Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Where Have I Been?

Hello everyone!

Yep, I haven't posted in a while.  What have I been doing that is more important that writing a blog post??  Sigh, everything it seems.

I went to a conference in April in Madison, WI.  I went for two reasons - I lived in Madison for 10 years and it was great to go back and visit.  I saw a few friends, saw some sights and ate at a few of my favorite places.  The other reason - all my family lives 20 minutes from Madison so I was able to to work in a visit.  :)

I also attended Malice Domestic.  Holy cows.  What a fantastic weekend.  We had a ton of Midnight Ink authors there and we had a blast.  What amazed me was the excitement and electricity around the MI authors.  Pretty much if you saw one Inker, you would see two or three more.  If an Inker was on a panel, other Inkers were there in support.  I could not have been more proud of our group.  It felt like we were a big family - a family that actually liked and supported each other. 

The Inkers (missing a couple) - Joanna Campbell Slan, Lois Winston, Cricket McRae
Kathleen Ernst, Jessie Lourey, Linda Hull, Jessie Chandler,
Darrell James, Maddy Hunter, Deborah Sharp,
Alan Orloff, Beth Groundwater, Vicki Doudera, me
This weekend I head to Denver to teach a writing workshop.  Me?  OMG.  That might kill me.

In between travelling, I have by boys.  This last weekend was the fishing opener in MN.  So, I took the boys fishing with the help of an expert, lol.  They caught a lot of panfish and had a great time.  Since it was our first time fishing, there was a lot of learing and lines to detangle but thankfully no one got hooked!!  This is the first catch of the day:

Besides fishing, my oldest son is in baseball and my younger two are in soccer.  T-ball for them starts soon as well.  Noah playing catcher for an inning.

What else is on my plate?  Oh yeah.  Contracts.  They never go away.  Awful, nasty yucky stuff for me, but good news for you.  Why is that?  Because more contracts mean more books.  I aim for 10-12 books per season for 30-36 titles per year.  As of right now, Winter 2013 has 11 titles, Spring/Summer has 10, and Fall has 10.  Great news, right?

Yes and no.  I love doing more books.  I love having a broad catalog.  If I have 12 titles, 9 of them fall into the softer categories of traditional, cozy or soft-boiled.  The other three fall into medium, thrillers or suspense.  A nice balance for us.  I love to find new books and read more in the series that we already have going.

But there is a negative side.  Besides contracts, which I worked on for 5 solid days in a row, I have to read all the manuscripts that have come in and send the authors any revision requests that I might have.  I have at least 6 on my desk right now.  These are manuscripts for Winter and Spring/Summer 2013.  I also have to find the time to read submissions.  Don't get me wrong.  I am not whining.  This is my job and I totally dig it.  And let's face it, I've got a pretty damn good gig here.  But sadly, under the weight of doing so many books per catalog, some things get pushed to the back burners.  :(  Like doing my laundry, reading for pleasure posting here.  I shall try to do better!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Typos, printing errors and other annoying things in publishing

Yesterday I received one of those dreaded emails.  Someone reported a printing error in one of our books.  The last 8 pages or so were missing.  MISSING!!  At the end of a mystery, that is horrendous.

So how does that happen?

Well, something like this, pages printed upside down, or out of order is generally an error made at the printers.  A signature (a large chunk of pages) is inserted upside down or out of order.  In the picture, that signature was cut improperly and then bound into the book.

When books come into the warehouse, we check them for accuracy.  But we do not check EVERY box that comes in.  If we get 100 cases of a new book, we will spot check, unfortunately, we may miss a few boxes of misprinted books.  When we are made aware of an error, we check our stock and then proceed appropriately.  Generally we have to scrap the inventory and the printer reprints.

But in the case yesterday, the problem fell on us.  Somehow the formatting on a book we were sending to reprint got all messed up.  There were page breaks where we didn't put them and that threw off the flow, therefore cutting off the last eight pages.  We pulled our stock and corrected the file.  New copies will be in the warehouse in less than a month.

