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 →
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.
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 →
Please welcome literary agent Mary C. Mooreto 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.
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 →
We are so happy to have Carly Watters on the Book Country blog! Carly is a VP and senior literary agent with the P.S. Literary Agency. Her bestselling and debut authors include Rebecca Phillips, Danny Appleby, and Book Country member Andrea Dunlop. Carly frequently shares informative insights about the publishing industry on her blog and on Twitter. Below, Carly offers advice on how to get your name and book out there, what to do if you’ve already self-published a book and are seeking representation, and the state of erotica in today’s market.
Do you participate in social media pitch campaigns like #PitMad on Twitter? If so, what can you share from your experience for those of us who might be thinking about participating in the future? – Kelley
I used to do more than I do now. I love working with debuts, and I’m always open to queries. However, I had one experience that made me step back from #PitMad and other online contests. Here’s the example: I favorited a tweet of a pitch I liked, and the author and I started to chat. When I offered representation on the phone a week later, the author said they’ve been interested in another agent for awhile now and used my offer as leverage to let her top agent know. I’m all for savvy business-minded people, but that made me reevaluate why I would spend my time searching out authors–and taking many days out of my year with these contests–when I have so many amazing queries in my inbox.
What makes a great writing community? Its supportive members! Alys Arden and Alex Rosa joined Book Country in 2013 to workshop their books and learn more about the business of publishing. They’ve both found success with the support of the community: Alys Arden’s THE CASQUETTE GIRLS was a #1 Amazon bestseller, and Alex Rosa’s New Adult book TRYST was picked up by Penguin InterMix and will be released on March 17, 2015.
Today 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.
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 →
Here’s how to add a Table of Contents to your manuscript or eBook on Book Country. Below I’ll walk you through the process by using a sample project (a recycled post I wrote for the Book Country blog).
Need to take a closer look? Click to enlarge images.
The RT Booklovers Convention 2014 is well underway in New Orleans. We are having a fantastic time meeting romance writers and readers in this colorful, fun-loving city.
Today is the second of our Book Country panels here at #RT14:
Publishing Your Best Book on Book Country
Book Country is an online writing and publishing community featuring all of your favorite romance categories. Lucy Silag will demonstrate how to join Book Country, and how to publish and distribute your book across all of the major retail platforms. Book Country’s best-in-class, a la carte publishing services (from cover design to author-marketing tutorials) are turning this community of writers into published authors. This panel will include Book Country giveaways — books written by published Book Country authors — and exciting raffles for 2 Custom Cover Trios and a Discover Publish Package.
Event Date: Thursday, May 15, 2014 – 4:00pm to 5:00pm
Hybrid author is one of those publishing terms you hear a lot these days. We 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.
Today we’re chatting with community member Isabell T. McAren. Isabell joined the community during NaNoWriMo and has been a fixture on the discussion forums ever since. Below we ask her questions about her writing projects on the site — the memoir BECOMING IN BOQUETEand the YA time traveling adventure RIFTERS.
Read on to get Isabell’s inspiring advice about learning to accept harsh feedback!
NG: Welcome to our spotlight, Isabell. Go ahead and describe yourself as a writer in one sentence!
ITM: I am an eclectic writer who doesn’t want to be pigeonholed into one genre!
NG: You’ve self-published a memoir called BECOMING IN BOQUETE. What’s the biggest lesson you learned about yourself as a writer from that publishing experience?
ITM: I learned that it’s important for me to just finish a project and let it go, in order to allow space for the next story to flow through. Previously I’d wasted a decade obsessing over my first novel, because I stubbornly believed that the end goal of writing was to be traditionally published. Self-publishing is empowering because you don’t have to wait for someone else’s approval to put yourself out there. Also, once I gave myself permission to just write for the pure joy of it instead of trying to become rich and famous, my writing improved immensely.