May 7, 2013

Ghost Burglar Wins IPPY

Posted in Book Talk tagged , , , , , , , , , at 2:13 pm by The Word Jar

Ghost BurglarWay back last year before my blogging hiatus, I posted about Ghost Burglar: The True Story of Bernard Welch – Master Thief, Ruthless Con Man, and Cold-Blooded Killer by Jack Burch and James King. Well, we just found out that Ghost Burglar has won the bronze medal in the True Crime category of the Independent Publisher Book Awards (or IPPYs, as they are known in the industry).

According to the IPPY website, “[t]he Independent Publisher Book Awards were conceived in 1996 as a broad-based, unaffiliated awards program open to all members of the independent publishing industry. The awards are intended to bring increased recognition to the thousands of exemplary independent, university, and self-published titles produced each year, and reward those who exhibit the courage, innovation, and creativity to bring about change in the world of publishing.”

So, I offer a grand huzzah to the authors. Their hard work paid off. As any writer knows, writing is such a solitary endeavor (even with co-authors), and it’s nice to receive recognition from the outside world for your effort. And now they get to go to NYC for the awards ceremony and cruise around BookExpo America. Color me jealous!


June 5, 2012

Armchair BEA: Best of 2012

Posted in Book Talk tagged , , , , , , at 2:51 pm by The Word Jar

I’ll admit it. I cannot keep up with the Literary Joneses. I will never in my lifetime finish my “to read” list, yet I add to it almost daily. I add old books; I add new books. I read old books; I read new books. Yet I can’t seem to get my act together enough to read the “it” books when everyone else does. Case in point: I added The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern to the list when I heard about it during BEA 2011, and I’m just now getting around to reading it. Not that I haven’t been salivating to read it all year, it’s just that other books, equally saliva-inducing, pop up, too. With this disclosure, I offer up my list of the Best of 2012, in no particular order and with no particular guarantee that they will be read anytime soon.

Stay Awake by Dan Chaon–This is the only 2012 book I’ve read so far, and it wouldn’t matter what year it was published in, this would make the list. A collection of ethereal dream-like short stories. Simply entrancing.

The Receptionist: An Education at The New Yorker by Janet Groth–A tell-all from a receptionist at the New Yorker? I think this sounds better than any Real Housewives of [Fill in the City]. But that’s how this bookworm rolls.

Let’s Pretend This Never Happened by Jenny Lawson–A memoir by The Bloggess must be required reading for bloggers, right? I’ve only heard great things about this one, but even if it doesn’t live up to expectations, how can you not love that cover?

What I Did by Christopher Wakling–A story about a little boy who runs into a busy street and the consequences of that action, told from the boy’s POV.

This is How You Lose Her by Junot Díaz–I read part of one of the stories in this collection in the BEA Buzz Books from Publishers Lunch (via NetGalley), and the voice was fantastic. With a line like “she treats me like I ate somebody’s favorite kid,” I’m in.

Be sure to let me know what you’ve loved or what you’re looking forward to this year. I’ll be stopping by other Armchair BEA blogs, but the more suggestions, the merrier.

May 3, 2012

My (Editing) Mark on True Crime

Posted in Publishing tagged , , , , , , , , at 1:55 pm by The Word Jar

I love true crime books. It’s really a strange fascination, to love true crime books. They aren’t written as instruction manuals. If you read The Stranger Beside Me, it’s not likely to keep you from falling into the clutches of the next Ted Bundy. I guess it’s a voyeuristic venture. Peering into the minds and lives of those who are so utterly different than who I am. Unless I become an unfortunate victim, I doubt I’ll be written about in a true crime book. I don’t even eat grapes at the grocery store.

