Monday, August 28, 2017

Book Publishing Secrets with Mystery Author Leslie Karst

Book Title: A Measure of Murder (book two in the Sally Solari mystery series)
Genre: culinary mystery
Publisher: Crooked Lane Books
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?
Leslie: I’d had a vague concept of writing a culinary mystery for many years, but it wasn’t until one day when I was out jogging that the idea for my Sally Solari series came to me all in a rush. Santa Cruz had long been a sleepy beach community, home to Italian fishermen and retirees, but with the advent of the new university in the late 1960s the place had been transformed, and my town was now teeming with hipsters, hippies, and urban professionals. And along with them, the food revolution had descended full-force upon the surprised old-timers. What would happen, I wondered, if a local Santa Cruz gal suddenly found herself caught between the world of her family’s traditional, old-fashioned Italian restaurant, and that of the newly-arrived, politically-correct food activists? 
Is this your first book?
Leslie: No. A Measure of Murder is the second of the Sally Solari mysteries. Although all the books in the series focus on food, cooking, and restaurants, there’s a secondary theme to each of the stories: one of the human senses. The first book, Dying for a Taste, concerns (obviously) the sense of taste, and A Measure of Murder delves into the sense of hearing—more specifically, music. 

With this particular book, how did you publish – traditional, small press, Indie, etc. – and why did you choose this method?
Leslie: This book—as with the first Sally Solari mystery—is traditionally published by Crooked Lane Books, a crime imprint out of New York City. From the start, I wanted to find a traditional or small press publisher for the series, so that I could focus on writing and promotion, and not also have to deal with the nuts and bolts of designing, formatting, printing, and distributing the books themselves. 
Can you tell us a little about your publishing journey?  The pros and cons?
Leslie: It took over two years to write the first draft of the book, and then another three to re-write it. I was fortunate enough to have some insightful beta readers who critiqued the early version and helped me see where it needed reworking, but even after these revisions the manuscript was still “not quite there,” according to passes I continued to receive from literary agents.
After over eighty rejections I was starting to have serious doubts—about myself as a writer as well as the book—but decided I’d give it one last shot by hiring a developmental editor. I needed someone who could not only help improve the manuscript, but who could also be objective, and let me know if it was worth continuing to send out.
After this rewrite, I started querying agents again, and within a month or so I finally got “that phone call,” from Erin Niumata of Folio Literary Management. She’s a former editor herself, and steered me through further revisions before pitching the book to publishers. It still took another nine months of edits, pitches, and then some further edits, but I ultimately landed a deal with Crooked Lane Books. 
What lessons do you feel you learned about your particular publishing journey and about the publishing industry as a whole?
Leslie: Probably the most important lesson I learned was that rejections are the norm in the publishing business. Literary agents receive dozens—if not hundreds—of queries every single day, and most only represent between twenty and thirty authors at a given time. So not only does your book need to be well-written and compelling, but it needs to jump out as special to that particular agent (or acquiring editor). In other words, although getting traditionally published takes an enormous amount of hard work, it also takes a certain amount of luck—for your manuscript to land on that one agent’s desk at the particular time that the agent is looking for something just like your book. 
Would you recommend this method of publishing to other authors?
Leslie: I have been very happy with Crooked Lane Books. They not only have terrific editors, who help ensure that my books are as well-crafted as they possibly can be, but they also ensure that the books are distributed through book clubs as well as major book distributors and brick and mortar stores. Crooked Lane also has its own publicists to send the books out for reviews before they’re released. As a result, I get to spend more of my time writing and editing than I would if I were self-published. 
What’s the best advice you can give to aspiring authors?
Leslie: Never give up and never stop believing in yourself as a writer. As the fabulous developmental editor, Kristen Weber, said to me when I became discouraged after receiving so many passes on the manuscript that ultimately landed me my contract with Crooked Lane Books, “You can get hundreds of rejections, and many writers do. But remember: It only takes one yes.”



Wednesday, August 9, 2017

Book Publishing Secrets with John Herrick, Author of 'Beautiful Mess'

