Category: On Publishing

Book publishing in Antarctica

By Midge Raymond,

Of all that Antarctica is known for, who knew it was once a publishing hub? (Well, sort of.)

I’ve been reading about the Aurora Australis — the first book ever written, printed, illustrated, and bound in Antarctica — soon to be offered at auction by Sotheby’s and expected to bring in £70,000.

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Photo from The Guardian.


Aurora Australis was produced during Shackleton’s Nimrod Expedition of 1908–09, at Cape Royds on Ross Island in the McMurdo Sound. It was one of many activities Shackleton encouraged of his team so that “the spectre known as ‘polar ennui’ never made its appearance.”

What’s interesting is that by the time this book was created, publishing was not a new thing in the polar regions. Already explorers were publishing articles and newspapers detailing their expeditions — from Edward Parry’s 1819 expedition in search of the Northwest Passage to the South Polar Times, published during Robert Scott’s Discovery and Terra Nova expeditions. And now, of course, you can go online to read the news of what’s happening in Antarctica — for example, The Antarctic Sun, published by the U.S. Antarctic Program; and blog posts from the British Antarctic Survey.

Shackleton’s Nimrod expedition was sponsored by a printing firm, and Shackleton received training and traveled south with a printing press and paper. (Click here to learn more about the challenges of printing in the extreme temperatures of the Antarctic.)

Aurora Australis, which will be auctioned in London on September 30, is 120 pages long and contains poems, stories, essays, and illustrations by ten members of the expedition. Horse harnesses were recycled to create the leather spines, and the covers of the copy up for auction were made from a tea chest. Only eighty copies of the book were printed.

Writers: The Siskiyou Prize is open for submissions!

By Midge Raymond,

If you’re working on a book with environmental or animal-protection themes, Ashland Creek Press has the contest for you.


The Siskiyou Prize is awarded by Ashland Creek Press for an unpublished, book-length work of prose with environmental themes. The deadline is September 1.

The winner receives $1,000; a four-week residency at PLAYA; and an offer of publication by Ashland Creek Press.

The 2015 prize will be judged by award-winning author Ann Pancake (author of the phenomenal novel Strange As This Weather Has Been and the brand-new story collection Me and My Daddy Listen to Bob Marley).

Click here to learn about last year’s winner, Mary Heather Noble, selected by bestselling author Karen Joy Fowler, whose novel We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves won the 2014 PEN/Faulkner Award and the 2014 California Book Award and was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize.

For complete details and to submit, visit or

Book Promo 101: Email marketing for authors

By Midge Raymond,

The idea of email marketing may seem a little overly sales-y, but having a mailing list is a great way to keep friends, family, and colleagues in the loop — not to mention new readers and anyone you meet who may be interested in your book. The nice thing about a mailing list is that it’s one more way to reach out; for example, you likely have some Facebook friends who go months without logging in, but you’ll still want to make sure they know about a book giveaway or an upcoming event.

To create your mailing list, you’ll begin with family and close friends; then, begin to ask colleagues and more casual acquaintances whether you may add them to your mailing list. And, whenever you do a reading or any other event, pass around a guest book or a simple sign-up sheet so that readers can sign up to receive your mailings.

Among those who should be included on your mailing list are (and note that you should always get permission from the recipient before adding anyone to your list):

  • close friends
  • immediate and extended family
  • classmates and former classmates, from grade school through grad school
  • writer friends or members of your writers’ group
  • parents of your kids’ friends and friends of family who may be interested
  • colleagues, past and present

If your list is long, you’ll want to be sure to send out emails in small batches (twenty recipients or so) to avoid being targeted for spamming. As your list grows, you should consider signing up for an email service (I like Mail Chimp, which has free options and plenty of easy-to-use templates; Mad Mimi and Campaign Monitor are also popular). These programs allow you to design nice announcements about your book launch and other events; you can also do more lengthy e-newsletters if you have a lot to share.
A few pointers for email marketing:

