Covers and Events and More, Oh My!

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It’s been busy times here in the Daily life of Dahlia! First off, the biggest news: His Hideous Heart has a cover! Huge thanks to Eric Smith and Paste Magazine for doing a fabulous reveal of the anthology’s amazing cover, designed by Jon Contino with art direction by Keith Hayes! You can see the full reveal post here, but if you just wanna get straight to the cover, ta da!

I know what you’re thinking: that is stunning!! Is it available for preorder??? Good news – it is! His Hideous Heart releases on September 10, 2019, but you can get ahead of the game (and help an author out) by ordering in advance!

Amazon | B&N | IndieBound | Book Depository

And speaking of cover reveals, as you may or may not already know, I’m in the anthology It’s a Whole Spiel, edited by Katherine Locke and Laura Silverman, which releases the week before. In case you’re not yet familiar with the collection, here are the details!

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A Jewish boy falls in love with a fellow counselor at summer camp. A group of Jewish friends take the trip of a lifetime. A girl meets her new boyfriend’s family over Shabbat dinner. Two best friends put their friendship to the test over the course of a Friday night. A Jewish girl feels pressure to date the only Jewish boy in her grade. Hilarious pranks and disaster ensue at a crush’s Hanukkah party.

From stories of confronting their relationships with Judaism to rom-coms with a side of bagels and lox, It’s a Whole Spiel features one story after another that says yes, we are Jewish, but we are also queer, and disabled, and creative, and political, and adventurous, and anything we want to be. You will fall in love with this insightful, funny, and romantic Jewish anthology from a collection of diverse Jewish authors.

(My story is called “Two Truths and an Oy” and takes place at college orientation)

​And yes, you can preorder this one too!

Amazon | B&N | IndieBound | Book Depository

While it is too far in advance to officially schedule events, fingers crossed there’ll be launch parties for both in NYC on their pub dates, so please do save the dates!

And speaking of events, I’m moderating/in conversation at two launch parties I’m really excited about, so come check ’em out! The first is the release of Once & Future by Amy Rose Capetta and Cori McCarthy, and if a genderflipped sci-fi King Arthur legend sounds like your jam, you do not wanna miss it! The book itself releases on March 26th, but the event is March 28th at Books of Wonder in NYC at 6:00 p.m.!And then in May, you can catch me in conversation with Casey McQuiston, author of the debut contemporary NA romance Red, White & Royal Blue, about a first son and a prince who go from enemies to lovers in one of the most delightful, fun, banterrific, spotlit courtships of our time. That one’s at Book Culture in Long Island City on May 14 at 6:30 p.m., and you can find more info here!

On a completely unrelated note, I have a new website! This blog is staying put, but the old official website’s design is dead, replaced by even more macarons! Check it out at www.DahliaAdler.com and lemme know what you think!

So what’s next over here? Well, starting tomorrow, I’ll be releasing a teaser every week on Instagram that gives a quote from each story, also revealing the title and which of Poe’s works they’re taking on. So if you’re not already following me over there, please do! (Not a bad time to catch up on my #AuthorLifeMonth posts, either!) And yes, there will be ARCs, and eARCs are scheduled to go up this week, so keep your eyes on Edelweiss!

(And if you’re wondering if I bought some extremely fun Poe swag, the answer is OBVIOUSLY, so stay tuned to all my social media for giveaways!)

That’s it over here – I’ve just crossed the 40K mark on my latest manuscript so it’s full speed ahead on the writing front!

Yours in rainbow Gothdom,
Dahlia

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Top Ten Tuesday: Books I Loved with Fewer than 1,000 Ratings on Goodreads

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Welcome to Top Ten Tuesday, started at the Broke and the Bookish and now hosted by Jana, the Artsy Reader Girl! I rarely do these posts anymore simply because I don’t have the time, but topics like these are so close to my heart, I can’t not. (Plus, they don’t require me to write any explanation, because it’s all right there in the title. Whee!) I did, however, tweak the topic from “fewer than 2,000 ratings” to “fewer than 1,000 ratings,” because I had enough that fit the latter that I wanted to get more attention!

Final Draft by Riley Redgate

35960813The only sort of risk 18-year-old Laila Piedra enjoys is the peril she writes for the characters in her stories: epic sci-fi worlds full of quests, forbidden love, and robots. Her creative writing teacher has always told her she has a special talent. But three months before her graduation, he’s suddenly replaced—by Nadiya Nazarenko, a Pulitzer Prize–winning novelist who is sadistically critical and perpetually unimpressed.

At first, Nazarenko’s eccentric assignments seem absurd. But before long, Laila grows obsessed with gaining the woman’s approval. Soon Laila is pushing herself far from her comfort zone, discovering the psychedelic highs and perilous lows of nightlife, temporary flings, and instability. Dr. Nazarenko has led Laila to believe that she must choose between perfection and sanity—but rejecting her all-powerful mentor may be the only way for Laila to thrive.

My GR review: This was such a highly anticipated book for me because I think Riley Redgate is, content-wise, one of the most interesting YA authors right now, and this did not disappoint. A book about a self-conscious author who loses her biggest fan and ends up with an instructor who effectively makes her feel like crap until she feels forced to bleed on the page to prove her authorial skill and worth? I mean. I can’t speak for all authors, but that sure as hell held some resonance for me.

Laila was an interesting MC in a lot of ways. She’s pansexual, or at least she would be if she wasn’t raised to find sex and attraction shameful and so could bring herself to say the word aloud. (I realize that sounds like me projecting on her, but no, all of that, including the word, is on the page. And not, as we usually see it, mixed with questioning whether she’s bi or pan; pansexual is her only consideration.) She’s plus-size. (At no point does she call herself fat, so I won’t either, but she does refer to wearing plus-size clothing.) She’s biracial (French-Canadian on her mother’s side; Ecuadorian on her father’s side). She has three best friends who are her whole world. (I love adorable group friendship dynamics, especially when they’re not all the same gender.) She’s super into writing and a fandom. Basically there’s a lot about her that I think is gonna be wildly relatable to people who haven’t seen themselves much, which is something I always think is awesome.

