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Book Launch by Huntsville Celebrity, Jan Cole

Invitation flyer for Jan Cole Book Launch

Jan Cole with Adelina MoyaJan Cole’s poetry book launch November 17, 2018 at the Wynne Home in Huntsville, Texas

On Saturday, November 17 from 5:00-8:00 P.M., the Huntsville Arts Commission is sponsoring a book launch for Jan Cole’s new edition of Sisypha Larvata Prodeat (Sisypha Wearing a Mask Advances), a unique trilingual poetry collection first published in 1987. Many of the poems are set in Huntsville, while others introduce friends Cole has known and made music with around the world. This new edition of the book includes the striking and eclectic art of Mexican artist, Adelina Moya and Chinese translations by Lorrie Lo and Angela Liu.

What reviewers have to say:

These poems are about life, love, friendship, and masks. The rhythmic lines carry quick movements of life . . . They are witty and thought-provoking, funny, [and] agonizing with suggestions of human struggles, and [they are] freshly imagistic . . . 薛西法假面潛行」是本有關生命,友誼與面具的詩集。韻律十足的詩句帶動了生命與思 想的快節奏。它們機智且引人深思,有趣,有暗示人類掙扎的痛苦,也有將憂鬱與蛋重疊 的鮮活意象。大部分的詩都很短,但它們令人有瞬間領悟的時刻。—Dr. Jianqing Zheng (鄭建青英美文學博士)

These poems have given me greater insight into this remarkably talented woman whose low, soft voice and extreme modesty belie an active and passionate inner voice—one which can express universal truths while telling her personal story. 這些詩也助我更深入的領會到, 這個有著非凡天賦的女人,其實在她輕柔,低沉,且極 端謙虛的言語之下,還有一道激情活躍的聲響—在敘述自身故事的同時,還能表達普 世真理的一道聲音。 —Dr. Ralph Pease (洛夫.皮士英美文學博士)

Bios:

Jan Cole is best known as a musician, composer, linguist and teacher. Studying music at the Paris Conservatory fueled Cole’s love of language as well as music.

Adelina Moya’s art is displayed in galleries around Mexico and Texas. She teaches porcelain, ceramic, watercolor, wood-burning, oil, acrylic and wash techniques.

About Madville Publishing LLC: Madville’s mission is to present language in a playful, imaginative way. They adore code switching and regionalisms from around the world, and publish poetry, fiction, and nonfiction that straddles borders.

Invitation-Flyer-111718

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Tropes in Suspense and Thriller Markets and Venus in Retrograde

Venus fresco in the Temple of Venus, Pompeii, Italy

Venus fresco in the Temple of Venus, Pompeii, Italy

Tropes in the Thriller/Suspense category—Philanderers

Studying market trends by looking at my social media feed leads me to make interesting connections (at least in my head they are interesting connections!) I’m bewildered by the overwhelming number of novels that focus on lonely desperate women who have been either dumped or widowed by philandering men. Is this a sign of the female anima awakening? Guys, are you ALL fooling around? Or are we just interested in reading and writing these stories for fun?

FROM GOODREADS

Look at this list that GoodReads sent me this morning (note: I don’t recall ever indicating that I even like to read thrillers):

The Good Widow, by Liz Fenton:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33852868-the-good-widow?rto=x_gr_e_d_bp_sdd_bp

“Elementary school teacher Jacqueline ‘Jacks’ Morales’s marriage was far from perfect, but even in its ups and downs it was predictable, familiar. Or at least she thought it was…until two police officers showed up at her door with devastating news. Her husband of eight years, the one who should have been on a business trip to Kansas, had suffered a fatal car accident in Hawaii. And he wasn’t alone.

For Jacks, laying her husband to rest was hard. But it was even harder to think that his final moments belonged to another woman—one who had left behind her own grieving and bewildered fiancé. Nick, just as blindsided by the affair, wants answers. So he suggests that he and Jacks search for the truth together, retracing the doomed lovers’ last days in paradise.

