Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Burning questions

Ok, it's not really a quiz and there are no wrong answers, I just wanted to get you attention.  I am curious about a few things and hope you can help me out...
Question 1 - how do you browse for books? find books?
  • in bookstores
  • online
  • social media
  • blogs
  • mystery magazines
  • reviews/coverage in newspapers
Question 2 - if you are browsing in a bookstore, what formats are you looking at? Or what format do you prefer? Does the format deter you from buying the book?
  • mass market
  • trade paper
  • hardcover
  • ebook
Question 3 - when considering a book, what is more important - critical reviews from publications like Library Journal, Publishers Weekly, etc or author blurbs? Or is it the cover art? Back cover copy? Or do you just open it up and start reading?
Question 4 - do you partake in various promotions such as the Amazon Daily Deals, Goodreads giveaways, etc?
Final essay
If you had a publisher's undivided attention, what you would you want us to know?
Thank you!!

Next week I will put the names of all the commenters in a hat and draw a name.  That lucky duck will get a nice selection of MI books.

Tuesday, April 2, 2013


Wow.  Those are some stunning covers...
I would like you all to meet Mark Mallen. He's a junkie, but not just any junkie. See, he's a former undercover cop that started using drugs to help his cover. He thought he could just shoot some drugs and it wouldn't be a big deal. Wrong. Now, four years removed from police duty AND having left his wife and daughter behind, a chance for redemption comes knocking.
Mallen's old police academy buddy Eric seems to have fallen into the same dark hole as Mallen. Eric also became a junkie and landed a stint in jail. When Eric is murdered, the police find Mallen's number in Eric's pocket. As the prime suspect in Eric's murder, Mallen is forced to get clean and find the real killer. (SERIES AND AUTHOR DEBUT)

English copper Jim Grant is in Boston for a quick and easy assignment - to interview a suspect in some robberies back in the UK. But trouble seems to find Grant when he is almost blown up when he attempts to interview Freddy Sullivan. Never one to walk away from the case, Grant looks up associates of Sullivan. One public stand off and several bruised and beaten bad guys later, Grant is dubbed the Resurrection Man. And it's very clear that the Ressurection Man, an outsider on a mission, is the only one who can clean up the streets and political offices of Boston. (SERIES DEBUT)
Check out old Fiddlesticks cabin if you dare... Set deep in the Appalacian Mountains, Fiddlesticks cabin is the site of a decades old double homicide. When a group of college aged students decide to stay at the cabin for a night, one of the girls is violently murdered and the killer carves disturbing symbols into her body.
County sheriff Jerry Cochran is handling the investigation and all the evidence points to Nick Statton, a handsome raptor center specialist and the supervisor of the murdered girl. Nick turns to attorney Mary Crow for help and it's up to Mary to dig out the truth - about Nick, the girl, and Fiddlesticks. Page turning suspense that you won't want to miss. Trust me. (CONTINUATION OF THE MARY CROW SERIES PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED)

The wedding of a friend and fellow real estate agent brings Darby Farr back to her hometown Hurricane Harbor, Maine. Darby has barely stomped the snow off her boots when she learns that the police chief's assistant, Lorraine Delvecchio, slipped on her daily walk and fell into the freezing coastal waters, her body found by a local lobsterman. While everyone assumes it was an accident, the police chief doesn't buy it and asks Darby to do some poking around. Darby discovers Lorraine was far from innocent and the list of suspects is rather long.  Between real estate deals and wedding preparations, Darby needs to uncover a killer before she ends up the next victim. (BOOK FOUR IN THE SERIES)
Pretty good stuff, right?  Well, go out and get your copy now!  Print books are already in stores and ebooks will be available for download on April 8th.  And by all means, let me know what you think!  Feel free to post comments here or on facebook!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Sales conference - Fall 2013

I think I might thrive under pressure.  I say that because this week, here at Llewellyn headquarters, we will be doing our Fall 2013 sales conference and I have been slow to get prepared.  For those of you unfamiliar with sales conference, it is a huge meeting where the acquiring editors showcase the fall titles for the sales, marketing, and publicity departments.  For each title, we create a document that gives those departments all the information it needs, such as:
  • release date
  • cover image
  • synopsis
  • author bio
  • physical book description (page count, sub-genre, ISBN)
  • who the audience is
  • a one to two sentence sound bite
  • three comparable titles with book description and life to date sales

We also create a powerpoint to go with the presentation.  During the presentation, I give a verbal summary of the book and often go deeper into why I chose the applicable comp titles.  I also talk a bit about the author, especially if I have personally met the author.
After each title presentation, I ask if there are any questions or other information to add.
Is it stressful?  Heck yeah.  The most stressful part for me is the question time, because I have no idea what might come up!
But in general, I find sales conference to be fun and exciting.  I acquire books that I love and often refer to them as my children.  And at sales conference, I get to whip all my baby pics!  I tell stories of hanging out with authors and getting to know them.  I might go on and on about how much I loved a manuscript.  I can talk about a series - where it has been and where it is going.  I also work in my vision of Midnight Ink.  Where we have been and where I see us going.
But alas, I procrastinate.  Which means I should be filling in my powerpoint rather than typing up a blog post.  By noon today, I will start feeling anxious and stressed out.  Tuesday I will probably be a wreck and finish up my powerpoint.  Wednesday starts the sales conference with nonfiction lines.  Thursday we do fiction.  I can't wait...  now to just finish this powerpoint!