  • Be clear about what you’ll be sending. When people sign up for something, they like to know what it is, so don’t hide the fact that you’ll be sending out updates on your book; even if it sounds promotional, you need to manage expectations (and see below for how to do more than simply promote yourself). Also, be sure to let subscribers know that you won’t be sharing their email addresses with anyone else; maintaining the privacy of those who trust you with their email addresses is important.
  • Don’t send e-mails too frequently. If, for example, you’re a teacher and hold frequent events, you might send out a regular e-newsletter, as long as the information is relevant to its recipients. But if you’re simply sending out announcements about the occasional event or new review, be a little more restrained; if you send out too many e-mails with too little content (or content that is simply self-promotional), people may stop reading them or they may unsubscribe. Also, these email campaigns take valuable time to create, so you’ll want to use this time wisely. I recommend sending out monthly emails if you have a lot of news to share; otherwise, I recommend quarterly updates (or even fewer). Either way, try to be consistent, so that no one hears from you too often but so they don’t think you’ve dropped off the face of the earth, either.
  • Create different lists. This can take a lot of time initially, but it’s very valuable in the end. For example, if you’re a New York City writer with an email list of 1,000 recipients all over the country, and you’re doing a series of events in New York, not everyone needs to receive an email about these events. When you pass out a guest book or sign-up sheet, ask people to add their locations so that you can better target your audience.
  • Offer a little more than promotion. While the purpose of the email may be to promote your book, offer a little something more as well — recipients may tire of the content if it’s always the same and always about you. For my own newsletter for writers (which I send out four to six times a year), I include a writing tip and a writing prompt, so that among any promotional stuff there will always be something for writers in there. I also try to add things that may be helpful for writers, from writerly resources I like to writing software I’ve discovered. You can also include links to other writers, blogs, and websites that you think your audience will enjoy — and consider offering book giveaways or other bonuses to your subscribers.
  • Be friendly and personal. One mistake I made when I first started sending out e-newsletters was aiming to sound extremely professional. Then I noticed, having received a number of such emails myself, that this is a little boring and impersonal. So now I try to be casual and accessible, and I keep mailings short and to the point. You should always show how readers can unsubscribe if they’d like to, and it’s a great idea to invite feedback and comments. And always proofread your email before sending it. Typos happen, but I usually create a campaign at least a week in advance so I can look at it again with fresh eyes before scheduling it.
  • Use pictures. Visuals are great for email campaigns; no one wants to wade through a ton of text, and most people simply skim through email announcements or newsletters anyway, so you’ll want a mix of text and images to help keep readers’ attention. You must, of course, own the rights to any photo you use — an exception is your book cover, which you’ll be allowed to use for marketing purposes, so you might consider having a banner highlighting the title and/or some of the cover design; think of it as your logo. (If you have more than one book, you can use the most recent one, or use something from your website that will familiarize readers with you as an author.) Choose a template that is easy on the eyes, with plenty of white space to make it skimmable and reader friendly.
  • Don’t over-design. While you want to be visually appealing, don’t make the mistake of going crazy with too many images (which could be distracting) or fancy fonts (which could be hard to read). Strive for simple and engaging.
  • Make use of the tools. If you use an email marketing service, check out the tools it offers for tracking who opens your emails, which links are most popular, etc. You can also experiment with sending your news out at different times of day and different times of the week to see what the best results are. Nowadays, email services allow you to connect your campaigns with social media, so you can link your enews with Twitter or Facebook if you’d like. It’s worth spending a little time on these to gauge the effects of your marketing efforts.
  • Don’t worry about the “unsubscribes.” One thing I love about Mail Chimp is the little line that comes along with a notification that someone has just unsubscribed from my list; it reads: “Maybe they’re just not into you?” This always makes me smile, which is important when someone has just unsubscribed from my list. I find myself worrying about all sorts of things: Was my email too boring? Was it something I said? Did they read my book and hate it? The fact is, people are overwhelmed with email and it’s likely not personal (and if it is, there’s not much you can do about it anyway, so it’s best not to fret over it). Most often, I suspect, people unsubscribe for reasons having more to do with their own lives than with the content of your email.


