If you are interested in blogging or want to promote your book, please contact E. B. Davis at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Look for our new bloggers this month. Debra Sennefelder will blog on 1/15, and Debra Goldstein debuts on 1/22. Please welcome our double Debs to WWK.
Don't miss our January author interviews: 1/10-Lawrence H. Levy, 1/17-Kaye George, 1/24-Janet Bolin, 1/31-Kathy Aarons. And E. B. Davis will interview Shari Randall on Monday 1/29 about the publication of her first novel, Curses, Boiled Again. Please join us in welcoming these authors to WWK.
Our January Saturday Guest Blogger Schedule: 1/6-Becky Clark, Pat Hale, Leslie Karst, Edith Maxwell, Shawn McGuire, C. Perkins, and Sue Star, and 1/13-Polly Iyer. WWK's Margaret H. Hamilton will blog on 1/20, and Kait Carson on 1/27.
Congratulations to our writers for the following publications:
Shari Randall's "Pets" will be included in Chesapeake Crimes: Fur, Feathers, and Felonies anthology, which will be published in 2018. In the same anthology "Rasputin," KM Rockwood's short story, will also be published. Her short story "Goldie" will be published in the Busted anthology, which will be released by Level Best Books on April 25th.
In addition, our prolific KM has had the following shorts published as well: "Making Tracks" in Passport to Murder, Bouchercon anthology, October 2017 and "Turkey Underfoot," appears in the anthology The Killer Wore Cranberry: a Fifth Course of Chaos.
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
An Interview with Beth Groundwater-The Business
EBD: The science fiction novella stands out among your mysteries. Is sci fi an interest of yours?
BG: I read widely in quite a few genres and science fiction is one of them. So, yes, it’s an interest of mine. I decided, though, after writing The Epsilon Eridani Alternative, that writing hard science fiction requires too much research! I had to get the physics of space-time travel, the biology of human aging and stem cell use right, among other topics, or the sci fi readers would be on my case.
EBD: Virtual Tales is a small publisher. Can I assume that The Epsilon Eridani Alternative was released as a trade paperback? At that point, you already had two novels published. Why didn’t you continue with Five Star and why did you choose Virtual Tales?
BG: I wrote The Epsilon Eridani Alternative novella before my mystery novels and had put it aside after trying to place it with various publications such as science fiction magazines and publishers who release novellas. Five Star does not publish novellas, so that was not an option for me. In fact, very few publishers do. After I had some success with my mysteries, I pulled out the novella, polished it up some and decided to try to place it again.
I actually signed a contract with another small press, which never got around to publishing it. Why, I don’t know, but that delayed things for a year. Then I found Virtual Tales. I liked the fact that they brought their titles out as both e-books and trade paperbacks, that they published a variety of genres, and that they didn’t focus on erotica, as many of the small on-line presses do. I’ve been very happy with the professionalism of all their staff.
EBD: I appreciate Five Star since it seems to distribute mainly to libraries and I use libraries when I can, but did that emphasis affect your sales? Was it important to get into libraries to increase your readership? Do you think going with Five Star served that purpose well (if that was the purpose)?
BG: I had always viewed Five Star as a “starter press” for me, somewhere to get my feet wet and learn the business and make a name for myself, then I hoped to move on to a larger publisher with wider distribution. Five Star likes to play this role, too, and be the discoverer of new talent. I’m very pleased that I not only met but exceeded my goals with Five Star, and they are very pleased that I am one of their success stories and have moved on to a regular trade publisher. They view themselves as a library publisher only, and their pricing and distribution is based on that. Their books do not usually appear in bookstores unless you, the author do, by having an event in the store. A very small number of independent bookstores carry Five Star mysteries because their customers ask for them, but not many.
EBD: What genres does Five Star publish? Any cross genre, such as romantic or paranormal mystery?
BG: Five Star publishes romances in its Expressions line, mysteries and westerns. The Expressions line will be closing at the end of 2011. I think I have seen cross-genre books in the mystery line, but since they target the library market, be aware that any sex scenes should be toned down. The best way to get an idea of what they publish is to see what books they've recently put out in their catalog (at http://www.gale.cengage.com/fivestar/).
