Archives: Authors & Writers

 

howtobeagrownup

By Melissa X. Golebiowski

This book cover for bestselling authors Nicola Kraus & Emma McLauglin’s (authors of The Nanny Diaries) latest release, out today, How To Be A Grown Up, shows us what it’s like to walk in two shoes at once. The novel’s heroine, Rory McGovern, finds herself juggling both single parenthood and a full time career after her actor husband decides to walk and leave her solo.

Rory, newly in her forties, finds herself working for two twentysomethings at a luxury lifestyle site for kids, JeuneBug. (Of course, no one at the company but Rory has any children of their own.) Rory has her feet in two different worlds; will she fall flat on her face or come up with a successful game plan?

The cover shoes are reflective of two completely different styles but come with an interesting backstory.

The Chuck behind the Converse brand was Chuck Taylor, a high school basketball player who fell in love with Converse All Stars and became an extremely successful traveling salesmen of the shoe by specially selling them to high school and college basketball teams. With a successful athletic branding behind the shoe, Converse also became the official training shoe for the military during WWII.

Keeping with the theme of battle, high heels were actually a part of the 16th Century Persian soldier’s uniform. When riding horseback, the heels dug comfortably into the stirrups and enabled the warriors to stand up & shoot as they rode in to fight. The high heel was originally created for this purpose and gained popularity in many horse riding cultures. Women picked up the high heel habit in the 1600’s when they started adopting male fashion. Fast forward to the present and it’s a staple of female fashion today.

We have a feeling that with this kind of footwear in tow, Rory will come up a solid strategy to conquer the odds.

Read the New York Times Book Review
Say hi to Emma and Nicola.

It’s expensive to launch a “successful” book, whether the investment is the publisher’s, yours, or a combination of both. And by successful, I’m not even talking about New York Times bestsellers, whose successes seem as much the result of a quantifiable financial investment as they are the result of unquantifiable variables like reader enthusiasm and sheer serendipity. By successful, I’m referring to any book that earns out its publisher’s investment and sells through its first printing. Any author who’s gotten that far should be immensely proud.

Here are some of the most critical costs I’ve seen responsible for creating a successful book:

*Print run (the number of books printed)
*Co-op (exhibition or shelf space the publisher is buying, whether at Barnes and Noble or Amazon.com, to offer your book exposure to browsers. Involved explanation here.)
*Marketing & publicity (ranging from advertising to a freelance publicist)
*Buying back books (for events or giveaway/review purposes)

For authors who receive an advance in the tens of thousands of dollars, a robust first print run, co-op, or hefty publicity/events support isn’t likely. And even the rare, proactive publicist who works with you at your publishing house…his/her efforts may simply not translate. If your hope is to exceed expectations and give your book a real shot on the market, you will need to find ways to supplement what’s lacking in the publisher’s investment.

Here are some ways to properly prioritize your time and energy that won’t cost you a dime, excluding gas money.
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Presentation at Lucinda Literary/ WeWork's offices - Fulton Center.

On Thursday evening, we hosted a presentation on publishing for The Fresh Air Fund’s job shadowing program. Fresh Air is an amazing organization founded in 1877 with the simple intention to give inner city kids the experience of “fresh air”–at summer camps far from the streets of New York. Since then, it has become more like a family, offering children and their parents all kinds of educational resources throughout the year, and closely monitoring kids to ensure they stay on course to graduate college.

As part of the presentation, we created the short quiz below to discover which job in publishing was best suited to their personality traits. Take it yourself, or share it with young people curious about publishing careers, and tell us below the post how accurate you found your results.

What Job in Publishing is Right for You?

Choose just one answer for every question.

Choose the best quality combination to describe your personality from those below:

  1. Dreamy/Creative
  2. Thoughtful/Introverted
  3. Articulate/Passionate
  4. Talkative/Social

When you were little you wanted to be or were most drawn to the careers of:

  1. Artists
  2. Teachers or doctors
  3. Lawyers or CEOs
  4. Singers or Actors

You often find yourself:

  1. In your own world: observing people and imagining their lives
  2. Reading and helping friends with their schoolwork
  3. Socializing with other people, where you are often the storyteller of the group
  4. Browsing the internet, watching television and movies, communicating with friends

What interests you most in a career is:

  1. To leave something important behind for generations to come–a legacy
  2. To help others
  3. Learning about business and making money
  4. Working in a fun, fast-paced, social environment

You feel happy and stimulated when:

  1. Expressing yourself
  2. Giving feedback to others
  3. Helping others solve problems
  4. Positive feedback and rewards

You feel [fill in the blank] way about money:

  1. It doesn’t really interest you beyond the minimum you need to live your life
  2. You’d like to make a good living
  3. Making money is very important
  4. It’s more important to have a fun and fulfilling job than to make money

You feel [fill in the blank] about rejection:

  1. It hurts, but it won’t ever stop you from putting yourself out there.
  2. You find you’re able to make a rejection when necessary in a polite way.
  3. You can deal with it.
  4. It’s the worst thing ever.

