Seven Signs That You Need to Read Another Book

Readers, we face a dilemma: not everyone understands our love for books. You know it’s true. There are those skeptics who will look askance at the piles of books on our coffee tables and say things like, “Didn’t you just finish a novel by that author?” or “Don’t you think you have enough books already?”

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In case you have experienced this, you might be wondering if you really need to start another book. Well, I’m here to help. Here’s a handy list to help you evaluate that very question.

You know it’s time for you to read another book if…

One: The last book you read ended too soon. Or if it ended sadly or—hopefully not too often—throw-it-across-the-room badly. Or if it ended on a cliffhanger and the sequel isn’t coming out for a year. Or if it ended at all.

Two: There is housework to be done. As anyone knows, we need motivation to get us to do the mundane, tiresome tasks of life. Write the various chores on your To-Do list, and then reward yourself for this exhausting show of responsibility by reading a few chapters. (The author of this blog post is not responsible for any extended reading that effectively puts off said housework to an undetermined future date.)

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Ask Bethany House: How Does a New Author Get Noticed?

When I asked for responses to our Ask Bethany House survey (which you can feel free to add to—all questions welcome!), the overwhelming majority had to do with how a new author might get a publishing contract with us. Apparently we have a lot of writers out there among our readers!

If you read our submission policy, you’ll know that you can’t just send us your manuscript, but our acquisition editors do seek out and give contracts to new and talented authors. Obviously, every writer’s story is going to be different—ask any of our authors, and you’ll find that out. But here are the two main ways our editors typically find new authors: through conferences and agents.

Editor

Conferences

Writing conferences are a cross between boot camp (tons of intensive training) and summer camp (lots of fun with writer friends—and if you don’t already have writer friends, you will by the time the conference is over). Besides taking seminars on craft and voice and marketing, at most conferences, you’ll also have a chance to set up short meetings with agents and acquisition editors to pitch your book. If they’re interested, the agent or editor might request more information about your book, or even the whole manuscript. It’s one of the main ways new writers can get their work in front of Bethany House editors.

Even if you don’t walk away from a conference with a contract, it’s a great way to get feedback and advice to strengthen your writing. You won’t often find so many knowledgeable people in the same place, so take advantage of it! Make connections, find a critique partner, and hone your skills so you’re ready for a future opportunity.

And yes, writing conferences can seem expensive (although given the fact that you’re getting the equivalent of a college-level course on writing and getting published, I’d say they’re quite a bargain). But when our editors meet writers at a conference, it’s an easy way to know that these people are serious about writing. They’re investing time and money into improving their craft. That means their manuscript is going to be worth taking a look at.

Also, I’m told conferences are a lot of fun. (I’ll be at the ACFW conference for the first time this year, teaching a course on marketing with Melissa Tagg, so I’ll report back on just how much fun they can be. Stay tuned.) Continue reading

A Thank-You Note to Our Readers

Dear Readers,

I am a big fan of thank-you notes, and of snail mail in general. (My goal for 2015 is to send out at least one handwritten note/letter a week.) That said, I wish I could send each and every attendee of our Reader Survey Book Banter event a personal thank-you note for taking the time to come and give us your thoughts.

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My latest thank-you note stash. Pretend this note is written inside.

However, since 300 people came, most of our Bethany House authors would prefer that I not do this, since it would mean I would have no time to actually do my job and promote their books. So this will have to do.

It was fun seeing you all interact with each other as well as the questions. Of course, I’m always glad to see people getting excited about books—even books that aren’t published by Bethany House. There’s a kind of selflessness to those of you who read and review and promote these novels that I can’t tell you how much I appreciate.

I’m only about 1/3 of the way through compiling the results of the survey into a report for our team, and already I’m delighted by some of the great and creative ideas you all included. I’m the sort of person who would love to start changing everything starting tomorrow and adding a dozen new things to my calendar. That probably will not (and should not) happen. But I do hope we can slowly implement some of the ideas you suggested, and pass along some to our authors.

