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Andrea Hurst and Associates - Authornomics Blog
by:  Andrea Hurst, Andrea Hurst and Associates; Andrea Hurst Literary Management
e-mail:  info@andreahurst.com
web:  http://www.andreahurst.com
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Interviews with those in-the-know about what an author needs to know.
December 8, 2014

AUTHORNOMICS Interview with author Catherine Ryan Hyde

Catherine Ryan Hyde is the author of 27 published and forthcoming books, including Take Me With You, Where We Belong, When I Found You, Walk Me Home, Second Hand Heart, Don’t Let Me Go, and When You Were Older. She has three new novels forthcoming from Lake Union/Amazon Publishing, including The Language Of Hoofbeats in December of ’14 and Worthy in the summer of ’15. She is co-author, with publishing industry blogger Anne R. Allen, of How To Be A Writer In The E-Age: A Self-Help Guide. Her best-known novel, Pay It Forward, was adapted into a major motion picture, chosen by the American Library Association for its Best Books for Young Adults list, and translated into more than 23 languages for distribution in over 30 countries.

In your career so far, you have written over 25 novels and 50 short stories, and many have been best sellers. When did you first start writing, and what do you think has helped you the most to persevere as an author?

I started writing when I was very young. When I was 14, I had an English and creative writing teacher who told me I could write. In front of the whole class. And he told my other teachers, later, in the staff lounge. So that was when I decided I wanted to be a writer. But I have to look to the year 1991, because that’s when I got serious. I was laid off from a job in January (in a tourist town!) and I wrote that novel I always swore I’d write “if I had the time.” Only this time I joined a workshop/critique group and really buckled down to try to get something published.

Back then what helped me persevere was the mentorship I found at the Cambria Writers Workshop, and later at the Santa Barbara Writers Conference. There were several authors there with a lot of experience. They told me I was good enough, that all writers face rejection, and that I shouldn’t give up.

These days it’s hearing directly from readers, especially the ones who tell me a little about themselves, and tell me what my books meant to them. That makes it all worthwhile.

Can you tell us about your latest novel, The Language of Hoofbeats? What inspired you to write it? Have you noticed your writing evolving over time?

I’ve loved horses for as long as I can remember, so I was overdue to write a book with a strong horse character again. My earliest novel, Funerals for Horses, was the first. At the time I had a horse of my own. I’m thinking seriously of having one again, which may be why it came up again in my work.

My former horse, Cody, was thrown in with the deal when a local riding instructor went to buy a lesson horse. The seller said, “Take that one, too. I’ll practically give him to you. I don’t even dare take him out of that pen.” The pen was nailed shut. And of course the horse had quite a bit of energy stored up, to put it mildly. It’s funny how those images stay with you and crop back up in the work.

I do think my writing has evolved. At first I think it was darker, because I was darker. I had two years of recovery from alcohol and drugs when I started writing for real. Now I have almost 26 years. You know that’s bound to make a difference. I think my newer work is more positive and more emotional.

I also notice that the more novels I write, the more they come out—at least substantively—the way I want them. This is not to say I don’t revise; I do. Obsessively. Just that I don’t remember the last time I had to throw away the whole second half of one and start over. Also, I feel that the quality is more consistent from one novel to the next.

What does your writing process look like? Is it similar with each book? How long does it usually take you to complete a novel?

I write very fast. So fast that I tend not to admit how fast, because people think something you produced that quickly must be rushed and can’t be your best effort. But that’s just how I write, and how I always have.

My process is a bit feast-and-famine. I’ll go weeks without writing, and then I’ll often write ten pages a day for ten days running. Then I have to stop to breathe, and let the work develop. And tend to my life, which can be largely ignored when I’m on a roll.

When writing a new novel, what do you consider the most important aspect of your books? Prose? Plot? Characters? Tone? What’s the easiest for you to craft? What challenges you the most?

Definitely character. People are what I really care about when I craft a story. As a reader, I don’t care what happens unless I care about the character it’s happening to. So I always start with a main character whose emotions I understand, and who has a story to tell. I think that’s the easiest part. Finding the character with the story.

The hard part, often, is in deciding how to tell it. From one point of view, or more? First or third person? In chronological order, or starting in the present and then delving into the past and back again? I usually try a few things on until the story opens up and lets me in.