Well, what about typos?  yep, mistakes happen.  Doesn't mean we have to accept that and publish an inferior product.  But at the end of the day, remember that humans work on these treasures we call books.  And humans are prone to errors once in a while!  Honest! 

Back in my bookseller days, I would occasionally hear a customer complain about a typo.  Either the author or the publisher was blamed.  The customer would proclaim they wouldn't read books by that author again.  Really?  While a misused word or a typo might bother me, unless the book is riddled with errors, I can forgive that.  Afterall, I have probably made several typos in this blog post!

If the book has a printing error, all publishers will replace that book for you free of charge.  Take it back to store where you purchased it, and the store will replace it or refund your money.  The store then sends the book back to the publisher for full credit.  If it's a Midnight Ink book, you can call our customer service line, 1-800-THE-MOON.  We'll take care of you!

But if it's an editing error, a typo, etc, what do you do?  Do you have an extreme reaction?  Does it completely throw you from the book?  Or like me, are you a forgiving reader?  (well, within reason...)

Monday, April 2, 2012

And the Award goes to... Darrell James!

Darrell James, author of Nazareth Child, won the Left Coast Crime Eureka Award for Best First Novel.  Congrats Darrell!!  :)

Darrell with his award

The award winning book

Book two in the series - due out September 2012

Friday, March 23, 2012

Win a Character in Sheila Webster Boneham's Pets in Focus mystery series

Drop Dead on Recall
Purchase a raffle ticket from one (or more!) of three organizations that support canine health and be entered in one (or more!) of three drawings for a canine guest appearance in The Money Bird*, the second Animals in Focus Mystery and sequel to Drop Dead on Recall.
*(Working title)

All proceeds go directly to support which ever causes (or causes!) you choose.

For more information about the raffles, the organization, the books, and the author, please visit one of more of the event pages.

Australian Shepherd Health and Genetics Institute
Dedicated to the increase and diffusion of knowledge of genetics in the Australian Shepherd, and the inherited diseases from which it sometimes suffers. We envision serving all Aussies, no matter what their purpose, the goals of their owners, or where they live. ASHGI will work both independently and in cooperation with researchers, breed clubs, canine health organizations and foundations that provide grant funds for canine genetics research.

Canine Health Events
a diverse gathering of dog lovers from across the country who are dedicated to improving the lives and health of dogs. Using normal dog events, we seek to raise money for canine health research both through entry fees and additional fund-raisers, such as raffles, auctions and sponsorships.

An Internet-based non-profit organization created to distribute financial aid to injured or ill rescues around the country, giving them a second chance at adoption and love from a permanent family.


Drop Dead on Recall by Sheila Webster Boneham
Animals in Focus Mystery #1, Coming October 2012!

When a top-ranked competitor keels over at a dog obedience trial, photographer Janet MacPhail is swept up in a maelstrom of suspicion, jealousy, cut-throat competition, death threats, pet-napping, and murder. She becomes a “person of interest” to the police, and apparently to major hunk Tom Saunders as well. As if murder and the threat of impending romance aren’t enough to drive her bonkers, Janet has to move her mother into a nursing home, and the old lady isn’t going quietly. Janet finds solace in her Australian Shepherd, Jay, her tabby cat, Leo, and her eccentric neighbor, Goldie Sunshine. Then two other “persons of interest” die, Jay’s life is threatened, Leo disappears, and Janet’s search for the truth threatens to leave her own life underdeveloped – for good.

The Money Bird (working title) Coming Fall 2013!

A wet satchel with a torn hundred-dollar bill and a long red feather in the bottom--animal photographer Janet MacPhail knows they mean trouble when Labrador Retriever, Drake retrieves them during a field training photo shoot. When an illegal shipment of endangered tropical birds is intercepted by police, Janet is sure there's a connection and decides to look into it between dog-training classes, photo assignments, and visits to her mom at Shadetree Retirement. Despite everyone's cautions, Janet sets out with her Australian Shepherd, Jay, to find out what's going on and how it's all linked to a mysterious retreat center near the island. She discovers that crows aren't the only birds linked to murder.

