Author Archives: Brandi Larsen

Brandi Larsen

About Brandi Larsen

Brandi Larsen is the Book Country Director. Connect with Brandi on Book Country, or on Twitter as @BrandiLarsen.

Helping Writers: My Book Country Journey

Posted by May 22nd, 2014

Brandi Larsen is transitioning from Book Country Director into a new role at Penguin.

Brandi Larsen is transitioning from Book Country Director into a new role at Penguin.

I moved my family to New York because I wanted to help writers. I believed in Book Country and was excited about this incredible online writing and publishing community and what I could do to help it grow.

Recently, I’ve been given the opportunity to help even more writers, working directly with the publishers of The New American Library, Berkley Books, and Celebra as the new Digital Publishing Director. I start Tuesday, though I won’t move far — my office will remain on the same floor as the Book Country team. Continue reading

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Excuses, Excuses: A Reason to Write

Posted by May 7th, 2014

Once I Was CoolAuthor Megan Stielstra’s forthcoming collection of personal essays, ONCE I WAS COOL, was named one of Time Out Chicago’s Most Anticipated of 2014. In addition to being an incredible storyteller, Megan is one of those people whose no-nonsense approach to writing inspires me. I asked her to share the excuses she has not to write — and how and why she still manages to get the work done. -BKL.


I have a thousand excuses not to write. They are, at best, predictable, and at worst, ridiculous: my house is gross. I have to prep for that work thing. I have to organize my Dropbox files. I have to organize my kitchen cabinets. My kitchen cabinets are gross. I am gross. I should take a shower. I should pluck my eyebrows. Why do I have to pluck my eyebrows? What subliminal societal conditioning is responsible for this desperate need to pluck? I should write about that. I should make a list of things to write about. I should make a list of things to buy at Target. I should make a list of things I have to do: work, home, writing, deadlines, deadlines, deadlines and now I’m freaking out. I need to calm down. I’ll watch an episode of Broad City, that’ll calm me down. Just one episode. Okay, two. After three, I’m done. Then I’ll write. Then. Okay, now I’m too tired to write. I’ll write tomorrow. Yeah, tomorrow.

Sound familiar? Continue reading

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Hybrid Author, Defined

Posted by April 24th, 2014

Hybrid author is one of those publishing terms you hear a lot these days. hybrid-authorWe wanted to define what it means so that writers can understand the conversation that’s happening around them.

The term usually refers to an author who has published with a traditional trade publisher such as one of the Big 5 (Penguin Random House, Hachette, Simon & Schuster, HarperCollins, Macmillan) and then decides to self-publish (either through a service like Book Country or by forming an independent team).

We’ve also heard “hybrid author” applied to writers who self-published first and then sold to a major publisher.

We’ve seen authors who first published with a smaller press and then self-published (and the reverse) also use the term.

And, we’ve seen the term applied to authors who are doing both simultaneously. It’s common for a hybrid author to have a book for sale through a traditional publisher and self-publish a second title. We’ve even seen hybrid authors who have a traditional publishing agreement for one title and self-publish novellas or short stories using the same characters. (This is often done for promotional purposes.)

One final example of a hybrid author is an author who has self-published an eBook first. She then sells the print rights for that book to a traditional publisher while retaining the electronic rights.

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Upload Your Travel Writing To Book Country

Posted by April 23rd, 2014

We’ve been talking about going places for the last couple of weeks, and we’re interested in reading about all the places you go.

Travel books are more than just facts and data on the page; they share with the reader the writer’s unique point of view of where they’ve been and why. Our favorite travel writing usually has a narrative arc that gives the reader a story to embark on from his or her armchair.

We want to see more travel writing on Book Country. If you’re working on a travel book, upload it now.

Please share with your friends, too, so that we can all go on the journey together!


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Navigation Changes on Book Country

Posted by April 21st, 2014

We’ve been listening to your feedback and we’ve made some changes to Book Country’s main site navigation.

We discovered that Book Country members were confused about where to find the manuscripts for peer review and book buyers were confused about where to purchase eBooks written by Book Country members. We realized that we could add clarity by changing the navigation for Read & Review and Publish.