But, I will be leaving my mark on a true crime book. I’m currently editing Ghost Burglar: The True Story of Bernard Welch—Master Thief, Ruthless Con Man, and Cold-Blooded Killer by Jack Burch and James King. Ghost Burglar chronicles the life and crimes of Bernard C. Welch, who stole millions of dollars of goods from the elite in Washington, D.C., in the late 1970s. Co-author James King lends an insider’s knowledge to the book, as he was one of the detectives hunting Welch at that time. He was the first to identify Welch as the suspect, even as police struggled to locate and apprehend him. Welch was finally arrested on December 5, 1980, after murdering Dr. Michael Halberstam (brother of author and journalist David Halberstam) in a botched burglary. Even though he had been shot multiple times, Halberstam ran over the fleeing Welch with his car on his way to the hospital. And as if being a thief and murderer wasn’t enough, Welch also successfully (for a time) escaped from prison twice.

It’s been a fascinating experience to edit a true crime book. The authors did a wonderful job with the writing. The majority of the work I’ve done is to structure the book so that it flows smoothly, weaving between Welch’s lavish life on the lam and the police desperately pursuing him.

Ghost Burglar is also my first attempt at being more than just an editor. I’ve been put into a sort of publishing coordinator role for this bookcreating the publishing schedule, designing marketing materials, setting up a blog, creating and sending out ARCs, as well as trying to gather reviews. As the editing process winds down now, Ghost Burglar will go for layout and design next week, and then ARC distribution will soon follow. It’s off to the printer in June and into bookstores in September.

If you’d like to review Ghost Burglar, let me know. I’d love to hear what you have to say. I’ll have a few ARCs to distribute here, and I’m also trying to set up a giveaway through LibraryThing’s Early Reviewer program.

Check back soon for more Ghost Burglar updates!

August 29, 2011

Coming Attractions, Book-style

Posted in Book Talk tagged , , , , , , , , , , at 1:53 pm by The Word Jar

Confession: I’m new to book trailers. In a far corner of my mind, I knew they existed as a publishing world marketing tool, but I never bothered to check any out. I assumed book trailers would be guilty of the same thing that movies based on books are guilty of–giving the reader preconceived ideas and images about the characters, places, and plots of the book instead of letting the reader *read* the book and form her own book-based universe.

Now that I’ve done some research and checked out a few book trailers, I’ve found that many of them aren’t what I expected at all. I envisioned short film versions of the books, but I found they are more like commercials for books. As with commercials for every product, there are hits and misses (as highlighted below). But in most instances, these book trailers are not guilty of anything except selling me on reading the books they are promoting. Even though book trailers can be entertaining, I still prefer to get my book recommendations from friends and family and other trustworthy review sources. (Full disclosure: The book trailers I highlight below are all for books that I had already planned to read. Whether or not a book trailer could make me want to read a book I hadn’t already heard of remains to be seen, but in one instance, the book trailer did make me a little hesitant to read the spotlighted book.)

And now dim the lights, here are your coming attractions…

A few weeks ago I featured the book trailer for Erin Morgenstern’s The Night Circus. I just stumbled onto this book trailer while reading through some of the publicity it was receiving at BEA. It was my first time viewing a book trailer, and it is going to be pretty hard to top. It’s a winning combination of music, whimsy, and story description. It still makes me smile every time I watch it, so let’s feature it again.

Recently a publisher alerted me to another, quite different, book trailer. The Keeper of Lost Causes by Jussi Adler-Olsen is a Scandinavian thriller (who can get enough of those these days?) about a cop who recently got shot on the job and gets promoted to run a new department that focuses on cold cases. The first case handled by the new department is the alleged accidental death of a rising politician. Her body was never recovered, and some believe that she was murdered. In actuality (not a spoiler) she has been kidnapped, imprisoned, and tortured for five years. The book trailer for The Keeper of Lost Causes effectively conveys the dark, twisted mood of the book.

Another book that’s coming up on my reading list is Just My Type by Simon Garfield. Just My Type is being described as an entertaining history of fonts, but I didn’t find the book trailer to be too entertaining. I still consider it a successful book trailer because it puts a unique spotlight on the book’s title and subject matter.