Now, following the twisting path of that fateful road, Jacks is learning that nothing is ever as it seems. Not her marriage. Not her husband. And most certainly not his death…”

P.S. from Paris, by Marc Levy

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34036335-p-s-from-paris?rto=x_gr_e_d_bp_sdd_bp

On the big screen, Mia plays a woman in love. But in real life, she’s an actress in need of a break from her real-life philandering husband—the megastar who plays her romantic interest in the movies. So she heads across the English Channel to hide in Paris behind a new haircut, fake eyeglasses, and a waitressing job at her best friend’s restaurant.

Paul is an American author hoping to recapture the fame of his first novel. When his best friend surreptitiously sets him up with Mia through a dating website, Paul and Mia’s relationship status is “complicated.”

Even though everything about Paris seems to be nudging them together, the two lonely ex-pats resist, concocting increasingly far-fetched strategies to stay “just friends.” A feat easier said than done, as fate has other plans in store. Is true love waiting for them in a postscript?

When Never Comes by Barbara Davis

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36054954-when-never-comes?rto=x_gr_e_d_bp_sdd_bp

As a teenage runaway and child of an addict, Christy-Lynn learned the hard way that no address was permanent, and no promise sacred. For a while, she found a safe haven in her marriage to bestselling crime novelist Stephen Ludlow—until his car skidded into Echo Bay. But Stephen’s wasn’t the only body pulled from the icy waters that night. When details about a mysterious violet-eyed blonde become public, a media circus ensues, and Christy-Lynn runs again.

Desperate for answers, she’s shattered to learn that Stephen and his mistress had a child—a little girl named Iris, who now lives in poverty with her ailing great-grandmother. The thought of Iris abandoned to the foster care system—as Christy-Lynn once was—is unbearable. But she’s spent her whole life running—determined never to be hurt again. Will she finally stand still long enough to open herself up to forgiveness and love?

Tips for Living by Renee Shafransky

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36810374-tips-for-living?rto=x_gr_e_d_bp_sdd_bp

On the day Nora discovered that her husband, Hugh, had gotten another woman pregnant, she made a vow: I will come back to life no matter how long it takes…

It’s taken Nora three years. With the help of her best friend, she fled New York City for a small resort town, snagged a job as the advice columnist for the local paper, and is cautiously letting a new man into her life. But when Hugh and his perfect new family move into a summer house nearby, Nora backslides. Coping with jealousy, humiliation, and resentment again is as hard as she feared. It’s harder still when Hugh and his wife are shot to death in their home.

If only Nora could account for the night of the murders. Unfortunately, her memories have gone as dark as her fantasies of revenge. But Nora’s not the only one with a reason to kill—and as prime suspect in the crime, she’d better be able to prove it.

The Barefoot Summer by Carolyn Brown

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30739768-the-barefoot-summer?rto=x_gr_e_d_bp_sdd_bp

Leaving one widow behind is unfortunate. Leaving three widows behind is just plain despicable. Oil heiress Kate Steele knew her not-so-dearly departed husband was a con man, but she’s shocked that Conrad racked up two more wives without divorcing her first. The only remnant of their miserable marriage she plans to keep is their lakeside cabin in Bootleg, Texas. Unfortunately, she’s not the only woman with that idea.

Fiery, strong-willed Jamie wishes Conrad were still alive—so she could kill the scoundrel herself. But for their daughter’s sake, she needs that property. As does Amanda—twenty-eight, pregnant, and still weeping over the loss of her true love. On a broiling July day, all three arrive in Bootleg…with a dogged detective right behind who’s convinced that at least one of them conspired to commit murder. One momentous summer filled with revelations, quirky neighbors, and barefoot evenings on the porch offers three women the chance to make the journey from enemies to friends, and claim a bright, new beginning.

Trespassing by Brandi Reeds

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/38261058-trespassing?rto=x_gr_e_d_bp_sdd_bp

Veronica Cavanaugh’s grasp on the world is slipping. Her latest round of fertility treatments not only failed but left her on edge and unbalanced. And her three-year-old daughter, Elizabella, has a new imaginary friend, who seems much more devilish than playful. So when Veronica’s husband fails to return home from a business trip, what’s left of her stability begins to crumble.