Navigation ChangesIf you’re looking for a manuscript to read and share feedback, you’ll find that under the Read & Review heading in the deep blue on the far left side. Click on the Featured Manuscripts link to see which manuscripts we’re highlighting for peer review. Search Manuscripts by clicking on the last link in the navigation to find manuscripts that fit the criteria you care about the most.

Book Country Navigation ChangesIf you’re looking to buy eBooks that were published by Book Country members, the Book Country bookstore is the best place. We moved the bookstore so that it’s now underneath the eBooks heading in grey in the Publish menu on the far right side. Click on Bookstore to see the featured eBooks available for purchase. Search eBooks to find an eBook that matches your criteria.

As we promised at the re-launch, it’s our plan to continue to revise and update the site to provide the best experience for Book Country members. Please take our survey and let us know how we can make Book Country better for you.

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We Want To Hear From You!

Posted by April 17th, 2014

A few weeks ago, we sent out an email with a request: please take our quick survey so we can better serve the Book Country writing and publishing community.iStock_000018341485_Small

We’ve gotten a lot of responses, and we appreciate the time you took to share with us what you want and need from Book Country. We’re writers too, so of course we’re familiar with the revision process. We’re making changes (more on that soon!) based off your feedback.

There’s still time to make your voice heard!

Help us make Book Country better by filling out our two-minute member survey. We appreciate the feedback!

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Welcome AuthorStand!

Posted by March 3rd, 2014

Today, I’m happy to welcome writers from AuthorStand.

AuthorStand is a vibrant writing community similar to Book Country. We wanted to find a way to author_standwork with AuthorStand, as both communities are committed to helping writers create their best books. AuthorStand’s founder, Joe Niewierski, decided to join Book Country and invite AuthorStand members to the Book Country community.

AuthorStand writers are an impressive group. Collectively, they’ve shared 10,000 pieces. They’re ready to give feedback, join the conversation, publish, and get help from you on their manuscripts.

Please give our new members a warm and supportive welcome.

For AuthorStand members, here’s a great introduction to Book Country and guides to some of our most-asked questions:

Welcome, AuthorStand writers! We’re excited to get to know you and start reading your work!

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End the Year by Publishing Your Book

Posted by December 30th, 2013

If your writing goal in 2013 was to publish your book, there’s still time. Book Country is running two publishing promotions… but they end when the ball drops tomorrow night.

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A Day of Goodwill Present

Posted by December 26th, 2013

Happy Boxing Day! For those of us in the States, today is the day when we return the gifts that weren’t quite right and look for bargains (or, we avoid the mall at all costs). Outside the U.S., today is the traditional day when people give presents to those outside their core circles — employees, the friends one meant to see but didn’t. South Africa changed the name from Boxing Day to the Day of Goodwill, and I love there’s an official day on the calendar when we are compassionate and kind. (I’d love to see the greeting cards for that!)A writer's gift

Today is also my birthday. I give myself a gift of goodwill that’s difficult for me to give most other times of the year: judgment-free writing. And I return to work I’ve done with a kinder eye.

Here’s what I do:

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Why Genre Matters: Finding The Right Shelf For Your Book

Posted by December 13th, 2013

Earlier this year, Nevena wrote about how to choose a genre on Book Country. I wanted to expand on why genre matters, and how finding the right genre makes a difference in getting your book into the hands of readers who want to find your book.

We’ve talked about how once writers choose a genre (or a genre chooses you), it becomes a home. It’s where writers spend days and nights creating characters and stories for the world to embrace. Your genre is the country filled with people who want to read and write what you do.

It’s important to decide where your book fits early in the process. Otherwise, you might get stuck describing your book as a hyphen between a western-romance-mystery-literary-fiction-with-some-vampires and a chase scene, and it’s a lot like 50 Shades meets Harry Potter meets Twilight meets The Help with a protagonist a lot like Holden Caulfield, and set in 28th century France.

Here’s why your genre matters: stores, whether it’s the lovely independent on your street or Amazon, need to classify your book so they can sell it to just the right audience. Please don’t say that the audience for your book is everyone — that’s lazy and untrue. If you’re a romance writer, for example, you know there’s a big difference between the way a contemporary is written compared to a Regency. Just like you’re trying to find other like-minded writers on Book Country, retailers want to introduce your book to like-minded readers (who have expectations of what you’ll bring to the page based on the genre you selected).

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