Monthly Archives: June 2014

LGBT Writing and Publishing with Emanuel Xavier

Posted by June 30th, 2014

Emanuel Xavier by Sophia WallaceToday, our blog guest is Emanuel Xavier, a colleague of ours here at Penguin Random House who works in Special Markets Sales. Outside of work, he’s a dynamo novelist, poet, performer, and activist. Below he clues us into how to support LBGT writing and publishing during Pride Month and beyond.

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Lucy Silag: At Penguin Random House, you are the chair of the LGBT Network. What does the PRH LGBT Network do?

Emanuel Xavier: Random House participated in the It Gets Better campaign, and we realized the time was right for us to launch an LGBT group. We created the group to provide a supportive environment to all employees who share the common idea of nurturing workplace diversity and also increase awareness of LGBT authors and books within the community. We wanted to highlight the fact that our company publishes many LGBT books, as well as do more for the LGBT literary community. We have since taken part in The Rainbow Book Fair, sponsored the Lambda Literary Awards, marched in the NYC Pride March and raised thousands for GMHC by participating in the AIDS Walk New York. We also host in-house author events and social mixers and display our LGBT titles in the lobby for National Coming Out Day. It’s important for publishing companies like ours to visibly support LGBT literature.

Penguin Random House employees march in the 2014 NYC Pride March.

Penguin Random House employees march in the 2014 NYC Pride March.

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Alys Arden: Early Feedback on THE ROMEO CATCHERS

Posted by June 27th, 2014

THE ROMEO CATCHERSAt this year’s RT Booklovers Convention, we raffled off 1-on-1 manuscript feedback sessions with yours truly. Book Country member Alys Arden was one of the winners. It’s fitting that she won this package, because the first book I ever read and reviewed on Book Country was THE CASQUETTE GIRLS, which Alys published on Halloween 2013. Now she’s hard at work on the sequel, THE ROMEO CATCHERS. As a big fan of the first book, I was super excited to jump into the next volume.

As usual, reading the work of another writer was very helpful to me in thinking about my own views about good writing. Much of my review will only make sense if you’re also reading her book (which you should!), but I wanted to share a few takeaways that I hope will resonate for the rest of the community as they write and revise their books.

 

What’s working:

I am not a huge fan of prologues. Writers need to win over readers from the very first sentence, and I think writers have more success when they immediately include concrete details about setting, specific characterizations, and most importantly, strive for clarity. Prologues, on the other hand, tend to be vague and sometimes dreamlike. They often hint at a situation that for which the reader does not yet have a context. This can be confusing and even off-putting to readers. I think the reason Alys succeeds here is because the prologue is a self-contained story. It does the job of hinting to the reader of what’s to come–historical significance, a later threading in of this urban legend–but it’s also enjoyable for its own sake. Continue reading

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New Waiting to Be Discovered Books!

Posted by June 26th, 2014

Waiting to Be Discovered Book Country

We’ve just updated our Waiting to Be Discovered section with new books for you to enjoy! Giving and receiving feedback are what make Book Country such a supportive online place for aspiring authors. Take a look at these titles below and get inspired!

  1. Run by Rachelle Legg
  2. In Plain Sight by Sephira Allen
  3. The People on the Bus by John W. Cohen
  4. The Magic Appreciation Society by Virage
  5. Awaking Arion by M. L. Mundy
  6. The False Rose by TimCaseyAuthor
  7. A Bloody Good Time in Merry Old England by I G Palmer
  8. Youngheart by Emily Wallmann
  9. Fish Camp on the River Road by Rob Emery
  10. The King’s Key by Jesse L. Cook

What are you reading this summer? Share in the discussion boards.

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Isn’t All Immigrant Fiction Essentially Dystopian Fiction?

Posted by June 25th, 2014

Chang-rae LeeWhat does Immigrant Fiction and Dystopian Fiction have in common? You might be surprised! Award-winning Riverhead Books author Chang-rae Lee shares how is recently published book, ON SUCH A FULL SEA, reveals the dystopian nature of the immigrant story. 

 

I wasn’t intent on creating a “dystopian” tale while I was writing On Such a Full Sea. This might seem hard to believe given the society I describe in the novel: a future world beset by environmental contamination and rigidly partitioned by class, where the ultra-rich live in securely gated ‘villages’, workers spend their entire lives in cloistered production settlements, and the citizens of the wild and unregulated ‘open counties’ that surround them are left to survive wholly on their own. Certainly when I was young I was an admirer of classic novels of dystopia such as 1984 and Fahrenheit 451, but in fact, in writing this book I didn’t want any models of the genre to guide me. I was simply working the way I have always worked, which is to imagine characters who find themselves at a pivotal moment in their lives, characters who are questioning their place in their families and communities and, in turn, that community’s place in the wider world. In this regard, I consider On Such a Full Sea to be more of an extension of my previous novels than any radical departure. Continue reading

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How to Use the Cover Designer on Book Country

Posted by June 24th, 2014

Like it or not, books ARE judged by their covers. Having an eye-catching and attractive book cover can persuade more readers to read and review your book. Our free and easy-to-use Cover Designer can help you create a polished cover. The following step-by-step guide shows you how to use the Cover Designer.

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Book Cover Design Tips from Dave Walker

Posted by June 23rd, 2014

Book Covers Designed By Dave Walker

Book covers designed by Dave Walker.

We live in an entertainment universe where we are constantly over-stimulated with hi-def images and sound. As a freelance art director and book cover designer for the past 15 years, I’ve had to remind clients—and sometimes myself—that books are the opposite of that. A book cover is not a video or an animated GIF. It cannot move or make noise. We can’t try to force it to sing and dance. Books sit there patiently waiting for us to discover them. The cover is your vehicle to pull someone in, to give the potential reader a little sneak peak inside the book and to set the tone for what’s inside. You don’t have to tell the whole story—actually, as I’ll explain later, you shouldn’t even try.

