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We’ve collected the books debuting on Indiebound’s Indie Bestseller List for the week ending Nov. 08, 2015–a sneak peek at the books everybody will be talking about next month.
(Debuted at #1 in Children’s Fiction Series) Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Old School by Jeff Kinney: “Life was better in the old days. Or was it? That’s the question Greg Heffley is asking as his town voluntarily unplugs and goes electronics-free. But modern life has its conveniences, and Greg isn’t cut out for an old-fashioned world.” (Nov. 2015)
(Debuted at #13 in Hardcover Fiction) After Alice by Gregory Maguire: “Down the rabbit-hole, where adventures await…When Alice toppled down the rabbit-hole 150 years ago, she found a Wonderland as rife with inconsistent rules and abrasive egos as the world she left behind. But what of that world? How did 1860s Oxford react to Alice’s disappearance?” (Oct. 2015)
(Debuted at #14 in Hardcover Nonfiction) Lights Out by Ted Koppel: “Imagine a blackout lasting not days, but weeks or months. Tens of millions of people over several states are affected. For those without access to a generator, there is no running water, no sewage, no refrigeration or light. Food and medical supplies are dwindling. Devices we rely on have gone dark. Banks no longer function, looting is widespread, and law and order are being tested as never before.” (Oct. 2015)
The cover has been unveiled for Kate Elliott’s Night Flower companion novella. We’ve embedded the full image for the jacket design above—what do you think?
According to the NOVL blog, the story for this project is set in the Court of Fives universe. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers has scheduled the publication date for Dec. 08, 2015.
Penguin Young Readers will publish a parody picture book inspired by Carl-Johan Forssén Ehrlin’s The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep.
The release date for The Rabbit Who Wants to Go to Harvard has been set for Feb. 09, 2016. Diana Holquist will write the story and Christopher Eliopoulos will create the illustrations.
Here’s more from the press release: “The deal was brokered by Alec Shane and Jodi Reamer of Writer’s House and Lauri Hornik, President and Publisher of Dial Books for Young Readers, who will edit. Penguin has World rights. The book will have a first printing of 100,000.”
The cover has been revealed for Vivi Greene’s forthcoming book, Sing. We’ve embedded the full image for the jacket design above—what do you think?
According to EpicReads.com, this young adult novel stars “a multiplatinum pop icon” named Lily Ross. HarperTeen has scheduled the publication date for June 07, 2016.
Joseph Garrett has signed a two-book deal with Random House Children’s Books. The company will publish the first authorized book starring the international YouTube celebrity, Stampy Cat.
Here’s more from the press release: “The deal for U.S. rights for a 2-book deal was negotiated by Nagler with Egmont Publishing in the UK and Maker Studios on behalf of Stampy Cat. Egmont will release the book on October 22.”
The release date for the United States edition of Stampy’s Lovely Book has been scheduled for Jan. 05, 2016. The book will feature games, activities, jokes and exclusive info about Stampy and his friends.
Author Rick Riordan has been working on a new five part series called The Trials of Apollo.
These middle grade books will feature characters from two of Riordan’s earlier series: Percy Jackson & The Olympians and The Heroes of Olympus. The story is set in both Camp Half-Blood and Camp Jupiter. The first installment, entitled The Hidden Oracle, will be released on May 03, 2016.
Here’s more from Riordan’s blog post: “As I explained on tour, the idea came to me while writing Percy Jackson’s Greek Gods, because Apollo had been turned mortal twice before when he got on Zeus’ bad side. The first novel has been so much fun to write! The Trials of Apollo is told first person from Apollo’s point of view.”
Author Maggie Stiefvater has revealed the cover for The Raven King. We’ve embedded the full image for the jacket design above—what do you think?
According to Stiefvater’s blog post, this young adult novel serves as the final installment of The Raven Cycle. Scholastic has scheduled the publication date for April 26, 2016.
Actress Kate Hudson has signed a deal with the HarperCollins imprint, Dey Street Books. Hudson plans to write a wellness book entitled Pretty Happy: Healthy Ways to Love Your Body.