Given her family’s history of mental illness, and Elizabella’s insistence that her daddy is dead, Veronica starts questioning herself. Every move she makes is now suspect. Worse still, Veronica is positive that someone wants her and her daughter dead, too—unless it’s all in her mind…

Somewhere beneath her paranoia is the answer to her husband’s vanishing. To find it, she’s led to a house in the Florida Keys. But once there, she isn’t sure she wants to know the truth.

Digging In by Loretta Nyhan

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/36174758-digging-in?rto=x_gr_e_d_bp_sdd_bp

In Loretta Nyhan’s warm and witty Amazon Charts bestselling novel, a widow discovers an unexpected chance to start over—right in her own backyard.

Paige Moresco found her true love in eighth grade—and lost him two years ago. Since his death, she’s been sleepwalking through life, barely holding on for the sake of her teenage son. Her house is a wreck, the grass is overrun with weeds, and she’s at risk of losing her job. As Paige stares at her neglected lawn, she knows she’s hit rock bottom. So she does something entirely unexpected: she begins to dig.

As the hole gets bigger, Paige decides to turn her entire yard into a vegetable garden. The neighbors in her tidy gated community are more than a little alarmed. Paige knows nothing about gardening, and she’s boldly flouting neighborhood-association bylaws. But with the help of new friends, a charming local cop, and the transformative power of the soil, Paige starts to see potential in the chaos of her life. Something big is beginning to take root—both in her garden and in herself.

After You Left by Carol Mason

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/33975321-after-you-left?rto=x_gr_e_d_bp_sdd_bp

You want to know what the worst thing is? It’s not the embarrassment, or the looks on people’s faces when I tell them what happened. It isn’t the pain of him not being there—loneliness is manageable. The worst thing is not knowing why.

When Justin walks out on Alice on their honeymoon, with no explanation apart from a cryptic note, Alice is left alone and bewildered, her life in pieces.

Then she meets Evelyn, a visitor to the gallery where she works. It’s a seemingly chance encounter, but Alice gradually learns that Evelyn has motives, and a heartbreaking story, of her own. And that story has haunting parallels with Alice’s life.

As Alice delves into the mystery of why Justin left her, the questions are obvious. But the answers may lie in the most unlikely of places…

What could cause this emphasis on cheating husbands?

The similarities between these stories sent my mind drifting back to a Facebook post I read yesterday about the planet Venus entering a retrograde phase:

“Venus Retrograde 2018—What to Expect”

https://astrobutterfly.com/2018/09/05/venus-retrograde-2018-what-to-expect/

Venus Retrograde 2018 starts on October 5th at 10° Scorpio. Venus retrograde will last for 40 days, until November 15th when Venus goes direct at 25° Libra. Venus is the Goddess of love and relationships. When retrograde, your relationships are being tested. You have 40 days to review, revisit, re-evaluate your love life and your relationships. If Venus Retrograde 2018 is already giving you chills, listen to this: Venus goes retrograde in Scorpio, the most intense sign of the zodiac. Death, sex, finances, and taboos – in general, what people never talk about – are Scorpio’s territory. Can you imagine what it means to have the Goddess of Love going through Scorpio? The Valley of death, the inferno? Let’s put it like this: If Romeo and Juliet was an astrological transit, it would have been Venus Retrograde in Scorpio. . . .

It’s a tenuous connection at best, but sort of fun to contemplate. Might the influence of Venus going into retrograde have made the copywriter of that GoodReads bulletin gather all the suspense and thriller titles that involved philandering men? Should we send our prayers, love and light, whatever to that poor girl who has philandering men on her mind?

Happy Sunday, y’all!

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Other Words Literary Conference in Tampa 2018

Other Words Literary Conference logo

Madville’s First Official Conference

The Other Words Conference was held at the University of Tampa, October 11-13, 2018, which turned out to be unfortunate as Hurricane Michael blew through the Florida Panhandle on October 10. This meant many writers who had planned to attend simply couldn’t get there. Still, Tampa was unaffected, and the airplanes flew, so Kim and Jacqui attended and represented Madville.

