Why are romance novels most commonly published in paperback?

Ever wonder why romance novels are always published in paperback? During quarantine, I’ve been reading a LOT of romance, and every time I get a new romance novel from the bookstore or a publisher, I noticed they’re always published as paperback. Typically, when a book is first published, they’re produced as hardcover. Hardcover books are more expensive, and can drive a higher profit for publishers in the first six months to a year of a book’s life. It’s after that point that publishers will continue printing the book, but in paperback.

But why is romance different? Why do these books begin their careers as paperback books as opposed to the more expensive and higher quality hardcover?

The short answer is DEMAND. Historically, romance has been the best-selling genre of books in existence. Of course, this fluctuates and changes, and in recent years, we’ve seen an increase in true crime and thriller genres — but from a standpoint of how the industry started, romance was always the highest in demand. Paperbacks are not only cheaper to produce, but they are also easier. So when romance novels were flying off of the shelves, it made sense to get them into the hands of readers as quickly (and cheaply) as possible.

Mass-market paperback novels are also extremely popular in the romance genre. Mass-market paperback novels are the kind you can find for $5 to $10 at airport, grocery stores, etc. They’re often much smaller and more compact than the average paperback. Perfect for tossing in your purse or on-the-go reading! I’ve bought them before simply because they’re the biggest bang for my buck, though admittedly they hurt my eyes!

Notice where they are sold … they’re sold in places that are most convenient to their target audience; middle-aged women. They’re also sold at an affordable price that can act as an add on to any order. I’ve personally been guilty of adding one to my cart at Target simply because it didn’t make that big of a dent in the grocery list, and I doubted that my husband would even notice.

So there you have it; our consistent and constant demand of these spicy, salacious stories are what make them produced at such an affordable price, even right out of the gate. A huge thanks to the publishers for giving us fresh, affordable titles — we see you, and appreciate you for looking out for us and our grocery shopping!

Why it’s important to take a great author headshot

When releasing a book, there are a lot of moving pieces. Of course writing the book and marketing the book takes precedence, but a lot of smaller steps can be overlooked and may have a huge impact!

First impressions are everything. Especially in a digital world – our eyes naturally gravitate towards book covers, websites, social media platforms and the quality each of those possess. We often refer to the “restaurant” metaphor: If you have two restaurants side by side, one is empty, run down, dark lighting, unclear of what their menu will look like versus a full restaurant, well lit, bustling and beautiful restaurant – which one are you most likely to go into? Consider this when building your profile. Is your website warm and welcoming? Does it look like a real person or just advertisements? This way of thinking narrows right down to your author headshot. Did you scroll through the dark depths of your photo roll and pick a picture from 10 years ago? Is it blurry? Is your pet in it? These are all things you want to avoid when settling on an author headshot.

Photography can be expensive, but if you can get professional photos done, we highly recommend including this in your marketing budget. You can hire locally for headshots and press shots, and these photos will work for radio, newspaper, your press release and beyond. Having these photos can go a long way and will keep your brand looking professional.

If you are on a tight budget, there are options. You can hire a college student, somebody who is looking for experience in photography – perhaps they need for their final project and will take your headshots at no or low cost. Another option is asking a family member or friend to help you take photos. Most phones these days come with high quality cameras.

All you need is good lighting (natural lightning works best, or invest in a ring light – these are also great for Zoom interviews!) a plain background and the editing tool in your phone. Refrain from using filtered apps for your headshot, as these can really tamper with the quality of the image. Focus on slightly and subtly brightening and adding a little bit of contrast. And take multiple shots – you’ll want options to choose from! Don’t be shy to get the best author headshots you can to represent your book.

All in all, remember to be current and stay relevant. You are an author, and that needs to be clear and concise when people see your headshot on the back of your book and the front of your social media platforms. This is your business. It may be a small part of the bigger picture, but it’s an important one that will help sell your book.

What are bookplates, and do readers and authors use them?

What are bookplates and how can I use them?

 

Have you ever loaned someone a well-loved copy of your favorite book, only to never lay eyes on that book ever again? Have you decided that generosity is futile because no one understands the deep personal attachment you have with your books? Yeah, me too.

I still cringe when I think about loaning a friend my copy of “The Fault in Our Stars” in middle school. As I handed over the book, she asked me, Can I use highlighter in this? The audacity.

Well, bookplates were invented to solve this problem by documenting the personal relationship you have with your book and ensuring that everyone knows this book belongs to you. Are bookplates passive aggressive? Maybe, depending on who you ask.

But they can also be a fun way for an author to personalize their book for readers, even during a pandemic, and can create a unique experience that will leave them eagerly awaiting your next release.

A Brief History

A bookplate, sometimes called an ex libris plate, is a label that is affixed inside a book. Traditionally, bookplates were used to indicate ownership, and historians have found evidence of bookplates being used in Ancient Egypt and Europe during the Middle Ages. Prior to the advent of the printing press in the 15th-century, books were rare and extremely valuable, so it was important to mark ownership in case a book was lost or stolen–but whether or not a bookplate actually resulted in more books being returned to their owner is unknown.