Editorial director Carrie Thornton negotiated the terms of the agreement with the Creative Artists Agency and Jackoway Tyerman Wertheimer Austen Mandelbaum Morris. The publication date has been scheduled for February 2016.
According to the press release, Hudson’s book “will offer health and wellness inspiration and motivation for women, addressing fitness, nutrition and a mindful lifestyle. Long admired for her beauty and dedication to healthy living, Hudson has always exuded authenticity and a passion for life. She’s demonstrated this dedication to promote wellness as the founder of Fabletics, designed to empower women to get active and to care for themselves, not as a fad or a quick fix, but as a way of living that promotes health, community, determination, passion and joy.”
Crayola has developed a line of adult coloring books.
According to Gizmodo, artist Claudia Nice created the illustrations for the Color Escapes series. The four books feature the following artistic themes: geometric, kaleidoscope, nature, and garden.
Here’s more information from the Crayola website: “Color Escapes pages are printed on professional quality sketching paper to receive color from colored pencils or markers without bleed through. The oversized pages are perfect for framing so you can enjoy your creation anytime in your favorite room, or give as a gift to friends and family.”
Forever, an imprint at Grand Central Publishing, will publish a new romance series called The Polo Season. Alex Logan, a senior editor, will edit the first three installments.
According to the press release, the editorial team has recruited Ignacio “Nacho” Figueras, an Argentine polo player and male model, to present these books. Jessica Whitman has signed on to write the books.
Book one, entitled High Season, will come out in May 2016. Book two, entitled Ride Free, will come out in June 2016. Book three, entitled Wild One, will come out in July 2016. The publisher intends to release the trade paperback, mass market, and e-book editions simultaneously.
I was going through my emails for some reader questions that I’ve gotten over the years. This one comes from Susan last year, and it’s basically this: She saw some marketing materials for a book that’s coming out that’s exactly like what she’s working on. She’s upset. How is she going to find the will to continue writing this project if someone else has already beat her to it?
This is actually a very common question, and here is the (at times, tongue-in-cheek) response I wrote that I hope can help a few more of you out there:
I know everyone says “don’t worry about it” and that obviously hasn’t made you feel any better but…don’t worry about it. That book and thousands of others will be published this year. Unless this particular book hits it DIVERGENT-big, it will have its moment on the stage and then gracefully recede onto the backlist. (Sad but, more or less, true. For every mega-successful book that’s published in a year, there are dozens or hundreds more that do pretty well for themselves but don’t make a global splash.) Then next year’s crop will come. Then next year’s.
It’s the ciiiiiiircle of liiiiiiiiiiiiife!
Meanwhile, in the BEST case scenario, you will take six months to polish your book. You’ll take three months to query and sign with an agent. You and your agent will revise for three months. It will go on submission, and let’s say it sells in an amazingly short month. Did I mention that the entire publishing process moves at a snail’s pace? And you’re not even done! Then it will go into contracts, editing, design, proofreading, blah blah blah, and it will finally come out in hardcover a year from when the editor bought it. That’s a MINIMUM of two years from today. But if there are invariable publishing delays or you need two revisions instead of one at any point in the process, or they decide that another similar book is coming out and they should push you back a season and you have no control over any of it, then it’s more than two years from the book that’s upsetting you right now.
On top of that, you can’t really know a book from a paragraph of description. The voice, the tone, the plot, the sense of humor, the lightness or darkness, the literary quality. All of these things happen in the execution, not the pitch. (ETA: The product and the pitch, people! It was an idea in my brain like a year ago!!!) So the book you’re worried about could be completely different from what you’re doing. And you don’t even know it until you read it. What attracted that writer to that idea, and that editor to that manuscript, could be completely different from what kind of response your idea will drum up.
So, basically, all this is to say you should probably trash your manuscript and start over. Just kidding! You’re totally fine. Keep on trucking. Nobody is stealing your ideas. Maybe one day your book will be featured in an online newsletter and some writer is going to start worrying and email me because she thinks she’s working on the exact same thing. It’s perfectly normal and doesn’t mean the end of the world. In fact, this is far from the first time I’ve heard this question. There are just a few archetypal stories in the world that we keep telling over and over, in different wrapping paper. That doesn’t make one book more or less special than the next, and as long as the stories are well-done, there’s room for them on the shelf.