How important is your book’s title?

By Midge Raymond,

Does your book title have a chance at being a bestseller? According to Lulu Titlescorer, Forgetting English has a 79.6 percent chance of becoming a bestseller. (I’m still waiting.) And apparently Everyday Writing has a 35.9 percent chance of becoming a bestseller, and Everyday Book Marketing a 31.7 percent chance. Interesting.

So how do writers know whether a title will help a book sell?

The truth is, we never really know. We simply choose the title that we think best fits our book, and then we send it out. But beware of becoming become too attached to a title: Your editor and/or publisher will likely have suggestions for changing it — and this is usually a good thing. Your editor/publisher is in the business of marketing books, and he or she not only has the background and experience most writers lack but also the necessary emotional distance from the book. Often we writers fall head over heels in love with a title, for any number of reasons, without realizing that something about it may hinder a book’s marketability. And, if publishing your book is your goal, you’ll have to be open-minded about changing your title.

I’ve always loved the title Forgetting English, and fortunately neither of its two publishers, Eastern Washington University Press and Press 53, ever suggested changing it. But, having worked in publishing for many years and having sat through plenty of long meetings in which editors, copywriters, publishers, and sales staff discussed titles, I’d braced myself for the possibility of change. And even now, I’m careful not to fall too much in love with any title I come up with, whatever the project. Even when I publish a short story, an editor will occasionally want to change or tweak the title, which so far has always been fine with me.

If you come up with the perfect title for your novel and there’s already another book out there with the same title, don’t worry; titles can’t be copyrighted. That’s not the only consideration, however — you want to avoid having the same title as another book coming out around the same time (not that this is unprecedented, but it’s certainly not ideal), and you also want to avoid replicating very famous titles. Be sure to do a thorough search before finalizing your title.

Most of all, know that titles can and do change throughout the writing and publishing process — the key to happiness with your title is being open and flexible. After all, imagine the literary world today had Fitzgerald stuck with his original title for The Great Gatsby (The High-Bouncing Lover), or if Carson McCullers had gone with her original title, The Mute, instead of The Heart Is a Lonely Hunter.

I’m not sure whether Lulu Titlescorer is a great predictor of your book’s potential success, but I’d suggest checking it out for fun, as well as for what it does offer: a chance for you to analyze your book’s title in a way you may not have already. It’ll ask you to note the grammar, the language, whether you’ve named your book after a character, whether your title is literal or figurative. All of these things are worth considering and playing with to discover the best possible fit for your book.

Let’s talk about book marketing…

By Midge Raymond,

I was delighted to chat about Everyday Book Marketing with Adventures by the Book — and am especially looking forward to talking with authors on Thursday, November 6, at the AuthorPreneurs monthly Dinner Series. (Click here for more info and to register — $25 includes dinner and a free copy of Everyday Book Marketing!)

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Also coming up next week is a chat with Sheila Bender on KPTZ’s In Conversation … the show will air on Tuesday, November 4, at 12:05 p.m. and on Thursday, November 6, at 5:35 p.m. Join us for a conversation about writing, environmental fiction, and small presses.

Announcing “Everywhere Stories”!

By Midge Raymond,

I’m thrilled to have a story included in this new anthology from Press 53: Everywhere Stories: Short Fiction from a Small Planet, an anthology of 20 short stories by 20 authors set in 20 countries.


The collection, compiled and edited by award-winning author Clifford Garstang (What the Zhang Boys Know, In an Uncharted Country), has a a theme that goes beyond geography: It’s a Dangerous World. The stories take readers on journeys to all seven continents: to a portentous soccer game in the Congo, to a mysterious disappearance in Argentina, to post-Katrina New Orleans, to a murder in the Italian countryside, to a quarreling couple in Kazakhstan, to a visit with Chairman Mao in China, to a sketchy dentist in New Zealand…and in my story, “The Ecstatic Cry,” to a remote Antarctic island where a touring passenger overstays his welcome.