I’m disappointed to say the book trailer for Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs is a miss. The actors make the book trailer feel too much like a movie, and that is what I didn’t want book trailers to be. I imagined Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children being much darker than what the book trailer leads me to believe. With a grandfather telling his grandson this story, it feels lighter and more whimsical rather than dark and peculiar. The end of the book trailer delves into that darkness a little, but for now, I’ve moved this book a few notches down my reading list. (Another miss, from the same publisher, Quirk Books, is the book trailer for Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters. Again, it’s the acting.)

And we’ll end on a high note. A hit for Quirk Books is the book trailer for Meowmorphosis by Franz Kafka and Coleridge Cook. This is a close second to The Night Circus. If you don’t want to read this book after seeing this book trailer–hairball and all–I don’t know what will make you want to read it.

What do you think of book trailers? Are they an effective way for publishers to get people to read their books? What are your favorite book trailers?

May 30, 2011

Get Out Your TBR List: Big Books at BEA 2011

Posted in Book Talk, Publishing tagged , , , , , at 10:48 am by The Word Jar

Last week Publishers Weekly ran an excellent article highlighting the books getting the most buzz at BEA. They interviewed several booksellers from independent bookstores around the country to see what upcoming titles they can’t wait to recommend to their customers.

Two of the titles I’m most intrigued by from that list are The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern and Turn of Mind by Alice LaPlante. The Night Circus centers around two magicians in a mysterious circus who are in competition, as well as falling in love, with each other. I was already looking forward to this book after reading the publisher’s description, but then I found this mesmerizing book trailer. I could watch it over and over and over.

Alice LaPlante’s Turn of Mind is actually next up on my reading list. This novel is told in the voice of a retired surgeon, Dr. Jennifer White, who is succumbing to Alzheimer’s. Dr. White turns out to be a person of interest when her best friend is murdered, but she has no memory of the incident. Memory, or lack thereof, must be a trend in books right now, because Turn of Mind is one of four books on my reading list that deals with amnesia or Alzheimer’s (the other books being The Two Deaths of Daniel Hayes by Marcus Sakey, Before I Go To Sleep by S. J. Watson, and What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty).

As if all of these suggestions weren’t enough, to further add to your reading list the New York Times offers their best bets for beach reads in “Books to Bury Yourself In.”

If you can’t find anything worthwhile to read from these suggestions, you need your library card revoked.

(Of course these lists are enough to keep me in books up to my eyeballs all summer, but I’m always on the lookout for other recommendations. So, I get to keep my library card and still ask, “What books are on your list for the summer?”)

May 24, 2011

BEA Starts Today

Posted in Events, Publishing tagged , , , , at 3:12 pm by The Word Jar

Shh….listen! Do you hear the chatter of the booksellers about the latest bestsellers and upcoming must-read titles? Do you hear the scratching of the authors’ pens as they sign the books that cost them their blood, sweat, and tears to write? Do you hear the hand-wringing of the publishing folks over the latest trends in technology and how they affect the printed book? Now take a deep breath…can you smell the books?

No? Then you must not be in NYC for BookExpo America.

Unfortunately, neither am I. But plenty of publishing people are, and they are celebrating all things “book” right now at the 2011 BEA. Technically it kicked off yesterday with the Big Ideas at BEA Conference and other forums, but today is the day the exhibit hall opens and the author panels take place. Row upon glorious row of publisher booths showcasing their upcoming titles, with a few advance copies to hand out as well. I can’t think about it too much or I’ll get lightheaded.

In addition to the main event, the Book Blogger Convention will be held this Friday after BEA winds down. This convention is “intended to provide support, instruction, and social time for people who blog about books.” It doesn’t get much more wonderful than that!

A week of previewing new titles, meeting authors, learning about the latest publishing trends, and gathering bags of books…that’s the stuff of dreams! For now I’ll content myself with following the action through @BookExpoAmerica and any other updates I can find. And as always, there’s the never consoling consolation….there’s always next year!

Is anyone lucky enough to be at BEA this year? Will you be attending the Book Blogger Convention?