Don’t believe in the myth of scarcity. This book isn’t taking away from your potential place in the spotlight.
The cover has been revealed for Christine Heppermann’s forthcoming book, Ask Me How I Got Here. According to the Under the Green Willow blog, this young adult novel features a story written in verse.
We’ve embedded the full image for the jacket design above—what do you think? Greenwillow Books, an imprint at HarperCollins, has scheduled the publication date for May 03, 2016.
I received a package from my publisher just the other day, with some very exciting contents...
It was the colour proofs of my Sketching People book.
I seem to be juggling lots of different projects at the same time right now, but the urban sketching book is at least one which is very nearly finished.
The colour proofs are when you finally get to see what it's going to look like. Even though I've been very hands-on throughout the progress, I've been dealing with it in batches, so never had the chance to look at it as a complete project. Plus I'd never seen the final design of many of the spreads, so I couldn't wait to get a look.
By this stage, all the design has been finalised, all the text is in place, exactly as it will look, and all the images, whether photos or sketches, are in their final positions on the spreads. It was lovely to see everything looking gorgeous!
But I wasn't just sent them to admire: my job was to go through the whole thing with a fine tooth-comb, checking it over and making any final notes about alterations that needed making, or errors I noticed. That meant reading the entire book, which took a while, as you can imagine.
There were actually lots of little things I picked up, both to do with images and text: I made two pages of notes!
One slight complication was that this was the US version - the text has been Americanised throughout, which does not just involve changes to words, but also some big changes to punctuation. I was surprised to discover for example, that in the US, a colon is followed by a capital letter! There were also many differences over where comas are used.
The text will be re-Anglicised after the proofs have been approved, which means Quarto employing someone to make all the changes: apparently less complex than trying to re-instate my original text. All a bit odd, but everything is, as usual, very US-led. That's where the biggest market for the book will be, despite it originating in the UK.
The biggest single issue I picked up, was the placement of annotation arrows: used to point to where I am making specific comments about particular elements of a sketch. Many of them were not quite pointing to the right place, because my designer didn't always quite understand where I was referring to.
All sorted now though. I am very pleased with how it looks. The quality of the colour is great and the design really sets everything off beautifully (thanks Moira!).
I'm told that it should be ready for publication sometimes around the end of February. You can pre-order already, but don't worry - I will definitely be letting you know when it's ready.
We’ve collected the books debuting on Indiebound’s Indie Bestseller List for the week ending Nov. 01, 2015–a sneak peek at the books everybody will be talking about next month.
(Debuted at #1 in Paperback Nonfiction) Lost Ocean by Johanna Basford: “Through intricate pen and ink illustrations to complete, color, and embellish, readers will meet shoals of exotic fish, curious octopuses, and delicately penned seahorses. Visit coral reefs and barnacle-studded shipwrecks, discover intricate shells and pirate treasure.” (Oct. 2015)
(Debuted at #3 in Hardcover Nonfiction) The Witches by Stacy Schiff: “It began in 1692, over an exceptionally raw Massachusetts winter, when a minister’s daughter began to scream and convulse. It ended less than a year later, but not before 19 men and women had been hanged and an elderly man crushed to death. The panic spread quickly, involving the most educated men and prominent politicians in the colony. Neighbors accused neighbors, parents and children each other. Aside from suffrage, the Salem Witch Trials represent the only moment when women played the central role in American history. In curious ways, the trials would shape the future republic.” (Oct. 2015)
(Debuted at #8 in Hardcover Nonfiction) My Life on the Road by Gloria Steinem: “Gloria Steinem had an itinerant childhood. When she was a young girl, her father would pack the family in the car every fall and drive across country searching for adventure and trying to make a living. The seeds were planted: Gloria realized that growing up didn’t have to mean settling down. And so began a lifetime of travel, of activism and leadership, of listening to people whose voices and ideas would inspire change and revolution.” (Oct. 2015)
The cover has been revealed for Kiera Cass’ forthcoming young adult novel, The Crown. This book will serve as the the fifth and final installment of The Selection series.