It’s safe to say that early iterations of the bookplate were more practical than ornamental. Later on, however, these inscriptions developed into elaborate artistic expressions, as wealthy patrons commissioned designs from famous contemporary artists. Take a look at this bookplate designed by Albrecht Dürer (circa the late 15th or early 16th century) from the Metropolitan Museum of Art: https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/387572

Since bookplates were primarily used to reflect ownership, they often included a family crest or coat of arms. Artists sometimes inscribed these by hand or made a woodcut or engraving to transfer their designs, as Dürer is known for.

Nowadays, bookplates are usually affixed to the inside cover or front matter using a sticker or a stamp. Bookplates have also taken on a variety of uses. They are still widely used to indicate ownership, but they can also be used to display an author’s signature or otherwise personalize a book.

An Author’s Signature

Adding a signature to a book helps to bridge the gap between the author and the reader. The personal connections made during a book event or book signing can turn even a casual reader into a lifelong fan of an author’s work.

Although the current pandemic has halted many in-person gatherings, book signings have thankfully continued on through the use of bookplates!

Bookplates are a safe way for authors to send their signature to anyone, from booksellers to fans, while abiding by social distancing measures. If you can’t meet someone in person to sign their book, sending a signed bookplate their way is a great alternative.

An author might also choose to sign bookplates for efficiency if they are signing a number of books all at once for a bookstore, book club, or other large event.

Here are some examples of authors using bookplates in recent months (be sure to follow each of these authors on Twitter for more updates!)

Sara Sligar: https://twitter.com/saraxsligar/status/1264245770582028289

Maggie Stiefvater: https://twitter.com/mstiefvater/status/1361431121486114819

Adam Silvera: https://twitter.com/AdamSilvera/status/1361392998496440322

Publicity Plan

At this point, you may be wondering, how can bookplates become a part of my publicity plan? When do I use them and who should I send them to?

Bookplates are especially useful when paired with virtual events. You can offer to send signed bookplates to a bookstore in advance of an event, ensuring that each attendee has access to a signed copy.

Not only does this benefit attendees who now have access to personalized books, but this also helps build a good relationship with your local bookseller. Bookplates can be used as an incentive to encourage attendees to buy their books from their local store instead of from Amazon, in the spirit of a shop-local campaign!

You can also offer to send signed bookplates as a free gift for fans who pre-order a copy of the book. Ask fans to DM or email their receipt to you, and then mail them a bookplate with a personal note thanking them for their support.

Additionally, bookplates can be used as an exclusive perk for a giveaway. A bookplate giveaway can be held in conjunction with a virtual event or on social media, just for fun!

Get Creative!

Although traditionally bookplates have been used in a limited number of ways, the possibilities are truly endless. There are plenty of unexpected ways to personalize books for readers, and to make your book stand out from the crowd.

Some authors, like David Sedaris, add drawings or sketches to accompany their signature. These drawings often relate to a specific meaning within the book, operating like an inside joke or a teaser for what’s to come.

Another author recently took this idea and turned it up a few notches. Will Maclean, author of “The Apparition Phase” created a unique and memorable publicity campaign by personalizing copies of his book in a way no one has seen before.

Maclean signed 1000 copies of his book, but made things a bit more interesting by “hiding” a 1000-word short story within these copies. Each book contained one word from the story, as well as a number (ranging from 1 to 1000) indicating its position within the story. When all 1000 words are arranged in the correct order, the short story will be revealed.

This tactic turned readers into eager detectives, hoping to string all the words together. Fans flocked to Twitter, sharing each word that was included within their signed copy and keeping track of progress. 

https://twitter.com/lovedreadinthis/status/1331611138711285760

At the end of the day, bookplates are all about showing readers and booksellers that you care. They help to create a heartfelt memory for the reader which will have them reluctant to loan their copy of your book out to anyone – even their closest friends!

 

Books that inspire some of the most creative bookstagrammers

Books that inspire some of the most creative bookstagrammers

I’d say that all bookstagrammers have to be creative — a lot of work goes into creating aesthetically pleasing pictures of books. But these influencers go above and beyond! From fashion to baking to drawing, they raise the bar for book reviews. We asked 26 bookstagrammers what book inspires them, and here’s what they said:

  1. Daci (@daciandthebooks) says: “The Book of Delights by Ross Gay is like if your smartest, wittiest friend—who also happened to be a poet—shared their gratitude journal with you. I read it on vacation and it helped me appreciate the mundane as much as (if not more than!) the remarkable.”
  2. Carmen (@tomesandtextiles) says: “A book that inspires me is We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. Although this is technically an essay adapted from Chimamanda’s TED talk, I find myself regularly referencing the words within these pages as a way to reinforce my feelings about intersectional feminism and to motivate me to keep fighting against the patriarchy.”