Of course, there are always practical constraints to implementing some good ideas. Especially money and time—how irritating that we have to consider things like that! For example, I would love to get more of our authors out to meet you all at book signings, but from a practical standpoint, travel is expensive and store events aren’t profitable enough to make up for that. So do know that if one of your ideas never comes to be, there’s probably a good reason behind it…though I’d love to try them all!

Besides sharing insight and ideas, thanks for letting us peek inside your world: from how you make decisions about new authors to try to how many of those free ebooks you actually read to what makes a cover stand out. We’re always talking in marketing meetings about what you all are looking for, and all this feedback will help us get that right.

Welcome to the giant, extended Bethany House family of readers and bloggers and editors and authors and everyone who wants to help get these great books out into the world.

Now back to collecting survey results! Think of me as I tally and quote and graph and summarize.

With gratitude,

Amy Signature

Bethany House Fiction Publicist

Here's an example of the printed blog reviews that Brittany binds and sends to the authors!

An example of the printed blog reviews that Brittany binds and sends to the authors!

P.S. To those of you who read and responded to the question about who reads blogger reviews, Brittany, our marketing assistant, said your comments made her day! She’s the behind-the-scenes one cheering you all on, and is looking forward to seeing many gold star reviews in the future.

Review Tips: March Bethany House Books

Readers, if you don’t listen to anything else I say on this blog, listen to this: leave reviews of the books you love.

Why? It’s a simple—but effective—way to support and encourage your favorite authors. With so many titles to choose from, people are scouring Goodreads and retail sites like Amazon and taking reviews into consideration before paying hard-earned cash for a book. Writing solid and engaging reviews for your favorite book might convince someone else to start loving that author as well.

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Here are few dos and don’ts to help you write a great review:

  • Do: Be as specific as possible. Don’t just say that you liked it, say why you liked it. Tell us what made the plot stand out from all the other books you’ve read. Describe your emotional reaction to the characters. Explain what this author does best that makes the novel a great read.
  • Don’t: Describe anything in the plot that happens more than halfway through the book. This is just a rule of thumb, of course, but usually it’s better to keep any plot summary to the early conflict instead of revealing later plot twists or, worse, the climax of the story. (For more on avoiding spoilers, read this post.)
  • Do: Compare the book to others that you liked, or recommend it to a particular type of reader. That helps others know if this is the sort of book they would enjoy.
  • Don’t: Ramble. If you want to summarize the plot in a sentence or two, that’s fine, but spend most of the review on your opinion. Someone on Goodreads already has a plot summary in front of them—they want to know what you think of the plot!
  • Do: Be kind. Remember that authors often read reviews of their books. That doesn’t mean that you should say only good things to say about a book, but it does mean you should gracious, and also realize that even if you didn’t connect with a book, someone else might. Trust me: I have seen negative reviews for every single book we’ve ever published, even the ones that you might have loved. Not every book is for every reader.
  • Don’t: Be wordy. On a blog, the review can be as long as you like. Be creative! Do fun things! Include a list of favorite quotes or explain why the hero is just wonderful. On a site like Goodreads, though, keep it short for those skimmers and scanners out there. Continue reading

Prayer for Authors: March 2015

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.

Authors with Books Releasing in March:

Beverly Lewis
Dina Sleiman
Lauraine Snelling
Jen Turano

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.

So we keep on praying for you, asking our God to enable you to live a life worthy of his call. May he give you the power to accomplish all the good things your faith prompts you to do.” — 2 Thessalonians 1:11, NLT

General Suggestions for Prayer:

  • For a sense of community with other Christian writers instead of competition.
  • For wisdom in how to divide time between various responsibilities, both work and family related.
  • For all those who will read these stories to come away with a greater understanding of what it looks like to love God and others.

As always, thank you so much for remembering our authors in your prayers!