Thursday, June 30, 2011

Character Interview

Franny over at Minder Reader (a singularly appropriate name for a blog that posts reviews of the Ganzfield books, BTW), did a character interview with Trevor and Drew.

An excerpt:

Do you get along with the other people like you?
Drew: you mean other sparks--or G-positives in general? Sparks: yeah. But some of the others, like, oh, I dunno, the CHARMS, can be pure evil. And the minders can be scary.
Trevor: (blushes) Not all of them.
Drew: Well, your girlfriend is cool, but she's still scary. In a good way.
Trevor: There's a good way to be scary?
Drew: Yeah, well, the charms are scared of her, so that's good.
Trevor: Good point. 

Check out the full interview here:

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

I Love Things Like This

Wow. Just... wow.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011


I don't recommend reading these if you're at work, because your laughter will distract people in the neighboring cubicles:

Follow this link for the complete collection (warning: some of them are a little, um, "blue").

Thanks to Gregg for the link!

Don't forget to check out the previous two posts for the contest and giveaway, respectively. 

Monday, June 27, 2011

In My Shopping Bag

Hopkinton, New Hampshire is a great town with a wonderful annual book sale at the library. I grabbed a bunch of YA and MG books at 50¢ each.

Rebel Angels, Tuck Everlasting, The Tale of Despereaux, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Inkheart
Yeah. 50¢ each.

Cool, right? Here's the deal. I figured I could give these away on the blog to people who haven't read them yet. So, if you haven't read one or more of these, please put the title(s) in a comment below in the order you prefer them. I'll randomly select five people after midnight on June 30th and send one book to each (shipped to a US mailing address). Winners will receive the book highest on their lists that hasn't already been claimed.

The rules: You need to be a follower of the blog and the Ganzfield Facebook page. Easy, right? 

Oh, and the Slogan Contest continues here:

Happy Monday!

Thursday, June 23, 2011


The Disgruntled Bear Slogan Contest is now open, and here it is!

To Enter:
Come up with an item (real/imagined/unmarketable abstract concept/whatever) and a funny slogan for it. Post it in the comments section below by midnight (EDT) Thursday, June 30th. Enter as many times as you like.

The Winners:
First Prize will be go to the person who makes me do a coffee spit-take.
Honorable Mentions will go to the people who make me laugh out loud.

The Prizes:
First Prize is a SWAG pack of Spencer Hill Press stuff--at least two books (maybe ARCs), bookmarks, guitar picks, rack cards, and a nifty SHP tote bag (shipped to a US address) AND... your slogan printed out at 8.5x11"and HAND-DECORATED with original artwork done by Yours Truly, i.e., me (suitable for framing!).

Honorable mentions will receive a business-envelope-sized SWAG pack (cards, bookmarks, stickers, guitar pick, etc.) and an itty bitty printout of their slogan with a one-of-a-kind doodle. I'll ship these anywhere in the world.

So, what kinds of slogans am I looking for? Funny. Random. Entertaining. Insightful. Risqué is fine, but please don't post anything overtly raunchy.

Try Apathy: you won't be disappointed. 

Unicorn--the Other White Meat.* 
*ThinkGeek got a cease-and-desist letter from the Pork Council for this one. 

I'll post the winners July 1st, along with a link so the winners can send me their mailing addresses. 

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Good Day Sunshine

Alan Rinzler has a fantastic article in Forbes about what it means to be a successful writer in today's market. Check it out here:

Thanks to Carol for the link.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011


I stumbled on this as a friend-of-a-friend's link on Facebook, and it reminded me of why Hyperbole and a Half is awesome:

0:  Hi.  I am not experiencing any pain at all.  I don't know why I'm even here. 

1:  I am completely unsure whether I am experiencing pain or itching or maybe I just have a bad taste in my mouth.

2:  I probably just need a Band Aid.

Click over to see the rest of it. Trust me; it's worth it. 

Thanks to Badger and Badger's friend for the link!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Cool Book Trailer!

Thanks to Marie for the link.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Do Imprints Matter?

Does the publishing company or imprint name even register with you when you buy a book?