What prompted you to release a young readers’ edition of your bestseller, Pay It Forward? What was the process like to edit the content to a younger audience?

Well, the short version is, when I first wrote the book, I had no idea it would be perfect for kids. So I wrote it for adults, with some adult language and material. And that kept it out of all schools except high schools. I got tons of requests for a version kids could read. And the more I saw kids latching onto the Pay It Forward concept, the more I realized that writing the book for adults only was an error that needed fixing.

Paula Wiseman at Simon & Schuster was the one who took on the project with me. I don’t write for kids that age, so I was not all that familiar with what’s appropriate for an 8-year-old. I edited out everything I thought should go, sent it back to her for more input. I think we did that for about three rounds.

Can you tell us about the book and what inspired you to write Pay it Forward?

I had an experience in which a couple of total strangers saved me from an engine fire, putting it out by hand. In the confusion of the fire department showing up, they took off before I even had a chance to thank them. So I carried this idea around for a while: What if you owe a favor but you can’t pay it back? What do you do with it? I found myself stopping for people who were broken down by the side of the road, even though I never had before. So that felt like my answer. It evolved from there.

For more of this interview and others, please visit our blog at http://www.andreahurst.com/category/blog/

November 13, 2014

AUTHORNOMICS Interview with Harlequin editor Allison Lyons

Allison Lyons began her career at Harlequin as an editorial assistant on the Silhouette Intimate Moments line. Now, after more than 16 years, she’s found a home at Harlequin Intrigue as an Editor. Since romantic suspense is so popular, you can be sure that her desk is never empty. And although she works with so many prolific writers, she still gets excited at the prospect of finding new authors. Her focus tends to be on romantic suspense submissions, but she’s open to hearing about projects that would fit any of Harlequin’s various lines, both print and digital.

How did you first get into the publishing business? What attracted you to Harlequin, in particular?

Believe it or not, I answered an ad in the New York Times. Very old-fashioned, considering the fact that everything’s done online these days. But then, it was 16 years ago… The job asked for an Editorial Assistant and I definitely knew the name Harlequin. How could I not apply to a job with such a reputable publisher?

What kind of background or skills should a person have if he or she is looking at editing as a career-choice?

First I’d say the person needs to be an avid reader. Anyone who plans to get into the publishing business, especially on the editorial side, needs to have a true love of books and the written word. Also, a strong knowledge about what makes a good story, as well as a close eye to detail, particularly good grammar and spelling skills.

As an editor for Harlequin Intrigue, what does your average day look like?

Busy! Of course, each day is different but, typically, the first thing I do (after getting a much needed cup of coffee!) is check my email. I first try to address the simple things before moving on to the harder, more complex questions/concerns. After that, I’ll work on either reading or editing, depending on which assignment is the most pressing. Throughout the day, I’ll often meet with my boss to discuss scheduling of books in the Intrigue line and catch her up on what projects I’m working on. If I don’t have any meetings, I can get back to reading/editing. I’ll brainstorm with authors on the phone, draw up new contracts, talk to other editors about the exciting projects they’re working on, etc. And, when there’s time, look through unsolicited projects to find the next great book. Of course, there are more cups of coffee involved as well!

Harlequin is different from many publishers in that it has specialized series that carry shorter books, such as Harlequin Intrigue, Harlequin Presents, or Harlequin Romance. How are the stories that are chosen for your series different from other Harlequin imprints?

Harlequin Intrigue books are 55-60,000 word romantic suspense stories. The romance and the suspense run parallel, with a little more focus on the mystery side of things. However, there must be a fully fleshed out and satisfying romance. Bedroom details aren’t necessary, but the tension and connection between the hero and heroine has to be palpable and believable. These two are generally running for their lives so their attraction is immediate and intense and there isn’t a lot of time to “date.” They know pretty quickly if they want to be together…even if they won’t admit it to each other. Or to themselves.

When looking for new submissions for your Harlequin series, do you look for certain storylines or archetypes that work better in these series?

While it’s true that certain “hooks,” as we call them, work best in Harlequin Intrigue (protector heroes, Western settings, secret babies, law enforcement heroes, etc.), we’re always looking for compelling stories that are well told. A strong connection between the main characters is crucial, as is the hero’s ability to keep the heroine safe in the most dangerous of situations. The focus needs to remain on them and their dire circumstances, so we look for a strong attraction and how it plays out. And, of course, the good guys should always win.

