Archives: Books

 

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.

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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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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Crickhowell_c1
Available now at:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

When Awen is kidnapped from her rural village and confined at Crickhowell, where Miss Nina runs a thriving business in the muse trade, her misery eventually fades into relief. She finds a kind music teacher, discovers a new friend, and her only requirement as a student is to study the art of singing-her favorite thing in the world. However, Awen soon realizes that Miss Nina’s goal is not simply to train voices. She is trying to take them away. Determined to escape this fate, Awen becomes swept up into the intrigues of a scheming subordinate teacher, a salacious workman, a quirky artist-patron, and a handsome blond horseman. When both her own voice and the music around her mysteriously fade into silence, Awen’s only hope is to turn against the very artist she was commanded to inspire.

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Mary

We were thrilled to sit down with Mary Cummings, the Editorial Director of Diversion Books, to pick her brain on what she sees really working in the world of eBooks, and to get her recommendations for authors on best marketing practices for their books.

First, I’m so curious about how you came to naming your company Diversion.

I can take no credit in the naming of Diversion, as it happened well before my time, but we think of “Diversion” in a couple of ways. There’s the book-as-entertainment aspect, as in “this book is a welcome diversion from my busy day,” but also the very real and important distinction of Diversion as a publisher that has “diverted” from the path of traditional publishing insofar as its digital focus and all that comes with it, but has not abandoned the path altogether. In general, we like to think of Diversion as: “traditional approach, digital focus.”

Why publish with Diversion over Amazon?

Do you mean why not self-publish? Well, if you have time, savviness, and energy to put into publishing and promoting your book in an aggressive, ongoing way, then go for it! But even the most successful self-published authors are turning to companies like Diversion because they see value to more hands on deck, a reputable house backing them and enhancing their efforts, and abandoning the more nitty-gritty, technological, metadata-oriented tasks that are in constant need of management for the entire life of the ebook, assuming it is to be successful. Very few authors will be successful just by putting their work out there–it has to be continually nurtured, updated, and attended to on the marketing end.

Do you predict a fadeout of traditional publishers in favor of eBooks? Read more »

“I don’t take guest posts, advertising, or requests to promote your product, book, website, service, or blog post.” –Miscellaneous zen blogger

A warning sign I recently came across when researching blogs as publicity outlets for an author.

On an entirely different books blog, I found another disconcerting word, in an article written by an author I’d never heard of: “How Writers Should Not Market Their books.” (Author to remain anonymous.) The blogger listed 10 not-to-do’s, of which the worst transgression was receiving a cold email from someone she wasn’t familiar with to blurb or review her book. The nerve! Her lesson to authors was to abstain from self-promotion: if books are well-written, she theorizes, they’ll find their own word of mouth.

Except not.

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ON SHELVES NOW

OK, this jacket is stunning. Indisputably stunning. You may have seen it, standing out among the crowd of books at Barnes & Noble or your local indie–stark and no-nonsense, just like its story.

For lovers of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road, for lovers of dystopian fiction, adventure novels, and the wild outdoors, journalist turned novelist (not easy to do), Peter Heller’s THE DOG STARS, is a book you won’t want to miss if you plan to be part of a national literary conversation. Read more »

It sounds like an oxymoron. But as a follow up to our fairly grim outlook on book advances, I wanted to shine a potential bright light: a possible everybody-wins solution to the financial dilemmas facing both authors and their publishers today.

Last week, I spoke 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.”

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What makes for a memorable book? Sometimes it’s a story; sometimes it’s just one line.

I resisted Tim Ferriss’ 4-Hour Work Week for years for the same reason I generally and to a fault resist anything that feels over-hyped, like Coldplay or Downton Abby. But when I finally did succumb, there were sections I found compulsively readable and relateable. And one rule of thumb I’ve tried to live by since: Check your email as little as possible, and no more than 4 times a day. Read more »

Suddenly, publishing seems like one big popularity contest. Who was it who said that everything I learned, I learned in high school?

The business of the arts suggests it’s true. When I worked briefly as a music manager, there was one thing that really got me: in a business that was increasingly about touring and media because that was where any money could be made, I started to wonder if being a musician actually meant being a model. Unlike musicians today, writers, fortunately, need not worry too much about superficial appearances, unless a selling point of your book proposal includes being “mediagenic.” Instead, writers benefit because:

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