Ask BHP: How Do You Choose a Release Month?

From our Ask Bethany House mail bag, someone is getting practical with this question: “How do you decide how many books to release in a certain month?”

At Bethany House, we release anywhere from two to seven novels per month. As to how we determine that, I wish I could give you a magical answer, like, “Our production team uses a multi-step algorithm based on page count, reading level, and the position of the North Star when the contract was signed,” but that’s not the case at all. It’s a very imprecise science, but here are a few factors that go into what month a book is being released:

  • When can the author finish writing the book? (Obviously, this is the most important factor here so it has time to be edited. It’s where we start when creating a production schedule for the book.)
  • Is there a special appeal for a certain season? (For novels, that includes Christmas-themed stories, but this applies even more to nonfiction with books aimed at graduates or gift books perfect for spring bridal showers.)
  • Will this book get good placement in the stores at this time?
  • Is there a similar book releasing that month? Better split them up so we don’t oversaturate the market.
  • Is there a similar book releasing that month? Great, let’s keep it because we can place ads promoting both of them. (Yes, this is sort of a contradiction. It’s a case-by-case thing.)
  • Does it fit with the authors’ writing schedule? (You may have noticed that some authors have books that release at the same time—or times—every year, while others move around more.)
  • Is everyone going to be stressed and overworked because we scheduled too many books for the same month?
  • Did we release another book by that author, like a novella collection, that same month? (We try to avoid that.)
  • Was the manuscript completed on time so we could keep the scheduled release month? No other disasters that might delay the release?

Even though the process for determining a release month is going to be different for each book, the past several years, Bethany House has been consistent in the number of books we released in a year (around 49-53 titles). I always get excited about each month’s new round of books and hope you are too!

Speaking of months, it’s the time of year for the ACFW Conference! (No, that transition didn’t quite make sense, but go with it.) I’m headed there today, and our marketing manager, Noelle Chew, and I will be at the Bethany House spotlight to answer your questions, so if you’re an author who reads this blog, we’d love to see you there.

Inside BHP: Book Tours!

This week, I’m with Beverly Lewis, traveling around North and South Carolina at libraries and bookstores to meet and greet some wonderful readers! (You can see where we’ve been and the few stops still to go here.) Despite some storms and rain from Hurricane Irma, the signings have all been full of amazing people excited to get a copy of The Proving.

For more tour pictures, take a look at the album on Beverly’s Facebook page!

Beverly loves chatting with readers, speaking at library events, and giving hugs. It’s always so fun for longtime fans in particular who are meeting her for the first time.

And what’s my job on the tour, you ask? Anything that needs to be done, from handing out bookmarks to taking pictures to explaining what the reading level of Beverly’s kids and youth books. With three events a day, it’s a lot to do, but also a delight. Thanks to all the readers who prayed for this tour, and we’d love it if you continue to pray for safe travel over the next few days.

I’ll be back to regular blogging next week, but enjoy this sneak peek inside the life of an author and publishing team.

Have you ever met an author in person? If so, who, and at what sort of event?

Announcing Our September New Releases!

A new month means a new list of books to add to your TBR pile. Take a look at these beauties…don’t you just want to ask the lead characters what their expressions indicate? Be sure to click on each of the covers to read an excerpt.

The Proving by Beverly Lewis

Having left the Amish life for the English world, Amanda Dienner is shocked when she learns that her mother has passed and left her Lancaster County’s most popular Amish bed-and-breakfast. The catch is she has to run it herself for one year, acting as hostess. Amanda accepts the terms, but coming home to people she left behind won’t be easy.

Cherished Mercy by Tracie Peterson

After surviving the Whitman Massacre as a child, Mercy still prays for peace between the native peoples and the white settlers of Oregon Territory. Longing for purpose, she travels to another mission to help a friend. There she meets Adam, a handsome young minister. When tragedy strikes yet again, Mercy and Adam must rely on their faith to make it out alive.

Deadly Proof by Rachel Dylan

In the biggest case of her career, attorney Kate Sullivan has been appointed lead counsel to take on Mason Pharmaceutical in a claim involving an allegedly dangerous new drug. She hires a handsome private investigator to do some digging, but when a whistleblower is found dead, it’s clear the stakes are higher than ever. Will this case prove deadly for Kate?

