Archives: authors

urlWe are thrilled to announce the launch of our new Speakers Bureau! Adding to our multi-pronged literary and marketing approach, our Speakers Bureau features distinct voices in literature who inspire audiences and facilitate progressive thought and conversation. Unlike traditional bureaus, our objective is to focus only on the work of authors and connect them with venues nationwide and globally. 

Our roster features leaders in productivity and leadership Chris Bailey and Rajeev Peshawaria, New York Times and internationally bestselling authors Nicola Kraus, Sam Wasson, and Douglas Kennedy, Olympian Ginny Gilder, award-winning neuroscientist Susan Peirce Thompson, and more. At Lucinda Literary, we take immense pride in connecting our authors to the broadest audiences possible, and are excited to explore the vast, uncharted territory we see in matching authors to venues.

We are currently seeking to expand our Speakers Bureau through the referrals of colleagues in publishing. We are not accepting unsolicited submissions at this time.

If you are interested in booking one of our speakers, visit: http://www.lucindaliterary.com/request-a-speaking-appearance/.

KennedyDouglas

In anticipation of tomorrow’s release of her novel, The Perfect Mother, Nina Darnton picks the brain of fellow novelist, Douglas Kennedy (Five Days). Here’s what he divulged on the art of noveling, his trademark heroines, and the circumstances that keep us tethered to our own unhappiness.

Five Days centers around a woman who is in stasis. She is dissatisfied, but unable to imagine a departure from the only life she knows. Is Five Days meant to inspire readers to bravely pursue change in their own lives?

Pop psychology – especially of the afternoon television variety – is full of exhortations to change yourself.  Indeed, the notion of self-reinvention is as American as ‘you can be what you want to be’ (another specious directive). But, without question, the verb ‘to change’ is one of the more daunting in this or any other language. As such I wrote Five Days, in part, as an exploration of the vertiginous nature of change – and how desperately hard it is to enact… even when you realize that it is the one and only conduit out of personal despair. But underscoring this thought is a thorny existential question with which the novel also grapples: is unhappiness also a choice?

Your novels lead readers to question whether one is responsible for one’s own happiness. When our lives go terribly wrong, are we ourselves to blame? Or are we only to blame for how we deal with what life hands us?

I have friends whose lives are something akin to the Book of Job – desperate tragedies (like the loss of a child), immense personal dilemmas, huge professional setbacks – and who have still managed not just to carry on, but to actually live. Just as I have known others for whom a setback or a reversal of fortune triggers a downward spiral into an abyss. In life, everything is interpretation. And how you interpret a calamity speaks volumes not just about your worldview, but the way you grapple with the most arduous problem going: yourself. For this reason I do believe very profoundly that even when fate deals you some truly terrible cards, there is choice as to how you play them… and how (or if) you recover from them. To revert to my very existential perspective: we are alone in a frequently hostile world. And we are ultimately responsible for our own actions and decisions and choices in the wake of everything (both good and bad) that life tosses into our path.

The modern American psyche seems ingrained with many conventional moralities to which we adhere out of a sense of obligation. Your protagonist Laura, in Five Days, is conflicted between her rigid sense of duty toward family and career and her sudden realization of the endless possibilities of love. How does one reconcile such moral complexities?

Read the rest of the interview.

Douglas Kennedy is the internationally bestselling author of 11 novels, which have been translated in 22 countries. His most recent novel, Five Days, was published to critical acclaim in 2013. You can find Douglas at: www.douglaskennedynovelist.com, or read his latest musings on Facebook and Twitter.

A former journalist and psychologist turned full-time author, Nina Darnton’s novel, The Perfect Mother, is available November 25, 2014. You can find her at: www.ninadarnton.com, or follow her on Facebook and Twitter.

Categorized: Authors and Writers

“The sport of book promotion is more of a relay race than a sprint.”

It’s almost a cliché to hear an author complain about his or her publicity team. But the fact of the matter is that celebrity has become as important as literary merit, with more titles competing for consumers’ attention than ever before, so authors need to work just as hard as their publicists to promote their work.

That can be frustrating, unless you’re able to “rewire” the way you approach publicity. It begins with remembering that you and your publicist are on the same team, and that the sport of book promotion is more of a relay race than a sprint. There’s no recipe for guaranteed attention, but with the right partner, you can at least have a hand in orchestrating your book’s destiny. As an author and a publicist, here are a few things we’ve learned.