Networking

These events are largely about networking, and we sat prominently with a table at the book fair, where we offered our first two titles, An Englishman in Texas and Gunshot, Peacock, Dog. Rick Campbell, author of Gunshot, Peacock, Dog, was on hand to sign copies. In addition, Kim spoke on the subject of publishing.

Other Words Literary Conference logo

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Book Cover Design

No Evil is Wide by Randall Watson Cover

Don’t judge a book by its cover, they say

…but we all do it anyway.

Because of this, designing a book cover can be one of the most crucial and time consuming aspects of publishing a book (apart from actually writing the book, of course). The cover must be right.

When a book’s cover is wrong, can give a potential reader the wrong impression of what the book is about. This applies if the cover does not match the book’s genre; a shirtless man might draw Fifty Shades fans instead of the high-fantasy audience it was meant for. At the same time, a highbrow cover featuring abstract art might appear too “literary” for the casual reader, who will probably never read the synopsis on the cover to discover that the book is actually a YA adventure novel.

So how do I get the right cover image?

There are many ways to obtain cover art. On the more expensive end of the spectrum, an artist might be commissioned to create original artwork just for the book. It is also possible to license original artwork and photography that already exists, this is generally costly as well. If you are very lucky, you have artist friends who are willing to share their work at little or no charge. As was the case with No Evil is Wide by Randall Watson. In fact, Watson was spoiled for choice as he has an extensive personal art collection.

No Evil is Wide

Released in November of 2018, Watson’s novel is both dark and chaotic and we wanted to make sure that the cover reflected that. Watson wanted to use a piece from his personal art collection for the cover of No Evil is Wide, and there were some excellent paintings to choose from, but we ran into a snag. We didn’t have permission to use them.

Ownership of a piece of art, doesn’t mean one owns the right to reproduce that piece of art.

Ownership of a piece of art, doesn’t mean one owns the right to reproduce that piece of art. Physical ownership does not equal intellectual ownership. The author or publisher must have written permission from the artist to use their work, or a licensing agreement.

Luckily for us, Watson was able to track down one of his favorite artists despite the fact that they were out of touch for a decade. Once we received Charles Moody’s permission, we were able to create a selection of composite covers, each with a different painting of Moody’s. (see below)

Right off the bat, the third cover was simply too bright and did not match the overall theme of the novel, but we weren’t ready to give up on it, so we changed the background and typography colors, which improved it a lot, but the painting still didn’t convey a strong enough message. Similarly, the first image of the bird-headed girl, while powerful, didn’t have the violent appeal of the hand image. The bright reds in that painting screamed for our attention. We could see ourselves  picking up that bright red book at Barnes and Noble. Still, the author, Randall Watson, wasn’t sold on it, so we tried some variations.

There was still something about the red background and and the framed image that wasn’t right. The text and the image felt disconnected. Our resident millennial didn’t like how… “old” it felt—like a text book.

We had just read this Literary Hub article discussing the current fashion in covers that focuses on bold text using all-caps. We got mixed replies when we shared that article on Facebook, but I loved the bold type because it is easy to read, even on a tiny thumbnail of the cover. In addition, the font feels as though it’s a part of the image itself, not just slapped on top of a picture.

With that in mind, after playing around with fonts, colors, and layer blending modes in Photoshop, we came to our final rendition of the No Evil is Wide cover:

This cover immediately catches the eye–peaks the reader’s curiosity and makes them ask the important questions.

What’s up with that dude’s hand? It looks like he’s not having a very good time. Is that fire? Why is there an eye there? No Evil is Wide? What does that mean?

All fantastic questions that inevitably end with the most important thing you want a potential reader to think:

I’m gonna read the synopsis.

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You’ve Signed a Contract. Now What?

Quill and inkpot sitting on a document

Traditional Publishing versus Self-publishing

The publishing world has changed dramatically over the past few decades. With the ease of self-publishing now, why would you even consider traditional publishing?

  1. The traditional publisher shoulders the expense of production,
  2. With a team of professionals at their disposal, a traditional publisher can produce a more commercially competitive product than you can on your own.
  3. The traditional publisher will handle the distribution and order fulfillment for you, and
  4. They will take care of the broad strokes when it comes to marketing and promoting the book.