Three books into Riley Redgate’s catalog, I’m starting to notice a pattern wherein she discusses some things really, really well, but not seamlessly. Like, you’ll get to the end of a chapter and it’ll just be three pages dissecting something that’s never really gonna show up again, but she talks about it so well that you don’t care. So, I can’t really say that themes of identity exploration are woven neatly throughout, but I can say that when you get those discussions, they’re really welcome and great.

Did this book make me cry? Yes. Did it make me squee? Also yes. Am I going to recommend it annoying amounts? Absolutely.

Home and Away by Candice Montgomery

37941689Tasia Quirk is young, Black, and fabulous. She’s a senior, she’s got great friends, and a supportive and wealthy family. She even plays football as the only girl on her private high school’s team.

But when she catches her mamma trying to stuff a mysterious box in the closet, her identity is suddenly called into question. Now Tasia’s determined to unravel the lies that have overtaken her life. Along the way, she discovers what family and forgiveness really mean, and that her answers don’t come without a fee. An artsy bisexual boy from the Valley could help her find them—but only if she stops fighting who she is, beyond the color of her skin.

I blurbed this one, so instead of a GR review, here’s my official blurb, which I stand by a zillion percent:

“Tasia Quirk is bold, funny, talented, passionate, vulnerable, fierce, and just plain fabulous. Get ready to meet your new favorite YA heroine in Taze, and your new favorite YA voice in Candice Montgomery.”

Like Water by Rebecca Podos

 

31556136In Savannah Espinoza’s small New Mexico hometown, kids either flee after graduation or they’re trapped there forever. Vanni never planned to get stuck—but that was before her father was diagnosed with Huntington’s disease, leaving her and her mother to care for him. Now, she doesn’t have much of a plan at all: living at home, working as a performing mermaid at a second-rate water park, distracting herself with one boy after another.

That changes the day she meets Leigh. Disillusioned with small-town life and looking for something greater, Leigh is not a “nice girl.” She is unlike anyone Vanni has met, and a friend when Vanni desperately needs one. Soon enough, Leigh is much more than a friend. But caring about another person stirs up the moat Vanni has carefully constructed around herself, and threatens to bring to the surface the questions she’s held under for so long.

My GR review: Not at all surprised at how much I liked this. So different from Podos’s first book (except that I really, really enjoy how she handles familial dynamics in both, in what a presence the fathers are) but also so good. Also digging this trend of absolutely drama-free “oh, huh, I’m bi” realizations from MCs this year – always nice to see another experience show up in YA.

We Regret to Inform You by Ariel Kaplan

37007788Mischa Abramavicius is a walking, talking, top-scoring, perfectly well-rounded college application in human form. So when she’s rejected not only by the Ivies, but her loathsome safety school, she is shocked and devastated. All the sacrifices her mother made to send her to prep school, the late nights cramming for tests, the blatantly resume-padding extracurriculars (read: Students for Sober Driving) … all that for nothing.

As Mischa grapples with the prospect of an increasingly uncertain future, she questions how this could have happened in the first place. Is it possible that her transcript was hacked? With the help of her best friend and sometimes crush, Nate, and a group of eccentric techies known as “The Ophelia Syndicate,” Mischa launches an investigation that will shake the quiet community of Blanchard Prep to its stately brick foundations.

My GR review: Oh man I enjoyed that a lot. It was only partly what I expected; I kind of thought the MC would have more of an Enter Title Here vibe. But she didn’t, and I loved her for it. (Not a criticism of ETH – I love that MC – but I feel like it’s the obvious voice for an overachiever and it’s nice to see an alternative.) Also, the secondary characters are fabulous, especially Nate, whom I utterly adored. Woof I shipped them hard.

ETA: I forgot to mention when I first reviewed, but also, I loved the little bits about her family history (especially as someone who has familial roots in the Holocaust), straddling the privilege line, and feeling the pressure to make more of life. Yes, that’s a lot of things that resonated really hard that I initially forgot to mention because I was distracted by my love of the characters and ship. So sue me.

The Pros of Con by Alison Cherry, Lindsay Ribar, and Michelle Schusterman

31123196Drummer Phoebe Byrd prides herself on being one of the guys, and she’s ready to prove it by kicking all their butts in the snare solo competition at the Indoor Percussion Association Convention.

Writer Vanessa Montoya-O’Callaghan has been looking forward to the WTFcon for months. Not just because of the panels and fanfiction readings but because WTFcon is where she’ll finally meet Soleil, her internet girlfriend, for the first time.

Taxidermy assistant Callie Buchannan might be good at scooping brains out of deer skulls, but that doesn’t mean it’s her passion. Since her parents’ divorce, her taxidermist father only cares about his work, and assisting him at the World Taxidermy and Fish-Carving Championships is the only way Callie knows to connect with him.

When a crazy mix-up in the hotel lobby brings the three girls together, they form an unlikely friendship against a chaotic background of cosplay, competition, and carcasses!

My GR review: This was extremely fun and cute. I don’t know why I love con books so much, but I do, and this one delivered it in spades along with a really enjoyable friendship story, a really cute budding queer romance, and some observations on social media relationships that hit way too close to home.

The Authentics by Abdi Nazemian

31371275Daria Esfandyar is Iranian-American and proud of her heritage, unlike some of the “Nose Jobs” in the clique led by her former best friend, Heidi Javadi. Daria and her friends call themselves the Authentics, because they pride themselves on always keeping it real.

