Tags: publishing

Title, Title, Who Gets to Keep Their Titles

You might think that because you wrote the book, you get to name it. And I kept my titles for my first five books, which lulled me into a state of complacency.

Since then, I've pretty much had a losing streak (and my 13th book came out this year).

Here are some examples:

Was: Point and Shoot. Publisher said: sounds like school violence. Became: Shock Point.

Was: Fire, Kiss, Electric Chair. Publisher said: sounds too violent. Became: Torched.

Was: Shadows Walking Backward. Publisher said: sounds too literary. Became: Girl, Stolen.

Was: The Girl in the Mini Cooper. Publisher said: doesn't sound scary. Became: The Night She Disappeared.

Was: Finish Her Off. Publisher said: Sounds too mafia-like. Will be published as: The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die.

Agent Chip MacGregor look at who gets to choose the title - and why.



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HarperCollins has new mystery line

HarperCollins has launched Bourbon Street Books, a new line of paperback mystery novels. They will do every type, it seems: paperback originals, reprints, backlist titles, and reissued classics.

My first book or maybe my first two with Harper had their name on the spine when they came out in paperback (if memory serves). Then the company bought Avon, which clearly had more of a budget mindset: margins were narrower, paper stock was perhaps thinner, type was smaller - two of my books had almost exactly the same number of words, yet the Avon book was much thinner.

It will be interesting to see what they do with it. They are going to take four Kathy Hogan Trocheck’s novels (the name I met her under at a dinner Harper hosted at a steak house at the Denver Bouchercon), and publish them under Mary Kay Andrews, her more successful pen name that came along later. I wonder if anyone will get confused and read them twice? They were published in the 1990s, I believe, so maybe no one's memories are that long.

Read more about the new imprint here.



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A fascinating interview with the CEO of Hyperion

There’s a great long interview with the CEO of Hyperion over at Digital Book World.

Part of it reads

EA: I’ve been looking closely at pre-orders and pre-order strategy and how that aligns with authors that we acquire and publish that have active blog sites and followers.

We’ve got a number of authors who are really good with social media and when we acquire their books, three months ahead of time, they’ll do something really interesting for their audience, like a cover-reveal, and all of the sudden, you’ll see the pre-orders build. Then you take that information to retailers and that can impact their interest in ordering more copies.

On the publication date, all of those orders release, and then it gets really quiet and euphoria dissipates because you get these mediocre daily sales for three or four weeks.

Then sales start growing and building. The core fans buy the book, and then they start talking about it and sharing it with all their friends, and then you begin to see the results of it all paying off.


Read more about what the CEO of Hyperion is thinking here.




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Sometimes I wish I lived in NYC so I could go to events like this one

I’m a member of Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCWBI) but what they offer in Oregon is (probably naturally) but a pale shadow of what you could get in NYC. For example, they have sponsor an ongoing Tuesday Professional lecture series. At a recent one, a panel of three agents - Erica Rand Silverman of Sterling Lord Literistic, Rebecca Sherman of Writers House, and Edward Necarsulmer IV of McIntosh & Otis - spoke.

Publishers Weekly covered the event. Here’s the most interesting tidbit: “Weissner asked the panel about what types of children’s and YA books are selling best, to which Necarsulmer responded, “That’s not a helpful question.” He elaborated by suggesting that writers don’t necessarily benefit from thinking about what specific kinds of books are selling at a given moment. A better question, he speculated, might be not “what” is selling, but “why.” For example, writers might want to think about why a phenomenon like the Twilight series holds such a powerful draw for readers.”

I think that’s great advice. Plus, if I were a guy I would love to be named Edward Necarsulmer IV because he sounds like a necromancer with a storied family history.

You can read more about the children’s agents’ panel here including a shout-out to our LJ friend gneri and his book Ghetto Cowboys.




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How a Inkpop helped one novice writer - and led to a 3-book deal


If you’re like me, you’ve probably seen Carrier of the Mark everyplace - what a beautiful and eye-catching cover.