We’ve embedded the full image for the jacket design above—what do you think? Yahoo! Movies reports that the publication date has been scheduled for May 03, 2016.
Writer Rhoda Belleza has signed a two-book deal with the Penguin Young Readers imprint, Razorbill. She plans to create a young adult novel entitled Empress of a Thousand Skies.
Associate editor Tiffany Liao negotiated the deal with InkWell Management literary agent Stephen Barbara. Barbara represented the literary development company Paper Lantern Lit.
According to the announcement, the story for Belleza’s first book follows “two sisters — sole survivors of a murdered royal lineage – must reunite from opposite ends of the galaxy to salvage what’s left of their family dynasty and save the universe from a greater threat.” The publisher has set the release date for Spring 2017.
The cover has been unveiled for the forthcoming Pittacus Lore book, United as One. This book will be the seventh and final installment of the Lorien Legacies series.
We’ve embedded the full image for the jacket design above—what do you think? HarperTeen has scheduled the publication date for this young adult novel on Jun. 28, 2016.
Random House Children’s Books will publish a trio of Little Golden Books starring the internet sensation Grumpy Cat. Editor in chief Chris Angelilli will manage the three projects.
According to the press release, book one, entitled The Little Grumpy Cat That Wouldn’t, features a story where “Grumpy Cat’s friends and admirers try to get her to try new things and have fun, and each time she is even more resolved to say NO. In the end, she is right. Having fun is awful.”
The release date has been scheduled for July 26, 2016. Artist Stephanie Laberis has signed on to create the illustrations. The publication dates for book two and three have not yet been announced.
The cover has been revealed for Andrea Portes’ forthcoming book, The Fall of Butterflies. Portes has become well-known as the writer behind the bestselling young adult novel, Anatomy of a Misfit.
We’ve embedded the full image for the jacket design above—what do you think? HarperTeen has scheduled the publication date for May 10, 2016.
According to EpicReads.com, the story featured in the new book follows a young girl named Willa Parker. The protagonist holds the distinction of being the “646th and least popular resident of What Cheer, Iowa, is headed east to start a new life. Did she choose this new life? No, because that would be too easy—and nothing in Willa’s life is easy.”
We’ve collected the books debuting on Indiebound’s Indie Bestseller List for the week ending Oct. 25, 2015–a sneak peek at the books everybody will be talking about next month.
(Debuted at #1 in Hardcover Fiction) Rogue Lawyer by John Grisham: “Sebastian Rudd is not your typical street lawyer. He works out of a customized bulletproof van, complete with Wi-Fi, a bar, a small fridge, fine leather chairs, a hidden gun compartment, and a heavily armed driver. He has no firm, no partners, no associates, and only one employee, his driver, who’s also his bodyguard, law clerk, confidant, and golf caddy.” (Oct. 2015)
(Debuted at #3 in Hardcover Fiction) Career of Evil by J.K.Rowling writing as Robert Galbraith: “When a mysterious package is delivered to Robin Ellacott, she is horrified to discover that it contains a woman’s severed leg. Her boss, private detective Cormoran Strike, is less surprised but no less alarmed. There are four people from his past who he thinks could be responsible–and Strike knows that any one of them is capable of sustained and unspeakable brutality.” (Oct. 2015)
(Debuted at #15 in Young Adult) Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff: “This morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do. This afternoon, her planet was invaded.” (Oct. 2015)
The cover has been revealed for Megan Shepherd’s forthcoming book, The Hunt. This young adult novel will be a sequel to Shepherd’s recent title, The Cage.
According to EpicReads.com, the story featured in the new book follows three protagonists named Cora, Lucky, and Mali. The three must now deal with the consequences of a “failed escape attempt.”
We’ve embedded the full image for the jacket design above—what do you think? HarperTeen has scheduled the publication date for May 24, 2016.
