Sunday, May 17, 2015

Book Publishing Secrets with Joan Schweighardt, author of 'The Accidental Art Thief'

Name: Joan Schweighardt
Book Title: The Accidental Art Thief
Genre: Fiction, with a touch of magical realism
Publisher: Twilight Times Books
Find The Accidental Thief on Amazon.
Thank you for your time in answering our questions about getting published.  Let’s begin by having you explain to us why you decided to become an author and pen this book?
Joan:  The Accidental Art Thief is actually my fifth novel, so I caught the writing bug quite some time ago. Regarding this book though, years back I misspelled my friend’s email address and my email went to a stranger and we became good friends. I always knew that bit of serendipity was something I would fictionalize one day. It doesn’t have everything to do with the plot of the book, but it is the event at its core.
Is this your first book?
Joan:  My other novels are Island, Homebodies and Virtual Silence, all published by The Permanent Press, and Gudrun’s Tapestry, a historical novel published by Beagle Bay Books. And, I have just finished a new novel, which I hope to have with an agent very soon.
With this particular book, how did you publish – traditional, small press, Indie, etc. – and why did you choose this method?
Joan:  We would all be lying if we said that we went with small presses because we preferred small presses with small budgets to top presses with big budgets and connections to TV and other media. But that is not to say the quality of a book is determined by the size of the press. Big presses have their own agenda for choosing books. I know something about this because I was a publisher for a while and I have also done some agenting for various writers. Big presses for the most part want to see numbers. A writer who did super well with sales of a previous book can walk into a big
house and call the shots, no matter how bad the second book is. That’s what book doctors are for. On the other hand, if you’ve had a string of books published and none of them broke out, your doomed, unless you’re willing to change your name and turn your back on your “baggage.” All that said, Twilight Times is a good small press. I’m pleased with how many edits they’re willing to provide and how far they’re willing to go to ensure their writers are happy with their covers, etc.

Can you tell us a little about your publishing journey?  The pros and cons?
Joan:  Collectively, my five books have been published by three publishers that range from small to medium. All my publishing experiences have been good.
What lessons do you feel you learned about your particular publishing journey and about the publishing industry as a whole?
Joan:  My first novel was published in the mid 90s. Back then if the book didn’t come out in hardcover, there was no way Publishers Weekly or the other trades would consider a review. And if you didn’t get reviewed in the trades, there was no way chains like Barnes and Noble would order your book from your publisher’s distributor. And if you didn’t get into BN…. You get the picture. The top publishers and the top chains and the top trades ran the show. If you couldn’t play by their rules, you didn’t play. Today we have democracy in the book world. Anyone can get published because if you can’t find a publisher or you want more control, you can affordably self publish. You can get books on demand, as you need them. (In the old days it was too expensive to do a print run of less than 3000 books, which could cost as much as $25,000.) And of course now we have e books. The industry is totally changed. The problem now is that there are so many writers out there competing for a piece of the pie, and the pie is shrinking all the time. There’s no good reason to get into this fray unless you are totally addicted to writing.
Would you recommend this method of publishing to other authors?
Joan:  I would recommend that all people who love to write write. It’s good for the head and for the soul too. You might be one of the lucky ones to go to the head of the class.
What’s the best advice you can give to aspiring authors?
Joan: Marketing is everything. If you don’t have mega bucks to pay a PR team, learn as much as you can about how to do your own PR. And start your marketing campaign before the book comes out, not after. Books have the shelf life of a house fly.

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