  3. Lili (Utopia State of Mind) says: “I’ve been a fan of Mark Oshiro’s work since I read an early copy of Anger is a Gift and their recent release, Each of Us A Desert, is a transcendent book that emphasizes the importance of stories being told, our responsibility as a community to never forget, and the burden of carrying these weights alone. The stories that change us. Without which we become someone who doesn’t understand the weight of regret.”
  4. Holly (@bookcooklook) says: “I’ve read so many wonderful books during the pandemic that it’s hard to choose just one, so I’ll go with my most recent favorite, The Book of Longings by Sue Monk Kidd. I don’t typically “star rate” my books but if I did, this one would be five stars for sure. This magnificent novel is about a fictional character named Ana, who in this story is the wife of Jesus. It’s important to note that the book is not about Jesus per se, but rather about Ana herself, the women in her life, and her own strength, bravery and determination. It is very much a book about female empowerment, and while Ana likely never existed, the book is filled with historical details that add depth to the beautiful writing and captivating story.”
  5. Saida (@saidainabook) says:  “I am always inspired by so many books but the one I want to mention today is The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. For me, this book is a reminder that imagination and creativity know no limits. Full of magic and whimsy, The Night Circus breaks free of all sorts of boundaries and is endlessly inspiring.”
  6. Kate (@katesbookparade): says “Ever since I was very young, I’ve been inspired by The Last of the Really Great Whangdoodles by Julie Andrews Edwards, a small but mighty story about finding the wonder that exists all around us. I used to be a children’s librarian, and children’s books always hit me in all the feels by reminding me of the richness of life’s possibilities!”
  7. Thom (@readbooks.servelooks) recommends: “Temporary by Hilary Leichter. Imagine a world where virtually anything can be a job. One day you’re cleaning the deck of a pirate ship and the next you’re an assassin’s assistant. In that same world, you might have 18 unnamed boyfriends that live in your apartment and bond while you’re gone. With Temporary, Leichter has written a novel that is absurd, hilarious, heartfelt, and memorable.”
  8. Mariah (@thekneadtoread) says: “I recommend Sabrina & Corina: Stories by Kali Fajardo-Anstine. Each short story, centered around Latina characters of indigenous descent, will hit you right en la corazón. Excellent content, powerful message, and magnificent writing so you can’t go wrong!”
  9. Melanie (@drawntobooks) says: “Although the subject matter might be a little dark to read amidst the pandemic, Cormac McCarthy’s The Road is a book that has always inspired me. His sharp yet poetic writing is nothing short of masterful. The father/son dynamic was explored so deeply and beautifully I will forever remember it’s characters and their journey.”
  10. Zoe (@zoecreatesthings) says: “A book that inspires me is Mira Jacob’s graphic memoir, Good Talk. Oscillating between hilarious and heart-rending, Mira Jacob’s storytelling is strikingly earnest and beautifully nuanced. I’d recommend it to anyone interested in creative mediums. (I’d also recommend it to anyone, period.)”
  11. Robbi (@book.to.bowl) says: “I really connected with the character of Thandie in What We Lose by Zinzi Clemmons, as she navigates early adulthood and works to define her identity as a black woman; the story is a truly intimate look into what it means to be a black woman who often doesn’t fit into certain stereotypes. Additionally, as someone who loves to cook and eat, I appreciated how certain memories in the book are connected to a particular dish or cooking experience.”
  12. Debora (@oh_apostrophe) says: “Little Women by Louisa May Alcott inspired me to be a reader, a writer, and an independent woman. The beauty and modernity of Little Women is that it gives girls the freedom to be whoever they want to be — dreamer or doer, poet or princess, homemaker or wave maker.”

  13. Mel (@acosyreader) says: “Any Ordinary Day: Blindsides, Resilience and What Happens After the Worst Day of Your Life by Leigh Sales is an eye-opening and compassionate book that has inspired me to view grief in a new light, and taught me so much about how we as humans cope with the challenges life throws at us. I read this book at a tough time, and it helped me see new ways of showing up for, and supporting, grieving friends and family. Full of compassion, empathy, good humour, and resilience – there’s something for everyone to be found in these pages.”
  14. Mel (@thebookfamilyrogerson) says: “Underland: A Deep Time Journey by Robert Macfarlane is a nonfiction book that explores human existence in the context of deep time. Wide-reaching and at times almost mythical in tone, the author’s subterranean adventures to locations including the Paris catacombs and Norwegian sea caves challenge and dizzy the reader. This haunting read inspired us to assess our place in the world and consider the legacy we’d like to pass onto future generations.”