When I first started designing covers I spent a lot of time in bookstores simply looking at books—15 years later I still make time to visit my local bookshops to see what other designers are doing, and to find inspiration. Outside of the broad categories of fiction and nonfiction there are myriad kinds of books and they all have a general feel and style—self-help, memoir, biography, cookbook, how-to, etc. Just like shoes and clothes, book cover designs have popular styles that come and go and evolve over time. You can feel an older design the same way you can feel an older model of car. This is part of the reason why publishers will repackage books after they start to look dated. Head down to your local bookseller (or, not as good, but still effective: browse online) and see what books in your particular category look like. They won’t all be the same, but you’ll start to get an idea of what publishers have found to be successful and, more importantly, what readers currently expect to see on a cover. Here I should state that you are not there looking to rip-off someone else’s design (although it goes on quite a bit, I’m sure you’re better than that). Inspiration good; stealing bad.

Whenever I design a cover—no matter what the subject—I ultimately want it to say one simple thing: “pick me.” I want to compel someone browsing online to click the cover and give the book a chance. You can’t always pinpoint what it is, but some books you just want to see what’s inside. Many times in print this is accomplished with fancy production effects like embossing, glossy varnish, or an unusual paper stock. But it can also be accomplished with a great typeface and just the right image. Maybe it’s a unique color combination, a contrast in type styles, an enticing title or subtitle.

A Few Book Cover Design Tips:

Keep your type simple and readable. Unless you have a real flair for type design you should just stick to basic, strong, readable fonts. A really cool font that is tough to read does more harm than good. Think carefully about colors and composition. Light type on a light background is tough to read. Small type placed on an image can disappear. Continue reading

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Share your LGBTQ Writing on Book Country

Posted by June 20th, 2014

share your GLBT Writing on Book CountryWe celebrate LGBTQ writing all year round, of course, but during Pride Month we want to take a minute to highlight the areas of our Genre Map that especially focus on LGBTQ themes: F/F Romance, M/M Romance, and Young Adult LGBTQ.

Curious to learn more about these growing genres? Eager to share and get feedback on your LGBTQ writing from a community of like-minded writers? Join us on Book Country. It’s a safe and supportive space to develop writing with LGBTQ themes, no matter what genre you write.

Introduce yourself to the community here!

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Read Top Rated Books on Book Country

Posted by June 19th, 2014


top rated june 2014

We selected 10 new books to be featured in the Top Rated carousel on the Read and Review page. The insightful feedback you give to your peers help make Book Country such a wonderful and supportive community for writers. We are excited to share with you the books that garnered so much positive feedback!

  1. Running Home by K Bieker
  2. Heathered by Anna Spargo Ryan
  3. And The Last Shall Be First by Tom Wolosz
  4. Red: Pride by Joe Niewierski
  5. Rerun by Tori Brooks
  6. Just Another Love Letter by Rebecca Hodgkins
  7. Twilight Path by Charl F. King
  8. London Comfort by Henry Scott
  9. The Secrets of Shadows by Tabetha Waite
  10. The Dragon and the Phoenix by Michael Guarneiri

We hope reading these great books and their feedback inspires you!

Working on dialogue? Ask for help in the discussion boards

 

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Why I Love My Book Cover by Elizabeth Andrews

Posted by June 18th, 2014

HuntingMedusa cover.jpgThis is going to sound just terrible, but as a reader, I rarely shop for books by the cover art.  When I go shopping for books, I almost always have a list of books I’ve culled from favorite authors’ websites, or recommendations from readers I trust. I can appreciate all of the lovely covers on the shelves in the store–though I will profess a bit of a bias against all the copy-cat covers on erotic romances these days–fruit and flowers?  Those do not scream “hot romance” to me.  Give me a hot, shirtless hero on the cover, whether he’s alone or with his heroine. I am, after all, a romance fanatic.

That is one big reason why the cover for my book HUNTING MEDUSA makes me so happy when I look at it. (And, okay, I might have petted it a few thousand times.) But it isn’t just the mostly-naked hunk looking all broody and dangerous. No, the talented artist who worked on my cover art managed to work a bit of the setting into the background, and there’s the heroine, defiant and still vulnerable. Plus there’s a nifty little symbol tucked into the corner that will continue throughout the trilogy, and that makes me smile. The first time I saw it absolutely thrilled me, seeing all those little touches put together after all the work I’d put into the book. Plus, seeing the cover art made the book feel even more real than everything leading up to that point. Continue reading

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Member Spotlight: Meet Middle Grade Writer Sherrie Petersen

Posted by June 17th, 2014

Member Spotlight: Sherrie PetersenToday we are talking to Book Country member Sherrie Petersen, whose book WISH YOU WEREN’T is a June Editor’s Pick. Connect with Sherrie on Book Country, and read on to find out more about her experience with beta readers, designing her own cover, and why she loves writing for middle graders. 

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Lucy Silag: Congrats on publishing your first book, WISH YOU WEREN’T. Tell us the story of how the book came to be, and how you brought it into the world.

Sherrie Petersen: I wrote the first page of this story several years back after watching stars with my kids one night. It was right before a writer’s conference where I had the chance to get feedback from an agent, an editor and an author. (Someone else read the page out loud, thankfully!) All three of them loved the voice, the setting, the mood that page evoked – they wanted to read more. That totally encouraged me to keep going. And despite many rewrites, the first page has stayed essentially the same. Continue reading

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