I don't think there's a lot of imprint "branding" at the consumer level. Most readers don't really know much about the publishing company when they pick up a book, with one big exception:


Everyone pretty much knows what to expect. Girl meets boy. Sparks. Some kind of conflict. At least two sex scenes and a happily ever after.

Why don't other publishers have this kind of recognition?

Happy weekend!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Book Trailers

Tell me your thoughts on book trailers. Do you like them? Watch them? Make book buying decisions based on them?

What do you like to see? What don't you like?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Just Too Much Random Awesomeness

I am in awe of this idea:

(Click on the photo to see more hot guys from decades past).

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

New Author!

Spencer Hill Press recently signed an AMAZING new author.

Emily White will debut next year with Elemental. Isn't the cover gaw-jus?

Cover by Victoria Caswell
Just because Ella can burn someone to the ground with her mind doesn't mean she should… but she wants to.

For ten years—ever since she was a small child—Ella has been held prisoner. Now that she has escaped, she needs answers.

Who is she? Why was she taken? And who is the boy with the beautiful green eyes who haunts her memories?

Is Ella the prophesied Destructor… or will she be the one who's destroyed? 

Coming in May 2012. 

Monday, June 13, 2011

Why the Best Kids Books Are Written in Blood

There's a great article about the content on YA books here:

What do you think? Where's the line for "appropriate" YA content?

Friday, June 10, 2011

Sales and Print Run Size

Jennifer said...
Here is something I've seen people asking about: Print runs and what's considered a success. Like, how do you determine a print run and what makes a book a success.

Well, here are the numbers:
Somewhere in the neighborhood of 300,000-400,000 books come out each year in the US. And 95% of books that are released will sell fewer than 5000 copies.

Here's the deal: publishers estimate the number of sales (more on how to do this later) that they will make from a title and try to get close when they do a print run. If they have too many, the books will cost them money to store and will eventually be pulped. If they underestimate the demand, they will have to do a second print run, which costs more than having all the copies printed when the machines are set up the first time.

However, if there's a higher demand for a book, the publisher is usually happy to do another print run. It's also WONDERFUL for the author's professional reputation. If an author's first book has an initial print run of 5000 and sells out, that's better than having a 10,000 unit print run and only selling 6000 copies.

So, selling out your initial print run is one measure of success.

Another measure is getting onto a bestseller list. There are a bunch, but the most famous is probably the New York Times's. These are usually compiled weekly (Amazon updates every hour or so), and getting on one usually feeds into increased visibility and therefore increased sales, so it can be a feedback loop of awesomeness.

So, how does a publisher decide how many copies to print? Well, we rely on several things, such as information on perceived demand from our distributors and from advance orders. We can also make rough estimates based on online buzz on sites like Goodreads and pre-orders on Amazon, knowing what the numbers were like for similar titles in previous years and how well they sold when they were released.

Happy Weekend!

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Book Promotion

MRomero said...
I was wondering what you have found to be the most effective ways of promoting an upcoming book?

Authors need to promote their own work; it's not enough to simply write the book anymore. Many publishers or distributors have people whose job it is to promote the books to major booksellers, but that's only part of the process. Authors should do what they can to build their own followings. Publishers usually have people who handle marketing (paid promos) and publicity (free promos). You can also hire a professional publicist or marketer; I've worked with a wonderful one and I'd be happy to give a referral.

Much of my readership has come from good reviews of the Ganzfield books. Follow the book blogs and find bloggers whose interests match your book. Check their review policies and ask them if they'd like to review an advance copy. Also let them know if you would be up for an interview and/or giveaway. DON'T spam the comments of bloggers!

Write articles on the topic of your book. List the book in the "about the author" blurb at the end. This is especially helpful for non-fiction authors. There are online sites where authors can post articles on their areas of expertise so journalists can find experts to interview.

Give talks on your book topic through local libraries, schools, clubs, etc. Many local bookstores will host author events for you if you ask.

Blog, but only if you're committed to doing it well. A poorly written blog is like the overgrown front yard of a foreclosed house.

Build up a following through Twitter and/or Facebook. I'm kinda lazy about Twitter; I just set it up so the posts from the Ganzfield fan site on Facebook become my tweets.