I was glad to have the chance to chat with Cliff about Everywhere Stories … as well as upcoming readings and events!

Q: What was the inspiration for Everywhere Stories?
A: I began traveling extensively right after college, when I joined the Peace Corps. I then went to law school, which led to an international career. When I began writing fiction, I was drawn to stories set abroad, and I like to read those stories, as well. It occurred to me that an anthology of short fiction set all over the world might have some appeal, so I approached my publisher, and he loved the idea.

Q: Tell us what’s in the book. Do you cover the whole world?
A: There are a lot of countries on our small planet, so we couldn’t include them all. We’ve hit each of the continents: four of the stories are set in Africa, five in Asia, five in the Americas, four in Europe, and one each in Antarctica and Oceania.

Q: Do you have any plans for a second edition, to include the many other countries on the planet?
A: I’m glad you asked! I’m in discussions with the publisher now about a second volume. My thinking is that we would again have about 20 stories, and the only country we would repeat would be the U.S. In fact, from the original submissions for the book, I’ve asked a number of writers if I could hold their stories for Volume 2, so I’m already well on the way. We’re looking at Fall 2016 for a release.

Q: The book opens with thought-provoking quotes on travel by T.S. Eliot, Aldous Huxley, and Albert Einstein — what do you hope readers come away with after reading this anthology?
A: My own international education began when I joined the Peace Corps. Since then I’ve worked and traveled extensively overseas, but when I return to the U.S. I can’t help feeling that we are primarily xenophobes. We know very little about the rest of the world, even those parts of the world we’ve visited as tourists. So this book—this series—is an attempt to dig below the surface of the world, to find what a casual observer isn’t going to see. So what do I want readers to come away with? I want them to realize that there is a big world out there, and we all have a lot to learn about it.

Q: As a writer yourself, how does creating your own stories affect the way you work/read as an editor?
A: The impact is more the other way around, I think. As an editor, I often see writers doing things that don’t work—falling into long flashbacks that totally stop a story’s forward momentum, for example—and it helps me understand what not to do in my own work. It’s almost like being in a fiction workshop, where the real benefit for a writer is not having his or her own work critiqued but in investing the time and energy to offer constructive feedback to others. In doing that, the writer invariably learns from someone else’s mistakes.

Q: Are there any upcoming events readers should know about?
A: First up is the official launch party, which takes place in Staunton, Virginia, where I live. Four of the 20 contributors will be coming to that. Press 53 will also be celebrating the launch at their annual Gathering of Writers in Winston-Salem NC on October 18. And then throughout the fall, we’ll be posting information about other events on the book’s Facebook page, at:

And check out this radio interview with Cliff on Rudy Maxa’s World; Cliff comes on at 33:45.


Author website essentials

By Midge Raymond,

I’ve just returned from Port Townsend, where I taught an afternoon workshop on Everyday Book Marketing at the fabulous Writers’ Workshoppe, during which we spent quite a lot of time talking about the essentials of author websites. I’m glad to see this article in Publishers Weekly covering the same territory, and very happy to have been a contributor.


An author website is important for so many reasons — and yet so many essentials get overlooked quite easily. Alison Schiff does a great job here of covering all the basics.

Check out the article here…and for those of you in Southern California, visit Adventures by the Book for information on an entire series of book marketing events (covering author websites and much more!) from the SoCal Author Academy, beginning with internationally bestselling author Lisa See in October.

Late summer news & events…

By Midge Raymond,

I just sent out an e-newsletter with late summer and early autumn news and events …

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…and there’s a lot more going on than I realized until I put it all together.

The fabulous Sheila Bender will be in Southern Oregon … I’m reading (with Janée Baugher) and teaching in Port Townsend in September … there’s an all-day writing conference coming up in Ashland in October … I found a very cool online resource for writers … and I’m teaching an online class for the amazing organization Kahini in the new year.

You can check out the latest news here. And, if you’d like to receive news via email, click here to subscribe.

Hope to see you this fall!

