Happy Birthday to The Stolen!

It was one year ago that my first book, The Stolen, was published. It was a momentous event for me, marking my entrance into the world of being a published author. At times it’s hard to believe it’s been a year already, and at others, it’s hard to believe it’s only been a year. It’s been a remarkable ride, with some remarkable moments. Winning the cover of the year on The Qwillery was exceedingly cool. Getting a slot on John Scalzi’s blog (Big Idea) is still very cool to think about. The Forgotten got a spot too, so I suppose I’m becoming an old hand at it, and I’m safe in saying Scalzi and I are total BFFs now (I’m kidding, John, don’t release the hounds!).

I’ve covered a lot of my journey in my “Adventures in Being a New Author” posts, so I won’t rehash that here. I’ll simply say this:
Thank you, fans and readers, for buying the book. Thank you for reading it, for reviewing it, and possibly even for telling others about it. I hope this is the first of many years as a writer, and I hope you enjoy the other books yet to come.
Now, have some cake (Scalzi, you can have pie, of course) and if you haven’t yet, buy a copy of The Stolen! In fact, celebrate and buy two or three copies! And if you’ve bought one already, buy another! You deserve it!

Big Announcement

Well, I think it’s a big announcement.
The American Faerie Tale series has been cleared for two more books!

hobbes

I’ll be sharing more information as time goes on, but here is something to hold you over. The next book will be called…

Three Promises: An American Faerie Tale Collection

Aside from a bonus story about a group introduced in The Forgotten, the unanswered question at the end of The Stolen will be answered! The current scheduled release date is December 2015. Stay tuned for more information, including cover reveals, perhaps some excerpts, and exclusive offers for pre-orders!

The Forgotten is Now Available!

The Forgotten_Cover_Small

The day has finally arrived! The Forgotten is now available, on ebook at least. For those of you waiting for the paperback edition, you’ll need to wait a bit longer (April 14th). And yes, the fact my book is being released on Saint Patrick’s Day is quite possibly the coolest thing ever. The fact the paperback is being released the day before taxes are due is a little less so, but maybe you should just think of it as something to look forward to that week.

And as a special treat, here’s the book trailer:

I can hear your questions now:
What’s with the math? Read the book.
What about the “bang” at the end? Read the book.
Where can you buy it? I’m glad you asked!

ebook:
HarperCollins
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Google Play
iTunes

Paperback (4/14/25):
HarperCollins
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Indiebound

On the Road to Publication: Myths and Truths

Like many people who’ve never been published, I went into the process with some preconceived notions. Some were just assumptions, which is never good. Others were things I’d read online in articles or in forums. On my journey through the publishing process, I’ve learned that some of those “literary legends” were true, some were not, and some landed in the middle. As part of my continuing journal down this road I’ve been lucky enough to find myself on, here are some of the things I’ve learned along the way.

Contract: This is something I wasn’t surprised about. It’s a full on, no joke, contract. It’s heavy legalese and not something easily understood by the uninitiated. As I’ve said before, I can’t emphasize enough that you really need someone to look over this for you, be it an agent, or a lawyer. The time to get the contract, review it, and make requests for changes took about three months. As for the terms of my contract, I’ll say only that it’s a two-book deal, with Harper Voyager having first option on the third book. Beyond that, well, never you mind.

Cover/Jacket Copy: Across the Internet (including here) you’re told the importance of a good query letter, a good summary, and a “hook.” The summary is often likened to the jacket/cover copy, which is what you read on the back of a paperback or inside flap of a hard cover. So, I assumed my summary would be my cover copy. Yes, an assumption. This was made for a number of reasons. As a new author with no fan base, I figured the publisher wouldn’t be investing a lot of money on me. Sure, it would want me to succeed, but from a business point of view, capital is invested where there is the greatest potential for return. Right? I was surprised and delighted to be wrong on this. My original summary was used as a base to start from, then the chief of copy took over and blew me away. What you can read here came after a few comments I made, and a little discussion.

Editing: This is probably were I was most surprised. I’ve seen all over that big publishers don’t have an editing staff like they used to, which is probably true. But, all those affirmations led me to believe that only the bestselling authors’ books are edited at all. As it turns out, this is wrong. At least it was for me. My editor did in fact edit, and I don’t mean copyedit (typos, grammar, punctuation). She went through the manuscript and made some suggestions for improvements. Note I said “suggestions.” I don’t know if it’s the norm, but I was very happy about how much my editor wanted to work with me and was open to my feedback, and sometimes push back. There was never a rigid “cut this” or “change this,” it was all suggestions. It felt more like a partnership. Sometimes she suggested cutting something I liked, and in some cases I did. However, if I really wanted it to stay, I rewrote until she agreed it was necessary and added to the story. I’m sure there are editors who work from a directive rather than cooperative stand point, but I’m glad my editor isn’t one of them.

Copyediting came at the end, and was more intense than I expected, but very helpful. It was interesting to see the kinds of things that were checked. As an example: M&M’s is the correct name of the candy, but the trademark is m&m’s, so which to use?