But in the course of researching a school project, Daria learns something shocking about her past, which launches her on a journey of self-discovery. It seems everyone is keeping secrets. And it’s getting harder to know who she even is any longer.

With infighting among the Authentics, her mother planning an over-the-top sweet sixteen party, and a romance that should be totally off limits, Daria doesn’t have time for this identity crisis. As everything in her life is spinning out of control—can she figure out how to stay true to herself?

My GR review: Really enjoying the spate of culturally infused coming-of-age novels I’m reading lately, and this was no exception. Interesting to me that the title focused on her friend group when her family and culture are so beyond dominant of the plot and definitely the stars of the show, but definitely not upset about the stuff that actually took center stage, even if it wasn’t necessarily my expectation going in.

Finding Yvonne by Brandy Colbert

36360431Since she was seven years old, Yvonne has had her trusted violin to keep her company, especially in those lonely days after her mother walked out on their family. But with graduation just around the corner, she is forced to face the hard truth that she just might not be good enough to attend a conservatory after high school.

Full of doubt about her future, and increasingly frustrated by her strained relationship with her successful but emotionally closed-off father, Yvonne meets a street musician and fellow violinist who understands her struggle. He’s mysterious, charming, and different from Warren, the familiar and reliable boy who has her heart. But when Yvonne becomes unexpectedly pregnant, she has to make the most difficult decision yet about her future.

My GR review: God, Brandy Colbert is just so good at capturing these seemingly little things that have totally fallen through the cracks in the ways we talk about teens and putting them front and center in can’t-miss books. I only barely read blurbs when the author is already an insta-buy for me, so I thought this was about a violin prodigy whose life gets thrown off kilter when she gets pregnant, but in truth, it’s the spaces in between that – it’s what happens when you aren’t a prodigy and you’ve just lost your love and maybe the future isn’t going to look how you thought, so now what? And it’s finding other ways to use what’s already in your life and build off that, but also maybe learn what else and who else you can be. And that applies to skills, to love, to existing relationships, to questions from the past…it’s all just wrapped up in this Very Real Girl, and all along the while is the question of “How complex would these questions be for me if I weren’t a Black girl?” and all the different ways working twice as hard for half as much presents itself.

So, yeah, I guess you can say I liked it 😉

Also, for anyone who specifically avoids pregnancy storylines, it’s actually a much briefer portion of the book when I was expecting; please don’t skip this one for it.

Echo After Echo by Amy Rose Capetta

27258116Debuting on the New York stage, Zara is unprepared—for Eli, the girl who makes the world glow; for Leopold, the director who wants perfection; and for death in the theater.

Zara Evans has come to the Aurelia Theater, home to the visionary director Leopold Henneman, to play her dream role in Echo and Ariston, the Greek tragedy that taught her everything she knows about love. When the director asks Zara to promise that she will have no outside commitments, no distractions, it’s easy to say yes. But it’s hard not to be distracted when there’s a death at the theater—and then another—especially when Zara doesn’t know if they’re accidents, or murder, or a curse that always comes in threes. It’s hard not to be distracted when assistant lighting director Eli Vasquez, a girl made of tattoos and abrupt laughs and every form of light, looks at Zara. It’s hard not to fall in love. In heart-achingly beautiful prose, Amy Rose Capetta has spun a mystery and a love story into an impossible, inevitable whole—and cast lantern light on two girls, finding each other on a stage set for tragedy.

My GR review: Gorgeous, intense, romantic, mysterious, and a really pleasant surprise to me in the Jewish rep, too.

Being Fishkill by Ruth Lehrer

25543153Born in the backseat of a moving car, Carmel Fishkill was unceremoniously pushed into a world that refuses to offer her security, stability, love. At age thirteen, she begins to fight back. Carmel Fishkill becomes Fishkill Carmel, who deflects her tormenters with a strong left hook and conceals her secrets from teachers and social workers. But Fishkill’s fierce defenses falter when she meets eccentric optimist Duck-Duck Farina, and soon they, along with Duck-Duck’s mother, Molly, form a tentative family, even as Fishkill struggles to understand her place in it. This fragile new beginning is threatened by the reappearance of Fishkill’s unstable mother — and by unfathomable tragedy. Poet Ruth Lehrer’s young adult debut is a stunning, revelatory look at what defines and sustains “family.” And, just as it does for Fishkill, meeting Duck-Duck Farina and her mother will leave readers forever changed.

My GR review: Well, that went ahead and ripped my heart clean out of my chest. Definitely a recommended read for a book with rural poverty. There are a few things I felt were left a little like open-ended mysteries, but they felt true to what the character would know/be able to access. Really interesting to read a YA that is definitely a YA but with a 12-13yo protag, especially since she’s sort of exploring her sexuality without even really seeming to realize that’s what she’s doing. I would so love to check in with Fishkill a few years down the line if that were possible, and that’s one of my favorite signs that I really enjoyed a book.

You Don’t Know Me But I Know You by Rebecca Barrow

33293040There’s a box in the back of Audrey’s closet that she rarely thinks about.

Inside is a letter, seventeen years old, from a mother she’s never met, handed to her by the woman she’s called Mom her whole life. Being adopted, though, is just one piece in the puzzle of Audrey’s life—the picture painstakingly put together by Audrey herself, full of all the people and pursuits that make her who she is.

But when Audrey realizes that she’s pregnant, she feels something—a tightly sealed box in the closet corners of her heart—crack open, spilling her dormant fears and unanswered questions all over the life she loves.

Almost two decades ago, a girl in Audrey’s situation made a choice, one that started Audrey’s entire story. Now Audrey is paralyzed by her own what-ifs and terrified by the distance she feels growing between her and her best friend Rose. Down every possible path is a different unfamiliar version of her life, and as she weighs the options in her mind, she starts to wonder—what does it even mean to be Audrey Spencer?