Working with an Agent

An agent will help you craft a synopsis, a query letter, and a marketing plan. They may suggest edits to the manuscript. If you sign a contract with that agent, you’ll be agreeing to pay them a portion of your royalties if they manage to sell your book to a publisher. If you are trying to attract the attention of a big-name publisher, you must have an agent.

The Big 5 trade book publishers in the US are:

  • Hachette Book Group—Little, Brown and Company, Faith Words, Center Street, Orbit, Yen Press, Hachette Audio, Hachette Digital, Read about Forever, Hachette’s Romance line, and Forever Yours.
  • HarperCollins—a subsidiary of News Corp., which is led by Rupert Murdoch. Their publishers and imprints include: HarperCollins; William Morrow; Avon Books; Broadside Books; Harper Business; HarperCollins Childrens; HarperTeen; Ecco Books; It Books; Newmarket Press; Harper One; Harper Voyager US; Harper Perennial; Harper Academic, and Harper Audio.
  • Macmillan Publishers—German owned with imprints around the world. Their US trade book publishers include: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; Henry Holt and Company; Picador; St. Martin’s Press; Tor/Forge; Macmillan Audio; and Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group, as well as college and academic books.
  • Penguin Random House—two giants that combined forces in 2013. Their nearly 250 imprints include: Random House Publishing Group, Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group; Crown Publishing Group; Penguin Group U.S.; Dorling Kindersley; Mass Market Paperbacks, Penguin Group U.S.; Random House Children’s Books; Penguin Young Readers Group, U.S.
  • Simon and Schuster—currently the publishing arm of CBS Corporation. Their publishing divisions and imprints include Atria, Folger Shakespeare Library, Free Press, Gallery Books, Howard Books, Pocket Books, Schribner, Simon & Schuster, Threshold Editions, and Touchstone.

However, there are many smaller independent and University backed presses. And while these smaller presses sometimes work with agents, they will be much more likely to consider your work if you approach them directly.

A cautionary tale about working with “vanity presses.”

How can you tell if a small press is reputable?

  • Read everything you can find about them online.
  • Do they charge you, the author, to publish your book?
  • Do they have an editorial review process? Or do they accept anything?
  • Do they have a distribution and fulfillment network?
  • Do they take care of the major marketing steps for you? (Ingram, Baker & Taylor, Amazon, B&N)
  • Do they publish a catalog? (Is it up to date?)
  • Do they have an online bookstore? (Is it up to date?)

You can find some lists of reputable Small and Independent Presses by following these links:

What does an agent do prior to approaching publishers?

(We are going to spend some time working on each of these three things during the workshop portion of this presentation.)

Crafting a synopsis And I mean CRAFT. This brief summary has to catch the potential editor or agent’s attention in one page or less. It should not be dry and boring; therefore, it needs as much attention as you gave your story itself. Include the humor or despair of your characters and try to include a little bit of the atmosphere of the story. 

  • Start with the plot. What is the inciting incident? What are the pivotal events within the story? What is the turning point? How does the climax show the achievement of or failure to achieve the story’s goal?
  • Add the Protagonist’s Arc. Who is your main character? What drives him or her? How does this person get into the situation motivates the plot? How does he or she handle challenges? With faith? With aggression? Or humor? At the end of the story, is this person’s life better or worse?
  • Describe important supporting characters and how they affect the protagonist’s trajectory.

Crafting a query letter (https://www.janefriedman.com/query-letters/)
This should be written in the style of a professional business letter. It should be typed, 12 pt. in some standard font like Times New Roman. It should be carefully proofed for typos, misspellings, and grammar errors. It should include the following parts:

  • Personalized salutation (do NOT send a form letter. Take the time to research the agent or editor’s name).
  • It always helps if you can mention a referral from another author the agent/editor already works with.
  • Or you may have heard the agent or editor speak at a conference, mention this.
  • Tell what sort of manuscript you have, including genre/category, word count, and title/summary. This should be no more than 100-200 words long.
  • Your bio. This is less important if you are unpublished, but it should be brief. What the editor/agent is looking for is your publishing history.
  • Thank you and closing.