Learn more at any of the three organizations' site, or at www.facebook.com/sheilawrites or www.sheilaboneham.com

Thursday, March 1, 2012

On Sale Dates, Laydown Dates and ARCs

Today I was asked about on sales dates, and that sort of surprised me.  It's something I've dealt with for so long that I assume everyone knows what they are.

An on sale date is the date in which every retailer should have the books in their store.  So, we'll use a March Midnight Ink release as an example.  November Hunt by Jess Lourey has a March 8th on sale date.  Last weekend a customer purchased November Hunt at a Barnes and Noble here in the Twin Cities.  I understand some indie stores had them sooner.  Today they began shipping from Amazon.  Why did it take Amazon longer?  Probably because of the freight time from Minnesota to the Amazon warehouse along with their internal process for receiving and stocking books.

Now, let's say Jess is a big time author like J.K. Rowling or Janet Evanovich.  Then as a publisher, we would impose a lay down date.  A lay down date is a set in stone date for which a store can start selling a book.  It's why there are midnight release parties.  This levels the playing field for all retailers.  Often Publishers require stores to sign an agreement not to violate a lay down date and if the store violates that policy, they could face serious penalties.

Uncorrected galley proof/Advanced reading copy (ARC) - are bound copies of a manuscript that are sent out to reviewers and booksellers about six months before the book is actually published.  These are unedited copies that are supposed to used for garnering reviews and pre-publication buzz.  There are some folks who sell ARCs.  They can be highly collectible.  The problem with ARCs in the hands of general readers is that they don't understand that the version they are reading has not been edited and may contain many errors.

Are there other publishing terms you would like explained?  Or maybe I wasn't clear on the ones above?  Ask away, I am here to help!

Our March 2012 releases  :)

November Hunt          Murder of the Bride

Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Free ebook download - Ghost a la Mode - Sue Ann Jaffarian

Granny was famous for her award-winning apple pies-and notorious for murdering her husband Jacob at their homestead in Julian, California. The only trouble is, Granny was framed, then murdered. For more than one hundred years, Granny's spirit has been searching for someone to help her see that justice is served—and she hits pay dirt when she pops in to a séance attended by her great-great-great-granddaughter, modern-day divorced mom Emma Whitecastle. Together, Emma and Granny Apples solve mysteries of the past—starting with Granny's own unjust murder rap in the final days of the California Gold Rush.
Along with a sprinkling of history, this spirited new mystery series features the amateur sleuth team of Emma Whitecastle and the spirit of her pie-baking great-great-great-grandmother, Granny Apples.

"A charming tale, as appealing as apple pie. I predict a long life (and afterlife) for Sue Ann's latest series."—Harley Jane Kozak,
Agatha, Anthony, and Macavity award-winning author of Dating Dead Men
"Take colorful characters in a charming setting, mix in a dash of romance, add a pinch of the paranormal, and serve it up like one of Granny's famous pies.
I guarantee you'll be back for seconds."
Deborah Sharp, author of Mama Rides Shotgun

Download your free ebook now. 
Offer lasts thru Feb. 29th, 2012

Sony Reader



Sorry I have been away a for a little bit folks.  Been busy.  Today for example, we had our Fall 2012 sales conference.  A lot of work for me, but it is also incredibly exciting and fun to announce the new titles.  Wanna see the covers??

Total awesomeness, don't you agree?  This is where I give a big standing ovation to the art department.  Lynne, Lisa, Ellen, Kevin and Adrienne are the best designers and Jeanette keeps it all together.  Thank to these folks, we put out some very fun and interesting covers. 

Friday, January 6, 2012

Book Pirates.... ARGH!