Many bestselling romance authors have started their careers at Harlequin writing novels for your series. What kinds of submissions do you usually keep an eye out for? How can someone make his or her submission really stand out from the crowd?

My first bit of advice, always, is to read the books. I can’t tell you how many submissions I’ve gotten in which a writer thinks her book would make the “perfect” Harlequin Intrigue and it’s just way off base. It’s clear she didn’t do her homework. I always tell prospective writers to start with a bang—literally. Kick things off right in the middle of the action and you’ll hook an editor immediately. It’s a lot harder for us to put aside a story in which people’s lives are already in danger. We’re immediately invested, we care, we need to know what happens and if they’ll survive. Definitely pay attention to what sells in each line and try and use some of those hooks when you’re first submitting. Again, it shows you’ve done your homework. It’s also helpful to reference some of the books you’ve loved in your cover letter. It helps us make a connection with you and shows us you enjoy reading what publish before we’ve even gotten to page one. Also try and find out what the different editors are looking for. Editors on the same line have different things that appeal to them. One might like reunion romances while another might like one night stands. Of course, that requires asking around or paying attention to which editor is working on which books (you can learn a lot from the dedication page!), but it’s worth it.

What are some common submission mistakes you see authors make?

It’s obvious when a writer doesn’t know the needs of the line. If you’re submitting a sci-fi story to Love Inspired, we know from the query letter that you have no idea what that line is all about. Also, please proofread your work! It’s very jarring to read a submission that’s riddled with spelling and grammatical errors. And one of my biggest personal pet peeves: when you spell my name wrong. Please don’t do that. To any of us.

For more of this interview and others, please visit our blog at http://www.andreahurst.com/category/blog/

September 24, 2014

AUTHORNOMICS Interview with author Nicole J. Persun

Nicole J. Persun started her professional writing career at the age of sixteen with her young adult novel, A Kingdom’s Possession, which later became an Amazon Bestseller. Her second novel, Dead of Knight, was recently awarded Gold in Foreword Magazine’s 2013 Indiefab Book of the Year Award competition, and has also seen Amazon’s Bestseller rankings. Aside from novels, Nicole has had short stories, flash fiction, poetry, and essays published in a handful of literary journals. She often speaks at libraries, writer’s groups, and writer’s conferences across the country. Nicole has a degree in Creative Writing from Goddard College and is currently working on her Master’s at the Northwest Institute of Literary Arts. For more information, visit Nicole’s website at www.nicolejpersun.com or visit her publisher’s website at www.booktrope.com.

What first got you interested in writing? Considering that publishing can be a tough business, why do you choose to write?

For someone with a big imagination who is interested in everything—new findings in history, the latest leaps in science, boundary-pushing art—writing is great. It can encompass anything, which is why I love it so much. As a writer, I don’t have to choose whether I want to become an historian or a biologist, I can be both, through my characters and the stories I craft.

I’ve made up stories since before I can remember. My parents encouraged that side of me from the beginning. However, I started writing my first novel when I was thirteen. In part, writing was an escape; it also allowed me to think about life from a safe distance, removed from the awkwardness of adolescence. Of course, I continued writing through high school and am still writing now, in graduate school, so obviously it stuck. Having a creative outlet is so important. It keeps me sane. And, I think, in a lot of ways, I still address questions about life in general through my characters. It’s a strange habit, trying to figure out the world through imaginary people.

As far as publishing being a tough business, I write despite that. So, yes, it’s not the most stable occupation, but it’s certainly the most personally fulfilling. I’d rather do what makes me happy and deal with a challenging and ever-changing business than do something boring and easy.

What attracts you to the fantasy genre in particular?

I suppose, really, what I love about fantasy is its ability to make hard truths easier to stomach. I started writing fantasy as an escape, but as I delved deeper into the genre, I realized that fantasy isn’t removed from reality. In a lot of ways, it is reality, just taken out of context. For example: lets say you’d like to write a book about the devastation of pollution on an environment. Abandoned and trash-ridden beaches, washed-up whale corpses, birds strangled by plastic—this could be difficult for you, the writer, and your readers, to stomach. A work of fiction about this kind of thing could also come off as preachy. So instead you write a story about a dystopian world that was ravaged by a force of magic. Now, the idea of devastating pollution is taken out of this world’s context. All solutions—even those impossible for our Earth—are on the table. But it’s still abstract and impersonal. So, in the story, we explore the impact of such a thing on a character who carries with her a goldfish in a bag. She cares deeply for her goldfish and, upon Bubbles’ death, she decides to go on a quest to battle the magical force and restore her planet’s natural world.