Putting together a marketing plan

Create a list of potential reviewers. Who do you know?

  • Create a list of all the places you could have book signings
    Local book stores, museums, libraries, and schools. Outside your home, what other places do you frequent? Could you organize a book tour? Maybe your family members live in other cities and towns where you could plan signings.
  • Research Book Festivals. There may be several annual book festivals in your region.
  • Does your book tie in with a civic cause or organization? Think ASPCA or National Parks. With a little creativity, you could plan a promotional tour that will attract supporters of those organizations.
  • Create a list of organizations you belong to that would host a talk about your book followed by a book signing.
    Are you a member of a church? Fraternity? Sorority? Those organizations often have book clubs. See if your book would be suitable for their reading list. Rotary Club and Lions Club need speakers every month, and they buy books. Stretch your mind to include any and all organizations you belong to.

Working with an Editorial Team

What? You mean there is more than one editor involved? Yes, indeed. If you are wise, you will engage the services of at least one or two different editors described here before you ever send the manuscript out.

  • Acquisition Editor—This is the person who selects books for a publisher, this will be the editor the author actually communicates with while the book is being prepared for publication with a traditional publisher.
  • Developmental Editor—You will find these editors at larger publishing houses. They are often ghost writers. You can find freelance developmental editors who will work with non-fiction mostly, but sometimes fiction as well. They look at how well the books plot works. Does it offer forward momentum? They also address issues of characterization.
  • Content Editor—Much like a developmental editor, the content editor oversees plot development, character, voice and setting. You’ll only see this type of editor in the very large houses.
  • Copy Editor—The copy editor is the one you are sure to meet. This type of editor focuses on grammar, punctuation, fact-checking, spelling, and formatting.
  • Line Editor—The Line Editor is basically the same as the Copy Editor. They go through every inch of an MS, word by word, line by line, but they do not address things like the story arc or the voice. Their main concern is that the text is presented in a consistent, grammatically correct fashion.
  • Proofreader—A proofreader reviews the manuscript after the editor has finished. They look for any typos or grammatical errors that have been missed by the editors.
  • Critique Partner or Group—These folks are not really editors. Often they’re fellow writers who read your work in its earliest stages.
  • Beta Reader—This is someone the author shares the book with who is not a relative or close friend, and not in the publishing business. A Beta Reader should be consulted before approaching agents or publishers. For the best feedback, give the Beta Reader a questionnaire to fill out once they have read the book.

 

Editorial Timeline:

  • Author Writes Story/Book
  • Author shares Story/Book with Critique Partner or Group
  • Author rewrites and finds a Beta Reader (may be paid, but usually is not)
  • Author may hire an independent Copy/Line editor (an agent or publisher will look on you more favorably if you do this)
  • Author approaches agents and/or publishers (may also enter contests)
  • Manuscript finds its way to a publisher
  • Synopsis and author bio will be required immediately, and a cover designer will be brought aboard to design the front cover (There will be a deadline for the publisher’s seasonal catalog.)
  • Developmental or Content Editor addresses any large issues involving story arc, characterization, etc.
  • Author makes corrections.
  • Author and Publisher should both be soliciting blurbs for the back cover.
  • Copy/Line Editor addresses grammatical, formatting, and fact-checking issues
  • Production team handles typesetting, layout and design
  • Proofreader gives it one last thorough reading.
  • Cover Designer completes back cover adding in synopsis, author bio, blurbs, and ISBN bar code.
  • Book goes to press.

 

THEN THE WORK BEGINS!