Yesterday Elysia Gallo, the senior aquiring editor for Witchcraft, Pagan and Magic books for Llewellyn, was alerted to a site that had several Llewellyn titles available for free download.  As a response, she wrote one of the best blog pieces I've read about pirating books and who it really hurts - the author.  I am reposting here with her permission.  You can also check out the original blog and the comments left there at http://www.llewellyn.com/blog/2012/01/myths-about-pirated-books/.  And while Elysia's post talks about Wiccan and Pagan books, the principles apply to all published works.

Today I got five emails from authors all alerting me to a website that had 32 of our books and an equal number of other publishers’ books on it, scanned in and uploaded as PDFs for anyone to freely download. If it sounds like harmless sharing to you, please read this post and educate yourself on pirating.

First, the background: people loves to steal our books. Libraries and bookstores have claimed for years that some of their most frequently stolen stock are the religious books – anything from the Bible to those on witchcraft and magic. Whether this comes from a belief that all sacred knowledge should be free, a desire to hold onto a book containing so much wisdom (or so many exercises that can’t all be gotten through in the three-week lending period!), or, in the case of witchcraft books, concern that others in their small community might find out that the reader has an interest in these topics, and thus be “outed,” it’s always seemed a little strange anyway. If you’re specifically looking for a book on spirituality, doesn’t that imply that you’re trying to make yourself a better person? In that case, why start off on the wrong foot by stealing a book?

With this pattern having been in place for years, it should shock no one that in the digital age this would quickly translate over to stealing spirituality ebooks in any form. The music industry has wrestled with illegal downloads for years – we all know there are file sharing programs and sites that easily circumvent established means of distribution.

The website I was sent multiple times today is a repeat offender. I won’t post a link here because I don’t want to drive traffic to her site. Let’s just say that she has a nifty little disclaimer about how she got all these PDFs of ebooks off the internet (presumably absolving herself of responsibility, having not scanned them in herself) and that as far as she knows they are not violating anyone’s copyright. And if she is in error, to please let her know. (I guess there was something about the COPYRIGHT PAGE of each of our books that she failed to understand.)

Llewellyn, Red Wheel/Weiser, and other publishers have notified this person, by writing to the email address listed on the website, several times. And yet that notice is still up, and our books are still there for illegal downloading. So today (after the very first email I received) we sent a DCMA takedown notice to her ISP, and hopefully those pages of her website will be removed soon. [Update: it looks like it's working. I'll check again from home, and again tomorrow.]

But since I kept hearing about it all day, regardless of our invisible-to-the-outside-world actions (which are things we deal with every day, incidentally), I wanted to post a few thoughts for you all to consider and hopefully discuss.


“It doesn’t cost them anything to make an ebook, so why should I pay for it?”

This one I’ve also heard for legal, paid downloads, except in that case it goes “It doesn’t cost them anything to make an ebook, so why should I pay a normal book price for it? It should cost only $1.99/[insert your own price here]. I mean, I even had to buy a device to read it in the first place.”

Here’s the thing. First of all, an author wrote that book. They spent hundreds of hours researching, writing, editing, proofing, revising, communicating with their publisher, and in many cases, teaching, lecturing, writing a blog, marketing, etc. in order to have their good name in the field, in order for their manuscript to be desirable for publication. So that’s one person that should be paid for their effort.

Secondly, multiple people are involved in publishing a good book:
  • the editor who carefully selects, acquires, contracts and develops it (that’s me, in this case),
  • the editors who copy edit and proof it (the production editor, layout designer, and proofreader),
  • the marketing team that writes the back cover copy, web copy, catalog copy, and so on,
  • the cover designer who created a cover,
  • the publicity team that sends out a press release, galley, or review copy to your favorite Pagan podcaster,
  • the accounting staff who send out the royalty checks and pay our bills,
  • the IT department that converts our book files to ePub formats and keeps our websites and servers running.
These are all fixed costs, whether the book comes out in print or digital (unless the author is self-published, in which case he or she can have more control over the pricing of the book and also gets to keep more of the profit). If you add a print release (not digital-only) then you can add the sales staff, customer service, and the warehouse crew. Basically the only thing you’re taking out of the entire equation by downloading an ebook is the cost of paper, printing, and distribution (trucking, shipping, etc.), and the people who make sure the physical copies get sent to the customers, whether those are bookstores or people. So are you still so convinced that your ebook should only cost a dollar? Or nothing?