I would like to say here that while it’s true my book did receive editing, I still firmly believe in hiring an editor before submitting. You want to put your very best foot forward, and you need feedback from others to do that. Unless you have a group of skilled readers, and some do, you should look at hiring someone. Also, having your work edited is a good idea because it’s that much less work that needs to be done when you do sign that contract. There were three rounds of editing (suggestions which lead to changes, which were then reviewed, etc.) over the course of a month. So yes, The Stolen did receive editing, but I’m still glad I had it edited before I submitted to Harper, and in fact, I’m certain the reason I made it was because I had it edited and was able to present them a polished manuscript.

Cover Art: I discussed this when I posted the artwork and preorder information (here), but I’ll say again that I was nervous. I got a piece of advice from a bestselling mystery writer who is a friend of my brother. He said to make sure I was happy with my cover art, because to this day, he hates and regrets the cover of his first book. I tried to get something put into my contract for some level of approval, but to no avail. That was only logical, after all, they’re the professionals and have experience as to what works and what doesn’t. Things as simple as color choices can influence your opinion of a cover, regardless of the image itself. I was however asked if I had any ideas. I sent them to the home page of an artist (Tanner) whose gallery I discovered while walking through the French Quarter in New Orleans. I saw A Place to Rest through the window and was mesmerized by it, so much so that I bought a print. You can view it here. If you look at that picture, and then my cover, here, you can see the connection. No, I didn’t get to approve or disapprove of what they gave me, but they did take my thoughts and ideas into consideration. In hindsight, I think it was a good compromise. I don’t know what does or doesn’t work, just what I like.

Marketing: I’ve also heard often that first time authors aren’t given much in terms of promotion or marketing. That’s not far off. This is where it does come down to a business point of view. A publisher has a certain amount of money to spend. Should they spend it on someone who they know will sell and give them a return on that investment? Or should they gamble it on someone new who might not make it? Don’t get me wrong, I’m receiving support. In fact I have a publicist working with me. So far, she’s arranged an interview and a guest blog piece, a spot on a panel at the New York Comic Con, and provided me plenty of advice.But, even if you have a bestseller credit to your name, you’re going to have to work to sell your book. I’ve contacted local bookstores to ask them to carry my book, explored possibilities for events (readings or book signings), and looked for places to promote my book online. I didn’t expect a book tour, or a review by The New York Times or the like, and wasn’t surprised that I didn’t get it.

So what have I learned from all this? As a new author, I had visions of magic and wonder. Turns out, it’s a lot of work to make that magic happen. I had to turn around edits for The Stolen in fairly short order and I had a real deadline for my second book, The Forgotten, not just one I set myself. That being said, I’ve received plenty of support and encouragement, my questions have been answered, and not once did I ever feel condescended to. When I met the Harper team in New York, I was impressed beyond words by the enthusiasm and excitement waiting for me. They were all passionate about their support for The Stolen. I felt like a “real” author, not just someone who got lucky.

I thought I knew a lot, some of which I was right about, but not everything. Of course, just because this has been my experience doesn’t mean it’ll be yours. I just hope this gives you a little more information about what’s behind the curtain. I’ve said before not to ever give up if you want to be a writer, and that includes not giving up once you’ve gotten a deal. It’s hard work, but if it were easy, everyone would do it.

My First Event, the Afterglow – (Also, How to Order a Signed Copy of The Stolen)

I had my first reading for The Stolen on September 23rd at Gibson’s Bookstore in Concord, NH. They were wonderful and utterly gracious hosts. I’d like to say the turnout was massive, that people were packed in and Gibson’s ran out of books. However, I’m a new author so that would’ve been an unrealistic expectation. I think I provided some entertainment to the people who did come and perhaps intrigued those who were not attending but were shopping for other books. It is a fantastic bookstore, and if you’re within driving distance, you really should check the store out.

After the event, I did sign extra copies and they are available to order. You can either call them at (603) 224-0562 or you can order them online here. For the first few to order, there will be a little surprise included as well. Since Gibson’s is my local bookstore, I’ll be stopping in to replenish the supply of signed copies, so there should always be some available. They make excellent birthday, Christmas, Hanukkah, anniversary, Bar/Bat Mitzvah, apology, Festivus, Comic Book Day, Drink a Beer Day, International Translation Day, or Virus Appreciation Day gifts, or just because. If you want to make sure you’re getting a signed copy, you can call and the very nice people there will help you out.

I’ve updated the page for The Stolen to include a link to Gibson’s, here. It might be easier and more convenient to order from a larger online retailer, but independent bookstores are a treasure, and it’s a wonderful thing to support them. They aren’t just places to buy books, or local businesses, they’re also a vital and vibrant part of the world of books. They give new authors like myself a place to have events before we have huge fan bases, and of course provide local venues for bigger names as well. Sure, it’s more convenient to go to a website and click (which you can do for most Indie Bookstores as well), but there’s something special about going to a bookstore, walking through the shelves and finding a new book you might not otherwise have, or maybe rediscovering an old favorite you’d forgotten about and want to share with others.

Two “BIG” Annoucements!

1. Today The Stolen goes on sale in paperback! You can get a copy at your local bookstore, or from: HarperCollins, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, and Indiebound.

2. I’ve got a post on John Scalzi’s blog, part of his “Big Idea” series! Do stop by and check it out, the poor guy could really use the extra traffic… (MASSIVELY sarcastic)

That’s right, I’m now a “Paperback Writer.” And yes, I’ve been waiting a long time to use that!