My GR review: Really, really good. This book just feels so…healthy? Like, YDKMBIKY is to reproductive choice after consensual sex as EXIT, PURSUED BY A BEAR is to reproductive choice after rape. If you loved the latter, please read this too. I think it’ll go a long way toward helping teens who’ve chosen the same path feel less alone and less judged.

Announcing #AuthorLifeMonth 2019!

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#AuthorLifeMonth is back! Whether you’ve been following along since its inception in 2016 or it’s brand-new to you, the same rules still apply: post whenever you want and skip whatever you want. Miss a day? Either post both the next day or just skip the day entirely! Don’t have Instagram? Doesn’t matter! Post on Twitter, Facebook, or any other social medium that uses a hashtag.

To answer the #1 question every year, yes, this is open to unpublished authors; just interpret the questions in a way that works for you, e.g. for “Acknowledgments,” you can shares ones you’ve loved from another book or share something about people who’d definitely be in yours.

As every year, the challenge itself begins February 1st. I think that covers it all, so without further ado, here’s the prompt!

Cover Reveal: The Truth About Leaving by Natalie Blitt

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Some number of years ago, when I was still on Absolute Write, I came across a pitch for a book in which I recognized certain elements the author wasn’t blatantly stating, and I commented, and out of that, we became friends. Ultimately, she debuted with something else, and there were other things, but then one day she tells me that this story, the one that first brought us together, was going to be published. And I was delighted, although I hadn’t read it.

Fast forward to, well, now, and I have read it, and loved it even more than I thought I would, and I also love its cover, which is why I’m so excited to be revealing it on my blog today!

Before we get to the art, here’s the cover copy for The Truth About Leaving by Natalie Blitt, releasing January 22, 2019, from Amberjack:

Lucy Green thought she had her senior year in the bag. Cute boyfriend? Check. College plan? Check.

But when her boyfriend dumps her the week before school starts and she literally stumbles into Dov, the new Israeli transfer student, on her first day of school, Lucy’s carefully mapped-out future crumbles.

Determined to have a good senior year, and too busy trying to hold her family together while her mom is across the country working, Lucy ignores the attraction she feels to Dov. But soon, Lucy and Dov’s connection is undeniable. Lucy begins to realize that sometimes, you have to open yourself up to chance. Even if the wrong person at the wrong time is a boy whose bravery you admire and who helps you find your way back to yourself.

Buy it: Amazon | B&N | IndieBound

And here’s the beautiful cover, designed by Stepheny Miller!

Blitt Natalie_The Truth About Leaving_Front Cover_12-10-18

The amount I love this, especially with the Hebrew poetry tacked up in the top left corner, seriously cannot be overstated. Buy links are up under the cover copy, so what are you waiting for??

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Blitt Natalie author photoNatalie Blitt is the author of young-adult and middle grade novels. She lives in the Chicago area with her husband and three sons, but spends a lot of time daydreaming about going back to Canada where she grew up. You can visit her online at www.natalieblitt.com.

Brief 2018 Wrap-Up and What’s Ahead

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Greetings from the quiet place that is my blog! Of course, most if not all of you know that I’m actually blogging all the time.

Currently, it’s preview season on B&N Teen Blog, which means you can find new posts by me, Melissa Albert, and Sona Charaipotra that are packed with titles to get excited about for the new year.

Thankfully, LGBTQReads has been thriving this year, even getting out a shoutout in the New York Times, thanks to the lovely Becky Albertalli, and I’m excited to share that it’s being archived by the Library of Congress as part of their LGBTQ+ Studies Web Archive!

And this year, I picked up a new blogging spot called Frolic, where I get to flex my Romance muscles!

I also got to go to some fun events, including my very first FlameCon (as press) and my first Jewish Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators Seminar (as a panelist on publicity), and finally meet my favorite author (who also wrote my favorite book of the year – seriously, if you haven’t read Sadie by Courtney Summers yet, fix that!) I moderated some great panels/launches featuring rock stars like Katherine Locke, Kheryn Callender, Heidi Heilig, Zoraida Cordova, Lev Rosen, and Lauren Spieller, and wow yeah, speaking of books you should buy if you haven’t yet!! and got to do a panel with my All Out editor, Saundra Mitchell, and co-contributor Kody Keplinger!

 

Aaaand that’s most of what’s been up this year, because I also moved into a new house, had my baby turn into a toddler, am still at my dayjob as a math editor, and I’ve been writing lots of things that will hopefully turn into books you can hold in the future, but we all know there’s no guarantee of that, so, whee, publishing!

BUT, here’s one thing you will be able to hold, and that’s the last thing I’ve been working on this year: His Hideous Heart! My Edgar Allan Poe anthology officially has a pub date of September 24, 2019, and is now available for preorder!

That’s it for me for now! Stay tuned for a special cover reveal (not mine!) on the blog tomorrow, more news on His Hideous Heart and It’s a Whole Spiel as I have it, and lots more in the future!

Announcing His Hideous Heart!

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I am so, so excited to announce my latest book news, which is that I’ve* sold an anthology to Sarah Barley at Flatiron, and it’ll be releasing in fall 2019!

*By “I” I mean the brilliant Victoria Marini of IGLA

His Hideous Heart is such a dream project – it’s a collection of 13 retellings of the works of Edgar Allan Poe, modernized and twisted and made generally awesome by:

Me
Kendare Blake
Rin Chupeco
Lamar Giles
Tessa Gratton
Tiffany Jackson
Stephanie Kuehn
Emily Lloyd-Jones
Amanda Lovelace
Hillary Monahan
Marieke Nijkamp
Caleb Roehrig
and Fran Wilde

I mean, !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Oh, and another really cool thing? The corresponding original works by Poe are going to be in the book, so if you wanna do a side-by-side comparison, the work is right there. A+ to my brilliant editor for that idea, and a million thanks to Jaclyn Marta for the original idea of an anthology of Poe retellings and for letting me run with it!

