Tag Archives: publishing

Andrew Unger: Q&A with BookCourt’s Events Manager

Posted by October 26th, 2015

Andrew UngerToday we welcome Andrew Unger to the Book Country blog. Andrew is the Events Manager at BookCourt, the celebrated Brooklyn bookstore famous for its well-stocked events program featuring New York’s most distinguished authors as well as brand new talent. Andrew will be on the “Building a Writing Community Online + Off” panel co-hosted by Book Country on Wednesday night, October 28th, 2015, at 7pm at BookCourt.

Lucy Silag: Tell us about BookCourt and how it fits into the Brooklyn community of writers.

Andrew Unger: “BookCourt is a monument, a university, and a party in slow motion. It doesn’t have to take over the world because it is the world.” — Jonathan Lethem

It’s no surprise that Jonathan Lethem said it best. The store was opened by Henry Zook and Mary Gannett in 1981. It was one room, a former barber shop, with a modest selection of fiction, non-fiction, and children’s titles. They bought the building in 1983. In 1996 Albert, who owned the flower shop next door, wanted to move to Florida and so sold his building to Mary and Henry in 1996. In 2008, they removed the greenhouse behind the old flower shop and added what is perhaps the store’s most defining characteristic, a giant, book-lined reading space. Hoisted above the ceiling, at the apse of the room, is a beautiful skylight. Today the store boasts one of the largest inventories in Brooklyn.

With the addition of the “Greenhouse,” the events series at BookCourt hit a high gear. In the seven years since it was built, the store has grown to accommodate the flush of writers and the wave of gentrification overtaking the neighborhood. In a given week, BookCourt might host ten different authors, four writing workshops, a book club, and a number or stock signings. It is a haven for readers, it’s an intellectual playground to a whole generation of neighborhood children, and it’s a university to writers from across the city.

BookCourt interior

Interior at BookCourt, courtesy of Google Maps.

LS: Why should writers hang out at Bookcourt?

AU: BookCourt is like a living, breathing MFA program. We’ve hosted Junot Diaz, Richard Ford, Don DeLillo, David Sedaris, Lou Reed, Elvis Costello, and I could keep going. It’s such a stupidly impressive list of authors. Those events give you goosebumps. Junot Diaz talked for over an hour about his process, his growth as a writer and listened and responded to almost every single attendee, a room of over 300 people. This is an amazing opportunity. But this isn’t entirely the reason writers congregate at BookCourt. Continue reading

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How Can Published Authors Use Book Country?

Posted by September 23rd, 2015

 

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When I’m telling writers about the Book Country community, I often get asked how writers who’ve already published can get involved on the site. Here are a few ways how published authors can use Book Country:

Have a book coming out?

Writers of all levels of experience use Book Country to workshop their manuscripts. We have 1:1 feedback on Book Country, which means that members have to review another writer’s book before they can post their own. We find that for a member’s first review, they are most likely to review a book with a great professional cover, a sharp synopsis, and, of course, a lower word count. Published authors can upload an excerpt of their forthcoming book as a preview. On Book Country, we have a built in audience of members seeking things to read. Just be sure and let the community know that what you upload is your final draft, and be prepared to get suggestions for revision even if you’re not going to use the feedback right now–it might be useful to you later. Be sure to include when and where folks can buy the book when it’s out! You can see how Penguin Intermix author Alex Rosa did this for her book TRYST before it came out last spring.

Already have a book out?

Again, using Book Country as a place to showcase an excerpt is a great way to give your book exposure to a built in audience. This is how I found out about Jessica Hawkins’s book COME UNDONE, and now her Cityscape series is one of my all-time favorite romance trilogies. Book Country’s blog and discussion boards can also help published authors brainstorm new ideas for marketing and promotion (check out how GD Deckard is sharing his experience using Google Adwords for his book THE PHOENIX DIARY), and connecting with other writers will help you build a network of contacts. Last week, when Book Country member Janice Peacock’s cozy mystery HIGH STRUNG was rereleased by Booktrope, she was interviewed on member DJ Lutz’s blog. These two met on the site and have been supporting each other ever since. Continue reading

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Upcoming Q&A with Book Country Member Marshall Ryan Maresca, Author of A MURDER OF MAGES

Posted by June 30th, 2015

Q&A with Book Country Member Marshall Ryan Maresca, Author of A MURDER OF MAGES

Book Country member Marshall Ryan Maresca’s new fantasy novel, A MURDER OF MAGES, comes out July 7th! A MURDER OF MAGES was picked up by DAW Books, an imprint of Penguin Random House.

Marshall’s debut novel, THE THORN OF DENTONHILL, was workshopped on Book Country and published by DAW Books last February.

Marshall has been wonderfully supportive on Book Country. He shared awesome tips about the world-building process on the Book Country blog.

Marshall will be answering questions about querying, writing, and the publishing process on July 8, 2015. This is a great opportunity to learn what it’s like being a published author!