Crown of Souls by Ronie Kendig

Suddenly shot at a picnic, Tox discovers it’s a strange invitation to join an old sniper pal’s quest for revenge over his fallen team. Despite the injury, Tox feels sympathetic to the cause—and battles a growing darkness within himself. But when he learns Alec is using a deadly ancient artifact in his plan, Tox must fight the monster without becoming one.

An Inconvenient Beauty by Kristi Ann Hunter

The Duke of Riverton has chosen his future wife with the same logic he uses to make every decision. However, his perfect bride eludes his suit, while the beautiful Isabella Breckenridge seems to be everywhere. When the time comes, will Griffith and Isabella be able to set aside their pride and initial notions to embrace their very own happily-ever-after?

 

Just for fun…knowing a little about the story, what emotion would you say is dominant on each of the cover characters’ faces?

Prayer for Authors: September 2017

Since it’s the first Sunday of the month, we’ll be continuing the Bethany House Fiction tradition of taking time to pray for authors who have new releases coming out this month. I’m Amy Green, the fiction publicist here, and I’m thankful for all of the readers who show their support for our authors in the way that matters most: by praying for them. To read more about the reasons behind this time of prayer, go to this post.

Prayer

Authors with Books Releasing in September:

Rachel Dylan
Kristi Ann Hunter
Ronie Kendig
Beverly Lewis
Tracie Peterson

Verse of the Month: Feel free to use the text of this verse to guide your prayers for these authors, as well as other people in your life who you want to remember in prayer today.

Yes, my soul, find rest in God; my hope comes from him. Truly he is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.–Psalm 62:5-6 (NIV)

General Suggestions for Prayer:

  • For books to go out into stores and libraries and into the hands of the readers who need them.
  • For physical health and energy during book launch month.
  • For a renewed sense of purpose and hope in God for their lives and writing careers.

We so appreciate you joining us in prayer for these authors (and others in your life). Thanks for being a part of this monthly tradition!

The Real Setting of a Novel…and a Giveaway!

An art theft, organized crime, the Stone Arch Bridge and more…all in the same novel! Today, we have a guest post from Todd Johnson, who chose to set his latest legal thriller, Fatal Trust, in Minneapolis (home to both Todd and Bethany House Publishers). Read on for his explanation of the fascinating real-life history and setting of the novel.

The building with the clock tower stands alone in a suburb of Minneapolis, sandwiched between a busy mall and a nearby highway. It looks like it might once have been a bank. Perhaps it was. But in the late 1970s, it was an art shop, Elayne Galleries. On a winter day in 1978, that gallery was the site of a robbery which would prove to be the greatest unsolved art theft in Minnesota history, and the inspiration for my third novel, Fatal Trust.

I visited the gallery on a fall day in 1977 shortly before that theft, dragged to a Norman Rockwell exhibition by a girlfriend with genuine taste. The paintings were like the Rockwells you see in magazines, only wonderfully more vivid, and I recall the gallery owner explaining to us that the paintings and lithographs on display, including the iconic “The Spirit of ‘76”, would soon be worth much more than their current value because of the painter’s advanced age. The point seemed a bit morbid, though almost certainly true, and it has stuck with me through the years.

Leaving the gallery that afternoon, I had no idea that, within a few months, seven of those Rockwells would be stolen. The thieves might even have been among us that day, casing the exhibit, its security system and the single Pinkerton guard. The FBI suspected the crime was carried out by organized crime figures. They never determined if they were right.

Fatal Trust is not really about Minneapolis’s gangster past, though the likes of Kid Cann, David Berman, John Dillinger and others who once walked Hennepin Avenue echo in the background. Rather, it is a modern novel about two young lawyers, Ian Wells and Brook Daniels, drawn into a maelstrom birthed from that history. The book examines how even people we believe we know well–even those closest to us–can have secrets we do not suspect. And how even people of good intentions can’t escape the simple spiritual truth that actions will have consequences–for us and those we care about, extending much farther than we may suspect.

Click on the cover to read an excerpt!