(Also thanks to Jess Spotswood, Marieke Nijkamp, and Katie Locke for very patiently walking me through the mechanics and logistics of anthologies. They are such good people and you should get yourself A Tyranny of Petticoats, The Radical Element, Toil & Trouble, Unbroken, and It’s a Whole Spiel!)

The book is already on Goodreads, so please do add it if you’re so inclined!

A Publishing FAQ Master Post

Hang around publishing people of all types and you’ll see the same questions and answers surfacing over and over again, despite the zillions of excellent resources on the internet. So, I decided to pack the most common questions and my most favorite answers into one work-in-progress place. Ta da!

(Note that you can also find a lot of info on this site. To find what you need, check out the site guide.)

Writing/Revising

Q: What should my target word count be?
A: This post by agent Jenn Laughran.

Q: How do I keep my book up to date when trends are rapidly changing?
A: This post by agent Sarah LaPolla.

Q: I’ve heard that as a white person, I should not be using food terms to describe People of Color’s skin. What are good ways to respectfully describe it?
A: This post by Writing with Color.

Q: How Can I Increase My Word Count Output?
A: This post by Lindsay Smith.

Querying

Q: If I were bookmarking one post of publishing info, what should it be?
A: YA Highway’s Publishing Road Map.

Q: Where can I find out who reps my category/genre?
A: Querytracker.

Q: How important are comp Titles, and how do I choose them?
A: This post by Eric Smith on Pub Crawl.

Q: How do I handle multiple agent offers?
A: This pair of posts by Lydia Sharp and me.

Q: How do I handle querying after a split with my agent?
A: This post by me. (Note that this varies depending on how well-known/published you are. This post is assuming no prior reputation/publication.)

Marketing/Publicity

Q: How do I run a successful preorder campaign?
A: This post by Erin Bowman.

Q: When should I start promoting my book?
A: This post by Jodi Meadows on Pub Crawl.

Q: How do I build a social media platform?
A: This post by Eric Smith.

Perpetual WIPs: Bookseller Edition, Part IV

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If you’ve been following this blog for a few years, hopefully you’re familiar with Perpetual WIPs, a series I ran for a while with different editions that asked a bunch of industry folk a bunch of questions and posted the answers anonymously. This newest edition is a slightly altered take in two ways: 1) it’s not anonymous, and 2) instead of posting everything in groups, it’s gonna be one interview at a time. The better to soak up the valuable knowledge!

Because here is a thing I’ve noticed as an author: how to deal with booksellers and indies is something many of us are still clueless about even after years of publishing, especially if you are…shall we say…not your publicity department’s top priority. And so, I got a bunch of fabulous booksellers to help clear up the answers to the most frequently asked questions I see on the topics of their jobs and how best to work with them as authors.

If you missed the earlier posts, check ’em out here! To see a new perspective, read on and get to know Rachel Strolle of Anderson’s Bookshop, who happens to be, without exaggeration, one of the best YA supporters in the known universe.

What kind of opportunities does your bookstore offer for discovery of new authors? (e.g. Events, “blind date,” carrying swag, etc.)

Blind Date with a Book is a great way! Plus, shelf talkers for books helps draw the eye, so I try to write out as many as possible.

Preorder campaigns – what helps them actually work?

If an author is going on tour and has a preorder campaign, let the store know. ESPECIALLY if you know who the YA booksellers at the store. This can help with handselling the book before its on the shelf (oh did you know that if you order this book for our event, you can also get [insert gift here])

What tips do you have for authors who want to hold a launch party at bookstores?

If you’re doing it in an area where you have friends and family TELL THEM (and if you were already bringing all your cousins and your weird uncle, if the store has a policy about needing to buy the book from their store PLEASE LET YOUR WEIRD UNCLE KNOW). Launches are super fun!

How do/should people go about setting up panels/events at your store? Does someone at the publisher need to do it or can authors arrange them themselves? And what makes an exceptionally good event?

Most often someone at the publisher goes through with our publicity department, but sometimes an author is like “hey i’m gonna be around [date] can we do something” and then they still go through our publicity department.

A good event for me is an engaged audience (no matter what the size). DO NOT JUST SIT DOWN AND ASK IF THERE ARE QUESTIONS. At least introduce yourself and then you can always do a “is there anything y’all want to talk about?” If there is one teen who is remarkably excited to be there, it’s a win. Also a good sign is when a parent looks like they’re mad at the line taking a while but then they see how excited their teen is and they soften.

Someone walks into the store and says, “I feel like I’ve read all the bestselling [insert your favorite genre] books but not much else; what would you recommend?” Once you’re able to breathe again, what recs do you throw at them?

I LIKE LOTS OF GENRES OK

Other world Fantasy–The Reader by Traci Chee, either of Roshani Chokshi’s books, Truthwitch by Susan Dennard

Our world Fantasy–The Girl at Midnight by Melissa Grey, Shadowshaper by Daniel Jose Older

Historical Fantasy–The Falconer by Elizabeth May, The Diviners by Libba Bray, Girl From Everywhere by Heidi Heilig, Girl with the Red Balloon by Katherine Locke

Mystery/Thriller–anything by Stephanie Kuehn, Last Seen Leaving by Caleb Roehrig, Study in Charlotte by Brittany Cavallaro

Contemp–You Don’t Know Me But I Know You by Rebecca Barrow, Little & Lion by Brandy Colbert, all Jason Reynolds’ books, Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli

Historical–You Bring the Distant Near by Mitali Perkins, Outrun the Moon by Stacey Lee, The Agency series by Y S Lee

Retelling—Forest of a Thousand Lanterns by Julie C. Dao, Girls Made of Snow and Glass by Melissa Bashardoust, A Wicked Thing by Rhiannon Thomas

Sci Fi–Proxy by Alex London, Want by Cindy Pon, Shadow Run by AdriAnne Strickland & Michael Miller, Zodiac by Romina Russell

Grab bag–Jane Unlimited by Kristin Cashore, They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera, Timekeeper by Tara Sim (the looks I get when pitching this one are the greatest things ever)

What does your typical day look like?