So, sure, this example is fairly transparent, but you see what I mean. By taking something relevant to our society out of this context and placing it in a different world, with a different set of rules, we’re able to explore the issue in a new way. We have the potential to grow and perhaps draw new conclusions about our own reality by thinking about it on a different plane. I might argue that fiction in general does this—we learn about ourselves through considering new ideas in our reading. Fantasy just requires a bit more suspension of belief than other genres.

Plus, fantasy is also just really fun. Making up worlds, creatures, societies. For someone interested in history and how things come to be, world building is an incredible thing.

And, for the record, I write in all genres. My published novels, so far, are all fantasy, but that doesn’t mean that I limit myself to fantasy as a writer. Every genre is attractive in some way, and I love exploring them.

Your first novel, A Kingdom’s Possession, was accepted by Booktrope Editions when you were sixteen. In your experience, has the age of an author ever been seen as a challenge in the publishing field?

Something I love about this business is that the work must speak for itself. It’s about the quality of the book. When you send out work, your age typically isn’t mentioned. It came up during contracts, of course, because when you’re a minor your parents have to sign the contract as well, but that was the only hiccup as far as getting published.

Broadcasting my age in the marketing of the published product, however, made a difference. In some ways, it was a good marketing tool, because I was somewhat of an anomaly. This meant that it was easy to get newspaper articles and interviews—headlines like, “Local High School Student Gets Publishing Contract” were common. It created buzz, which was good for sales, for getting my name out there. But then it also generated a lot of reviews that read, “This book is great, considering it was written by a kid,” which made it hard to be taken seriously. My age changed the way readers read my work—for better or for worse. Some reviews were overly critical because I was young. In this case, my work didn’t have a chance to speak for itself—those who were aware of my age took that into the story with them, and I think it changed the way they read it.

Age has been a huge challenge regarding my career as a speaker and teacher of writing. I love being involved in writing conferences and am getting an MFA in Creative Writing with Methods of Teaching Creative Writing. I want to teach. But, for some reason, adults have a very hard time taking writing advice from, say, an eighteen-year-old (ha). I’ve taught more writing classes than I can count, with success. I get compliments, I get invited back. But I’ve also had people walk out when they see how young I am. I have been challenged, in the middle of speaking or teaching a class, to debates where adults throw out examples too dated for me to have heard of or ask about my life experience as a way of diminishing my message. Now that I’m a bit older and have been validated by winning a couple awards, I run into this problem less and less. Still, it was perhaps the most difficult part of the establishment of my career as an author and speaker. And it is something I take very seriously. This experience brought me to becoming involved in helping other young writers navigate this business fearlessly. Young people have so much to offer and I love interacting with them—whenever I get the chance to speak to a group of young writers, I strive to be a source of encouragement.

What are some of your tricks for balancing writing, college, and life in general?

Ha! I’ll let you know when I have some!

In all seriousness, I’ve come to think of writing as a necessity—I have to eat, I have to bathe, I have to write. Treating writing as a necessity gives me the permission to maintain the habit. I never feel guilty for writing—I can’t, as it wouldn’t be healthy for my process. Unhealthy for my life, as writing is firmly linked to my sanity. Does this mean that I manage to balance everything flawlessly? No. Just like some days you skip breakfast, or don’t have time to shower, I don’t write. But most often, I carve out time.

I was just talking about this very thing with an author friend from school. So often I think people wait until they think they’ll have more time—when my career is more stable, when I have more money, when I get an office to myself—that they end up putting off their writing. Life never grants you time like that—you always get caught up in other things. So it’s important to prioritize and make time.

Lately, I’ve also been enjoying finally being in a program that requires you to write what you want. I spent most of high school getting up at 4:30am to write before class. Now that class is writing, I have more time. Which is great, because waking up at 4:30am sucks.

In addition to writing, you also teach other writers! What kinds of insights do you hope your students come away with after taking one of your courses?

