Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Happy Release Day, Kerry Schafer!

Today marks a very exciting day for a friend and colleague of mine, Kerry Schafer. As you may recall, back in January of last year, I came across Kerry's manuscript on Book Country and passed it along to the editorial staff at Penguin, who quickly fell in love with it as I had, acquiring a two-book deal from the debut author.

Now, the day has come that the fabulous manuscript is bound and hitting the shelves!

Vivian Maylor can’t sleep. Maybe it’s because she just broke up with her boyfriend and moved to a new town, or it could be the stress of her new job at the hospital. But perhaps it’s because her dreams have started to bleed through into her waking hours. 
All of her life Vivian has rejected her mother’s insane ramblings about Dreamworlds for concrete science and fact, until an emergency room patient ranting about dragons spontaneously combusts before her eyes—forcing Viv to consider the idea that her visions of mythical beasts might be real. 
And when a chance encounter leads her to a man she knows only from her dreams, Vivian finds herself falling into a world that seems strange and familiar all at once—a world where the line between dream and reality is hard to determine, and hard to control…

In honor of the release of BETWEEN (Ace Books), Kerry took time out of her busy blog tour schedule to do a little Q&A with me:

DP: So, the big question...how does it feel to be a published author?!

KS: Honestly? It feels like I've walked into my own book. Reality has become a little fuzzy, in all the good ways. I just can't believe my book is actually really going to be on bookshelves! I've been throwing around a lot of exclamation marks.

DP: What inspired the story behind BETWEEN?

KS: A lot of factors came together at just the right moment: an errant penguin (who happened to be named Vivian), my introduction to the works of MC Escher, and long, fascinating conversations on the nature of reality with my friend and co-worker, Jamie. Oh, and Nanowrimo! I'm pretty sure that writing fast and furiously had something to do with those disparate elements coalescing as they did.

DP: The revision process can be a tricky--and exhausting--one. What was the hardest thing for you to revise/rewrite? Did you have to kill any of your darlings?

KS: I have an entire graveyard full of darlings. Very few elements of the initial draft remain, in fact. I eliminated favorite characters and entire plot arcs and even my very favorite phrases.

DP: Tell us a little about your experience with the publishing process. Any particular likes, dislikes, surprises? Give it to me straight!

KS: Publishing is a strange animal. One of the fascinating (and frustrating) things about it is the aspect of "hurry up and wait." You are given some sort of a deadline. You clear your schedule, forego important aspects of daily living, and drive yourself to the finish line. You turn your manuscript or your revisions or copy edits or whatever in on time, excited by your success at meeting said deadline. Time then passes. Slowly. Two months later, your editor is just finding time to get to what you slaved away to turn in! I know this isn't just my story, because I hear it from my friends. Also? This isn't because editors are sitting around with their feet up, gossiping about their authors and drinking Margaritas. They too are busting their butts.

DP: Who, if anyone, guided you or acted as your mentor as you went from being an aspiring writer to a debut author?

KS: It wasn't just one person – sort of that "it takes a village" thing. My wonderful agent, Deidre Knight, for starters. And my friend Leigh Evans blazed the path for me – her debut (The Trouble with Fate, and you should definitely read this!) released about a month before Between. She was awesome about sharing information and her experience, which kept me from panic a few times, and from blunders a lot of times. Also, Julie Butcher, who has been through the book release experience with loved ones more times than I can easily count. My whole Twitter support team, people at work – the list is very long.

DP: Do you have a blog tour or any signings lined up that we should be putting on our calendars?

KS: I do have a fabulous blog tour lined up, which is currently ongoing. You can see the details of that here on my blog. I will be signing at Auntie's Bookstore in Spokane, WA on February 16 at 2 pm. And I'm planning to be at RT in Kansas City.

DP: What's up next??

KS: The second Book of the Between, tentatively titled Wakeworld. This is currently with my editor. (Reference question #4 and the whole waiting thing.)

Thank you so much for having me at your blog today! And thank you for discovering me on Book Country!!

Thank YOU for joining us, Kerry! 


Sunday, January 27, 2013

A Lesson in Collecting Rare Books

I am a big fan of rare books. It's that simple. I could spend hours roaming around rare bookstores, poking my nose in the musty, yellowed pages and running my fingers along the rough leather bindings.