1) Rewire the way you think about publicity.

What does publicity “success” mean to you? If it’s getting an interview on NPR or a book review in the New York Times, you should be plugged into those outlets, knowing the kinds of authors and subjects they cover. While it’s always difficult to attract national media attention, if you can convince your publicist that your book should make the cut—e.g., based on the success of comparable titles, or news trends—you’re giving her the artillery she needs to make the case for you.

If national media isn’t available to you, it’s time to rewire. Coverage by a wide network of bloggers, a Facebook post by a celebrity author, or a viral op-ed in Huffington Post gives you a lot of exposure and often translates to sales. Website analytics yield more data than offline media. We can’t recommend enough that authors follow their traffic, experiment with posting online, and actively engage with reader communities to exploit the loudspeakers of social media.

For Bianca’s book launch, a series about a vintage-obsessed 12-year-old girl who’s carried away to different historical eras, we found immense support from YA and style bloggers, who hosted Bianca on a blog tour and posted images of her book on Instagram. When drumming up book reviews proved difficult, we placed larger profiles about Bianca in adult fashion outlets.

Read the full essay with Bianca Turetsky at PublishersWeekly.com 

I remember meeting two years ago with an internationally published author who came to me with this perspective: “If I could find a major publisher in the U.S., I wouldn’t even require a book advance.”

When I asked writers if they would take a “free” book deal on Facebook, I got several immediate “Yes! Yes!” responses. The logic makes sense: if you have already written a book just lying on a shelf somewhere or in an agent’s slush pile and you’ve spent years writing this thing, would the offer to see your book to market, in print and in stores, not be somewhat compelling?

E-book publishers like Amazon, Diversion, Vook, Thought Catalog and many others are already offering writers the opportunity to publish using their resources – different from the go-at-it-alone approach of self-publishing – and given demand, these publishers are getting more selective. But when the author I spoke with prompted me to look into print publishers who might consider a free book deal, I found only a few paperback romance and/or smaller vanity publishers, none of which I’d heard of before.

In publishing, like other industries governed by people, not products, herd mentality still reigns. Just consider the premise of book auctions, perhaps spurred more by competitive interest than merit, often placing false value on books that more often than not lose money. And yet, even while low-cost equations like Amazon and smaller startups like Storyville or Wattpad push us toward Anderson’s prediction of “economic gravity,” print publishing remains the celebrated, curated system in which only those books deemed promising have a shot. And the fee paid for the material symbolizes that internal enthusiasm and support.

There are plenty of writers who couldn’t, or shouldn’t, in today’s publishing landscape, make the free book deal. If you need an advance to travel and research your book, how could you? If you have a competitive offer, why would you? But for the vast majority, the benefits are worth considering: the advance may be zilch, but the royalties and creative control are more advantageous than any standard book contract. (You can find a short overview of e-publishing options and pros and cons here.)

Forward-thinking authors like the person I spoke with also realize that nothing in this world is actually free. You, too, will be “charged” with promoting your book—that’s after the uncompensated work you’ve already done writing it. And your publisher will theoretically be investing in your book’s production, design, marketing and distribution — with or without the added book advance.

I am not arguing that publishers become the sort of “anyone and everyone” aggregator model established by Amazon. What I’m suggesting is that there are many proposals and manuscripts that come so close to making the cut…so what if there were more leeway in making “buying” decisions? With allowances for greater risk-taking, open-mindedness and creativity, the realization that successful marketing lies in both the estimable (promotional costs) and the inestimable (word of mouth), traditional print publishers like their e-counterparts, may soon find value in the model of the free book deal.

 

*A version of this essay was originally published May 30th, 2012. Since then, several of the bigger publishers are experimenting with new digital imprints that offer no or near-to-nothing advances.  Slowly, perception may be shifting…

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.

Read more »

Your memoir goes as far back as 1998 and takes the reader with you in detail on your journey with cancer. At what point did you decide that you needed to write this book?

In January 2010, about a month after my final Johns Hopkins’ visit in the book, I decided to take a leave of absence from my graduate music studies at the University of Maryland. For some crazy reason, I lost my love of music when I was diagnosed with cancer. Strangest side effect ever! After I emailed my advisor that I was taking the semester off, I felt so relieved that I sold my piano the very next day. Shortly after that I started writing my memoir. I guess my creative music gene morphed into a creative writing gene.