April 20, 2009

The Return of Dan Brown

Posted in Book Talk tagged , , , , , , , , at 3:56 pm by The Word Jar

It’s going to be a big year for Dan Brown. First, the movie version of Angels and Demons will be released on May 15, and according to, Dan Brown’s newest book, his first since The Da Vinci Code, will be released by Random House in September. The book will be titled The Lost Symbol and will again feature protagonist Robert Langdon. The Lost Symbol is sure to please Brown’s fans, and it will most likely bump up book sales in this down economy.

I’m very excited about The Lost Symbol. I held off for some time before reading The Da Vinci Code just because of the hype, but I was swept away once I sat and read it. Is it the most historically accurate book around? Nope. Is it the best written book around? Nope, again. But it was fun and well-paced, and it had no trouble keeping my interest. After I finished The Da Vinci Code, I promptly read all of Brown’s other books. So, put me in the “eagerly awaiting” column for The Lost Symbol. I know that even if it’s not the greatest book ever, it is certain to be a fun read.

Are you looking forward to The Lost Symbol? Did you pass on The Da Vinci Code? What did you think of Brown’s other books?

March 30, 2009

The Price of Paper Books

Posted in Publishing tagged , , at 12:48 pm by The Word Jar

The April 2009 issue of Money has an interesting breakdown of where the money goes when someone buys an old-fashioned hardcover or paperback book. They used John Grisham’s The Associate, which retails for $27.95, as their sample. The breakdown:

$12.58–Retailer [Whether the publisher gets the book into the bookstore through direct sales or through a wholesaler, the bookseller usually receives anywhere from a 45 to 55 percent discount. This is why it is more profitable for smaller publishers to sell their books directly to the consumer.]

$4.19–Author royalties [At almost 15 percent, this is not an accurate representation of the average author’s cut.]

$3.55–Pre-production [Money describes this as the salary for everyone who works on the book for the publisher–editors, designers, etc. As a fellow editor, I can only hope that this is decent money for the always hardworking editors and designers. Oh, to work for a company that appreciates your talent and pays you accordingly.]

$2.83–Printing [When your initial run tops a million, that will bring the printing costs down…per book, anyway.]

$2.80–Wholesaler [The publishing middleman.]

$2.00–Marketing [Again, I think this may be high for average authors. Mr. Grisham may get ads in trade and consumer magazines, as well as a book tour. If Mr. Grisham were Mr. Patterson, he’d also get commercials on TV. Average authors should be so lucky.]

It was interesting to see a dollar-by-dollar breakdown for an individual book. I know general percentages for a breakdown such as this, and I’ve seen publishing budgets for whole print runs, but I’ve never contemplated what those numbers boil down to when you are talking about one single copy.

So, the next time you are at the bookstore (hopefully your local independent), you’ll have a general idea of what you are paying for besides a good read.

February 13, 2009

Kick-start Your Book Publishing Career

Posted in Publishing tagged , , at 11:47 pm by The Word Jar

Are you a bibliophile? Is your dream career in book publishing? If so, you need to check out the Publishing Institute at the University of Denver. As a graduate of this program, I can attest to the valuable education, experience, and contacts it offers.

This intensive 4-week course covers every aspect of book publishing, from acquistions and editing to production and marketing. There are lectures and panel discussions with some of publishing’s top professionals. Students also participate in workshops and take field trips to local publishing fixtures. Students are encouraged to interact with visiting professionals at picnics and other social events, so it is easy to make contacts.

The program attracts a wide spectrum of students, but recent college graduates and career changers make up the bulk of participants. The application process is competitive, and this year the application deadline is March 23. You can see the requirements and download an application here.

There are other publishing programs offered across the country, but the Publishing Institute at the University of Denver shows participants that there is a whole book publishing world outside of NYC and the big conglomerate houses. Whether you want to edit, design, or market books, attending the Publishing Institute will get you well on your way to your new book publishing career.