Chelsea Kenna has landed a deal with Stan Lee’s Kids Universe (SLKU). She has written and illustrated a picture book entitled Dragons vs. Pandas.
SLKU, an imprint 1821 Media Group and POW! Entertainment, will publish the English and Mandarin editions of this book for readers in the United States and China in 2016. According to the press release, the editorial team has plans for “a multi-platform release as a Saturday morning cartoon, iPhone game, and more.”
This project marks “the company’s first foray into international content.” It was first announced was made at Stan Lee’s Comikaze Expo.
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (HMH) and Weber Grills have established an exclusive partnership. HMH has been named the publishing partner (within the United States and Canada) for Weber-Stephen Products LLC.
The company will publish four backlist Weber titles: Weber’s Way to Grill, Weber’s Smoke, Weber’s New Real Grilling, and Weber’s Big Book of Burgers. The editorial team has also been working on a new book by Jamie Purviance, slated for release in April 2016, entitled Weber’s New American Barbecue.
Publisher Bruce Nichols had this statement in the press release: “Weber is synonymous with grilling, and Jamie Purviance is the perfect author and spokesman for their beloved and best-selling line of cookbooks. We are thrilled to be working with such terrific partners.”
Many of you who are familiar with my writing have heard me express surprise and frustration at the idea that so many writers are obsessed with the pitch that the product (in our case, the manuscript) seems almost an afterthought. Back when I would speak at conferences, I would get maybe 8 questions out of ten about the query letter, with only 2 about craft. Once the pitch is over (one page, or about three minutes in a conference session), the burden of proof falls squarely on the product. And in the end, the product is what matters!
But people still love to talk about that pitch. I think I know why. It’s what you present, so IT feels like the “make or break” point, not the manuscript that follows. It’s also shorter and more formulaic, so it’s easier to control. You can’t really control whether someone falls in love with your manuscript right from the get-go: Tastes vary, manuscripts are of various quality, and your style comes into play a lot more. But with the pitch, if you have a great query, it’s pretty easy to feel confident. There are fewer moving parts to gamble with.
So that’s where the attention goes. Good? Bad? I say it’s understandable.
The pitch is what opens the door, so it does deserve its fair share of focus. But once you have someone on the hook, you still have to reel them in, and that’s where all attention goes back to the manuscript. So you can’t escape that nasty product part, no matter how hard you try.
To even get people to look, though, you need the pitch to be solid. The more I think about it, the more I see that a pitch needs to:
- Be specific
- Be targeted (audience-focused)
- Answer the question, “Why does my audience need this?”
The good and bad news is that a pitch can’t change your product. It can spin it, sure, and a certain amount of spin is desirable, but if you aren’t already thinking about these questions as you write your project, your pitch won’t superimpose them onto your manuscript in a satisfying way. You can say that your product is all sorts of things in the pitch, but if that doesn’t come across when someone reads it, the pitch is going to get thrown out as inaccurate. So if you’ve never thought about what your book really is, or who it’s for, or why it’s necessary in a crowded publishing marketplace, you’re likely going to struggle mightily with the query letter, which basically asks you to talk about all of these things.
The worst pitch in the world is pretty much along the following lines:
This is a really great coming of age story about a character who goes through a lot of stuff and comes out the other side. It’s for everyone from zero to 100, and I wrote it because I’ve had this story in my head for thirty years, simply begging to be told, and it wouldn’t let me go until I got it all down on paper.
It’s not specific (every story that involves character change can be seen as a “coming of age”), it spits in the face of the old adage about trying to be everything to everyone and brazenly disregards the reality that there are very specific audiences out in Publishingland, and it doesn’t justify its own existence in the larger scheme of things. You know how baby pictures are always adorable to the parents? And that’s great? But not everyone wants to look at other people’s baby pictures past the first couple unless there’s something personal and notable about them? Do you see where I’m headed with this?
Back to Shark Tank. The entrepreneurs that make it hook the Sharks with a pitch that answers the above questions. What’s the product? It’s not just a doohickey. The world has enough of those. It’s a doohickey that’s for…the kitchen, the garage, taking great baby pictures, whatever. In publishing terms, let’s say it’s a dystopian romance.