There’s also an interesting backstory, as Publishing Perspectives reports:

But then she discovered Inkpop — one of the first interactive writing platforms for teens backed by a major publisher. Launched by HarperCollins in 2009, Inkpop combines community publishing, user-generated content, and social networking to connect aspiring writers of teen literature with talent-spotting readers and publishing professionals. Fallon uploaded her manuscript and almost immediately it caught the attention of readers – within three weeks it had risen to the site’s “Top Five” most read and highly rated manuscripts.

And along with its popularity came suggestions from young readers, the very same readers who would be the book’s target audience if and when it should be published. Some of their suggestions were minor; others were major, such as changing the book’s opening to give it a more immediate dramatic impact. All were taken into account as Fallon continued to work and rework her manuscript. Her reasoning? “If there’s something there that irks them, I should change it. If they don’t like it, the readers won’t either.”


Read more about this unusual - and maybe trendsetting - journey to publication here.




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Another self-pubbed author hits best-seller lists

The Wall St. Journal says that last year, 133,036 self-published titles were released. And that about 30 people sold more than 100,000 copies of their self-pubbed books on Amazon. So a lot more folks are putting out self-pubbed books than are making huge amounts of money from it.

But then there's Darcy Chan, an author whose book got turned down by many agents, and then when she got an agent, by a dozen publishers.

This past May, Ms. Chan decided to digitally publish it herself, hoping to gain a few readers and some feedback. She bought some ads on Web sites targeting e-book readers, paid for a review from Kirkus Reviews, and strategically priced her book at 99 cents to encourage readers to try it. She's now attracting bids from foreign imprints, movie studios and audio-book publishers, without selling a single copy in print

Read more about Chan's story here.

Publishing is changing so much. Sometimes I wish I was 10 years older or 10 years younger, so I didn't have to straddle the change.






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Harper Perennial finds a niche

Harper Perennial finds a niche
An article in Salon about Harper Perennial says, “The imprint nurtures young writers, orchestrates creative — occasionally quite elaborate — marketing schemes, and packages its content in gorgeously designed paperback originals. There is no star system, no bidding wars, no big names — Perennial’s biggest author is not bonus baby Chad Harbach but the moderately well-known Chad Kultgen — and the imprint keeps its costs down by offering most writers modest advances for first novels and debut story collections.”

Read more here.




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The importance of covers and blurbs

I recently ran across at article in The Awl that was absolutely fascinating. They asked several authors (one of them has replied to one of my Tweets, one of them I admire, and several I don’t know but I’m sure are really marvelous) a series of interesting questions:

- How important are covers in terms of selling a book?

- Have your publishers asked you for your opinion or “input” on your covers, and to what extent do you think they listened? Did you ever meet with the designer? How important was “marketing” in making decisions about the cover of your book(s)?

- Did you ever receive a cover that made you unhappy and if so, what did you do about it? Did you ultimately end up with a cover that made you happier?

- How important are blurbs, particularly for a first-time author?

- How did you go about getting your blurbs? Did your agent or editor help, or did you rely more on personal connections?

- Have you ever offered someone else a blurb?

There answers are all interesting - and in some cases, very, very frank!.




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New imprints for middle grade, YA launched

Who says traditional publishing is dead? Not one, but two new imprints for middle grade/young adult are launching.

Move Books will launch next fall, and will "focus on middle-grade fiction for boys, and the program may eventually expand to include picture books, chapter books, and nonfiction."

Publishers Weekly says: Since leaving Scholastic, Robinson has launched F1rst Pages, which offers online editorial services to aspiring authors; and has collaborated with editor Harold Underdown to start Kid's Book Revisions, an online service that guides authors through the revision process. And in the past several years, she has been substitute teaching, "to get a feel for the 8-12 age group of readers."

A key inspiration for starting up Move Books, Robinson explains, was her son Michael, now nine. "He struggled as a reader, and it was difficult to find books that would grab his attention, make him laugh, and make him want to read on his own," she notes. "He and his friends seem to be drawn more to nonfiction, and like a lot of boys, they tend to read for information more than for pleasure. I am hoping that the novels Move Books publishes will provide that pleasure, and will encourage boys to pick them up rather than turn to a video game."


Read more here.

And PW also reports that Algonquin Books is launching a young reader program, focusing on YA and middle grade fiction. Read more here.



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