Really, I teach with the goal of stretching writers’ ideas about writing. After all, it’s an art. There are no real rules. I love to discuss. To present ideas with the caveat that there is no right way or wrong way to write a story. I want to motivate writers to explore and play. I want them to walk away from a class inspired. I also strive to help writers feel as though they’re not alone—writing is such a solitary thing that sometimes it can become scary or discouraging. Something I learned from my favorite teachers of writing: there’s comfort in knowing that other writers are going through the same thing.

For more of this interview and others, please visit our blog at http://www.andreahurst.com/category/blog/

August 28, 2014

AUTHORNOMICS Interview with Taryn Fagerness

Taryn Fagerness is the founder and owner of Taryn Fagerness Agency which specializes in representing foreign rights on behalf of North American literary agents and publishers. The Agency also represents a select number of authors domestically. Before opening her own agency in March 2009, Taryn Fagerness spent five years as the Subsidiary Rights Manager and an Agent at the Sandra Dijkstra Literary Agency in Del Mar, CA. www.tarynfagernessagency.com

Can you explain what being a foreign rights agent entails? What does the process involve?

As a foreign rights agent, it’s my job to sell the rights to books into foreign markets. I primarily work with other agents. They find the authors and sell the books to US publishers, and if they retain foreign rights (in some cases the US publisher takes the foreign rights, in which case I’m not involved), I work to sell the books all around the world. For example, I will sell a book into Japan, Germany, and Brazil. The publishers in these territories will pay an advance for the book, translate the book, put a new cover on it, market it locally, and sell the book there. A book can have a whole new and different life in a foreign country. In order to sell books to these foreign countries I work with co-agents all around the world who know their markets inside and out and submit the book locally. I also attend international book fairs where I meet with my co-agents, foreign publishers, and foreign scouts. And I’m on email hours a day, communicating with people, submitting my books, sending out praise and reviews for my books, etc.

What does your average workday look like? How much time do you spend traveling out of the country? How many countries do you work with around the world?

My average work day involves A LOT of email! I submit my books via email, and send out praise, reviews, good news, etc. to get people around the world to pay attention to my projects. I also process payments, review contracts, negotiate deals, work on my catalogs, answer endless questions from foreign publishers, mail books, work on foreign tax forms, and create pitch materials for the books I handle. After all that’s done I read! Each year I usually attend the Bologna Children’s Book Fair and the Frankfurt Book Fair. Each of those is a week long. I also like to visit foreign publishers in their offices, and I’ve visited publishers in Munich, Amsterdam, and Tokyo. I’d say it’s three to four weeks of travel per year. I’ve never actually counted the number of countries I work with around the world. I’d say there are around 20 that are sort of the core territories that are more active, but then there are many smaller territories that crop up now and then. For example, I recently did my first Mongolian deal and Tagalog deal.

What made you decide to open up your own agency in 2009? What were some of the biggest challenges of going out on your own? Benefits?

In 2008 I was at a writer’s conference, and an agent I met there asked me if I had ever thought about doing foreign rights freelance (at the time I was an in-house foreign rights manager). At that time I hadn’t, but the idea percolated for a year. I knew I wanted to move back to Washington State (from San Diego) and opening up my own shop would allow me to do that. I had several agents tell me they would use my foreign rights services, and the next thing you know Taryn Fagerness Agency was born! The biggest challenges are simply juggling everything involved with owning your own business. I joke that I’m the janitor and the president. I have to make important decisions every day, and I also have to take out the trash. I’m also not a huge fan of dealing with more complicated taxes, dealing with foreign tax forms, and processing payments that come in foreign currencies. But the benefits are great! I do work long hours, but I can also go to the grocery store in the middle of the day. I can pick my clients (and I think my clients are the best!), and I love the relationships I’ve been able to develop with my foreign colleagues. I also love helping a book sell well into the foreign.

Can authors work directly with a foreign rights agent or only through a publisher or literary agent?

Authors can work directly with a foreign rights agent, if they can find one who works directly. While I do handle a few authors directly, I’ve learned that I prefer handling foreign rights on behalf of other agents. By doing this I can reach many authors through the “portal” of one agent client, and I don’t have to deal directly with umpteen different people. In other words, via my 20 or so clients I handle hundreds of books, without having to answer questions and email directly with 100s of authors. I have also found that authors often want an agent to help them make decisions about more than just foreign rights. They want career guidance. I’m not in a position to give that, as I only sell foreign rights. This is why many self-published authors still have agents. For guidance and foreign rights (and film rights) services.