It doesn’t bother you to:

  1. Be alone for hours in the day
  2. Do detail oriented work. You like the feeling of progress!
  3. Discuss or deal with money
  4. Talk to strangers. You can always find things in common with people!

keep-calm-and-check-your-answers-9

Mostly 1’s? Your personality is well-suited to be a writer.

Author

You are imaginative, creative, like to observe others, and are happy being in your own world—which is essential for all the hours you’ll need to spend writing if you have a career as an author!

 

 

Mostly 2’s? You could be a book editor!

Editing an English language document

You really thrive helping others (as you would be helping writers), and you have a natural strength for long, detail-oriented work, which will be necessary for all the manuscripts you’ll be editing.

 

Mostly 3’s? The best role for you in the publishing industry could be as a literary agent.

Lit Agent

Like editors, you enjoy helping people, and like publicists, you are social creatures, but your passion for business differentiates you from the rest of the pack.

 

 

Mostly 4’s? Book publicity would be a great career for you.

talk_to_my_publicist_jadedstarlet_couture_tank-rdf89eb12ed6b4c649346c38a680f4610_8nhmp_324

You love people, entertainment, and pop culture and are always in the know about news and trends. Working in a fast-paced environment and booking media for authors will bring you joy and immediate satisfaction.

Marketing begins with an immediately accessible concept. As more books go digital and jacket art becomes a less important draw to readers, your title becomes your best (or worst) marketer. Look at the New York Times Bestsellers list each week: you’ll see common words repeating almost formulaically by category. How can one tap this formula? Simply by paying careful attention, even just looking at your own bookshelf or Kindle queue. Here are some of the top-selling titles we found to guide you in the right direction. Some might surprise you!

1. Guide to, Ways to, How to: 1,638,764 / 194,230/ 584,472

Practical titles caught us as the most prevalent: promising to fulfill something you need. But you don’t necessarily need to have written a self-help book to use these phrases.  Toby Young’s memoir How to Lose Friends and Alienate People, a spin-off of the famous prescriptive business title: How to Win Friends and Influence People picks up on these buzzwords. Even fiction authors can take advantage: think of Melissa Bank’s breakout book, The Girls Guide to Hunting and Fishing.

Get creative with nonfiction help titles too by remixing classics like “What to Do When…” (119,112 in Search Results on Amazon) or calls to action, like: “How to Start…” (107,615 in Search). Readers browsing for particular information, whether for personal or professional interest, will respond to both the authority of a “How to” title and the originality of your spin on it.

2. Lives/Life: 1,665,413/1,665,455

The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry: A Novel, Life Beyond Words, My Horizontal Life, The Secret Life of Violet Grant… We were surprised by the number of books on bestseller lists containing these words. Three possible reasons: the word “life” implicitly suggests an arc, or progression, or wholeness to a story; it caters to voyeurism, an intimate look at someone else’s life; and finally, it brings a kind of drama through that voyeuristic lens. Many readers appear to respond to a title that feels both honest and sensational.

3. Children: 1,649,100

Everyone love talking about kids: Their kids, other kids, genius kids, and “those darn kids!” So it’s no surprise “children” is a popular search title. There are plenty of self-help books on how to raise a child (The Conscious Parent: Transforming Ourselves, Empowering Our Children). However, other popular fiction writers are also quick to play to our parenting sensibilities, like bestselling YA author Ransom Riggs’ novel Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children, or Salman Rushdie’s Midnight’s Children.

4. House/Home: 1,124,405/481,749

A house: one of the most basic units of life. Houses and homes are close to our hearts as well as our wallets. A self-help or style book focused on the house or home would do well to include these keywords, but even fiction books like House of Leaves by  Mark Z. Danielewski and Summer House With Swimming Pool by Herman Koch can capitalize on the ubiquitous and comforting nature of these words.

5. Perfect: 1,057,687

Are we more perfectionist than ever? Apparently so! Popular book titles reveal a lot about human psychology. Using the word “perfect” seems to automatically guarantee a better shot at bestsellerdom, from the book-to-film, A Perfect Storm, to self-help (and in this case self-published) bestsellers, like Creating Your Perfect Lifestyle.