It’s not for everyone, because if you say it’s for everyone, the savvy Shark is going to know full well that you can’t market a product to everyone. For exaggeration’s sake, that would cost trillions of dollars and you’d have to get your message to the outer reaches of Mongolia. Not possible, nor desirable, even. Because the savvy Shark knows that 7.9999 billion of our 8 billion marketing recipients are probably not going to like or need whatever the product is. There’s only one thing that’s for everyone, and that’s oxygen. (Except anaerobic bacteria don’t like it. See? You can’t please everyone.) And maybe vanilla ice cream. But are you really going to try going up against the clout of vanilla ice cream?! Everyone is different, and we all like different things. This is GOOD. In publishing terms, our example is a dark YA fantasy for today’s troubled world.
Finally, we get to the big “why.” And this is the hardest question to tackle. I am often left with this idea after I finish reading a manuscript. And? So? Why? Why does this need to be a story? “Well,” the writer stammers, “it’s a story I really want to tell about a kid who goes on an adventure.” So what? Everyone goes on adventures every single day. We all have incredible stories that make up our lives. Why do I need to give you hours of my time and dollars of my paycheck to read your story? (Especially since it’s one you just made up?) Well, that’s where the question of theme comes in. What about your story is going to dovetail with my story and bring about a new or different understanding of the bigger picture? How is it going to elevate my life? In our publishing example, let’s say that heavy identity and survival themes are explored against the backdrop of a troubled world, which uneasily mirrors our own. To think about this as you write, to mention this in the query shows that you’ve seriously thought about the “why” and that your product has a raison d’etre (reason for being, I don’t know how to do the little hat accent on the first “e”).
Let’s tie our doohickey example all together and hit all three points:
The Doohickey 3000 is a revolutionary tool for new and exhausted parents that guarantees you’ll never take a bad baby picture. Baby will be so mesmerized by the Doohickey 3000 that they won’t blink, drool, cry, or vomit, and it will coax a gummy smile out of even the fussiest youngsters. Whether it’s to finally get your family and friends to “like” your damn baby pictures, or to take the world by storm by landing your baby on one of those terrible clickbait viral websites, the Doohickey 3000 will help you foist your bundle of joy on the world with ease!
Now let’s circle back to our publishing example:
DOOHICKEY is a dark YA dystopian romance that pits two teenagers against a scary and uncertain world that closely resembles our own. By deeply exploring themes of identity and survival, it will give contemporary teen readers an outlet to explore some of the fear and uncertainty of growing up in a world where there’s a public shooting every week and we have somehow turned into our own worst enemies.
If you don’t know how to answer some of these questions about your own manuscript, maybe it’s time to go back and really dig into that third question, the “why.” Why are you writing it? Why is it a good project to work on now? Why might the world embrace this story?
“Because I wanna write it, I just wanna,” is fine, and that passion is what’s going to keep you going through revisions, but it’s not enough when you start to think about the reality of publishing, which is that publishers want to put products (books) out that will sell to customers (a reading audience). They don’t just exist to make your childhood dreams come true, or so you can print business cards that say “Author.”
Once you know what it is, who it’s for, and why they’d probably like it, then the pitch becomes very easy to assemble.
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The Scholastic Reading Club and the We Need Diverse Books organization have established a new partnership.
The two collaborators have created a special book club flyer with over 75 books that star diverse protagonists and feature diverse storylines. During the holiday season, this flyer will be distributed to more than 100,000 classrooms and 2.5 million students.
Here’s more from the press release: “The collection showcases a wide variety of titles highlighting important themes about race and ethnicity, multiculturalism, different religions, LGBTQ stories, individuals with disabilities and more. The range of titles and the diversity of the authors will resonate with the widely diverse population of young readers served by Scholastic Reading Club through schools nationwide and help them understand and appreciate people, cultures and experiences different from their own. Additional titles beyond those featured in the flyers will be available online at Scholastic.com/ReadingClub.”