Thursday, January 26, 2012

Do You Judge A Book By Its Cover? I Do.

I loved the following article, from my beloved Shelf Awareness. I definitely snoop and sneak peeks at the covers of books people are reading and, all things being equal on a bookshelf, I'll definitely gravitate to a beautiful cover. (Of course, beauty is in the eye of the beholder.) What about you? Do you sneak peeks? Have you ever bought a book purely for its cover?

Judging a Book by Its Cover, by Marilyn Dahl

Last week we wrote about handselling books and the power of recommendations--from a bookseller, from a friend, from book reviews. Those are proactive means of promoting a book, and are powerful, but there is another way to "handsell" a book, one that is passive. Maybe it could be called secondary advertising. It's selling by book cover.

On an airplane, do you notice what people are reading? Do you surreptitiously contort a bit to see a cover? Do you think about the (usually) men who are reading genre thrillers quite openly while women seem to hide romances? Same thing on the bus or subway or in cafes at lunchtime. Checking out book covers brings many pleasures; it also subtly imprints a book in your mind. After you've seen 12 people reading American Dervish or The Rook, you think, hmmm... maybe you'd better check it out. If two or three people on the bus are reading Pity the Billionaire, your political leanings are validated (at least for one zone). Or you spot people reading the latest Michael Connelly, The Drop, and you realize that one of your favorite authors has a new book out. And it's always interesting to check out someone's bookshelves or to casually place a very impressive title on your own coffee table (don't forget a bookmark about halfway through).

With e-books, there are no book covers. There's no tipping point reached by cover art, no visual validation of your own reading tastes. What will replace this passive advertising? Is it even a worry? A recent survey found a plateauing of e-book reader adoption (December sales notwithstanding)--52% of readers say they are "not at all likely" to buy an e-reader; additionally, e-reader owners buy almost as many printed books as e-books. Good news for people who like cover art, for publishers who devote so much time and money to cover art, and for those of us who like to see what others are reading (or proclaim our own good taste). There are many good reasons to use e-books, but don't forget--it's really hard for authors to sign them. --Marilyn Dahl, book review editor, Shelf Awareness

Friday, January 13, 2012


I have an agent.

On January 9th, Stephen Fraser of the Jennifer DeChiara Literary Agency offered to represent me and my middle grade time travel novel, Shakespeare on the Lam.

We had a tremendous conversation, in which he said wonderful things about the novel and asked me about my writing goals.

It all seems a little unreal.

Here I am, signing the agency agreement:

(Notice all the giants of children's literature by my side?)

I want to thank you all for your support on this journey. You have read, commented, and cheered me on. I am so grateful for your friendship.

I'll leave you with a picture of the littlest author. (My 5-year old, who lamented that no one wanted to buy his books--for $14, no less. His 8-year-old brother kindly agreed to be his agent.)

I just knew that New Year Champagne was a good omen!!

Friday, January 6, 2012

It's Gotta Be A Champagne Sort of Year

Hello, 2012!! I can't believe we're six days into you already!!

Well, did you all have fun while I was away? I certainly did--although there was a rough patch involving troublesome car engines, and unplanned trips to the dentist...

Family was at the forefront. My super-duper nephews (and their parents) came for a week, post-Christmas, and part of the visit overlapped with the three days my brother and his family were in town. We hadn't seen "The Australians" (that's where my brother lives) since 2007, so it was great catching up with them: telling stories, celebrating New Year's. They are nothing if not generous, and bought several bottles of Moet & Chandon to welcome "la nouvelle annee"--sorry, the mention of champagne makes me speak French. Two bottles remain, and I see this as a good omen. I AM BOUND AND DETERMINED TO CELEBRATE SOMETHING EARTH-SHATTERINGLY IMPORTANT IN 2012!!

What that will be, of course, remains to be seen. I'd dearly love to find an agent. I'd love to have my first novel published. But there are a myriad of other things to be excited about. I've finished the first draft of my new novel (and stuck it in a drawer for the obligatory two weeks before revision starts.) I am giddy about an idea I have for another novel, and am busy making plans to start it. On the blogging front, I still can't believe that I am part of the amazing Project Mayhem team, and that Middle Grade Mafioso is on some publicist's radars and is getting invited to be part of blog tours and to review ARCs. After the mail carrier nearly got a hernia lugging all the Cybils' review copies up the front steps, I sort of became a bit spoiled at receiving all these amazing books. I'm a definite book glutton!

Yes, indeed. It's always a bit exciting thinking what a New Year might bring. What exciting plans do you have on your radar?