  15. Maria (@mpjustreading) says: “The Body Papers by Grace Talusan inspires me to speak up about trauma and mental health issues. It’s a great reminder that cruelty or abuse should never be faced alone, especially since silence can never protect or heal anyone.”
  16. Em (@pagingserenity) says: “I recommend The Gilded Wolves by Roshani Chokshi! It’s a story full of magic and friendship. The worldbuilding and writing are so captivating. And the characters are diverse and so likeable they feel like your own friends by the end of the book.”
  17. Claire (@drawmeabookreview) says: “A book that has inspired me is The Right To Be Cold by Sheila Watt-Cloutier. Highlighting Indigenous voices and Canadian literature is important to me, and Sheila Watt-Cloutier is someone who has dedicated her life to fighting for and supporting her small Indigenous community in northern Quebec. I love that she’s done so many different things, from education worker to environmental activist, all to help those in her local community.”
  18. Monica (@oxfordjanebooks) says: “Things In Jars by Jess Kidd is a newer favorite of mine! It is marvelously executed: magical, so funny, turn-your-stomach gross, odd and psychologically astute. I was completely captivated. Jess Kidd describes 19th century London so that you want to lift your feet out of the muck and cover your face to avoid the stench. Definitely a story for those of us who love a smartly crafted mystery with brilliantly created characters.”
  19. Zaina (@writingquills) recommends: “Love From A to Z by S.K. Ali. This is an #ownvoices novel and a love story between two Muslim teens. As a Muslim myself, it warmed my heart to read a YA story with positive Muslim representation and that, along with the budding romance and beautiful imagery, made me feel a good deal of emotions. This book talks about Islamophobia, living with Multiple Sclerosis, cultural appropriation and so much more. Zayneb and Adam inspired me a lot. I adored Love From A to Z and would definitely recommend it!”
  20. Vivien (@steepedinwords) says: “I would love to recommend Circe by Madeline Miller. Circe is strong and does not let men or her life circumstances dictate the way she will live. She’s independent and strong willed who loves unconditionally and does everything in her power for her loved ones.”
  21. Amanda (@escape_in_a_book) recommends: “Autoboyography by Christina Lauren. This YA queer love story is a powerful ride. Coming of age, loving who you are, the toxicity prejudices…so much is unpacked during this fictional journey. Equally entertaining and important, a must read for everyone.”
  22. Katie (@baytownbookie) says: “My book recommendation is Beginner’s Pluck: Build Your Life of Purpose and Impact Now by Liz Forkin Bohannon. Liz debunks the myth that your passion and purpose are just floating out in the universe waiting to be discovered and encourages readers to cultivate their passions through pluck (spirited and determined courage.) It is packed full of charm, wit, humor, 90s references and practical ideas for building passion/purpose in your life.”
  23. Suruchi (@_ink_and_fables) says: “The Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri inspires me because it teaches us how we should never ever let go of our roots. It’s a medium to reconnect with our family and no matter what, we are a product of our roots.”
  24. Britannia (@booklooksbyb) says: “One of my favorite recent inspiration books is The Belles by Dhonielle Clayton. This series is not only visually beautiful, fantastical & engaging but it is also very smart in how it challenges & reflects concepts of beauty & how we as a society see, value and treat people’s bodies (especially the bodies of women). As a makeup artist, a book lover and a woman of color, this story really resonated with me and I would highly recommend it!”

  25. Aleyxandra (@alyxandriaang) says: “My book recommendation is Pachinko by Min Jin Lee. This heartwarming, generational tale is a story that teaches you compassion, the struggles of immigrants and the importance of identity in an unknown world. This book inspires me every day to be humble and resilient.”
  26. Jennie (@jennieshaw) says: “The Library of the Unwritten by A.J. Hackwith made me want to rent a billboard that featured the cover and a speech bubble containing bold all caps that screamed READ THIS BOOK. Because holy smokes, it’s amazing!! I’d been in a reading slump when this book’s quirky adventure of Hell’s librarian reminded me why escapist novels are so important — they’re like red bull for imagination inspiration!”
  27. Meg (@bookswithmeg_) recommends: “Monday’s Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson. I loved this one because just as soon as you think what’s going on … it’s something completely different. The emotions that this book pulled from me was unexpected but made me love this book THAT much more!”

 

Graphic Novels and Comic Books: Not just for kids

a selection of comic books and graphic novelsI am absolutely a book snob and years ago I might have told you that I didn’t consider comic books or graphic novels “real” books, but guess what: I was wrong (imagine that)! People who are visual learners often connect better with this artistic format; it’s been shown that graphic novels and comics increase reading comprehension and inspire creativity. It can also help boost reading confidence in reluctant readers. 

Now to get technical: what’s the difference between the two? Graphic novels contain a complete narrative, whereas a comic book is part of a larger, serialized story. 

And there is something for everyone of every age. Some of the most rich and complete stories I’ve read have come from graphic novels.  I asked the Books Forward team what comics or graphic novels they’ve enjoyed, and added my recommendations at the bottom. Happy reading!

Jennifer Vance, Publicist 

The Netflix series Kingdom is based off the comic The Kingdom of the Gods by In-Wa Youn, (illustrated by Kyung-Il Yang), and after quickly bingeing the seasons available for the show, I knew I had to check out the source material. While the book definitely differs from the show, it’s still amazing. The illustrations are absolutely gorgeous, and if you love horror and gore and action, you’ll love this. Oh, and spoiler alert: There’s a whole lotta zombies.

Angelle Barbarzon, Lead Publicist

American Elf by James Kochalka was my first introduction to autobiographical comics. For years, James Kochalka posted a daily comic on his website, typically one to four panels chronicling a snippet from his day like a diary entry. Some days, he shared completely mundane things like stargazing at night with his wife or his cat’s tendency to sleep on his pillow. But other days, he shared deeper glimpses into his life, like the day his first son was born. But that’s just life, right? A mix of ordinary and extraordinary. Sadly, after 14 years, the daily comics came to an end, but they were all compiled into books that you can buy and read over, and over, and over!