Post your questions in the discussion thread: Q&A with Book Country Member Marshall Ryan Maresca, Author of A MURDER OF MAGES.

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About Marshall Ryan Maresca

Q&A with Book Country Member Marshall Ryan Maresca, Author of A MURDER OF MAGES

Connect with Marshall on Book Country and on Twitter. Visit him on the web at blog.mrmaresca.com. Marshall is represented by Mike Kabongo of the OnyxHawke Agency. THE THORN OF DENTONHILL is on sale now. A MURDER OF MAGES comes out July 7, 2015.

 

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Ask a Literary Agent: Nephele Tempest Answers Your Questions!

Posted by May 27th, 2015

Ask a Literary Agent: Nephele Tempest Answers Your Questions!We’re happy to have literary agent Nephele Tempest share her experience with the Book Country community! Nephele has been a member of The Knight Agency since 2005 and is based in Los Angeles. Nephele is currently seeking works in a wide variety of genres, including literary fiction, romance, and young adult.

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If you feel that a novel from a first-time author is strong (style, voice, premise, etc.) — but, could use some changes (more than simple tweaking) — are you likely to say to the author: Make these changes and then send it back to me? – Val

I have definitely done this in the past, but it’s the exception rather than the rule. If I really love a story concept and think the writing is strong, I will occasionally make a few suggestions to the author with an offer to reread if they decide to follow up. Not everyone takes my suggestions, but I have seen revised manuscripts in this way. On one occasion, I did end up signing the author. We did a few more rounds of revisions once I had signed her on before I submitted the book to editors and sold it. The first round of edits she performed before I signed her on showed me that she was capable of following directions and that she was willing to work to get the book to a salable point. These are great qualities to see in a client.

As a member of the Book Country community of writers, I have a manuscript (Historical Fiction/Personage) that lately has been receiving five nib (star) reviews. The book is virtually finished, but I am in a quandary as to whether to seek an agent or self-publish. I have worked on this story for many years, and it is the advice from other writers that has helped me bring the novel to this point. – Rob Emery

Only you can decide whether you are interested in going the traditional publishing route or if you want to self-publish. Each route has its advantages and disadvantages. The traditional route can be time-consuming, but you end up with a group of people working for you to help get your book into the world — an agent, an editor, a marketing department and sales team, etc. If you self-publish, you still need those people and will need to find them and pay them for their work. I recommend you research both ways of doing things and pick the route that seems best for you. Either way, give the process time to work. Commit to the choice you make and really put in the time and effort to make your book a success. Too often I receive queries from authors who have self-published a few months ago and aren’t happy with the results, so they now want to try again the traditional way. I can’t really do anything for them because all they’ve done is create a poor sales history for their project that will make it hard for me to sell to a publishing house. So whatever route you choose, give it your all. Continue reading

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Ask a Literary Agent: Regina Brooks Answers Your Questions!

Posted by May 20th, 2015

Ask a Literary Agent: Regina Brooks Answers Your Questions!

Regina Brooks is the founder and CEO of Serendipity Literary Agency LLC. In November 2010, Brooks co-founded and launched a new publishing imprint under Akashic Books called Open Lens. Regina shares the one thing all successful writers have in common and what writers should do to build a readership.

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What do you do if a book by one of your clients gets a cover that you find really ugly, but the publisher and the author love it? Do you hold your tongue or do you put in your 2 cents? – Lucy Silag

This has happened several times in the last several months. When evaluating covers, I use the following criteria as my first line of communicating my hesitation on a design.

  • Does the author’s name appear clear and strong? Sometimes the title or other features can overshadow the author’s name on a cover. I’m always sensitive to making sure we build the author’s brand and the name is showcased prominently.
  • Does the cover incorporate a color palette that will resonate with the audience appropriately? For example, business books often use black, red, or blue. Girl books for younger audiences typically incorporate purples, pink, or yellow. Of course, covers can certainly veer from these conventions, but many years of research and theory have gone into selecting colors that work. One of my authors Elizabeth Harper has taught me a lot about colors and how they are received.
  • Does the cover show up well in a thumbnail size? There are often wonderful fonts and illustrations that work well in the print version but get lost in the ebook format. These days many consumers will first discover a book online, so it’s important that the title and author’s name are readily visible.
  •  Does the cover speak to the core demographic? There might be confusion as to whether the book is for women,  millennials, academics, etc. The cover needs to strike a chord with the target audience.

I’ve been in the business for 20 years, so I’ve seen my share of ‘ugly’ covers. Aesthetics are very subjective, so I tend to table my commentary unless I have something clear and focused that speak to the questions I’ve mentioned  above. If it’s just a matter of taste, I will certainly tell my author, but I will often acquiesce to the author and editor if they are in sync. Continue reading

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Ask a Literary Agent: Mary C. Moore Answers Your Questions!