Bookstore Geek: Imprint Books in Port Townsend, Washington

By Midge Raymond,

I’ve written about this wonderful bookstore previously, and it’s as wonderful as ever — but now, the store is in a new location under a new awning: Owners Anna and Peter Quinn purchased Imprint Books and, this spring, combined the two stores in its new location at 820 Water Street.

Imprint Books

The new Writers’ Workshoppe and Imprint Books has all the best of both places — a huge selection of books (still creatively organized), as well as fun writerly gifts and toys (from Writer’s Block chocolate to cleverly worded T-shirts and mugs).

Imprint Books2

The store is as bright and welcoming as it was in its previous location, and the Quinns continue to host visiting and local writing instructors in a lovely and inviting new workshop space.

Imprint Books3

You can check out the workshop offerings here — I’m delighted to be in the lineup to teach two workshops on September 17 (call 360-379-2617 for more information and to register), and I’m in great company with other fall instructors, including Bill Kenower, Erica Bauermeister, Sheila Bender, and many more.

And for those of you with little ones, Imprint Books has a fabulous, child-sized section for kids, a cozy little nook perfect for getting lost in a book or two.

Imprint Books4

If you haven’t stopped in already, be sure to visit The Writer’s Workshoppe and Imprint Books when you’re in Port Townsend…and be sure to give yourself plenty of time to explore this fabulous spot for readers and writers.

See you at AWP in Seattle!

By Midge Raymond,

I look forward to seeing many of you at the AWP Conference & BookfairFebruary 27 to March 1.

I’ll be hanging out at our booth for Ashland Creek Press, EcoLit Books, and Literary Provisions. Please join us (we’ll be in booth #1207 in the North Hall) to check out new books and fun stuff for writers.

And don’t miss these other events before, during, and after the conference …

Wednesday, February 26
I’ll be one of the readers at the fabulous AWP Festival of Language at the Rock Bottom Brewery (1333 5th Avenue, just a couple blocks from the conference center), along with dozens of other authors. I’ll be reading sometime between 5 and 6:30 p.m., and the literary festivities will go on until 10 p.m.

Thursday, February 27
Julian Hoffman, contributor to Among Animals and author of The Small Heart of Things: Being at Home in a Beckoning World, winner of the 2012 AWP Award Series for creative nonfiction, will be signing books from 11 a.m. to 12 noon. (ACP booth #1207)

Jean Ryan, author of the “captivating” (Publishers Weekly) short story collection Survival Skills and contributor to Among Animals, will be signing books at the booth from 1 to 2 p.m. (ACP booth #1207)

Friday, February 28
Mindy Mejia, author of the “beautiful” (Twin Cities Pioneer Press) novel The Dragon Keeper will be signing books from 9 to 11 a.m. (ACP booth #1207)

JoeAnn Hart, author of the eco-novel Float (“a stellar model of eco-literature”—Cape Ann Beacon) will be signing books from 4 to 5 p.m. (ACP booth #1207)

And at 4:30 p.m., I’ll be leading a panel on Book Marketing — From Finding Your Muse to Finding Your Readers: Book promotion in the twenty-first century, with Kelli Russell Agodon, Wendy Call, Janna Cawrse Esarey, and Susan Rich. Panelists from a variety of genres—poetry, fiction, narrative nonfiction, and memoir—will discuss the unique challenges and opportunities of transitioning from writer to published book author. Through specific experiences and using real-world examples, panelists will offer tips for finding one’s natural niche and audience, and how to reach out to readers authentically and generously. Topics include book promotion through conferences, book clubs, social media, awards, blogs, events, and salons. (Room 608, Washington State Convention Center, Level 6)

Saturday, March 1
On Saturday, the Bookfair will be free and open to the public!