My own collection of rare books is small. Just one little bookshelf of editions of various ages, styles, genres--even languages. My three favorites are a first edition of Robert Frost's A WITNESS TREE, a  first edition of A.A. Milne's WE ARE SIX, and a random 19th century French religious tome that was neither bound nor had its pages cut for reading.

My hope as I start to settle down into my future is to grow my collection, have a little library or rare and used books to make me smile. But how do you really start that kind of collection, I sometimes wonder. Now, I can wonder now more, as this week, Publishers Weekly posted a piece called "Book Collecting 101" by Richard Davies of AbeBooks.com:

It might just be me, but I believe far fewer ‘Physical Books are Dead’ articles are being published these days. Just as well because book collecting is alive and well, and co-existing happily alongside digital media. Avid readers are still becoming book collectors. Beautiful, rare and interesting editions are still being bought and sold.
The first question for any potential book collector to answer is ‘What should I collect?’ The answer is simple – collect the books you love. I always advise collecting for love rather than financial gain. It could be an author or a literary group, every possible edition of a single title, a genre or a sub-genre, an era or a publisher, first editions, signed copies or books illustrated by a particular artist.
Can you make money from collecting rare books? Yes, but like the stock market, the value of books can decrease as well as increase. Can you build a collection of valuable books? Again yes, but, again like the stock market, it takes knowledge and research to strike gold. Are books a good long-term investment? It depends – can you identify books that will gain value over a couple of decades? 
Collecting books for financial gain is not easy. That’s why it’s good to start with the books you love and know well. Many collectors read every book published by an author and then begin collecting first editions of each title. Many collectors return to the books they loved as children. The loss of Maurice Sendak sparked interest in his work from collectors and a signed first edition of Where the Wild Things Are sold for $25,000 on AbeBooks just weeks after his death. Children’s books can be challenging to collect because young readers often treat them roughly. 
Spend time in rare bookshops. Bauman’s Rare Books in New York and Las Vegas, the Brattle Book Shop in Boston, Royal Books in Baltimore, Ken Sanders Rare Books in Salt Lake City and Wessel & Lieberman in Seattle are just a few famous names. Get to know your local rare booksellers. 
Considering many people now consume books via digital files, book collectors are often drawn to books as objects of art. The look (and feel) of particular books can define a collection. Bindings, dust jackets in certain styles and illustrations can be attractive drivers behind a collection. In December, AbeBooks sold a 1944 first edition of PasiphaĆ© illustrated by Henri Matisse for $30,000. Books by Picasso and Dali regularly fetch high prices. 
First editions and signed copies are two cornerstones of book collecting, but, once you have delved into the world of used books, the golden rule is condition, condition, condition. The difference in financial value between a first edition that’s been gently read once and a heavily worn first edition with a torn, price-clipped dust jacket can be significant. 
For modern first editions, the presence of a dust jacket is vital in itself – DJs were commonly thrown away by owners in the early years of the 20th century. The most significant example of how a dust jacket can affect value is the first edition of The Great Gatsby – with a dust wrapper, the book is worth more than $100,000 (one sold for $182,000 at auction in 2009). A first edition lacking its jacket is worth less than $10,000.
A book’s value increases when there is demand from buyers but copies are scarce. Simple economics. There can be many influencing factors, such as the literary or social significance of the book, interest in the author, awards or controversy. Das Kapital by Karl Marx shaped world politics, so first editions are worth $50,000. At the lower end of the scale, signed copies of the 2012 Booker-winning Bring up the Bodies start at $90. 
Moby-Dick was a flop when it was first published. Then a warehouse fire in 1853 destroyed the vast majority of the American first editions. Slowly, critics and readers came to understand Herman Melville had delivered a masterpiece and the few remaining first editions soared in value. Today, a first US edition will be priced over $60,000. 
Some authors are generous signers and that makes their signed books affordable. Ray Bradbury signed thousands of books, and today prices start at less than $20 – very low for a writer of such magnitude. Salman Rushdie and Ken Follett are two more prolific signers and prices for their signed books begin at around $15 and $8 respectively. 
If an author has reclusive status (think Harper Lee and J.D. Salinger) then you will pay a premium for a signed book. AbeBooks sold a rare signed first edition of To Kill a Mockingbird for $25,000 in 2011 – an unsigned first edition went for $18,000 last year.
As a reader of Publishers Weekly, you probably already have many books on your shelves. But a good book collection is not defined by quantity but quality. New books from successful authors often have a large first edition print run but you need to find the first edition of that writer’s debut title where only 1,500 copies were printed. A famous example is J.K. Rowling’s first edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. She was an unknown writer and only 500 first edition copies were printed. One of those books sold for $37,000 on AbeBooks in 2005 at the height of Pottermania. 
If you already have first editions from up-and-coming authors on your shelves, you need patience. The big bucks are generated by books from legends of literature such as Kipling, Hemingway, Kafka and Tolkien – writers who have inspired millions of readers. It can take a long time to become legendary. 
Another key question is how much should be spent on a book collection? Thanks to the Internet, it’s easy to spend $40,000 on a signed first edition of Casino Royale by Ian Fleming. Set a budget and stick to it. If you are collecting books that have prices out of your reach, be smart – spread your net into charity book sales, library sales, and thrift shops. Spot undervalued copies and snap them up. I met one collector who loved first editions from Fleming but could not afford them – instead he bought later editions and added facsimiles of first edition dust jackets. Facsimile jackets can be bought for $20. 
There are hundreds of ways to build an eye-catching collection without breaking the bank. A bookshelf filled with vintage Penguin paperbacks will impress anyone. Penguins published in 1936, the company’s first year, can be bought for under $5. Pulp paperbacks are also plentiful, fun to collect, and just as cheap. 
For more on book collecting, visit AbeBooks's online guide to book collecting
Read the original article HERE