Posted by May 13th, 2015

Ask a Literary Agent: Mary C. Moore Answers Your Questions!Please welcome literary agent Mary C. Moore to our latest round of Ask a Literary Agent! Mary is a Bay Area-based agent at Kimberley Cameron & Associates who loves representing authors who write unusual fantasy, grounded science fiction, and strong female characters.

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When reading a query letter for a work of fiction (esp. fantasy/sci-fi), I know that having both strong characters and a strong plot are important. But which will make you more likely to keep reading and why? – Vanessa Silva

For me personally, the opening scene has to have forward-moving action. If an author spends a lot of time giving back story, they lose my interest. I want to feel like I jumped in the car with you and we took off for an adventure. This doesn’t mean the action has to be “high-stakes exciting” per se, it just has to have momentum. Continue reading

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Member Spotlight: Meet Speculative Fiction Writer Gloria Oliver

Posted by April 7th, 2015

Member Spotlight: Meet Speculative Fiction Writer Gloria OliverWe’re happy to have Book Country member Gloria Oliver with us today! Gloria is currently workshopping INNER DEMONS, an urban fantasy novel. INNER DEMONS is one of April’s Editor’s Picks on Book Country. INNER DEMONS was published by Mundania Press in early 2014. Gloria shares what it means to be a speculative fiction writer and tips on choosing the perfect title.

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Lucy Silag: Tell us more about yourself. How did you become a writer, and how did you find your way to Book Country?

Gloria Oliver: As I kid, I always had a hard time falling asleep. This led me to making up stories in my head to entertain myself until slumber finally came. One day, one of these stories kept bugging me to actually put it on paper – so I did. A few years later, the bug bit me again as I got a neat idea for a fantasy novel, and this time the infection set in deep. I’ve not looked back since.

I heard about Book Country back when it was being put together. The day job at the time had slow days here and there, and I’d found out about an evil Outlook add-on that would convert Twitter items to email and put them into a personal folder. This was just around the time social media was catching on big time, and I followed people like Kristen Lamb, Chuck Wendig, and many other writers and publishers. Through them, I learned of Colleen Lindsay from Penguin and followed her as well. And soon after Colleen started talking about a venture she was very excited about – a “Sekret Projekt” she was involved in, one where she and her peers hoped to create a place where authors could meet, share, help each other, and create a long lasting community.

Colleen even did a ‘reveal’ presentation in Dallas during the DFW Writers Conference back in 2011. The goals and concept of Book Country sounded fascinating and well thought out, so I signed up! Continue reading

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What It Feels Like to Have Penguin Publish My Book by Alex Rosa

Posted by March 17th, 2015

What It Feels Like to Have Penguin Publish My Book by Alex Rosa

Congratulations to Book Country member Alex Rosa on the release of her New Adult novel TRYST! We are thrilled to see this day finally arrive. You can purchase TRYST on all major e-retailers. Alex shares what it feels like to have Penguin publish her book below. 

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When a young girl (that being me) dreams of becoming a writer someday, she is aware it’s a daunting dream to take on. Especially when your hero Jane Austen says in one of your favorite movies (Becoming Jane) with such pleading hopefulness, “Maybe I could live by my pen?” and her mother just laughs. It’s an ugly-cry-worthy moment for an aspiring writer. You just hug your notebook close and remind yourself that Jane Austen totally made it. She showed them all, but you’re still all like:

What It Feels Like to Have Penguin Publish My Book by Alex RosaBut armored with this fact, I still made the ultimate decision to never stop writing, even if it was in secret or anonymously posted online. Whatever, same difference.

Now flash forward to age twenty-six. I still have Jane Austen dreams, but I now have a publishing deal. Wait, hold the phone. How did this happen? Continue reading

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VIDEO: Author Alex Rosa Shares How Penguin InterMix Picked Up TRYST On Book Country

Posted by March 4th, 2015

Watch our interview with Book Country member Alex Rosa as she shares how her New Adult novel, TRYST, got the attention of an editor at Penguin Random House. TRYST was picked up by Penguin InterMix and comes out March 17, 2015. Congratulations, Alex!

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How I Turned My Hilarious Love Life into a Science Experiment (and later a Novel) by Melissa Pimentel

Posted by February 4th, 2015

LOVE BY THE BOOK by Melissa Pimentel

Melissa Pimentel is the author of the newly published LOVE BY THE BOOK, which details her foray into following a different dating guide for a month in London and blogging about her experience. This “science experiment” eventually led to Melissa landing a publishing deal with Penguin Books! Melissa shares her whirlwind journey to publication with us below. 

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  1. First there was the idea. It was 2009, and I was single, living in London, and finding that, when it came to men, things seemed to be getting lost in translation. Frustrated by my lack of success on the dating front (and always in search of a funny story), I decided to turn my life over to the experts: every month, I’d follow a different dating guide and record the results.

Continue reading

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