“It’s the same as borrowing a book from a library, or from a friend.”

Um, except for the fact that the library bought a copy of the book, or your friend bought a copy of the book. (Even libraries that now do digital lending.) And that they have a finite number of copies (physical or digital) that they are able to lend out at any given time – not a file that can be downloaded over and over again in the blink of an eye by complete strangers all over the world.

Let me put it this way – surely you would lend $10 to a friend in need. But would you put up your PayPal account details on the internet for the world to see with a note that says “hey, feel free to borrow ten bucks”? If you did, I’m guessing you’d go broke immediately, unless you have some very deep pockets.

“But publishers have very deep pockets.”

Maybe some do – but I’ve never worked for a publisher that does. We’re talking about Pagan books here. It’s a niche. We hope to sell 5,000 copies if the book is to be successful. (And, not to shake your confidence in the system or anything, but some of our books only sell hundreds of copies and we don’t make a dime.) We are not selling Harry Potter here! We are not flying our authors around on world tours or taking them out for three-martini lunches! Being an independent, midsized publisher in a small field is not a license to print money.

Here is a great quote to illustrate the situation, written by Colin Robinson, who formerly worked for a large New York publisher:

Books have always been a low-profit item and in recent years margins have been shrinking even further. Publishers now regularly give bookshops a 50 per cent or even a 55 per cent discount on the retail price. The distributor that warehouses and delivers the book will typically take 10 per cent of what remains, or more if you are a small publisher; 15 per cent goes on production (printing, paper, typesetting). Add another 10 per cent for the author’s royalties and the publisher is left with 10 per cent to cover promotion costs, rent and office expenses, wages – and profit. No wonder it’s called the gentleman’s profession.
“But authors have deep pockets.”

While you wait for me to stop laughing, did you notice the author’s royalty in the quote above? It’s not much, and it can actually be even less depending on the genre, the format of publishing, and a variety of other factors. Authors don’t have deep pockets either – they cannot afford to give you their book for free. If they could, they would! (And some actually have, just as many musicians are now releasing their music and letting their fans decide what to pay for it.)

Most authors support themselves with full-time jobs in addition to writing and enriching their communities. The very few who don’t work a “day job” have to tour and teach constantly to make a salary to live off of. Some even sell potions, spells, or courses on the internet to add a little income. And yet they still provide plenty of free content on their websites, blogs, facebook pages and other media. They are more than willing to share – up to a point. If they approach a publisher to publish their book, it means, by default, that they want to get paid for it. It has value. So do them a favor and buy their book if you appreciate their work and want to make sure that they continue to write for, communicate with, and teach the community in the future.

“But it’s all over the internet anyway…”

Go ahead and read all the free blog posts you want. Learn about Wicca by putting together information from ten different websites. Go ahead and search for that certain spell you need on Google. Not sure what to do for next month’s full moon? Just type it into the search box. Go onto the Internet Sacred Text Archive or Patheos and learn about the world’s religions. These are all perfectly valid ways to get information. There are TONS of free resources on the internet – ones that are given freely by their creators. (Perhaps because they have ad revenue they can rely on. Perhaps they just do it out of the goodness of their heart.) So why do people even feel the need to download whole books in the first place? By wanting to download a book more than you want to read a website or blog (etc.), you are admitting that it has a certain value that is greater than what you can browse for free. The sum is greater than its parts. So please, pay for it.

“But I’m poor, I can’t afford to buy these books myself…”

See the above list of free resources. And visit your local library.

