the inside story of my book PLUMB CRAZY (Swoon Romance, June 2014). Consider following the link and giving it "a like" on Goodreads.
Here is a fact: I fell off the couch laughing while writing PLUMB CRAZY. Now, I am living in the tension of "I hope my readers will too." I feel like a kid waiting for Christmas day. You know, will I really get the bean bag chair? This is a bigger story than you think. This is about the power of belief and my best marketing advice.
I remember the excitement of that Christmas morn, and the big let down when I ran to the Christmas tree. Santa Claus dropped unwrapped stuff under the tree. There was no Christmas bean bag chair, and I had been a good girl! Oh, dear God, my sister was right--there was no Santa Claus. I wailed into a couch cushion. Then my mom tapped my shoulder. She said we should check the attic because bean bag chairs were really big and didn't fit down cardboard chimneys. Dad pulled down the fold-down ladder, and I scampered up. I found my bean bag chair. I screamed, shoving my face into its buttery softness. Santa was real! All was right with world!
So here I sit, waiting for PLUMB CRAZY to make its way into the world. I am jittery and excited. All I have is belief right now. Will any of my readers fall of the couch like I did? Will they laugh so hard that their head aches? Will they feel the "big hug" of knowing Elva Presely? Writing a book is a very exposing thing, a private and intimate process. The process of publishing a book is the exact opposite, revealed and public.The shift is nevre-wracking for writers.
And now, for the big moment, my best marketing advice. The best marketing thing you can do for your book is write your best possible book. Pour out your soul. Uncover your secrets. Say what only you can say. Write sticky thoughts that readers won't forget. Write something that connects with readers worldwide. Believe and believe. Send it out to readers and let them decide. Then start the next book.
Yes, I know you wanted it to be how to get your book on NPR or something, but I am a truthteller and "soul on page" is what you need. Please come back as I share more of the inside story of PLUMB CRAZY. I hope that you pour your belief into your books this week because I love to read a good book. Love! See you next week!
As a writer, you care deeply about your words and you’ve tried to get them just right. Hence your first encounter with an editor might be a little daunting. When they send you pages and pages of notes for revisions, you might be overwhelmed, depressed, and demoralized. Take heart… this is normal!
I recommend you enter the editorial process with a humble and teachable spirit. The editing process is a terrific opportunity to learn how to improve your writing.
But what if your editor requests changes with which you disagree? How you handle it may depend on who you are—a bestselling author versus a first-timer. (Guess who has more leverage?)
My advice, in a situation where you don’t understand the editorial request or you disagree with it:
Ask a lot of questions of your editor. Try to get their perspective.