Usually reading. If I’m at the store usually it’s helping customers, checking on the blind date with a book display, petting all dogs that walk in (with human’s permission), and making sure the two parts of our YA section have the right books. (We separate the “12&Up” from the “14&up”)

If an author in your area (or at a conference) had fifteen minutes with you, what should they be asking you?

“Can I see pictures of your dog?”

But also a good bet is if they know I’ve read their book and don’t quite know how to quick pitch it, I can help with that!

But also dog pics.

Authors walking into your store and offering to sign stock: excellent or awful, and why?

If we’ve got it, great! A signature in a book can definitely help sell it!

What are some best practices for working with bookstores that authors and/or publicists might not think of?

The YA booksellers on the sales floor and the YA buyer might not be the same person. And sometimes the bookseller on the floor can have sway over things that might not get ordered otherwise, so make sure you talk to both!

Turnover on the shelves: what’s your policy? How long before a new release is given the boot, and what can keep books longer than the standard shelf life?

It can vary depending on how full the section is or if we are doing a pull for a certain publisher. If a staff member has a staff rec on something and swears they’ll handsell it, usually it stays. Or if the author is coming soon!

What have you noticed in terms of trends that sell, both regarding content and cover design?

I’ve been noticing a lot of varied stuff recently, which is GREAT. I definitely try to pick things that won’t necessarily sell on their own. The great thing about handselling is, it’s just telling the truth about a book to a person who may never have heard it before.

What store do you work at and why is it awesome?

Anderson’s Bookshop and it’s awesome because I’m there

HAHAHAHAHAH no I’m kidding. There’s always lots of great events and we have a killer YA section. And by that I mean the section is large, not that it’s only YA books about murder.

RachelRachel Strolle is a bookseller, teen librarian, and in a constant state of book recommending. She has a lot of books and a very cute puppy, and thrives when belting out show tunes alone in her car.

Perpetual WIPs: Bookseller Edition, Part III

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If you’ve been following this blog for a few years, hopefully you’re familiar with Perpetual WIPs, a series I ran for a while with different editions that asked a bunch of industry folk a bunch of questions and posted the answers anonymously. This newest edition is a slightly altered take in two ways: 1) it’s not anonymous, and 2) instead of posting everything in groups, it’s gonna be one interview at a time. The better to soak up the valuable knowledge!

Because here is a thing I’ve noticed as an author: how to deal with booksellers and indies is something many of us are still clueless about even after years of publishing, especially if you are…shall we say…not your publicity department’s top priority. And so, I got a bunch of fabulous booksellers to help clear up the answers to the most frequently asked questions I see on the topics of their jobs and how best to work with them as authors.

If you missed the earlier posts, check ’em out here! To see a new perspective, read on and get to meet author-bookseller Emily Lloyd-Jones of Gallery Bookshop & Bookwinkle’s Children’s Books!

What kind of opportunities does your bookstore offer for discovery of new authors? (e.g. Events, “blind date,” carrying swag, etc.)

We hold events for new authors. We have a small basket for chapter samplers and we’ll put those out for customers to take. We carry all of the Indies Introduce titles. (More on that, later.)

And on a personal note, I try to read at least a few chapters of every debut ARC that comes to me. As both an author and a bookseller, I know how excruciating it can be to promote one’s self as a newbie in the industry. So I try my best to check out titles that might otherwise fly under the radar.

Preorder campaigns – what helps them actually work? 

In my experience, having an existing fanbase. We’ve run a few preorder campaigns, and the most successful ones are when an author is well-established and has very dedicated readers. Cool swag helps, but reader loyalty seems to be the key.

What tips do you have for authors who want to hold a launch party at bookstores?

Bring cookies for the booksellers. Just kidding! Sort of. Most of us do love snacks.

My advice would be the same for any author who wants to hold an event at our store: get in touch early, be polite, make sure your books are readily available to order, have a hook that will draw customers into the store—or have a huge family/friendbase that will fill seats.

Launch parties aren’t that different from regular events. If you have certain foods/drinks you want to bring, talk to the bookshop. If you have an idea of a theme or what you want to do, you can discuss that, too. Some people want more of a reading/signing and others want a party. We’re open to both.

How do/should people go about setting up panels/events at your store? Does someone at the publisher need to do it or can authors arrange them themselves? And what makes an exceptionally good event?

We’ve set up events with both publishers and with authors directly. Both have worked out well. We have an event coordinator and he’s the one to talk to if an author is interested in doing an event with us.

If there is an author who wants to do an event at our store, the key is that there’s some sort of draw for the local community. The events that do really well have presentation or entertainment built into them. We once had an author give a talk on the history of cheddar to promote his book—and we had a cheese tasting! It was a lot of fun and was very well attended.

My advice for authors looking to set up events is this: think about what will draw readers to your event. What makes your event memorable?

On the more practical side, please arrive early. Stay in contact with the event coordinator and let them know if your plans change. And please always be understanding if something goes awry—sometimes things just happen and no one can predict them. The best event authors are ones that are both flexible and cheerful.