“But I wasn’t even sure I would like it, so why pay money on it?”

In today’s book-buying world, that is no longer an excuse. You can get previews of just about any books online, either at Amazon, GoogleBooks, or the publisher’s own website. You can browse reviews from other readers on GoodReads or other retailers’ websites. You can visit the author’s website or blog and see if you like their writing style or agree with their ideas. You can ask your facebook friends if they ever read the book and would recommend it.

“Information should be free!”

I totally agree, to a point. Information is what permeates the very fabric of the universe; information is as basic and integral to life itself as light, and so far no one is charging for light. Information is heady and exciting. Hermes/Mercury, the god of communication, is also the god of tricksters and thieves, so it’s not unreasonable to expect he’d be encouraging illegal downloads.

However, he is also god of merchants – trading, bartering, and yes, paying for goods and services. If you step back and look at the big picture, information is just a type of energy. And energy is never static, it must be exchanged. Money is also a form of energy – it’s how our minutes and hours of toiling away at something we might not always like get converted into poker chips we can trade in for things we like better. Therefore, it’s not only acceptable to use the energy of money in exchange for the energy of information – it’s divine. Like the universe itself, you are keeping energy in balance, in motion, in an unbroken chain, just as it likes.

Thanks for listening to my rant today. Please, feel free to discuss in the comments… I’m curious to hear your opinions and thoughts on this matter.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

New Year Resolutions

Resolutions?  I don't make 'em.  Why?  Cause I don't stick to them.  I can break a resolution in record time.  But if I were to make some resolutions, this is what they would be:

1.  Become more organized.  This is a challenge for me.  You see, I am a Pisces.  Pisces is the dreamer of the zodiac; mysterious, spiritual, imaginative and idealistic.  I do much better on the creative side of my job than the details and dealines part.

2.  Get thru all the submissions in my inbox.  Without drinking a fifth of vodka.

3.  Work out and lose the belly I am gaining.  I don't have a full sized spare tire yet...  just a donut.  And I don't like it. But speaking of donuts, YUM!  (You see my problem here, right?)

4.  Read for pleasure.  After a full day of reading, the last thing I want to do is go home and read.  But I have fallen behind on the series from my favorite authors and I have a stack of debut mysteries that I am dying to get to as well.

5.  Make a boatload of money.  Let's face it, most of us could use more money and I certainly feel the crunch with three kids.

6.  Figure out how to publish between 10 and 12 books per season without going completely insane.  Ties into resolution #1.  But seriously, I am going insane.

7.  Take a real vacation.  Fat chance.  See resolution #5.

8.  Figure out who to bribe to get a New York Times Bestseller.

Ok, forget it.  None of those resolutions are possible, much less probable.  Pooey.  I hate resolutions.

On the other hand, I do have some goals for 2012.  (you see, goals are different.  you try to hit a goal.  but a resolution is a hard and fast change...  goals are better for me.)

I want Midnight Ink to continue to grow and kick some publishing butt!  2011 was very exciting with the acquisitions of both established and debut authors.  It was quite exciting and scary to see my first acquisitions enter the market.  But in 2012 I want to see starred reviews, best sellers and awards.

I want to get better at my job.  This has been one huge learning experience for me.  I think I have grown a lot, but there is always room for improvement.  Like I should blog more often.  :)  I am trying for organzied but will settle for keeping my head above water.

I intend to take care of myself better in 2012.  That means trying to remember to eat three meals a day and taking time for myself.  Maybe going to the gym, playing volleyball, etc.  I also want to push my limits.  In general, I only do safe things.  Perhaps I should sky dive or something.

I also wish to live each day with peace, happiness and love.  Yep, that is my Pisces nature.  To live with my head in the clouds where everything is serene.  Up here the view is beautiful so you can't really blame me, can you?

Happy New Year everyone!


PS - I do need that boatload of money, though, so if anyone can help me out... ;)