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Poking My Head Out of My Hidey Hole

Oh, my dear readers. My sincerest apologies for my seemingly random disappearance. First it was the holidays. Then it was being massively ill, putting me behind on all my work by about 10 days. Now, just a week ago, I finally had my last day at a full-time traditional job and am fully self-employed. As you can see, things have been less than leisurely!

What have I been doing, you wonder? Editing like a madwoman, and getting settled over at my consulting gig as Editorial Director of Entangled's Select and Edge imprints. With our upcoming Edge launch--Monday!--I have been especially wrapped up, finalizing manuscripts and covers, promotions and marketing copy, mission statements and branding plans. Craziness!

In all that time, not only have I not been able to blog, but I also haven't been able to read for pleasure or work on any of my own writing. Not that I think I could turn my editorial brain off right now, even if I did have time.

Which brings me to the topic of conversation over at Word-Whores this week. Allison Pang wrote a spot-on post today that I think outlines some of my own feelings on the topic quite well:

Like so many of my fellow word whores, I also find that I have less time to read - but then, I seem to have a lot less time for a lot of things. Gone are the days where I might play WoW until my eyes bled. Or stayed up all night to devour an 800 page book. Or spent all weekend cross-stitching. 
Or hell, even sleeping in. Which hasn't happened for at least nine years now. >_<  Silly children. 
It's not something I'd really thought about when I was trying to get published, but writing tends to suck up a good deal of my free time, so when I do read books I want them to be worth my time. So now I'm much more picky. Before all this, I nearly always finished every book I started - I guess I felt that I owed it to the author to see it through to the end. But these days, if it doesn't strike my fancy I put it down and move on to something else. 
The problem is that after spending so much time going over my own work and trying to improve my craft, it's hard to shut down that "editor brain" even when I read for fun. It's a bit of a bummer really. Part of it is nitpicking on things, but part of is is because now I *know* how much work and love goes into crafting a story - it's hard not to simply stop and appreciate a lovely turn of phrase or scene that truly transports or wince when I come across something that doesn't work. 
Reading has always been one of my greatest pleasures, so it's wonderful when I come across a book that I can forget the work that goes behind it. I think in some ways it becomes a measure of trust - I have a list of authors or book series that I trust - e.g. I know if I pick up a book by one of them, I will be satisfied. 
(Which is why it becomes so hard when an author or series suddenly seems to take a sharp right-hand turn into nowhere - sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't. That trust can become bitter disappointment.) 
These days I have books I read to feed my craft - highlighting bits and pieces or even certain words or scenes that strike my fancy that I want to remember - and books that are my comfort. When I look past the craft of the words and fall into the story like I used to? That's become rather precious to me because it doesn't happen as often as it used to. Things I could easily have overlooked before become glaring problems that pull me straight out of the story.
And of course, I realize that other people probably do the same thing with my books - which is both cool and somewhat mortifying all at once. And it's one of the reasons I can't really read my own books after they're out - the cool parts are cool, but wow, seeing the mistakes I made and can no longer change are often groan-inducing. 
But that's only fair, isn't it? :)
See the original post HERE