Blankets by Craig Thompson is one of those graphic novels that I recommend to people who think comics are limited to superheroes fighting crime or pun-filled newspaper strips. Everything about this book is beautiful — the writing, the illustrations, the stories, everything! Based on his own life, Craig Thompson intertwines stories of two young brothers growing up in snowy Wisconsin with a coming-of-age tale of love, loss and faith. There will always be a place for this book on my shelves!

Hannah Robertson, Publicist

The Gigantic Beard that was Evil has illustrations that are simple but striking, and its message is one I can get behind any day.

Everything about The Encyclopedia of Early Earth by Isabel Greenberg is breathtaking. It made me think a lot about where we come from and where we’re going.

Jackie Karneth, Publicist 

As a fan of Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s utopian/dystopian novel Herland and a lover of cheeky webcomics, Aminder Dhaliwal’s Woman World is the perfect mashup heaven made just for me. Have you ever imagined what the world would be like if men suddenly ceased to exist? (It’s okay, you can admit it). Well that’s the premise here, and you’ll get to dive right into the hilarious happenings of a diverse group of female characters as they each navigate life without men. 

Another webcomic-turned-book, Nimona by Noelle Stevenson is the story of a young shapeshifter who suddenly becomes the sidekick of supervillain Lord Ballister Blackheart. Nimona and Blackheart are on a mission to prove to the kingdom that Sir Ambrosius Goldenloin isn’t really all that. And despite Blackheart’s tough exterior, he quickly warms up to Nimona as they begin wreaking havoc together. A funny, witty, and oh-so-smart story filled with magic, friendship, and lots of surprises, this is definitely a “I read this in one sitting” type of book.

Chelsea Apple, Content Creator

I really enjoy the online webcomic Lore Olympus. A version of the Hades and Persephone myth that mixes a modern retelling with a mythical reboot? Sign. Me. Up. The characters are well developed, the story is intriguing, and seriously look at this art

I also follow Let’s Play! When I first started this webcomic, I thought I knew where it was going: a nerdy (but clearly attractive) video game developer becomes next door neighbors with the hot video game reviewer who trashed her debut project. Perfect enemies-to-lovers territory, right? Turns out, I had no idea where this story was going, and I’m loving the fantastic character development, interesting relationships, and the surprising plot!  

Ellen Whitfield, Senior Publicist

My most recommended graphic novel is Check, Please! Ngozi Ukazu’s illustrations are a perfect fit for her story about an ice skater who got a hockey scholarship to a college in the midwest, and has to figure out how to navigate his new campus and coming out to his teammates. Oh and he’s a champion baker. You’ll fall in love immediately, and the good news is that volume 2 is even longer and cuter.

The first graphic novel I ever read (it was only last year!) was Kid Gloves, written and illustrated by Lucy Knisley. It covers her experience with fertility problems, conception, pregnancy and childbirth, and drops some serious knowledge along the way. 

Heartstopper by Alice Oseman took me right back to the uncertainties and hopes and worries and breathlessness of high school. Everyone deserves to be loved like Nick loves Charlie — the way they are together just makes me melt. 

I read Good Talk because of Lupita Reads, and was blown away by Mira Jacobs’s storytelling ability. Being a parent is hard enough, and the responsibilities that come with raising a Black or brown child in America are overwhelming. The author switches between stories from her early life to present day in this intimate memoir.

I have a tendency to look at first love through rose-colored glasses, but Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up With Me, written by Mariko Tamaki and illustrated by Rosemary Valero-O’Connell, reminded me that falling for someone as a teen can be as difficult as it is wonderful. It captures the highs and lows of that emotional time of life.

Some other graphic novels and comics on our TBR:

 

 

 

How to make the most of the 2020 SIBA/NAIBA Trade Show

Books Forward is so excited for the SIBA/NAIBA Trade Show starting Sept. 21 — check out our exhibitor booth here: https://newvoicesnewrooms.org/books-forward/! This year’s trade show is going to look a little different from previous years: for the first time ever, SIBA and NAIBA have partnered up to host a virtual, five-day event. We can’t wait to join our favorite indie booksellers, publishers, and authors online for this one-of-a-kind experience — and we also know that new opportunities can create questions for our authors. Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about the trade show to help authors navigate this year’s especially unique event with ease!

What does the SIBA/NAIBA Trade Show look like?
Held Sept. 21-25, the trade show will consist of a series of Zoom events taking place across four different channels. It’s a joint event hosted between SIBA (the Southern Independent Booksellers Association) and NAIBA (the New Atlantic Booksellers Association), united under the name New Voices New Rooms. Booksellers will be eyeing new and upcoming book releases!

What does this year’s schedule look like?
You can find the trade show schedule here: https://newvoicesnewrooms.org/schedule/. It’s divided into four tracks: Education (panels, roundtables, and more for booksellers), Author Events, Publisher Events, and Networking. It’s interactive and searchable; you can add all events, or just individual events, to your personal calendar; you can subscribe to it; and you can easily share it on social media. You’ll also find all of the participating publishers tagged — just click on the publisher’s name to see all of the events that publisher is participating in.