5. You/Your: 776,534  / 486,158

Frame the topic of your book around a well-placed “you” or “your” and you have immediately established a connection with potential readers. You can go the more traditional route: Seeing the Big Picture: Business Acumen to Build Your Credibility, Career, and Company, or… Welcome to Your Brain and Don’t Look Behind You are playful takes on this tactic.

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Alpha Woman Meets Her Match CoverToday, we’re especially excited to talk to Dr. Sonya Rhodes, Ph.D and Susan Schneider, coauthors of  The Alpha Woman Meets Her Match: How Today’s Woman Can Find Love and Happiness Without Settling, just published with WilliamMorrow.
The Alpha Woman, is a nonfiction guide to dating and relationships for modern “Alpha” women, but also a larger commentary on the way new gender roles are shaping the way we live, work, and choose our partners. Based upon her experience as a marital counselor, Dr. Rhodes describes the “alpha” (dominant, assertive) and “beta” (supportive, nurturing) traits that contribute to our individual personalities and how they influence our relationships, at work and at home.  In the spirit of Sheryl Sandberg’s call for women to take charge of their careers in Lean In, Dr. Rhodes calls on all women to own their “Alpha,” and refuse to believe in today’s negative messaging toward women, or tone down, for the sake of getting married or having a child.
We asked Dr. Rhodes and her coauthor, Susan Schneider, how they think women (and men) will receive this brave new way of approaching relationships, why the school of “settling” is so detrimental to positive relationships, and of course, what it’s like to write and publish as a team. 
Dr. Sonya Rhodes, Ph.D

dr-sonya-rhodesIn writing The Alpha Woman Meets Her Match, you’ve drawn from years of experience as a marital expert and couples therapist. What inspired you to write this book? Why now?

 About a decade ago I started seeing more and more women who were expressing Alpha qualities. They were assertive, confident, competitive women who took pride in their achievements. At the same time, they were sharing their frustrations in finding a partner who would be loving, supportive and respectful. Many therapists were telling them that they were “scary” to men, too aggressive, too confident. This negative approach shamed women for their strengths and talents.  I intuitively knew that these fantastic women were a whole new generation of women who needed support, not criticism.

 Since you started your psychology practice more than 30 years ago, have you noticed any significant changes in the attitudes of women as they approach challenges in the workplace and in relationships?

There has never been a better time for women. As evidenced by Lean In and books like mine, women’s roles in relationships and at work are dramatically changing. We are not talking here of itty-bitty changes — we are seeing a revolution in the culture towards greater equality and gender-neutral relationships. Women are taking their place at the table at home and at work.

What do you have to say to advocates of “settling,” such as Lori Gottlieb, or those who say that after 30 you’re doomed, like Susan Patton?

As you can imagine, I think this is the fear mongering of small minds. No woman should settle for less than what she deserves. Taking time to develop her independence and career will provide a stable identity throughout her life. Furthermore, women who marry later (in their 30’s and 40’s) marry better. They are least likely to divorce because they are more mature when they pick their partners.

Many women abhor the identity of “Alpha.” In your book, you’re trying to de-stigmatize that identification. What does the term “Alpha Woman” mean to you?

Alpha comes with a lot of baggage that has been part of the rigid social norms around gender. Keeping people in  “gender boxes” does not play anymore. The negativity surrounding Alpha traits is dramatically shifting because women realize that there is nothing wrong and everything right about excelling and being strong.

But your book is equally about celebrating Betas. Can you tell us a few characteristics of Beta women (and men) that we might not immediately associate with the stereotype?

Beta men and women are accommodating but not compliant, assertive but not confrontational, work hard but are not work-obsessed. They match up very well with Alpha partners who will take the lead. I believe the new guy on the street is the Beta male who is not a wimp anymore than the Alpha woman is a bitch. He is really the new “catch” for the Alpha woman because he will partner, parent and participate!

Getting right down to it…in your opinion, what are some relationship “deal breakers?”

I have seen Alphas, both male and female, who take the attitude “it’s my way or the highway.” Outside of physically abusive relationships, I think this is the biggest deal breaker of all. If you can’t negotiate and share power the relationship is doomed. Partnership trumps power.

“You were a “child bride” now approaching your 50th wedding anniversary. As one of the premiere Alpha women, was your marriage always smooth sailing?
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If you’re a fiction or memoir lover, you have probably, at some point, fallen in love with a 20-Something title. Three favorites of ours: Donna Tartt’s The Secret History, J.R. Moehringer’s The Tender Bar and one hilariously well-written debut, Girls in White Dresses.