BG: I don't agree that distribution for trade paperbacks isn't as good as for mass market paperbacks. I've seen trade paperbacks everywhere that mass markets appear--in bookstores, grocery stores, Wal-Mart, Costco, Target, etc. Many of the women in my book club and in book clubs I visit prefer trade paperbacks because they're easier to hold and read than mass markets. And it's the book club market that first drove trade paperback sales. My feeling is that e-books eventually will replace most mass market paperback sales and that collectors and those who want to keep printed versions of books will go for hardcovers and trade paperbacks.
EBD: Midnight Ink is publishing Deadly Currents, your third publisher. Will it be released in mass paperback? Is that the reason for your switch, and can I assume that distribution and advertising is better for a mass paperback? If not, what is the reason for the switch?
BG: Deadly Currents will be published simultaneously in both e-book and trade paperback. These were the two formats most requested by my readers, and both formats are growing in production while hardcover and mass market paperbacks are shrinking in production. I deliberately looked for a publisher that 1) would bring the book out in e-book and trade paperback and 2) had terrific distribution. I verified that Midnight Ink’s distribution policy was friendly to bookstores with a bookstore owner friend of mine before I signed the contract with them.
The lesson from all this is that it’s very important for authors to learn as much as possible about the business of publishing as well as the craft of fiction-writing in order to make decisions like this.
EBD: Five Star, I assume, did no promotion, but is Midnight Ink providing any? Do they have marketing people with a plan?
BD: Five Star does do promotion, but their promotion is aimed at the library market, not at bookstores. Midnight Ink does more, and targets bookstores and end readers, primarily, but they also promote to libraries. They assign publicists to their authors, who create promotion plans. I've been working with my publicist since November.
EBD: Have you ever tried advertisements in magazines or newspapers to promote your books?
BG: I tried going in on a group ad in Romantic Times with some other Five Star authors for To Hell in a Handbasket, so the magazine would review our books, but I got much better reviews from other sources that didn't require me to place an ad. Since then, I've decided that I'll never pay for advertising and that I'll work on free promotion instead, pitching articles to feature editors at local newspapers and interviews to local radio announcers, for example. Midnight Ink is placing ads for Deadly Currents in a few targeted magazines, so I'll be anxious to see if those have any impact on sales.
EBD: Have you seen your cover art for Deadly Currents? If so, did you like it and were you allowed to make suggestions?
BG: Both Five Star and Midnight Ink solicit author input on the cover design that is given to the art department and ask for feedback after the design is completed by the artist. I've been pleased with all of my covers so far, and believe it or not, I've made change suggestions that were accepted. The Five Star cover for A Real Basket Case was completely redone based on my feedback, and a small change was made to that for To Hell in a Handbasket. Midnight Ink is revising the cover for the trade paperback version of A Real Basket Case that will be released in November based on my suggestion. The key is to have a good reason for the change and to back it up. I loved the cover for Deadly Currents as soon as I saw it and made no revision suggestions. You can see it at my website, the Midnight Ink site (http://www.midnightinkbooks.com/), on Amazon and Barnes & Nobel websites, etc.
EBD: Is there any reason you haven’t released any of your mysteries in e-format?
BG: Five Star, the publisher of my Claire Hanover gift basket designer hardcover mysteries, did not publish e-books at the time I signed a contract with them. My literary agent’s strategy all along was that after we found a publisher for my new series and signed that contract, she’d pitch the paperback and e-book rights for the Claire Hanover books to them. That’s precisely what she did with Midnight Ink, and they bought not only the e-book and paperback rights for A Real Basket Case and To Hell in a Handbasket, they also bought the third book in the series.
Midnight Ink confirmed what my agent had told me. They would not have offered the deal if I’d already released the e-book versions on my own. I’m so glad I waited! This is an example of why having a smart agent who knows the business is so important. The e-book and trade paperback versions of A Real Basket Case will be released in the fall of 2011 and of To Hell in a Handbasket in the fall of 2012, followed by the third book in the fall of 2013.
If you have any questions or salutations for Beth, please leave a comment. In next week’s interview, Beth explains the development of her new white water rafting series, the status of her Claire Hanover gift basket designer series, and how she manages writing, promoting and other projects. As one of her readers, I’m looking forward to whatever Beth writes! Come back next week to learn more about author Beth Groundwater