This schedule is pretty extensive! How will I know what’s happening each day?
Not only is the schedule broken up by day, but the New Voices New Rooms blog will also have a rundown of each day’s events, and is a great hub for finding out info about the show: https://newvoicesnewrooms.org/nvnr-news/. Their newsletter will also recap daily sessions and events, as will the SIBA and NAIBA newsletters, respectively.

How many people can attend the online trade show?
There is no attendance cap; there are more than 500 booksellers and other industry attendees registered right now.

Can I still arrange to be featured in an author event?
The Author Events schedule is full, but there are still some advertising options available to reach attendees via the email newsletter or trade show website, which is sure to have high traffic during that week! Find more info here: https://newvoicesnewrooms.org/sponsors/.

Do I have to register?
Anyone who is participating in the trade show (including exhibitors) or who wants to attend must register; you can do so here: https://newvoicesnewrooms.org/registration/. Registering gets you onto the list of people allowed into the Zoom rooms/events.

If my publisher/editor/representative got me scheduled to participate in a trade show author event, do I still have to register?
Anyone who is attending or participating in the trade show must be registered for the event; this is how you get on to the list of Zoom room attendees. However, it’s possible that SIBA/NAIBA registered you on behalf of your publisher/editor/representative; it’s best to check with your participating organization to make sure.

I am, or my publisher/representative is, participating in the trade show. How will ARCs/galleys/review copies of my book be available?
If an author is featured at an event, New Voices New Rooms will send a Google form to all session participants at the end of the event to incentivize people to sign up for copies; publishers will then receive a list with all the book requests. Exhibitors can also feature galley request forms on their pages in the Virtual Exhibitor Hall!

What is the Virtual Exhibitor Hall?
While we may miss the crowded and bustling exhibitor halls of previous years, New Voices New Rooms has created a really excellent Virtual Hall for Exhibitors, which you can peruse here: https://newvoicesnewrooms.org/virtual-exhibit-hall/. When you hover your cursor over each logo, the digital placard flips over to reveal a sentence or two about that exhibitor. Click on the logo to “enter” the exhibitor’s virtual booth, where you can learn more about their offerings and services, and even enter an online raffle! There’s also a searchable directory of exhibitors in the dropdown menu between the sponsor logos and exhibitor logos.

How do I know which booksellers are in attendance?
New Voices New Rooms has created a pretty awesome searchable list of all registered booksellers who will be in attendance — check it out here! https://newvoicesnewrooms.org/booksellers/

Will I be tagged on social media?
New Voices New Rooms is creating graphics and videos that can be shared on social media by publishers and exhibitors; each piece of content will include a list of participating authors’ social media handles so they can be easily tagged online. This is perfect for promoting and sharing specific authors and events!

6 Amazing Book Art Sculptures for National Book Lovers Day

Well-told stories are works of art — and the books that house them can become literal, visual works of art too! In honor of National Book Lovers Day, we’re sharing some of the best examples of book art we’ve come across. From whimsical fairy tale book sculptures, to paper couture, to jaw-dropping literary landscapes, here’s a fresh way to feed your imagination and celebrate your love for literature today!

Did you ever read about Tolkein’s Middle Earth and feel like you were actually there? Well with the incredible book carvings of Guy Laramee, you can actually see the sweeping mountain ranges, dappled scrub, and secretive caves brought to life. Laramee sandblasts his books (sometimes using entire volume sets at once!) to create topographical marvels that look startlingly real and adventure-ready. We can scarcely believe this is paper!

If you’ve ever wished to be transported into a fairy tale, the art of Su Blackwell will whisk you away. From lonesome castles to cheerful tree houses to mysterious woodlands, we can’t stop marveling over Blackwell’s meticulous detail (just look at those leaves!). She also adds lights to her book sculptures, creating a warm welcoming glow (with the occasional sinister shadow) that makes every fairy tale scene come to life. She’s even created life-size set design versions of her book art for the stage–magical! 

Here’s another ultra-detailed book sculptor who is using his art to send a message. Thomas Wightman explores the experience of compulsive OCD within his carefully cut pages and tiny dye-cut letters. Whether it’s a ship spiraling into the papery depths or a book being eaten from the inside out by paper moths, Wightman tackles obsessive compulsive disorder and mental health with deep emotion and stunning craftsmanship. 

Brian Dettmer has found a brilliant way of recontextualizing book illustrations into fresh, multifaceted art pieces. Using scalpels, tweezers, and other surgical tools (thus earning himself the nickname “The Book Surgeon”) he cuts out illustrations and layers them on top of one another to create a three dimensional work of art. The result is contemporary, striking and tactile, inviting you to discover layers of meaning within layers of paper.

Sylvie Falcon is making all of our literary couture dreams come true. The French designer repurposes irreparably damaged books into stunning, wearable works of art. From her pink page tea dress to her stunning book spine ball gown, her fashions look straight out of a fairy tale book (and are probably crafted from their pages!). We’re ready to fall down a rabbit hole or dance the night away in these frolicsome frocks–can we order one to size??