Someone walks into the store and says, “I feel like I’ve read all the bestselling [insert your favorite genre] books but not much else; what would you recommend?” Once you’re able to breathe again, what recs do you throw at them?

My first question is, “Okay, what was the last book you truly loved?” Because YA is more of an age-range than a true genre, teens can want a book about anything from hard-boiled mystery to contemporary romance to mermaids. So I always establish what sort of book they’re actually looking for.

My current recommendations include THE BEAST IS AN ANIMAL by Peternelle van Arsdale, RAMONA BLUE by Julie Murphy, LITTLE & LION by Brandy Colbert, and THE GENTLEMAN’S GUIDE TO VICE AND VIRTUE by Mackenzi Lee.

What does your typical day look like?

This depends on the day of the week! One thing I love about being a bookseller is how variable my schedule can be. On some days, I’m in the front of the store selling books, checking out customers, and taking orders for books we don’t have on the shelf. On other days, I’m in shipping—where I receive books from publishers and distributors. Other days, it’s data-entry time and I’ll be sitting in the children’s section, working to keep our purchase orders up to date. And on other days, I’m in the back of the store with sales reps talking about which new releases I should purchase. I’m also the official cat wrangler, so if the bookshop cat needs to be taken to the vet, I’m the one that gets to haul him there.

There are a lot of tasks that go on behind the scenes to keep a store running smoothly.

If an author in your area (or at a conference) had fifteen minutes with you, what should they be asking you?

“How can I help you sell my book?”

No, really. Help us. If you have a perfect elevator pitch, tell it to us. We can use it. If your book has a local angle that we can use, let us know. If a bookseller is interested in your book, ask your publisher to ensure that we get an ARC or a comped finished copy. If you’re self-published, make sure your book is available through distribution channels.

Anything you can do to help a bookseller sell your book is wonderful!

Authors walking into your store and offering to sign stock: excellent or awful, and why?

Excellent! So long as the author is friendly and polite, I love when this happens.

My advice is to look for your own books first, to make sure they’re actually in stock. Because it’s ridiculously awkward when an author walks up and is all, “Do you have my book?” and we have to answer “No.” There can be so many reasons why we don’t have the book, and none of them are personal. Sometimes they’ve just sold out or it’s an older title that we had to return or perhaps the subject matter simply wasn’t for our store.

So, find your books on the shelf, gather them up, bring them to the front counter and politely offer to sign them. We’ll put a nice “autographed copy” sticker on the front, and everyone is happy.

What are some best practices for working with bookstores that authors and/or publicists might not think of?

If you’re a debut author, ask your publisher to submit your manuscript to Indies Introduce. Two panels of booksellers read these books to find twenty (ten adult and ten children) titles that they think are the best new voices. Publishers then offer special terms on these books for participating indie bookshops. It’s a great way for new authors to be discovered.

Also ask your publisher to send you to local bookseller association events. These are smaller than Winter Institute or Children’s Institute, but I have found many titles I wouldn’t have otherwise read at smaller events. NCIBA—the Northern California Independent Booksellers Association—holds a fall and springtime gathering so booksellers can learn from one another, talk to publisher contacts, and meet with authors. There are other organizations around the country—figure out the one your local bookshops belong to, and pitch these events to your publisher.

Get ARCs to booksellers early. Yesterday, I completed my buy for new children’s books from Penguin for next spring—and it’s October. We order months in advance, so it’s in your best interest to get booksellers copies of ARCs as soon as they’re available.

And, lastly, because I know this is getting kind of long, on your website or social media, don’t have your only purchase links go to Amazon. We see that and it’s always disheartening. If you’re able, please find a local bookshop that you can direct readers to—and if you can develop a partnership with that bookshop, all the better. If readers know to shop at a certain place because an author has signed copies or directed them to that bookshop—we notice that, too.

Turnover on the shelves: what’s your policy? How long before a new release is given the boot, and what can keep books longer than the standard shelf life?

This depends on the genre because some of our sections are smaller than others. For example, adult hardcover fiction has a much shorter shelf life than say, mystery. We have more space in mystery, so we can afford to keep books there longer. If a book sells—great! We’ll keep reordering it.

In the YA section, my usual time limit is eight months. If a book doesn’t sell a single copy for eight months, it’s usually time to return it to the publisher.

What have you noticed in terms of trends that sell, both regarding content and cover design?

Trends are impossible to predict. We’ve had books I thought would sell collect dust on the shelves. We’ve had books that I thought “never in a million years” go huge. Readers’ habits cannot be predicted. If you’re trying to write for a trend, don’t.

As for covers, they matter. I won’t lie. If they’re gorgeous, more readers will pick them up. But I have also seen terrible covers sell because they have staff recommendations attached to them or because a reader picked it up, handed it to a friend and said, “You have to read this.” Good reads tend to float to the top, regardless of their packaging.

Covers matter but the content matters more.

What store do you work at and why is it awesome?

I work at Gallery Bookshop & Bookwinkle’s Children’s Books in the historic village of Mendocino, California! We celebrated our 50th anniversary a few years back. We’re also right on the ocean, and we can whale watch from our cash register.  It’s the most beautiful view in the world.

We also have an adorably cranky bookshop cat called the Great Catsby.

*****

Emily Lloyd-Jones grew up on a vineyard in rural Oregon, where she played in evergreen forests and learned to fear sheep. When she was twelve, her cousin gave her a copy of Lloyd Alexander’s Prydain Chronicles and triggered her lifelong addiction to genre fiction. She went on to read all the usual suspects (Tolkien, Lewis, McCaffrey etc). When she wasn’t immersing herself in someone else’s fantastical world, she was usually creating her own.