I give a big shout out to Kelly Van Sant who did the heavy lifting on my onesheets.  And to Brian Farrey-Latz who put the bones of my powerpoint together.  :)

Monday, February 18, 2013

The Company You Keep by Shannon Baker

yep, I stole this from Inkspot...  it is Shannon Baker's post from last Wednesday.  But I couldn't not share it because I am so proud of the Inkers. 


The Company You Keep

What a great week to be a Midnight Ink writer. Actually, it’s way more than just a week but there has been an avalanche of good news crashing down recently.
Left Coast Crime conference, a gathering to celebrate mysteries that takes place in a different western city each year, announced finalists in their contest. What fun to see Midnight Ink writers on that illustrious list. Darrell James and Beth Groundwater are nominees in The Rocky category, which is a book set in the geographic area covered by Left Coast Crime. Jess Lourey is nominated for an award in the humorous category, The Lefty. And Catriona McPherson has a book in the Bruce Alexander Memorial Mystery, for historical novels.

Can you say, “Wow!”
And then it gets better.
Kathleen Ernst recently won the LOVEY in the historical category at Love Is Murder in Chicago.
And drum roll, please…
Gin Malliet and (twice now) Catriona McPherson are up for Agatha Awards given by Malice Domestic.
Alan Orloff had an Agatha nomination in 2010.
And last year, Darrell James won a Left Coast Crime award, The Eureka, for a first novel.
Now it’s going to get dicey because I’m going to forget a whole ton of other good news. But let me mention that Vicki Doudera got a great review from the world’s snarkiest review site. I know Alice Loweecey and Lois Winston have posted some terrific reviews, as well.
I’m tickled for all the recipients. I imagine their glow and it makes me plum happy for them. I’ve met most of the writers I just mentioned and to a person, they are warm, funny, smart, generous and all around amazing specimens. I can only imagine the others are equally superior humans.
But, as Ayn Rand was ever-so-fond of saying, “There is no altruism.”
While I’m truly happy for these M’Inkers, I’m downright giddy for me.
My father always told me, “You’re known by the company you keep.” Yes, he was a wise man, but I don’t think he made that up.
I would be surprised if I ever win a prestigious award and Kirkus may always hate me. But someone, somewhere, at one time,(Terri) thought I wrote a book good enough to be included on the roster with these stellar writers.
That thought swells my chest more than the Miraculous Uplift bra I got from Victoria’s Secret.
By the time of my next Ink Spot post, my first book in the Nora Abbott Mystery series will have launched. Readers may love it or hate it. But for right now, for this brief moment, I get to revel in the success of my publisher and the fine writers they’ve accumulated and believe I am one of them. 
I am just so darned proud of Midnight Ink and all these folks. (And sorta proud of me, too.)

Friday, February 8, 2013

Daily Life

Someone asked about the daily life as an editor...  hmmm...

To start this week, I had 31 items on my "To-Do" list.  Some things on that list were quick and easy, such as I needed to email Kathleen Ernst with information she needs so we can put photos of particular antiques in her next book, Heritage of Darkness.  But I also needed to read four full manuscripts, each one taking at least half a day.  My biggest item on the list was to acquire two manuscripts for the Winter 2014 season - and that I can't quantify.  Does anyone want to guess how many items are crossed off my To-Do list?  10.

10 out of 31.  Yikes.

Ok, to the nuts and bolts of what I do daily.  First I check my email and respond to anything that has exploded overnight.  Second, I get a cup of tea.  Then all heck breaks loose.  :)

There are any number of meetings I may have to attend -

  • a one-on-one meeting with my boss, the Publisher
  • the weekly acquisitons meeting where the acquiring editors present the books we want to publish.  Most weeks I have nothing, other weeks I might have three or four books.
  • vision meeting - once we have decided to go forward on a book, there is small group meeting where we discuss content and what changes we may want the author to make.
  • production planning - the physical nuts and bolts meeting - how many pages, any artwork/photos, etc.
  • launch meeting - the BIG meeting.  here we decide on the title, cover direction, series name, etc.
  • cover meeting - after the designer has put together mock up covers, a small group chooses what cover we like best, make suggestions for changes and then the designer finds an artist to produce/illustrate the final cover.

Besides scheduled meetings, at any time the cover designer might pop over for a quick question on the cover direction, or ask my opinion on an element or an illustrator.