Why do some publishers retain foreign rights rather than use a foreign rights agency? What is the benefit either way to an author?

Publishers want to make money. Exploiting foreign rights is a way to do that. Some publishers have an in-house team who works to sell foreign rights. Some use an outside agent (like myself—I handle foreign rights for Patagonia Books, for example). And most use foreign co-agents just like I do. Everyone is actually operating in pretty much the same way to sell foreign rights. The benefit comes in the numbers and the control the author has. If the author’s agent retains foreign rights, the money made from sales will go into the author’s pocket (with a better split). If the publisher holds foreign right, any money made from sales will be applied to the unearned advance (and the split the author receives isn’t as good). Plus, by using me, authors can have closer access to their foreign publishers. For example, I get author approval all foreign deals. When a publisher has rights, they often just accept the deal and tell you later.

For more of this interview and others, please visit our blog at http://www.andreahurst.com/category/blog/

A R C H I V E / H I G H L I G H T S

AUTHORNOMICS Interview with author and editor Renni Browne
originally posted: August 11, 2014

Renni Browne has been an editor for over fifty years. Before Scribner's hired her in 1966, she was a copy editor for Time-Life Books and assistant fiction editor for Woman's Day. When she left Scribner's she worked part-time for a paperback publisher and a literary agent while reviewing books for Kirkus and Library Journal. In 1968 she became senior editor at Stein & Day, where she stayed seven years until she became a senior editor at William Morrow.

In 1980 she founded The Editorial Department. In 1991 she and Dave King wrote Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, the bestselling title on editing, now in its second edition from HarperCollins. She has written book reviews and magazine articles, appeared on NPR, and given workshops and seminars around the country on topics of interest to writers. She's originally from Charlotte, N.C, and now lives in Asheville with three cats. Hobbies include old-time music festivals, walks in the mountains, and reading fiction.

When did you first decide you wanted to be an editor? What steps did you take to hone your editing skills early on?

I typed my friends' papers in college and made changes and suggestions they thanked me for. My first job, in New York after graduation, was writing and editing promotion copy for a national magazine. My boss fired me--because, he said, "You're a born editor. Take any editorial job you can get, then quit as soon as you've learned everything you can there and take another one." I followed his advice, honing my skills every place I worked, and when Scribner's hired me as an book editor five years later I'd had nineteen jobs!

You founded The Editorial Department in 1980. Can you tell our readers a little bit about your inspiration for starting The Editorial Department?

Most publishers were no longer placing a high priority on the kind of editing I'd been doing for twenty years--my boss at the time told me he paid me too much for me to spend a month editing a bestselling author's novel. As senior editor my job was to cultivate literary agents and acquire books, not edit them in depth. This state of affairs caused some highly skilled editors to drop out of mainstream publishing. I saw an opportunity.

Your book, Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, covers a wide range of editing techniques that you developed during your impressive career as an editor in mainstream publishing. What is the greatest benefit a writer can expect to take away from your book?

A manuscript that reads as if it's been written by a pro rather than an amateur.

At what point during the writing process should a writer consider self-editing? Are there times at which you should turn off your “self editor”?

It's a good idea to be aware of self-editing principles from the get-go, but writers shouldn't focus on them when writing a first draft. Let the story flow and the characters go--then self-edit your style and mechanics.

What are some common misconceptions about editing that aspiring authors should be aware of?

Many writers assume editors correct punctuation, typos, word repetitions, etc.--that's actually copyediting, the last stage of editing. Developmental editing comes first: you're likely to get suggestions about plot, characterization, scene construction, architecture, and your literary style in general.

Is it still necessary for writers to hire a different set of eyes before a project’s complete?

Your book is your child--and we simply can't be totally objective about our children. So yes, hire an editor. Many of The Editorial Department's clients have published one or more highly successful books. Their latest book is their latest child, so they hire us again.

For more of this interview and others, please visit our blog at http://www.andreahurst.com/category/blog/


AUTHORNOMICS Interview with Indie Reader Founder Amy Edelman
originally posted: July 21, 2014

Amy Holman Edelman, whose background is in Public Relations/Marketing, founded IndieReader in 2009 as a resource for consumers looking for great self-published books. Since that time the brand has expanded to include the IR Discovery Awards (IRDAs), IR Publishing Services (IRPS), IR Publishing, IR Reviews and the just-launched IndieReader In-Store (IRIS), a distribution service for indie (authors) to indie (booksellers).