Ready to give paper art or book sculpture a try? Our content creator Chelsea at Books Forward tried her hand at making a wearable paper dress thanks to prixprix’s fantastic Instructables tutorial found on this awesome DIY paper crafts list! She also sculpted a wig with paper mache, origami, paper towel rolls and book pages. Paper is pliable, inexpensive and easy to work with — perfect for crafting, and easier than you think! Ready to make your own book art? Tag us @booksforward to share your creations with us!

Happy National Book Lovers Day! 

JKS Communications celebrates 20 years with launch of Books Forward publicity and Books Fluent publishing

Veteran book publicity firm JKS Communications has been moving books forward for 20 years, and the company is proud to celebrate this anniversary with the launch of two new companies under its brand. Books Forward will continue the signature creative, customized book marketing and author publicity campaigns, and a new indie publishing division, Books Fluent, will provide professional editorial, design and publishing services. 

BOOKS FORWARD

JKS has promoted more than 700 authors, small presses, literary award programs and publishing houses since 2000. The Books Forward team will continue to represent both traditionally published authors and independently published books that meet high industry standards. Services include traditional publicity through mainstream and book-centric media, book tour development, author branding and digital marketing.

Books Forward has a particular passion for books that empower, inspire and move the world forward. Clients include New York Times bestselling author Andrew Maraniss, whose award-winning historical nonfiction examines race and social justice through sports; USA Today bestselling author Jenny Milchman, famous for the “world’s longest book tour”; YA author J. Elle, set to release her #ownvoices debut after garnering attention through a social media campaign; Mary Higgins Clark award winner and national president of Sisters in Crime Lori Rader-Day; indie published success story S.B. Alexander, who later helped Books Forward build its digital marketing division; “The World is Just a Book Away” anthology of stories from Nobel Peace Prize laureates, Academy Award and Golden Globe winning actresses and other world leaders; Chaithanya Sohan, who explores themes of home and belonging in the U.S. through immigrant stories; Holocaust survivor and scholar Laureen Nussbaum, who shines light on unsung heros; and #1 YALSA Top Ten Quick Pick author Cheryl Rainfield, an international child abuse and feminist advocate.

“Our foundation is built on veteran journalists, giving our team a unique strength. Through national media outlets, we share books to make the world a better and brighter place,” the company’s President Marissa DeCuir said. “And it’s that love of meaningful stories that powers our team to share authors’ important messages, and inspire readers with engaging fiction and nonfiction. The world needs some positivity, and readers crave books that matter — to them and to our world.”

BOOKS FLUENT

JKS’ new indie publishing company, Books Fluent, transforms manuscripts into high-quality commercial books that equal or exceed industry standards. 

Having guided authors through the self-publishing process for years, Books Fluent’s team of industry experts expands upon these services. The company offers professional book editing, on-trend cover design and interior layout, savvy distribution plans, and management of ISBNs, copyrights, and other nitty gritty tasks.

Books Fluent’s expertise empowers authors to learn the unique language of this industry and become successful publishers, rising above the competition of more than 3 million books released every year.

CELEBRATING 20 YEARS

Books Forward and Books Fluent will celebrate their launches throughout 2020 with prizes, special announcements and exclusive opportunities for authors and readers alike — including one grand prize of a free book publicity campaign for an author working to help move the world forward. To enter, submit an application here

As part of the company’s continued mission to elevate voices, Books Forward is also launching the #booksforward campaign to celebrate all the incredible ways stories have made the world a better place. Book lovers are encouraged to join the conversation by using the hashtag and sharing about literature that has impacted their lives.

Social media:
Twitter: twitter.com/booksforwardpr
Instagram: instagram.com/booksforwardpr
Facebook: facebook.com/BooksForward

6 Tips to Make You and Your Books Stand Out!

Book Tips Kapow

In the tsunami of books being published, what are some things you can do to really make your book stand out and pop off the shelf?

  1. A book absolutely is judged by its cover! Don’t go cheap. Hire someone who has a great track record of creating book covers. It’s a specialty, and your book deserves to be the “best dressed.” Remember, a cover is just to pull in someone browsing books and get them to read the back cover or pick it up in a shop. It’s not meant to tell the whole story. Intrigue the would-be buyer to lean in closer.
  2. The synopsis or back-cover copy is really important! Don’t allow it to be an afterthought as you’re racing to get it to press. Sometimes it really requires a third-party perspective to write what the heart of the book is . . . as an author, you may be too close to it. Work with someone who has read the book and is involved in the book industry in some way.
  3. Blurbs! Those sentences on the front and back cover of the books by New York Times bestselling authors, literary magazines or celebrities are good to have. People in the industry have mixed feelings about how successful a blurb is in selling a book. But some blurbs can push that would-be reader over the edge to take a chance. A great twist on who to get blurb your book: a bookseller (name and bookstore included) is a really cool blurb to bag!
  4. Releasing your book in November or December to “catch the holiday sales” is a poor idea. Unless your last name is Patterson, Clark or Grisham. If you have control over your publishing date, hold it to the new year. That way the ISBN and copyright dates stay fresh for many months, rather than being “last year’s news” just as people are learning about it. Also, there’s a whole lotta noise about all kinds of things at the end of the year, and you want to have a little oxygen for your book when it comes out.
  5. For the good of your book, make sure you’ve come up with a plan prior to releasing it into the world. Have a website. Have a social media presence. And brand all these as you, not the title of your book—unless you are positive beyond all reason that you will never again in your life write another book. It’s weird to see authors’ profile pictures as a book cover on social media when they have a different book coming out . . . or they forget to update their website. Make it easy on your fans to find you.
  6. And now, the really BIG way to make your book stand out . . . write a GREAT book and edit it within an inch of its life. Most people wouldn’t invite 100 people for dinner without working out the menu and making all the dishes several times to be sure they are the best you can present. Same with a book. Don’t put something out that is half-baked. Many of the authors we work with have at least 4 feet stacks of manuscript pages they whittle through to get an 80,000 word final manuscript.