 

I Have Cancer and I've Never Felt Better

 

What was the hardest part about your writing process?

The research. I compiled and studied all of my medical records and in doing so found anomalies in doctors’ notes and discrepancies in medical test results. I realized that if my doctors had performed their jobs better, or if I had taken a more active role in my healthcare I wouldn’t have cancer today. The writing helped me heal emotionally. With each draft I felt less anger and found more humor.

What have readers’ reactions been?

For the most part the reactions to the book have been extremely positive. I’m thrilled to hear that people are taking a far more active role in their health after reading the book and are inspired to eat better and get moving. One person even told me that the book inspired her to take up Sudoku!

But, the reaction on my blog has been maybe a bit more extreme. People really take their foods seriously! Even though I do my best to share information without preaching, some people seem to take great offense with the fact that I don’t eat animal products. I had to delete some threatening comments to a post I wrote about non-animal protein sources. I thought people would think it was cool to discover that spinach has protein. Some did. Others just got really mad. Who knew?

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How many authors here today know what co-op means, what a typical print run is for his/her type of book, or how returns factor into sales? How many editors know how LinkedIn or Pinterest can relate to book marketing, in what ways authors are using their social networks, and what connections they may have to larger organizations? Often, we’re not asking these questions of each other. We’re doing what we can, in silos.

Imagine if authors and publishers could inform and strategize with one another. Imagine if we were all really on the same page. This begins with having a shared strategy built on the principle of transparency. There is a way to learn, enjoy different perspectives, not put so much pressure on ourselves, and still, at the end of the day, be productive. It’s the result of an open collaboration between parties, which becomes possible as our roles expand.

Collaboration, beginning with defining parameters and goals, is key to excitement, energy, and execution. Here are ways in which it can be developed at the very first meeting:

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When did you begin your writing career?

I began my writing career in 2005, after I was fired from my first job out of college. I started writing for Gay City News and The Villager—mostly covering exotic events (like dog parades) and some local politics, such as the mayoral race. I started at the bottom of the totem pole, picking up whatever stories I could get assigned.

My very first article was in Gay City News—a good friend’s uncle was an editor there and they took a chance on me. In 2008, when I was 26, I was given my first assignment from The Wall Street Journal and later, The New York Times.

How is it you didn’t even go to journalism school? Did that put you at a disadvantage—or an advantage?

I know there are many schools of thought about journalism. There are definitely moments I’ve thought seriously about [going to journalism school], but I thought I would lose momentum. The tradeoff never made sense for me. In journalism, on the ground experience and writing is the best training ground. But let me caveat that with—there are also a whole host of new media skills and a lot of technical things one can learn in journalism school. I kind of see it from both sides, but for me there never seemed to be a right moment to do it. There’s an opportunity cost to going back.

As a 20-Something author, you broke into the business of book publishing fairly early. What do you think it was that landed your proposal an agent, and subsequently a book deal?

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Whether you’re a blogger or writer looking to get an idea out there, seek representation, or find a like-minded community; or an author looking to reach rock star bestsellerdom (or simply more readers), using Twitter has become non-negotiably important—at least that’s what your agent, editor, or publicist has told you. Twitter, despite popular misconception, is not about what you ate for breakfast this morning. It’s about finding news, defined loosely as any cultural phenomena or trend, and talking about that news, in real time.

Book news makes no exception—media and readers want to be in the know about new books, and Twitter is increasingly the forum where everyone from serious journalists to your mother’s book club friends go to learn about and share views on what’s happening.

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Too Big to Fail?

Will a Random House/Penguin Merger Stave Off the Amazon Threat?

In yet another sign of the major changes happening in the publishing industry, it was announced Monday that Random House and Penguin have agreed to a merger, creating the biggest global, consumer book publisher in the world, controlling over 25% of the market, according to The New York TimesWitty Twitter comments aside (Random Penguins, anyone?), literary agents, authors and other industry professionals have voiced real concerns about the merger: having fewer publishers to submit to, fewer books, lower advances, and jobs in limbo. (This week, Simon & Schuster announced layoffs and a new restructuring plan.) There were even murmurs that come this Wednesday, Murdoch would make a one billion dollar offer for Pearson, Penguin’s parent company, “terrifying agents and authors,” and possibly causing a bidding war with Random House. This never came to pass. Yet.

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