Can you tell our readers a little bit about IndieReader.com, “the essential guide to self-published books and the people who write them”? What inspired you to embark on such a lofty endeavor?

Back at the end of 2008 I read a piece in the book section in The New York Times about self-published authors being signed by traditional publishers. A few weeks later I read the same type of story by Lev Grossman in Time magazine. Then I sat down at my computer thinking there must be a place for readers to find great indie books. To my surprise there wasn’t. This was back in early ’09. So I started IndieReader mostly as a hobby (no aspirations to a “lofty endeavor”!).

What are the benefits of participating in the IndieReader Discovery Awards and what types of industry professionals are involved? Are more established professionals eager to judge the IRDAs for up-and-coming indie authors?

Authors who enter the IRDAs are looking for different things. Some are staunchly indie, so for them we offer the opportunity to be read by bloggers and publicists and media exposure via the winner’s coverage (resulting, of course, in more readers!). But most overwhelmingly, what authors want is an agent to pitch their books to a traditional publisher. For those we offer publishers from the Big 5, in addition to our first-look arrangement with the amazing Dystal & Goderich Literary Agents.

The industry professionals involved include publishers from the Big 5 (so far we have three signed up for the 2015 IRDAs), publicists, bloggers and reviewers. For a full list go to http://indiereader.com/irda/.

As far as the second part of your question, yes, they are totally eager since no one—not even the lit agents—know where the next bestselling author is coming from. We offer them the chance to read and discover a book before anyone else does

The site recently announced the IndieReader Discovery Award winners. How difficult was the judging process this year?

The winners are totally based on the final ratings numbers. But in the three plus years we’ve been doing the IRDAs, we’ve discovered some great books which has led to a brand new (no charge!) curation program for books that have received a 4+ star review. Right now we’re working with Scribd (http://www.scribd.com/), the new subscription-based book site (like Netflix for books!) but we plan to expand to other services once we’re established there.

What other services does IndieReader offer to authors?

Lots! IndieReader started its Publishing Services (IRPS) shortly after IR was launched because we had authors asking for help with formatting, editing, etc. Next came paid-for reviews, because we were getting inundated with books that we didn’t have time to review.

We recently created an App for finding curated books (in addition to other indie titles for sale), followed by a whole (no fee) curation program for books to which we’ve given 4+ star reviews.

And then there’s IndieReader In-Store (IRIS)…more info here…http://indiereader.com/get-your-book-in-front-of-37000-book-industry-professionals/…the first-ever indie (author) to indie (bookstore) distribution service.

What are some effective things an indie author can do to ensure that his or her book can be “discovered”?

To tell the truth, there’s really no way an author—indie or trad pubbed–can “ensure” that their book is discovered and, if it is discovered, that it will do well.

Crown published my novel, Manless in Montclair in ’07. I was a guest on The Today Show and People magazine did a positive, almost full-page review. You would have thought that would have been enough to get me on The New York Times bestseller list, but it was not. Fact is, there is really little correlation— especially these days—between cause and effect, particularly when it comes to something “lightning in a bottle” like a book.

That said, an author can help…putting their contact info on their website (you have no idea how many don’t!), submitting their book to the IRDAs and purchasing reviews. They can schedule on-line media tours, reach out to BookBub, do give-aways. They can make sure that their book is distributed everywhere, not just via Amazon’s KDP (nothing against Amazon, but why would you limit where your books are sold?).

Authors can also think beyond ebooks, putting their titles in the IndieReader In-Store program, the only service that gets indie books in front of indie booksellers (more info on that here… http://indiereader.com/get-your-book-in-front-of-37000-book-industry-professionals/).

For more of this interview and others, please visit our blog at http://www.andreahurst.com/category/blog/

A B O U T   T H E   A U T H O R

Andrea Hurst, President, has over 25 years experience as a published author, developmental editor for publishers, and skilled literary agent. In addition to our work with high-profile authors and mainstream publishers, our team of industry professionals now offers assistance to writers we do not represent, but who are in need of expert literary guidance in their quest for publication. Whether you need help polishing a query letter or evaluating your manuscript, are curious about custom publishing or on the hunt for a top ghostwriter, we provide the tools and the expertise to succeed in today’s marketplace.