Cover Story: Heart of Stone

Today, I’m discussing the cover of my latest Ellie Stone mystery, Heart of Stone (Seventh Street Books, June 16, 2016). Readers judge books by their covers. They may not choose the book after skimming it, but they certainly pick it up in the first place because of the cover.

Covers attract attention in a variety of ways. The artwork creates mood through images, colors, fonts, and other elements of design. These are the covers of the first three Ellie Stone novels. The amazing Jackie Nasso Cooke of Prometheus/Seventh Street Book designed them all.

What do we see? First of all, there is a consistency in the layout: a clean font, and similar placement of the text. There’s also the thematic repetition of women’s clothing: shoes and gloves. Jackie strives to maintain the same design basics for each cover to build a look, a branding that readers have come to associate with the Ellie Stone mysteries.

One of many advantages of being published by a press like Prometheus/Seventh Street is that they are willing to discuss cover ideas with their authors. That doesn’t happen at every publishing house. Since the Ellie Stone mysteries are set in 1960-61, the marketing folks told me they wanted a stronger nostalgic look for the Heart of Stone cover. They wanted readers to recognize the era instantly.

From the moment I plotted out Heart of Stone, I knew what kind of cover I would like to see. A summer lake with mountains in the background. Ideally, there would be a wooden dock and perhaps an Adirondack chair. And the item I wanted more than anything else was a discarded women’s one-piece bathing suit that matched the early sixties era. But the perfect image proved to be elusive. The art department considered thousands of photographs, looking for just the right one.

They found lots of docks with lakes, mountains, and Adirondack chairs. But they didn’t look anything like 1961. And there were no bathing suits, except those filled with women.

We tried other ideas. I liked this one, but it wasn’t quite right. No lake, mountains, or bathing suit. And no nostalgia.

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This one was perfect to illustrate the nude bathing that runs through the book, but the title would have been lost against the text in the image.

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Jackie explored several other themes that might fit, but no one was satisfied.

This one is beautiful, but it looks more like a young-adult novel cover. A little too wholesome.

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Here’s an idyllic Adirondack lake, and it has a nostalgic look. Nice, but still no bathing suit, no mystery, no fun. And the orientation is landscape, which in this case wouldn’t have worked for a cover.

Cover Story: Heart of Stone / James W. Ziskin

Time was running short. We were in danger of having to send out the reviewer copies with no cover art at all.

And then, eureka! I stumbled across the photo below on a stock photography site. It took some imagination to picture the final cover, but I knew Jackie could turn this into a gem. First, we’d need to cut it down to fit a portrait orientation. Then we had to get rid of the hat and flip-flops. They didn’t fit the period. But the rest of the photo ticked all the boxes: the dock, the lake, mountains, and bathing suit. The splash in the water was gravy.

Cover Story: Heart of Stone / James W. Ziskin

 

Using Photoshop, I made a crappy mock-up and e-mailed it to Jackie to get her thoughts. She responded almost immediately with the comment, “This one is a contender.” I was thrilled.

Cover Story: Heart of Stone / James W. Ziskin

But my version was far from acceptable. Jackie went to work, removing the hat and shoes, and correcting the color. We wanted a faded Kodachrome look to give it more of a retro mood. Here’s the concept she came up with.

I loved it. Everyone else seemed to be on board as well. But my brilliant agent, William Reiss of John Hawkins and Associates, thought the dock looked a little empty. He said he’d like to see something else there to set the period. He suggested a transistor radio. Jackie worked her magic, found the perfect radio, and slipped it in. It was a home run.

Cover Story: Heart of Stone / James W. Ziskin

 

And so the Heart of Stone cover was born. It’s sexy without being sexist. It’s fun and consistent in style with the covers of the previous books in the series. It even features an article of women’s clothing. And it evokes the appropriate time and suggests the nude bathing I wanted. If Heart of Stone fails to set the world on fire, it won’t be the fault of the cover.

Heart of Stone: An Ellie Stone Mystery arrives in stores and online June 7, 2016. (Seventh Street Books)


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James W. Ziskin is the Anthony-, Barry-, and Lefty-nominated author of the Ellie Stone mysteries Styx & Stone, No Stone Unturned, Stone Cold Dead, and Heart of Stone. Look for Cast the First Stone in summer of 2017.

This post was originally published on Killer Nashville.