At 12 noon, join John Yunker for a panel on The Greening of Literature: Eco-Fiction and Poetry to Enlighten and Inspire, with authors JoeAnn Hart, Mindy Mejia, Ann Pancake, and Gretchen Primack. From mountaintop removal to ocean plastic to endangered species, ecological issues are increasingly on writers’ minds. Authors on this panel discuss how their ecologically themed fiction and poetry engages readers in powerful ways that nonfiction can’t. Panelists discuss writing in these emerging sub-genres as well as their readers’ responses and offer tips for writing about the environment in ways that are galvanizing and instructive without sacrificing creativity to polemics. (Aspen Room, Sheraton Seattle, 2nd Floor)

Sunday, March 2
I’m thrilled to be doing a post-conference reading with the amazing Gretchen Primack on Sunday, March 2, at 2 p.m. at the Central Library in downtown Portland. We’ll be reading eco-fiction (me) and eco-poetry (Gretchen), and we look forward to a lively discussion afterward about the environment and animal protection in the context of fiction and poetry. This event is free, and all are welcome; click here for complete details.

Mini Q&A with bestselling author Jenna Blum

By Midge Raymond,

This is an excerpt of Jenna Blum’s Q&A in Everyday Book Marketing, in which she talks about how to stay energized and inspired. For more book promo information, and to read Jenna’s complete Q&A, check out Everyday Book Marketing.


Jenna Blum
is the New York Times and international bestselling author of Those Who Save Us and The Stormchasers and is one of Oprah’s Top Thirty Women Writers. Her debut novel, Those Who Save Us—a New York Times bestseller, #1 Book of 2011 in Holland, and Boston Globe bestseller—received the 2005 Ribalow Prize, judged by Elie Wiesel. The Stormchasers is also a Dutch bestseller, a Boston Globe bestseller, and a Target Emerging Author Pick. Jenna lives with photographer Jim Reed and black Lab Woodrow in Wichita, Kansas, where she is writing the screenplay for Those Who Save Us.

Q: Tell us about the journey of Those Who Save Us from debut novel to international bestseller: How long did it take?

A: Those Who Save Us came out in 2004 in hardcover—a.k.a. the family and friends edition, because that’s who bought it. It was published in 2005 in paperback, and I knew that was its second and last lease on life. I figured at that point I’d throw everything I had at the wall and see what stuck, promotionally. What did I have to lose? I loved my book. I spent years of my life researching and writing it because I loved it, and if I could do anything I could to keep it from falling down the well without a sound, I’d do it.

I had incredible help from readers, and the way this happened was, I started going to book clubs. The mother of one of my novelists at Grub Street Writers in Boston invited me to her book club, and of course I went. A chance to talk about my baby for three hours with kind strangers and drink all their wine? What writer wouldn’t go? Mrs. Garabedian, my first book club hostess, was so kind to me. She and her group gave me an orchid, which I still have and which still blooms. They recommended me to another book club—which cooked German food featured in the book, I might add. And that book club recommended me to another. By the time Those Who Save Us jumped onto the New York Times bestseller list in 2008, three years after it had come out in paperback, I was speaking at three book clubs a day (!) in person, and talking to as many as I could by phone. I estimate I visited over 1,000 book clubs in the Boston area alone, and it was a great privilege. Now readers in Holland and European countries are kindly keeping the book aloft. Those Who Save Us is a reader-created book, which I think is just as it should be.

For more advice from Jenna, and to read Jenna’s complete Q&A, check out Everyday Book Marketing. Click here to visit Jenna’s website, and keep an eye out for her latest work, forthcoming in July in the anthology Grand Central: Original Stories of Postwar Love and Reunion.

Mini Q&A with book blogger Serena M. Agusto-Cox

By Midge Raymond,

This is an excerpt of Serena M. Agusto-Cox’s Q&A in Everyday Book Marketing, in which she talks about how she handles book reviews for her blog, Savvy Verse & Wit. For more book promo information, and to read Serena’s complete Q&A, check out Everyday Book Marketing.


Serena M. Agusto-Cox is a poet and amateur photographer who lives outside Washington, D.C. She has published poetry in Beginnings, LYNX, Muse Apprentice Guild, The Harrow, Poems Niederngasse, Avocet, and Pedestal, as well as an essay in Made Priceless by H.L. Hix. Her blog, Savvy Verse & Wit (www., features writing critiques; book reviews of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction; and conference/ book event news.