Distribution

Who sells the book? YOU DO! Remember that marketing plan you made back at the very beginning of this talk? This is where that comes into play. If you are smart, your publisher will have some sort of distribution network that includes sharing their catalog with the major book distributors and wholesalers. This is something to consider before you sign a contract with anybody. Ask if they manage distribution to these wholesalers at a bare minimum (you can find more comprehensive list at https://nonfictionauthorsassociation.com/list-of-book-distributors-and-wholesalers/ ):

  • Ingram Content Group, Inc.
    (Largest supplier of books to bookstores, retailers, schools, etc.
  • Independent Publishers Group (IPG)
    (Second largest independent book distributor in the U.S.)
  • Baker & Taylor
    (Largest supplier of books to libraries. Also distributes to various retailers.)
  • Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble

So, in theory, your publisher has taken care of seeing that the book gets to the wholesalers, and should even have preorders ready to be filled as soon as the book comes out. They should also be able to help you with things like getting the book into your local bookstore so you can have a book signing there. Small bookstores are much more likely to stock your book if your publisher accepts returns.

Did you know know that the publishing industry is one of the few places where the store owner can return the merchandise if it doesn’t sell and get a 100% refund? That is why you’ll see a “returns” line on your royalty statement at the end of the year.

Reviews

Reviews of your book take place at several different times during the editorial process.

  • Often a publisher will send a promising manuscript out to independent reviewers before deciding whether or not to write a contract. These reviewers will be professionals, and they’ll write a fairly comprehensive report detaling the manuscript’s strengths and weaknesses.
  • Prepublication reviews by blurbists. These are brief, two or three sentence blurbs written by the biggest names you or your publisher have access to. They go on the back cover of the book, so these people will be reading the raw manuscript. Your publisher will be grateful if you begin to solicit this sort of review early.
  • Published reviews in newspapers, magazines, journals, and blogs are the reviews that really sell the book.
    • Ask your publisher which reviewers they send to prior to publication. (They should send to these at least 4 months prior to publication: Kirkus Reviews, The New York Times Book Review, Publisher’s Weekly, Booklist, and The Library Journal.)
    • Ask your publisher how many promotional copies they are willing to mail out for you. Negotiate for as many as you can. If they don’t have a mailing list, you will have to provide this.
    • You mail out all the promo copies your publisher is unwilling or unable to mail for you.
    • Include a sell-sheet, printed on glossy paper in full-color. It should be designed professionally if possible and should include the book cover, the brief 100-word synopsis from the back cover, the author bio, and your best couple of blurbs along with the publication date, page count, ISBN number, and price. AND DON’T FORGET TO TELL THEM WHERE TO BUY IT!

 

Contests

This is a touchy subject, since the Nobel Prize for Literature will not be awarded this year in response to a sexual abuse scandal involving the husband of one of the board members. In addition, Pulitzer prize winning author, Junot Díaz, has been acused of sexual misconduct. Aside from that, entering your book in contests is usually a great way to generate a buzz. There are a lot of contests out there, and just like the reviewer list, you’ll need to research these yourself. An interesting note here is that many of the really prestigeous contests state specifically that self-published books are not accepted. Often they will only accept nominations from the publisher. Expect to pay the entry fees yourself, while the publisher makes the nomination. Pay particular attention when reading the submission guidelines to when the book is supposed to have been published.

Poets&Writers has a great search tool for contest opportunities:  https://www.pw.org/grants

Presented by Kimberly Parish Davis
(Madville Publishing)
2018 Cuenca International Writers Conference
May 28—June 1, 2018 in Cuenca, Ecuador

 

Sources:

Friedman, Jane. “How to Write a Novel Synopsis.” Jane Friedman. June 21, 2017. Accessed May 08, 2018. https://www.janefriedman.com/how-to-write-a-novel-synopsis/.

“Infographic: The Book Reviewer’s Hierarchy of Needs.” WritersDigest.com. February 02, 2018. Accessed May 08, 2018. http://www.writersdigest.com/editor-blogs/there-are-no-rules/the-book-reviewers-hierarchy-of-needs.

Peterson, Valerie. “Discover the Big 5 US Book Publishers.” The Balance Careers. Accessed May 08, 2018. https://www.thebalancecareers.com/the-big-five-trade-book-publishers-2800047.

Strathy, Glen C. “How to Write a Synopsis of Your Novel.” How to Write a Book Now. Accessed May 08, 2018. https://www.how-to-write-a-book-now.com/how-to-write-a-synopsis.html#.