Give readers a taste of your work, either through a short story or novella prequel, or by releasing the first chapters of the book as a free download. Make sure that what you're offering as a giveaway makes the reader hungry for more. Also make sure that you have the right to make this available; check with your publisher first!

Make a book trailer, or pay someone who knows how to make one for you. Again, the idea is to create something that makes people want to go out and find your book. Don't put something out that's cheesy or amateurish.

Offer copies of your book in giveaways. We have some up on Goodreads now. --->

If your book has specific appeal to a geographic region or subculture, concentrate on that, rather than casting a wider net.

I hope this helps!

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

How the Publishing Process Works

Tasnim said...
I'd also like to know how long the publishing process process takes once you've finished writing the book. My last question is who reads your unfinished drafts?

Publishing moves slowly--tectonic-plate-speed. Here's how everything breaks down:

You write a book. That can take months or even years. I tend to average 2-3 months for a first draft.

Once you've revised it a few times, you should have other people read it. No one reads my unfinished drafts--for me, it would be like modeling an outfit for someone while only half-dressed... and not in an attractive way. Most of us have close friends or family who read our books first; my husband is always my first reader. Most writers also have beta readers. Betas are other writers or people in publishing who know enough to see the weaknesses in a manuscript and hopefully suggest ways to fix them. Depending on how many readers you have, how quickly they read, and how many revisions you need to make, this can be weeks or months.

Don't query until you're gone through several revisions and really polished your book up. Many first-time authors query too early and when agents request pages, they don't find the writing strong enough to want to read more. This query process also can take months, and that's a whole other post.

Once an agent signs you, he or she will put you through another round of revisions. Don't count on agents and editors to get your book up to professional levels; it should be there before you query. Agents and editors have many, many other manuscripts to choose from and will take on the projects that will sell with less effort on their part; it's a simple cost-benefit analysis.

The agent then submits the manuscript to publishers. This can last months, as well, and I've heard of examples that took years. Use this time to write another book. Or two.

After signing with a publisher, your book is put into the production schedule. If your manuscript was the only project, it could be out in a month or two, but there are a lot of other projects on the schedule, as well. Typical time from signing to release is about 18 months. During this time, cover art and jacket copy will be created. The editor will spend quality time with every word, phrase, and punctuation mark, and he or she may suggest a bunch of revisions.

Once it's ready, it goes into galleys, in which the pages are formatted in book layout and will look like the inside of the book. It will be proofread by several people (both on screen and printed), and then either turned into an "Uncorrected Proof" (some publishers skip this stage) or an ARC (Advance Reading Copy). Printing ARCs and getting them shipped back can take another month or two, and its done with enough lead time to fix any mistakes before they are supposed to go out. We try to get our ARCs into the hands of reviewers at least three months before the release date, and many distributors need information about the book at least six months before it's released.

So, if it takes six months to write and revise a manuscript and another six to query agents and sign with one, a further six months to put the manuscript out on submission to publishers before it sells, then another 18 months before it is released, then the total time would be...

three years, start to finish. 

Scarily, that's actually an optimistic guestimate.

Thanks for asking, Tasnim!

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

How Royalties Work

Authors receive royalties for their work, and this isn't a set number, which is why most people don't know how to figure them out. The amounts are calculated based on the terms of their publishing contract, and they may vary by publisher, format (paper, e-book, audio, etc.), and the agent's negotiating skills/author's clout. Basically, it's a "per use" licensing fee for the copyrighted material, so the more books sold, the more fees are collected.

The short version is that most authors receive somewhere in the neighborhood of 10-12% for hardcovers, 6-8% for paperbacks, and a much more variable amount of the list price for e-books. This is the industry standard, although individual publishers vary. For example, at Spencer Hill we use a net royalty model (more on that later).

The longer version is this:

The list price of the book is the suggested retail price.
Retailers typically get about a 50% discount on the book.
Distributors take a percentage to promote the book to retailers and to store the paper copies.
Printers take a fixed per-page fee to set up an offset print run, and then charge a per-copy rate.
Publishers pay the authors, the printers, the editors, etc., along with all the other costs of doing business. Anything left over after all that is profit.