Q: How many book review pitches do you receive each week?

A: I did not receive many pitches at all in the beginning, but now, after five years, I receive about ten to fifteen pitches per day from a variety of publishers, authors, and publicists. Some of these pitches are well within the types of books I read, which isn’t really hard since I’m an eclectic reader. I love poetry above all else, but that’s closely followed by literary and historical fiction. I read a bit of nonfiction/biography/ memoir, but I am pickier about my nonfiction reading. The other pitches I receive are far outside and are usually turned down quickly.

I have a standard response that I crafted to send to everyone who requests a review. It’s very simple, but I make sure to change the name so that it addresses each person individually. This standard response is for books I’m not interested in at all, but I will make more personal responses for books I’m interested in but may not have a certain opening they are looking for in terms of reviews. I will often suggest a different time frame, a guest spot/interview, or a giveaway. There are certain things that get deleted without a response because they are automatic lists that are sent out to everyone, it seems, and don’t require a response, and there are several publicists who have said I don’t need to respond unless it’s a go.

Q: How do you decide which books to review? Do you 
have any guidelines regarding self-published versus traditionally published books?

A: I generally do not accept self-published books unless they have gotten good reviews previously, are highly recommended (by a friend or an author I trust), or are on subjects that highly interest me. One self-published book that I took right away because of the subject was Across the Mekong River by Elaine Russell. This novel was about Vietnam and was recommended by a friend. I also rarely accept e-books for review unless the author has no time frame for the review or any expectations time-wise because I’m a slower reader on Kindle than I am in traditional book form. I tend to get more distracted with electronic books, finding that my mind wanders to the television or other pursuits.

For more advice on approaching book bloggers, and to read Serena’s complete Q&A, check out Everyday Book Marketing. Click here to visit Serena’s website.

Mini Q&A with poet Elizabeth Austen

By Midge Raymond,

This is an excerpt of Elizabeth Austen’s Q&A in Everyday Book Marketing, in which she talks about radio interviews. For more book promo information, and to read Elizabeth’s complete Q&A, check out Everyday Book Marketing.


Elizabeth Austen is the author of Every Dress a Decision, a finalist for the Washington State Book Award, and two chapbooks, The Girl Who Goes Alone and Where Currents Meet. Her poems have appeared online (The Writer’s Almanac, Verse Daily), and in journals including Willow Springs, Bellingham Review, the Los Angeles Review, and the Seattle Review, and anthologies including Poets Against the War, A Face to Meet the Faces, and What to Read in the Rain. Elizabeth produces literary programming for KUOW 94.9, a Seattle NPR affiliate.

Q: What are some of the best ways an author can prepare for a live interview?

A: The most important thing is to spend some time beforehand thinking about what you want to say about your work. Imagine the interview is already over: What do you want to have said? What would you regret not saying?

Often, the person interviewing you will not have had time to read your book. So you need to be prepared with a short description of it. What’s your book about? Why did you write it—what drew you to this subject matter? Is it a departure from your previous work, and if so, in what ways? Is there an interesting story about how it got published? Also think about what you want to say about how you got started writing and why you continue to do it.

You’re essentially interviewer-proofing yourself. Hopefully you’ll get an interviewer who is genuinely interested in you and your book, and will talk with you briefly before the interview starts about what he/she wants to discuss, but you can’t depend on that.

Also, choose a couple of short excerpts or a few short poems that you might read aloud. What would provide a good introduction to the book? Practice reading aloud, and practice giving a concise introduction to what you’re going to read.

If you have time, I recommend listening online to an example or two of your interviewer’s program, so that you’ll have a sense of what to expect in terms of tone and approach. Does this interviewer tend to ask more about craft and process, or about the backstory of the book or individual poems? Is the interviewer looking for anecdotes and stories? Does it seem like the interviewer has actually read the book?