Ian Wells is one of the protagonists of the story, a young criminal defense attorney struggling to build a Minneapolis law practice he inherited from his father while caring for a mother with Alzheimer’s. Burdened nearly to breaking, one day Ian gets a break. A new client calls offering a simple case: determine whether three men qualify for over nine million dollars of trust funds. To qualify, none can have been involved in criminal activity for the past twenty years. Ian’s fee for a week’s work: the unbelievable sum of two hundred thousand dollars.

Ian accepts the job. But he is quickly dragged deep into a mystery linking the trust with a decades-old criminal enterprise and Minneapolis’s greatest unsolved art theft. As stolen money from the art theft surfaces, Ian finds himself the target of a criminal investigation conducted by his closest friend, Brook Daniels, a prosecutor and companion since law school. He realizes too late that this simple investigation has spun out of control and threatens his career, his future, his life, and the live of those he loves.

As the mystery unfolds, the book follows Ian and Brook through the “grand rounds” of some of my favorite places in the Twin Cities: from the Lynnhurst neighborhood where Ian grew up to the State Fair Grounds near his Fremont Apartment.

Tangleton Water Tower in Lynnhurst

The Stone Arch Bridge is also featured on the cover of the book.

From the Stone Arch Bridge arcing gracefully over the Mississippi to the outdoor patio thrust from the Guthrie Theater toward the same. From Kieran’s Pub to Victor’s 1959 Café; Summit Avenue in St. Paul to the old clubs fronting Hennepin Avenue in Minneapolis. And through it all, the layers of the mystery keep peeling back to reveal more inside.

The first scene in the novel takes place on the Guthrie Theater patio.

Non-fiction writers search for the interesting truth; novelists for the interesting “what ifs”. Fatal Trust was just that: a product of my imagining the consequences of a distant crime through the decades and generations that follow. I hope you enjoy this story and the “what ifs” it conjures from the history and setting of my own hometown.

You can explore Todd’s fun map of the real locations in the book here! Is there a news item you know of that would make a great novel? Tell us about it below and I’ll pick two commenters next Thursday to win a copy of Fatal Trust.

Beverly Lewis Amish Coloring Contest!

With the release of the new Beverly Lewis Amish Coloring Book, Beverly Lewis wanted a fun way to celebrate. So together with the Bethany House team, we’re announcing a chance for you to use your artistic skills to win a fun, artsy prize.

How it Works:

You can start now and enter anytime before Tuesday, September 5. I’ll collect all the entries (as described below), and pick the top entries. Those finalists will be put into an album on Beverly Lewis’s Facebook page by noon Central on Wednesday, September 6.

You and other readers can then “vote” by liking your favorite entries. The entry with the most “likes” by Monday, September 11 will win the People’s Choice Award. Beverly will also choose a winner. Both the “People’s Choice” and “Beverly’s Choice” winner will receive:  The Beverly Lewis Amish Coloring Book and an autographed copy of The Proving, a set of 50 fancy art pencils, and a $20 B&N gift card.

How to Enter:

One: Click here to download the PDF of the coloring book page. Print it out.

Two: Color! Be as creative as you like. Any medium is fine.

Three: Scan and save your entry with your first and last name in the file name. (Example: ColoringContest_Amy_Green) If you don’t have access to a scanner, you can take a picture of your entry and send that, but it won’t be as high-quality, so I’d recommend scanning if possible.

Four: Email your entry to me, Amy, at agreen@bethanyhouse.com by midnight on September 5th.

What are you waiting for? Get coloring…I’m looking forward to seeing your entries!

If you have any questions, write them below in the comments and I’ll try to answer them.

Quiz: What Type of Editor Should You Be?

It’s summertime on the blog, and that means it’s time for a fun quiz! I put this together using a deeply complex logarithm of word association and a battery of psychological tests.

Kidding. I made it up from what I know about what our editors do and enjoy. So take this as my disclaimer:

Is this firm career advice? Of course not. In fact, it is almost 100% likely that some members of BHP’s staff will take this quiz and get the wrong position.

But is it fun? We hope so, and you might even learn a thing or two about what goes on behind-the-scenes to get a polished novel into your hands.