If the author has an agent, s/he typically gets 15% from the author's royalties.
Most authors receive an advance (short for "advance against royalties") when they sign with a publisher. This can be as low as $1 or as high as several million. Once a book "earns out" the advance (e.g., sells enough copies to cover the initial amount the author was paid), the author will start to get checks from the publisher from the additional sales. Even if the book never earns out, the author gets to keep the advance.

Standard Royalties Example
If a book has a list price of $20, then a retailer like Barnes and Noble will be able to purchase it from the distributor for about $10.
Some of the $10 that the distributor gets pays its fee; in this example that could be $2-3.
The remaining $7-8 goes to the publisher.
With standard royalties, the publisher will then pay the author the set amount of the royalties. A 10% royalty rate gets the author $2 per book in this example, although the agent will get $0.30 of that.
The remaining $5-6 the publisher has received cover the printing costs of the book (anywhere from $1-$5, depending on the format and the size of the print run), the editing, proofreading, promotion, cover art, layout, office expenses, etc.

Still with me?

Net Royalties
With a net royalty model, the author gets a larger percentage--like 30%--of the money the publisher gets from the distributor, but only after those other expenses like printing and cover art are taken out. With Spencer Hill, we used this model intentionally to minimize the risk of taking on new authors and have the financial freedom to help them develop and promote their books. Editors either get a set fee (based on word count) or a small percentage of the net royalties (I always take a percentage). Neither editing fee counts as a gross expense; those are ALWAYS book specific and include things like: cover art, per-book printing charges, bookmarks, book trailers, etc. Our authors get approval of the expenses in advance; they also have the final say on cover art, promo material design, etc. They also have the right to check our financial statements to make sure we're doing what we said we're doing. In the end, the per-book amounts usually end up in the same range as the traditional model, although the initial per-book royalties are lower if the author chooses to do more book promotion such as doing a book trailer and/or sending a bunch of additional ARCs to reviewers (several of these already are provided by the publisher; it's in the contract).

This "net royalty" model is unusual in the business, and people who've been in publishing for a while think we're either really smart or really weird. But we did this intentionally because we don't just want to sell books--we want to grow authors both as writers and as well-known names in the business. This model allows us to do it in a way that the traditional one wouldn't. For example, many publishers don't cover the costs of promotional materials like bookmarks; their authors have to pay for them.

I don't think authors should have to spring for their own bookmarks.

Thanks to Franny for the question!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Questions about Publishing

Hi folks,

It's true what they say: it's a lot easier to get things done when you don't have a hideous stomach bug forged in the hellscape of a preschool snack room.

Okay, maybe people aren't saying it. Yet.

Anyhoo, this week I thought I'd throw open the blog to questions about publishing. Feel free to ask anything you've ever wanted to know, such as:

How much do authors make per book? 

Why does it take years for a book to come out once an author signs with a publisher? 

I've written a book. How do I get someone to publish it? 

How does a bill become a law?* 

Is BEA really just a cover event so supernatural beings can walk amongst us?** 

Seriously, if I know, I'll tell you. If I don't know, I'll try to find out. Ask away!

*It sings a cartoon song until a fat guy puts a ribbon on it. 
**No, that's Arisia.  

Friday, June 3, 2011

Hey, Jealousy

Maggie Stiefvater makes some great points:

Happy weekend!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Air and Light and Time and Space

I think I've posted this before, but I really do love this poem. It's one of my true inspirations:

air and light and time and space

"–you know, I’ve either had a family, a job,
something has always been in the
but now
I’ve sold my house, I’ve found this
place, a large studio, you should see the space and
the light.
for the first time in my life I’m going to have
a place and the time to

no baby, if you’re going to create
you’re going to create whether you work
16 hours a day in a coal mine
you’re going to create in a small room with 3 children
while you’re on
you’re going to create with part of your mind and your body blown
you’re going to create blind
you’re going to create with a cat crawling up your
back while
the whole city trembles in earthquake, bombardment,
flood and fire.

baby, air and light and time and space
have nothing to do with it
and don’t create anything
except maybe a longer life to find
new excuses

© Charles Bukowski, Black Sparrow Press

The original can be found here:

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Tornado Damage

Just to give you a sense of the scope of the disaster:,0,2395484.htmlstory

Be sure to use the slider.