Even if a 20-Something book is written by a 40-Something, it’s still perhaps one of the hardest genres to sell—maybe because its primary audience increasingly reads content on Facebook and blogs, which offer so much dishing-all that, well, why would you need to read it elsewhere? (Ironically, according to this report, Gen Y seems to be leading in terms of overall book buying.)

Do readers want a story that is aspirational but characters who are not always? Very possibly. If the heroine of the novel is too precious, polished, or perfect, makes no blunders, has only happy endings—well, they’re just not so likeable, are they? The best 20-Something characters can be down-on-their-luck and still, with exquisite wry humor, make us laugh. And they’re usually tough, not wallowing in pain the way our 20-Something selves may be.

Agents, receiving more submissions in the history of books than ever before, are seeing more and more proposals and manuscripts written by, or about, 20-Somethings. Before you seek representation, here are a few pointers that might be helpful to consider.

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Trying to publicize a book, particularly by way of newspapers and magazines, can be so challenging for already published or just publishing titles that authors in this position are often turned down by publicity firms. Finding the right publicist has become a bit like finding an agent.

There is enormous value to be had in the months until publication, and when consulting with writers, this has become the starting point of any conversation. Carving out ample lead time to promote or think about promotion can make the difference between a book published proactively and a book published reactively. With 3-6 or even 8 months to plan what you want your publication to look like, the reading world is your oyster. You can begin to craft a marketing strategy including those blue sky ideas that, when you’re publicizing a book retroactively, will be near impossible to achieve. With 3-8 months ahead, you can do a lot by way of networking, social or otherwise, and have a much better shot at mainstream publicity.

But for lack of knowledge or budget, or for relying too heavily on their publishers, many authors find themselves in the retroactive position. Instead of tossing in the towel come what may, I think there are avenues to market or publicize your book in a way that builds an audience perhaps slowly, but also more meaningfully and permanently. Before you begin, it’s crucial to shift your objective from ‘buy my book!’ to ‘learn about my book and see if you like it.’ Don’t fall prey to algorithms and popularity contests. What good are those thousands of followers and friends, those form letters to no one in particular, if these are not people who would realistically enjoy your book?

Here are a few ways to use free social platforms available to everyone to genuinely connect with readers at an individual level:
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OFRI-WhatDoctorsFeel-FINAL

I rarely write book reviews for this blog. Recently, I fell upon a book that compelled me to write one.

Health and medicine play integral, immeasurably important roles in our lives.  And yet, we ask very few questions of our doctors. When we see our physicians, most of us try to get in and out the door as soon as possible, wipe our hands and be done with it. We conceptualize a doctor’s exam as having to do with a physical problem we want to eliminate, not an emotional experience. And very possibly, our doctors are treating us the same way. Just another problem to be solved.

But illness can have significant, even devastating, emotional consequences on patients: anger at the injustice of a disease; shame while lying naked and poked at on a table; sadness at the loss of a limb or a breast; fear at the prospect of a painful procedure.

What about the emotional impact on doctors? Has society allowed for doctors to feel? Or to fail?

The worldview that doctors are superhumans, immune to emotions and mistakes, is exactly what Dr. Danielle Ofri challenges and successfully upends in her valuable new book, What Doctors Feel: How Emotions Affect the Practice of Medicine (Beacon Press; June 4, 2013). As Ofri demonstrates, drawing upon her own personal experiences and the stories of others, treatment isn’t simply a physical equation. We have read amply, and many of us know personally, about the emotional distress that endures long after a surgery or diagnosis. What we know minimally, if we consider it at all, is the emotional distress that doctors feel on the other end: how fear or grief manifests over time in the lives of doctors; how even bearing witness to a grave illness or mistake can change the way a doctor diagnoses, treats, or cares for us.

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A guest post by Dianna Huff

typewriterDid you know that many of the business and self-help books you see on store shelves – or at your iTunes or Kindle store – are written by ghostwriters? Sometimes referred to as “copywriters,” ghostwriters are the voice behind CEOs, politicians, celebrities, gurus – anyone who needs something written. In addition to books, ghostwriters will often write articles, reports, speeches, and blog posts for individuals. A ghostwriter can specialize in a niche, such as a highly scientific or technical area, or generalize and tackle just about any topic.
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It’s the best of times and the worst of times. A great time to be a thriller writer, and a not-so-hot time to be a literary novelist. At least that’s the conclusion one draws in reading this article on the 15 highest paid authors of 2012. Taking aside luck, timing, and arguably talent, why are these 15 authors as successful as they are? What, as an author or aspiring one, can be gleaned from this “data” to guide one’s work toward saleability?

The authors chosen for this list, not listed in order of wealth are:

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