Eighteen Gifts and Giveaway Items for Book Lovers

As our fiction publicist, I see lots of author giveaways…and I know it can be hard to come up with the perfect items to include. I’ve also seen that, in general, the best giveaways aren’t the ones with an expensive grand prize like a new gadget or expense-paid trip. In fact…those tend to attract people who have no real interest in the author or books in general, which isn’t helpful if the goal is to gather more readers to social media or a mailing list. Smaller giveaways with items that readers love (and will be excited to share about) are perfect for authors.

And as a reader, I get a lot of book-related gifts (or add them to my wish-list). From experience, I know that while books are always the best present, if you’re not sure what books a reader friend has on the shelves already, a novel-related something-or-other can be pretty exciting too.

That’s why I’ve compiled this non-exhaustive list of fun items for book lovers. Most can be any-occasion gifts, while a few are more specific to authors thinking about what to use in a giveaway.

(Not-a-Disclaimer: I’m not using affiliate links or getting sponsored by any of these people. In fact, the only products Bethany House has a connection to are the coloring books I mention. I just really like this stuff and hope you will too.)

Enjoy, readers! I won’t complain if this link gets mysteriously shared with all of your friends around Christmas or your birthday. And be sure to let us know your favorite item in the comments.

One: Fun Office Supplies

Girl of All Work has some fabulous page flags and sticky notes. Of particular note are the Crazy Cat Lady and Classic Characters page flags. (They have a great lineup of different novels, but I squealed out loud when they recently added Anne of Green Gables.)

Two: Candles

I’ve stopped by the Minneapolis-based Frostbeard Studios several times, and I love what they’ve come up with in the world of bookish candles! They even have tea light sampler packs in different genres and types.

Three: Pizza

One of the wonders of modern technology is that pizza can now be ordered online. That means an author can pick a winner, ask for topping choices, and have a piping hot pizza sent right to a reader’s door on a chosen night. Jill Williamson did this recently, and it was so fun that I had to share!

Four: Clever Accessories

Out of Print has lots of nerdy bookish stuff, but here are a few of the less expensive items: library card socks and a heat-reactive banned book mug…when you pour hot liquid into the mug, the titles blank out!

Five: Setting-Specific Items

If you want a fun tie-in with your book, consider making a gift basket of items from its setting. Dani Pettrey’s Chesapeake Valor series is set in her own home area, so she’s put together giveaway packages of items mentioned in her books or from shops and restaurants that show up.

Six: Baby Books

Besides the gorgeous artwork and the wink-wink references for those who have read the adult version of the classics, BabyLit board books are just plain fun. Educational too—your reader-to-be can learn opposites from Sense and Sensibility or Spanish from Don Quixote or counting from Jane Eyre (below). They also have puzzles, dolls, and playsets (like the Pride and Prejudice one below).

Seven: Homemade Item

A few years ago, Lisa Wingate made a decoupaged prayer box for a reader. Other authors who are crafty have include homemade cards or a cross-stitched bookmark in a giveaway. Knowing the author made it sets that item apart as priceless!

Eight: Journal

Why have a normal notebook when you can write between the lines of your favorite authors? Novel Journal prints real books in tiny font to form the lines for the journal, from Dracula to The Wizard of Oz to Sherlock Holmes.

Nine: Significant Item in the Book

Several of our authors have had fun choosing an item specific to their book, whether it’s a character’s favorite food or piece of jewelry or music related to the story. (And, no spoilers, but be sure to watch Ronie Kendig’s Facebook page for a super fun giveaway next month related to her release of Crown of Souls.)

Ten: Coloring Books

You can find a variety of adult coloring books on different themes all over the place, but here are two Scripture-based ones: an under-$6 mini pocket version and a high-quality art book. Bonus if you throw in some nice colored pencils!

Eleven: Skype with the Author

Despite what you might think, readers really do love a chance to connect with an author and ask all of their burning questions. This has been a popular “item” every time an author has offered it, especially in something like a Facebook party for fans.

Twelve: Posters

Incidental Comics is one of my favorite whimsical artists, and some of his cartoons are available in poster form. Here are just a few, but there are many more of interest to readers, artists, and writers.

Thirteen: Flowers

There are lots of local flower delivery services you could use to send something fresh and beautiful to a winner from right where you are.

Fourteen: Tea

But not just any tea…Novel Tea! I can personally vouch for the “War and Peach” tea, but any of these teas (and the pretty tins they come in) are likely to be a hit. Check them out for the humorous title puns!