After graduating from Western Oregon University with an English degree, she loaded up her car, wrestled her cat into a pet carrier, and drove across the U.S. to Philadelphia. She enrolled in the publishing program at Rosemont College but spent far too much time in coffee shops working on a novel when she probably should’ve been writing her thesis. Once she managed to finish both, she again packed up her car (and a very disgruntled cat), and drove back to the west coast.

She currently resides in Northern California, where she works as a bookseller/children’s buyer for an independent bookshop. There’s a lot of coffee involved. When not selling books, she’s busy writing them. She is represented by Josh Adams of Adams Literary.

Perpetual WIPs: Bookseller Edition, Part II

Tags

,

If you’ve been following this blog for a few years, hopefully you’re familiar with Perpetual WIPs, a series I ran for a while with different editions that asked a bunch of industry folk a bunch of questions and posted the answers anonymously. This newest edition is a slightly altered take in two ways: 1) it’s not anonymous, and 2) instead of posting everything in groups, it’s gonna be one interview at a time. The better to soak up the valuable knowledge!

Because here is a thing I’ve noticed as an author: how to deal with booksellers and indies is something many of us are still clueless about even after years of publishing, especially if you are…shall we say…not your publicity department’s top priority. And so, I got a bunch of fabulous booksellers to help clear up the answers to the most frequently asked questions I see on the topics of their jobs and how best to work with them as authors.

If you missed the first installment, check it out here! If you’re ready for another POV, read on to meet the wonderful Suzanna Hermans of Oblong Books in Rhinebeck, NY!

Preorder campaigns – what helps them actually work? 

A very strong social media following is key. I’d suggest working with your local bookstore to offer personalized, signed books. Make sure they can accept web orders – that’s essential! (and always link to them anywhere you’re linking to your book!)

What tips do you have for authors who want to hold a launch party at bookstores?

Choose a store that is hyper-local to your home base of friends & family. If you’re a debut, no one knows you – it’s up to you to bring a crowd. The bookstore will of course promote your event to their customers, but many stores host hundreds of events a year and competition for people’s time is fierce. Also, it’s *really* important to remind your friends that they need to buy a book at the event or pre-order it through the hosting bookstore. Nothing is more of a bummer than for a store to host a launch and have people walk in with books having bought them online.

How do/should people go about setting up panels/events at your store? Does someone at the publisher need to do it or can authors arrange them themselves? And what makes an exceptionally good event?

Both! All events need to go through the publisher’s publicity departments eventually, but I’m not opposed to well-organized author-arranged tour pitches. Keep in mind that books from all panelists need to be new and readily available from an established publisher. Exceptionally good events are ones where a reasonable number of people attend (20+), we sell a good number of books, and everyone (audience, authors) goes home happy.

Someone walks into the store and says, “I feel like I’ve read all the bestselling [insert your favorite genre] books but not much else; what would you recommend?” Once you’re able to breathe again, what recs do you throw at them?

Ooooof. So many books! On the MG/YA side I’d recommend Caela Carter’s Forever or a Long, Long Time & Nina LaCour’s We Are Okay. On the adult side I’d say Jennifer Egan’s Manhattan Beach & Alexandria Marzano-Lesnevich’s The Fact of a Body.

What does your typical day look like?

As co-owner and the buyer for both our stores, most of my day revolves around ordering: restocking books that have sold, meeting with publishers’ reps & ordering the next season’s frontlist, and deciding what books to return. I also buy much of the non-book product we sell in our stores: toys, games, gift items, and more. In addition to that I host many of our store’s events, in-store and offsite, and help organize the back-end office that keeps our stores running.

If an author in your area (or at a conference) had fifteen minutes with you, what should they be asking you?

How can we work together to sell more books?

Authors walking into your store and offering to sign stock: excellent or awful, and why?

This depends! I always prefer an author to give me notice (and ask permission) if they’d like to sign stock. A minimum of two weeks notice is ideal so we have time to order in a few extra copies of your book. And a bookstore might graciously decline if they don’t think your book is right for their customer base. Of course, if you’re just browsing in a bookstore and see your book – ask to sign it!

What are some best practices for working with bookstores that authors and/or publicists might not think of?

Be patient with us and remember that we’re working with a lot of other authors as well. We want to sell your books, but we also have a lot of other work on our plates.

Turnover on the shelves: what’s your policy? How long before a new release is given the boot, and what can keep books longer than the standard shelf life?

Totally depends on the book, but I’d say for a new hardcover I give it at least 5-6 months before it’s returned for not selling. Paperbacks get a little longer, and some books on niche topics might get a year or so before I give them the boot.

What have you noticed in terms of trends that sell, both regarding content and cover design?

 Oh man, trends are tricky. We saw a huge female-driven crime trend around Gone Girl  and Girl on the Train, but now that category is so over-published it’s hard to tell what is good and what just has a good cover. I’m not sure what’s coming up next. And in YA contemp was really having a moment and is still selling a little better that SF/F, but it’s not as dominant as it has been in recent years. As far as covers – I don’t really notice trends there. I just notice whether a cover is good or not!

 What store do you work at and why is it awesome?

Oblong Books & Music in Millerton & Rhinebeck, NY. I think we’re awesome because we care deeply about our community and the books we sell. Our staff is made up of passionate readers who excel at customer service. We’ve been around for 42 years (it’s my family business) and plan to be hear for generations to come.

*****

Suzanna HermansSuzanna Hermans is a second generation bookseller and co-owner of Oblong Books and Music in Millerton and Rhinebeck, NY. She is a past president of the New England Independent Booksellers Association and recently served on the Advisory Council of the American Booksellers Foundation for Free Expression. She has also served on the American Booksellers Association’s Advisory Council, as well as their Children’s Advisory Council and New Voices Committee. In 2017 she is a judge for the National Book Award for Young People’s Literature.