Name:  JohnHerrick
Book Title:  Beautiful Mess
Genre:  Mainstream fiction (romantic comedy)
Publisher:  Segue Blue
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?
Author:  Honestly, if I don’t write, I feel like a part of me dies a slow death. That might be a combination of wanting to fulfill my life’s purpose and the imbalanced nature of an artist. Every artist seems to be a little screwed up! But I love to explore people—observe what they do, consider why they do it, and imagine how they might respond in various situations. That’s the essence of writing a novel.
Why did I write Beautiful Mess? I love ensemble casts and wanted to write a fun ensemble romantic-comedy. The original inspiration for the Marilyn Monroe angle hit me when I read a biography about the actress. I learned she spent time—against her will—in a mental institution. I couldn’t shake that idea. I wondered how that experience might have affected her. Did it leave scars? Did it make her paranoid? Did it break her heart? Somehow, the ensemble and Marilyn Monroe ideas clicked.
You can find out more about Beautiful Mess at my website, www.johnherrick.net. 
Is this your first book?
Author:  Beautiful Mess is my fourth novel. I also have a nonfiction book out. Every book is different, and each project offers the opportunity to improve your craft. Learning never stops.
With this particular book, how did you publish – traditional, small press, Indie, etc. – and why did you choose this method?
Author:  Small indie press. I love the collaborative nature, having the opportunity to be personally involved in every aspect of the book, not just as a writer, but in the book design, its market positioning, strategy. It also allows me more freedom to experiment where needed, to grow as a writer while bearing in mind the commercial aspect of the book.
Can you tell us a little about your publishing journey?  The pros and cons?
Author:  I fell in love with writing when I was 8 years old, so entering adulthood with years of practice and refinement under my belt were an advantage. My first opportunity to write for the public was writing commercial copy for a radio station, which gave me firsthand experience adapting my approach to meet a need. I had to ask myself, “Who’s my audience? What do they care about? How can I get my message across in a way that intrigues them? How far can I stretch without alienating them? What goal does the client want to achieve?” That’s what writing a book boils down to. It’s not simply telling a story; it’s telling your story in a targeted way that accomplishes goals. It’s a matter of looking for win-win scenarios, identifying a niche that nobody has met, and filling that gap. To paraphrase music producer Pharrell Williams, you identify your lane and occupy it.
One “pro” is the relationships you build along the way—the opportunity to collaborate with people who are great at what they do, who know more about particular areas than you do, and glean from them. Another pro is that it hones your skills, forcing you to evaluate all your good ideas, identify the best one, then invest a chunk of your life developing the best possible experience for your readers.
The “con” is that it always takes longer that you wish it would. If you’re starting out as a writer and have an idea of how long you expect the process to unfold, it’s probably a good idea to multiply that timeframe by 5 or 10. You’ll undergo a lot of rejection, get your heart broken, and be forced to either grow stronger or quit. But it’s worth pressing forward! (And that con turns into a pro, because it helps you develop patience. It disciplines you to think and plan long-term.)
What lessons do you feel you learned about your particular publishing journey and about the publishing industry as a whole?
Author:  Everything takes time. My attitude plays a significant part—I try to identify as many things to celebrate as possible and view the journey as a chance to learn. A large project appears daunting, but the key is to make it practical. Break it down into smaller, achievable parts. It’s OK to start small.
Would you recommend this method of publishing to other authors?
Author:  Sure. Find the method that offers a win-win scenario, where you achieve your goals as an artist and you meet the needs of the team that represents you.
What’s the best advice you can give to aspiring authors?
Author:  Be kind. To everyone. Trust me.


Friday, July 21, 2017

Book Publishing Secrets with Thriller Author George A. Bernstein

Genre: Suspense
Publisher: GnD Publishing LLC
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?
George: I was able to retire fairly early, and my wife said, “You don’t love golf or playing cards. Why don’t you write a novel?” I was always a good storyteller, and had written several articles for national fishing magazines, so it seemed like a good idea. I began my first suspense novel, Trapped, in 1990. I attended several writers’ conferences and seminars, learning to polish my craft. Good writing takes more than just natural talent.
Is this your first book?

George: No, this is my fifth, and the third of my Detective Al Warner series. I have two more outlined and one, the 4th Warner novel, partially written
With this particular book, how did you publish – traditional, small press, Indie, etc. – and why did you choose this method?
George: The Prom Dress Killer is published by small indie publisher, GnD Publishing LLC, in which I have an interest. They are now the publishers for all 5 of my novels.
Can you tell us a little about your publishing journey?  The pros and cons?
George: In the beginning, I researched agents, wrote the best query letters I could … and fielded the form letter rejections, one after another. I attended writers conferences, pitched editors and agents, several of which agreed to read Trapped, but still ultimately rejected it. However, I got some good feedback, rewrote the novel, removing a side plot that I loved after both an agent and an editor suggested it … and then fielded more rejections. Meanwhile, I began my next novel, and then miraculously, after only 20 years, Trapped was selected as “The Next Great American Novel” by TAG Publishers, a small traditional publisher, and went on to become an Amazon Top 100 novel, with loads of 5-Star reviews. Getting traditionally published takes unending preservation and a very thick skin.  Be prepared for failure.
Because of this, many authors opt for self-publishing. The problem most have, however, is they don’t do the work required to become a great author. And few of them spend the money for a good editor, which can run well over $2000 for a typical manuscript. Their finished product reflects those omissions. If you just want to write your novel and don’t really care about sales, that’s fine. The typical self-published novels rarely sells 100 copies over its entire life.
What lessons do you feel you learned about your particular publishing journey and about the publishing industry as a whole?
George: Don’t give up; be willing to accept constructive criticism and make changes in you “baby”; and keep writing. Most author’s first novel don’t sell, and stories of famous authors surviving years of rejection before “hitting it big” are legion.
Would you recommend this method of publishing to other authors?
George: If you’re determined to find a traditional publisher, you MUST get an agent – no daunting task. Most publishers will not even consider an unagented work. The best path to finding an agent is by attending writers’ conferences that feature agent and editor pitch sessions. Agents you meet there will often look at works they would never glance at through normal query channels.
What’s the best advice you can give to aspiring authors?
George: Write what you MUST, not what you think you SHOULD, based on current trends. By the time you finish your book, the current fad will have run its course. You’ll always do a better job on a story you’re passionate about