Fifteen: Magnets

Magnetic Poetry has several book or author-specific sets of words, to be rearranged on any magnetic surface to produce works of great genius. (The Shakespeare version on my fridge is a continual riot of iambic pentameter.)

Sixteen: Wall Decor

Litographs is my favorite for this—their prints also contain the text of the book that they represent, printed really, really tiny in the background. Here’s the Nancy Drew poster, but they have dozens of others, from modern to classic.

Seventeen: Homemade Cookies

Sure, there are services that will deliver cookies, but what could be better than something homemade by the author? (Bonus: it’s a lot less expensive!) Here’s a tip: when mailing cookies, empty and cleaned out Pringles jars make excellent packing to send them in.

Eighteen: Postcards

Obvious State has a gift collection of 50 black-and-white postcard prints from different authors. Nothing like book-related mail!

Okay, readers: which of these eighteen items would you be most excited to receive as a prize or present?

Prayer for Authors: August 2017

Since it’s the first Sunday of the month, we’ll be continuing the Bethany House Fiction tradition of taking time to pray for authors who have new releases coming out this month. I’m Amy Green, the fiction publicist here, and I’m thankful for all of the readers who show their support for our authors in the way that matters most: by praying for them. To read more about the reasons behind this time of prayer, go to this post.

Prayer

Authors with Books Releasing in August:

Victoria Bylin
Alton Gansky
Angela Hunt
Todd M. Johnson
Bill Meyers
Frank Peretti
Lauraine Snelling

Verse of the Month: Feel free to use the text of this verse to guide your prayers for these authors, as well as other people in your life who you want to remember in prayer today.

Oh, Lord God! You yourself made the heavens and earth by your great power and with your outstretched arm. Nothing is too difficult for you!–Jeremiah 32:17 (CSB)

General Suggestions for Prayer:

  • For creative ideas and the energy to follow through on them.
  • For the ability to prioritize and spend time on what matters.
  • For new readers to discover these authors and their books.

Again, we’re so grateful that you’re joining us in prayer for these authors, especially for those of you who make a habit of it each month. Thanks for being such an encouraging group of readers!

August 2017 New Releases

It’s nearing the end of summertime, but there’s still plenty of time for a few great summer reads!

299069-FB-Cover_AUGUST2

This month, Bethany House is releasing four books from four different genres: legal suspense, historical family saga, contemporary romance, and supernatural thriller. When we say there’s something for everyone on this list, we mean it! Read the descriptions, admire the covers, and click on the books to read an excerpt of each.

Fatal Trust by Todd M. Johnson

Plot Summary: Defense Attorney Ian Wells is struggling to build a law practice while caring for his sick mother. When a new client offers a huge sum to take on a simple trust fund case, he can’t afford to say no. But when the investigation leads to a decades-old mystery linking the trust to dangerous criminals, he realizes this case could cost him his career.

 

The Promise of Dawn by Lauraine Snelling

Plot Summary: In 1910, Signe, her husband, and their boys emigrate from Norway to Minnesota, dreaming of one day owning a farm of their own. But the relatives they’ve come to stay with are harsh and demanding. As Signe’s family is worked to the bone to repay the cost of their voyage, can she learn to trust God through this trial and hold on to hope for a better future?

The Two of Us by Victoria Bylin

Plot Summary: Nurse practitioner Mia Robinson is done with dating. Instead, she’s focused on caring for her patients and her teenage sister, Lucy. Mia is shocked when she learns Lucy is pregnant and plans to marry her boyfriend. She’s determined to stop the wedding, but she wasn’t expecting best man Jake Tanner, a handsome police officer with a wary heart so like her own.

The Assault by Bill Myers, Frank Peretti, Angela Hunt, and Alton Gansky

Plot Summary: In cycle two of the series, the Harbingers team investigates more unsettling mysteries that drive them to the breaking point. Will they be strong enough to keep overcoming the world’s dark forces? Fast-paced and ongoing, this thrilling collection reads like your favorite TV series, with each linked episode written by a talented author.

Here’s a question for you, readers: do you have a go-to genre, or is your reading taste more eclectic?