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Thursday, January 15, 2009

How to look forward to a book

Going Too Far, which will be released on March 17, is my third book. By now I am an old hand at eagerly anticipating a book’s release. Here’s a fun activity: pick a book coming out soon that you can’t wait to read, then live the glamorous life of an author vicariously by marking the following milestones along the road to the book’s release.

1. Announcement of the book’s sale on Publisher’s Marketplace. On July 11, 2007, my sale was announced this way:

Jennifer Echols's BOY IN BLUE, about a 17-year-old who avoids prosecution for a high school stunt by spending her spring break on night patrol with the 19-year-old rookie cop who arrested her, to Jennifer Heddle at MTV Books, by Caren Johnson at Caren Johnson Literary Agency (world English).

This announcement was posted while I was at a writers’ conference, which was really nice. Other writers obviously had checked Publisher’s Marketplace on their laptops up in their hotel rooms (nice to know that yes, there are more obsessive writers than me!). They congratulated me on my sale as they passed me in the conference center. I felt like the captain of the football team had asked me to the prom and everyone around school had found out. *blush*

And then on September 27, 2007, it was announced this way:

Author of The Boys Next Door, Jennifer Echols' BOY IN BLUE, in which a high school senior arrested for a misdemeanor is sentenced to ride along with a rookie cop on the night shift and finds herself falling, to Jennifer Heddle at MTV Books, in a nice deal, by Caren Johnson at Caren Johnson Literary Agency.

I am not sure why it was announced twice. Someone must have missed the first announcement and started typing the second announcement, and then the phone rang, and my heroine was left hanging.

2. Changing the title. It is disappointing when an editor e-mails you to say she doesn’t like your title, but it’s a little exciting too, because it means your book has made it off the floor and now occupies a corner of her desk. Other rejected titles of this book, through which you can probably surmise the entire plot of the book:

To Protect and Serve
Protect and Serve
No Trespassing
What I Want You to See
See What I’ve Seen
See for Yourself
Ever After
Happily Ever After
John After
John, After
This Side of Midnight
The Ghost of You
Midnight Shift
The Meg Special
Meg, After
The Hereafter
Guarding Meg
Guard Your Heart
The Great Escape
Midnight Run
Blue Alabama
Blue, Alabama
Alabama Dark
The Alabama Dark
Blue South
The Blue South
Dark South
The Dark South
Five Points South
The Cure
You Are the Cure
After the Cure
The Elvis Table
Guard Your Heart
Protect Your Heart
Move Off the Devil
Come Down from the Devil
Use of Force
Using Force
Use Force
The View from the Bridge
View from the Bridge
Blue Sky at Night
After You
Breaking Blue
Run to You
The Blue Hereafter
Blue Love
One Hand on the Devil
The Other Side of Midnight
Prince of Darkness
Come Down off the Devil
In Pursuit
Open All Night
The Meg Special
Night Beat
True Blue
Meg, After
Blue Heat
Meg and After
Out of the Blue
After Dark
See Meg Run
Life After Dark
All Night Long
Night Life
All Night
The Way It Ended
How It Ended
Blue as Night
Dark Blue
Missing Break
No Break
Night Shift

Or maybe not.

This book finally strutted around as Running to Stand Still for a few months before I came up with Too Far, and my critique partner Vicki suggested I change it to Going Too Far because the readers, they like verbs.

3. Getting the cover. I think I have covered this, har har.

4. Getting the little baby ISBN number: 1416571736. Aw, it’s a bouncing baby ISBN! Isn’t it cute?

5. Appearance of the book listing in online bookstores. This is actually a mixed blessing. On the one hand, you want people to know about your book and have the convenience of pre-ordering it if they choose. On the other hand, anybody can log on to these sites without ever reading your book and post for the world to see,

This is the best book I have ever read! I love it!!! Two stars out of five.

*blank stare*

You have to be particularly careful with Amazon. It’s great when avid readers add your book to lists of upcoming novels they can’t wait to read. But Amazon also has features such as,

“Other readers bought this book together with...”

When my first book, Major Crush, was available for pre-order, I ordered some copies, plus a book for my brother for his birthday. For a long time after that, the listing for Major Crush said,

“Other readers bought this book together with Bloody Ridge: The Battle That Saved Guadalcanal!”

6. Reviews! I am in this stage now. I feel very fortunate to have gotten excellent reviews from Teens Read Too and Young Adult Romance Writers. I am so appreciative that bloggers take the time and make the effort to read my book and share their opinion about it--though I do admit that I hate to get that e-mail saying someone has posted a new review of my book. I always cringe when I hit that link, because not everybody is going to like your book, and whatever they say about it (again, for the whole world to see) and however you feel after reading the review, you still have six chapters of your fourth book to revise today. You can’t put the pin back in that grenade.

One thing that’s different for me this time around is that so many more readers have their own independent book review blogs. A couple of these reviewers have asked me for advance reading copies of Going Too Far. I actually have a few left, so if you are a reviewer and you’d like a copy, please e-mail me at echolsjenn@yahoo.com and I’ll send it right out. I ask only that you promise to review the book on your blog. And if your review is negative, just don’t send me the link. What I don’t know won’t hurt me.

7. Big box o’books! Authors get a few free copies of their own books. They have no idea when the box will show up. They only know that the postal carrier will leave it on the front porch, and that it will be raining.


Alea said...

I think the title you decided to use in the end works very well with the cover. I was instantly attracted to it, and after reading about the book I practically squealed! Congratulations on your book!

Jan Blazanin said...

Jenn, your list of rejected titles is nearly as long as mine. My writing group brainstormed for weeks, but nothing good came of it. Jen Heddle finally came to the rescue with FAIREST OF THEM ALL. Otherwise it might still be the book with no name.

And many congratulations! The cover is sexy, the synopsis is intriguing, and I'm going to get me a copy of my very own!

Danielle Joseph said...

Jenn, thanks for the break down! I too have a long list of titles and like Jan, Jen H. also came up with mine. I wonder what percentage of titles are kept as is? Well, I am very excited to read your book and love the cover too! Funny about the Amazon orders--I better watch myself with that!

Book Spot said...

I love the ultimate title (and cover) and can't wait to read the book, it sounds great--based on either write-up ;)

Congratulations :D

Lucile @ BookSpot

Alex McAulay said...

great post, i love the list of titles! i had a list almost that long for OBLIVION ROAD.

Barbara Caridad Ferrer said...

I want this book and I want it NOW.


I'm anxious for its release.

Victoria Dahl said...

Nice way to recover your dignity, Barb!

It's only fair that I helped Jenn with this title. She comes up with all my contemporary titles. It's kind of weird, actually. Maybe it's harder to title your own books than it is others.

Stephanie Kuehnert said...

I love your list of titles. Mine was also just as long. And I so cannot wait for this book, squee!!!!