I see every routing that happens for a book.  Cover design, back cover copy, galley copy, and catalog copy.  I have to read and sign off on all of them.  It isn't unusual for any of those routings to route 3-4 times.

I was just interrupted, so I have forgotten what I was going to say next!  Hmmm... I no longer have to create and negotiate contracts, I do negotiate the offer.  That can be as simple as a day or over a week.  Right now I have two offers and I am waiting to hear back from the agents.  When those agents accept the offers, then I send our contracts person all the info she needs.

Since today is Friday, it is generally a meeting free day.  We only schedule meetings on Fridays if the meeting is time sensitive and we can't work it in earlier in the week.  So today I will spend the day trying to find another book for my Winter 2014 catalog.  Everything else on the list will have to wait.  Which means I will start Monday with a list of at least 21 To-Do items.  :(

And the reality of my day is that I have no idea what shape my day will take.  The process of walking a book through production is long and requires a lot of steps along the way.  I will save the nuts and bolts for another post, but a village of people work on every book.  We work collaboratively with each other and with the author to produce the best book possible.

I didn't include writing a blog post on my To-Do list, so sadly, I don't get to cross that off.  So I better get back to reading submissions.  And maybe I can cross that off my list next week.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Meet me in the bar

After a few months off for the holidays, it's time again for conferences and conventions to get back in full swing.  When I went to conventions as a fan, it was a weekend of pure joy.  I sat in on panels, listening to my favorite authors tells stories, attended the award ceremonies, bought books and humbly asked authors to sign them.  It was awesome.

Alan Orloff signing his books

Life as an editor makes conferences a little different.  For me, attending a writing conference is work - from the first panel in the morning to bar time at night.  When I am invited to a conference, I usually spend a large amount of time giving critiques, taking pitches and sitting on panels discussing the nature of publishing.  I attend banquets and conference sponsored events.  It is my job to be available to the writers as much as possible.  I generally don't have an opportunity to experience the conference in terms of panels and such.

Vicki Doudera, Deborah Sharp, Jessie Lourey and Lind Hull at the Malice Domestic banquet

If I am attending a convention (Bouchercon or Malice Domestic), I don't take pitches or do critiques, but the same philosophy applies.  I am available as much as possible for writers, agents and other editors.  I run around taking photos of my authors, catching a panel when I can, but mostly spend the time networking.  And let me tell you, it is EXHAUSTING.

Which is why you can usually find me in bar.  LOL.

No seriously, when the panels are over, food has been eaten and awards awarded, you can find me in the bar or the lobby.  Generally the place where the most people are congregated.

As much as a conference or convention is to learn or hone the craft of writing - it is also where we can make our best connections.  In the bar, there isn't talking about books or writing - there is talk about baseball, football, kids, health concerns...  you name it.  Where everyone lets his or her hair down, so to speak, and we get to know each other as people.  Usually after spending time with a couple agents at a conference, they have a feel for my personality and what I like, therefore they send manuscripts that would have a good home with Midnight Ink.  I meet writers who may eventually submit something to me.  Or I meet a writer who goes home and tells someone in her critique group that his book is right up my alley and a connection is made.

I know a lot of writers are shy.  Well, guess what, so am I.  Honestly, I am almost off the charts introverted.  If I were a writer, there is no way I would go to convention, much less talk to an editor there.  No way.  But when I am talking about books, well, that is my job.  No, my passion in life.  So I put on my big girl panties and get to work.  So writers - this is my challenge to you:  Go to a conference, learn all you can during the day, then hit the hotel bar at night and meet two new people every night.  You never know who might be holding your golden ticket.

Below is a list of both conferences and conventions that I have gone to in the last few years and some I want to attend:

Love is Murder
Willamette Writers Conference
Houston Writers Guild
Malice Domestic
Crime Bake
Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers
Killer Nashville

Feel free to list more conferences in the comments section.  :)  I know I am missing a bunch!

And for those crabby pants people who say you don't meet agents or editors at conferences...  that is absolutely untrue.  I would say that over half of my 2013 list is a direct result of attending conferences.  Probably more if I really broke down the list.  So do it.  Attend a conference.  Put yourself out there and let yourself shine.  You never know - that icitini or G&T might reveal a perfect working relationship.  See y'all at the bar. 

PS - when I talk about conventions and conferences being work - please don't take it as complaining.  It is, without a doubt, the best part of my job. ;)

Thursday, January 17, 2013

It's about time I blogged again

ok...  so it has been a really long time since I have blogged.  Bad editor.  But you know, with New Year's Resolutions and all, I decided I need to try to become more organized.  Halfway thru January and it's kind of working.  I was going to take a photo of my calendar until I realized you probably don't need to see when I went to the eye doctor or when my acid reflux flared up.  :)

So...  what do you folk want to know about?  throw some subjects out and I will do my best to answer/explain/make stuff up...

Happy 2013 everyone!  I hope the new year brings joy, peace, and fabulous books to read!