I’m a great believer in preparing for anything, and then letting go of the preparation during the interview so you can respond to what’s actually happening in the conversation. The most important thing is to be present. In the moment, approach it like you would any conversation with someone you care about—by listening and responding as honestly and generously as you can.

To read Elizabeth’s complete Q&A, check out Everyday Book Marketing. And to check out Elizabeth’s upcoming readings and workshops, visit her website.

Mini Q&A with author Kate Trueblood

By Midge Raymond,

This is an excerpt of Kathryn Trueblood’s Q&A in Everyday Book Marketing, in which she talks about virtual book tours, a.k.a. blog tours. For more book promo information, and to read Kate’s complete Q&A, check out Everyday Book Marketing.


Kathryn Trueblood
’s most recent novel is The Baby Lottery, a Book Sense Pick in 2007. Other awards include the Goldenberg Prize for Fiction, judged by Jane Smiley, and the Red Hen Press Short Story Award. Her stories and articles have been published in Poets & Writers, The Bellevue Literary Review, The Los Angeles Review, The Seattle Review, Glimmer Train, and Zyzzyva, among others. She is an associate professor of English at Western Washington University.

Q: How do you get ready for a blog tour?

A: The first thing you want to do is find the constellation or neighborhood you belong to on the Internet. This is a form of market research. In the words of the great poet Robert Frost in “The Road Not Taken,” “way leads on to way,” and nowhere is that more true than the Internet. So if it means you start at or looking for titles similar to yours or writers you especially like, that’s fine. The next step is visiting the websites of these other titles and authors. I’d also advise going to the New York Times archive and putting in your subject + blogs because the top blogs often get written up.

What you’re looking for is what I call “a matrix blog”—in other words, a site that links to a large collection of blogs. When my book came out in 2007, Joan Blades, the co-founder of, was publicizing a book and documentary film titled The Motherhood Manifesto that became the catalyst for a political movement called, which is dedicated to lobbying for the rights of working women and families on Capitol Hill. Since I believed my novel, The Baby Lottery, would appeal to politically conscious working women, this was an ideal matrix site. It contained a huge list of blogs I could link to from the site. This was what I needed to get going.

After that, I got obsessed. As far as I can tell, that’s what research on the Internet means: getting obsessed! I spent some very absorbing hours visiting the blogs and websites listed on the page, and from those blogs, I found other blogrolls, and I could also see which blogs came up repeatedly, i.e., had high visibility. I started making lists, and I found that tiered lists were helpful: my first choices, my second choices, etc.

Another thing you’ll want to be sure you have on your website is a downloadable press kit. This means that any blog writer reviewing your book or interviewing you has immediate access to the publicity materials they might need—they don’t have to e-mail and request them, and you don’t have to e-mail back and send them. My downloadable press kit included a press release, a background to the book article, an author’s bio in several lengths (long, short, and shortest), and most importantly, PDF files for my book cover plus an author photo. Having a downloadable press kit on your website shows that you’re professional and ready to go. Blog writers were able to grab what they needed, and it meant that my book cover appeared every time someone reviewed the book on their blog, sometimes even the cover for my first book as well.

Q: What is the best way for an author to approach a blogger who might be a good fit for a tour stop?

A: Send a short query letter, accompanied by your web release. Whether your book is fiction or nonfiction, you need to figure out the angle of social relevance that your book offers and articulate it. Why is this a topic that needs to be part of the cultural conversation or that enlarges a conversation already taking place? That’s your pitch, and it belongs in your query letter. If the book serves a niche audience, you need to make a strong case about what your book offers that others do not.

To read Kate’s complete Q&A, check out Everyday Book Marketing.

How to set up a virtual book tour

By Midge Raymond,

I’m delighted to have an excerpt of Everyday Book Marketing appear in Author Magazine this month.

For many of us writers, doing a cross-country, in-person book tour isn’t affordable (in terms of time or dollars). But there are other options…like a Virtual Book Tour.

For a few tips on how to get on the road, virtually, check out this excerpt (along with many other resources for writers!) at Author Magazine.