March 2021 New Releases

Our fiction team here at Bethany House can’t wait to introduce you to five books, in different genres, to fill your shelves. Whether you’re taking a trip across the historical Lake Superior or enjoying the natural beauty of India, these new releases will transport you to a different time and place for an armchair adventure. Be sure to enjoy an excerpt of each by clicking on the cover.

Destined for You by Tracie Peterson
Ladies of the Lake #1

Plot Summary: After smallpox kills her mother and siblings, Gloriana Womack is dedicated to holding together what’s left of her fractured family. Luke Carson arrives in Duluth to shepherd the construction of the railroad and reunite with his brother. When tragedy strikes, Gloriana and Luke must help each other through their grief and find their lives inextricably linked.

My Dear Miss Dupré by Grace Hitchcock
American Royalty

Plot Summary: Upon her father’s unexpected retirement, his shareholders refuse to allow Willow Dupré to take over the company without a man at her side. Presented with twenty-five potential suitors from New York society’s elite, she has six months to choose which she will marry. But when one captures her heart, she must discover for herself if his motives are truly pure….

A Tapestry of Light by Kimberly Duffy

Plot Summary: When a stranger appears in India with news that Ottilie Russell’s brother must travel to England to take his place as a nobleman, she is shattered by the secrets that come to light. But betrayal and loss lurk in England too, and soon Ottilie must fight to ensure her brother doesn’t forget who he is, as well as stitch a place for herself in this foreign land.

Braced for Love by Mary Connealy
Brothers in Arms

Plot Summary: After his father’s death, Kevin Hunt inherits a ranch in Wyoming–the only catch is it also belongs to a half brother he never knew existed. But danger follows Kevin, and he suspects his half brother is behind it. The only one willing to stand between them is Winona Hawkins–putting her in the cross hairs of a perilous plot and a risk at love.

Hours to Kill by Susan Sleeman
Homeland Heroes

Plot Summary: Attacked and left in a coma, FBI Special Agent Addison Leigh has no memory of the incident or her estranged husband when she wakes. Full of regret over letting his military trauma ruin their marriage, Deputy U.S. Marshal Mack Jordan promises to hunt down the man who attacked her, and soon it becomes clear that the killer won’t rest until Addison is dead.

What attracts you to the cover of a book?

Ask BHP: How Do Authors Get Paid?

Time for another glimpse into the behind-the-scenes of publishing! Our question this week is: “I’ve always been curious, do authors really get advances before their books are written, or is it more of a royalty type payment after the book releases?”

(If you’re wondering about some of those terms, no worries, I’ll define them. Don’t even get me started on all of the acronyms involved in publishing. I was joking about all the lingo with a new author and then sent her an email saying, “Just checking on whether you have all the PAFs from the RaT dept so we can put the info in Hot Potato for the MM mailing.” And she panicked for a quick second before realizing that I was just teasing her with a string of terms we throw around at Bethany House.)

At Bethany House, as a traditional publisher, we pay authors an advance—an amount paid to the author, agreed on by both parties in signing the contract, that arrives in advance (clever names are not our forte) of the book’s publication. Often, it comes in different installments: for example, 1/3 on signing the contract, 1/3 upon delivery of an acceptable rough draft*, and 1/3 when the book is published. The specifics of that distribution will be different from house to house, and even book to book.

(*”acceptable” meaning, “Great, let’s go through several rounds of edits and get it ready to publish in 10-12 months,” rather than, “Hold on, you turned in 50 pages plus some notes scribbled on the back of a napkin,” or “Wait, this is an epic space graphic novel instead of the historical romance you agreed to.”)

That advance money lets the author cash a check right away as they work on the book. Sometimes the contract is for multiple books, so the author could get part of the advance payment up to several years before the actual book-writing is finished!

Royalties are something else altogether. An author’s contract with a traditional publisher like Bethany House also specifies the amount of the profit of a book the author will be paid, and how much goes to the publisher to pay for printing/distribution expenses, and the salaries of everyone involved in working on the book (editors, marketing, sales, designers, rights, etc.).

But the publisher only starts to cut those royalty checks once the author has earned more than the advance that the publisher already paid. Put another way, royalty payments kick in once sales go above and beyond the advance, as seen in the carefully calculated (and boring) statements sent to authors on a regular basis so they can keep track of all of this. That’s called “earning out,” and it’s a great thing.

But wait, there’s more! (Don’t worry, the math only gets so complicated. We’re book people; advanced math is not our thing.) If a book sells over a certain number of copies, say, over 25,000, they might start to earn a higher percentage of the profit in royalties. And so on with other sales tiers, all specified in the contract. That way, if a book sells above and beyond what we expected, the author benefits from that even more.

As well, the royalty rate the author gains from ebook sales is usually higher than the percentage for print sales. (Because, while you still have to pay editors and such from ebook profit, you don’t have the added expense of printing a physical book.)

Authors also get a percentage of the profit from license deals our rights team strike for things like translations, audiobooks, or other formats.

As to how all of the numbers and terms are decided on, an author and their literary agent (if they have one) will work with our publishing team, especially the acquisition editor, to agree on a final contract.

But, in the end, the simple answer to how authors get paid is that authors have thousands of patrons supporting their work: readers like you! Whether you’re buying their book outright, requesting that your library buy it, or recommending it to others, you’re helping to support authors in their storytelling career (and us in our publishing careers, too).

I hope you enjoyed this little glimpse into the nitty-gritty of our world, especially if you’re an aspiring author wondering how all of this works.

Did you learn anything new, readers? Or do you have any guesses about the obscure abbreviations I used?

New and Improved Romance Tropes: A Valentine’s Day Parody

Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching, and as a publicist for some fantastic romance authors, I had this thought: why not encourage authors to write some truly unique twists on common romantic tropes?

If you’re intrigued, dear reader, read on to find out my foolproof* suggestions for original heroes and plots!

(*Note: This is entirely tongue-in-cheek, just for a few reader laughs. Writers should apply these tropes only at their own risk…)

Brooding Hero vs. Fooding Hero

And by that, I mean a man who brings his woman food. Homemade food, preferably, and as delicious as the guy making it.

Need some reasoning? Fact 1: the ability to cook is an attractive skill. Fact 2: readers don’t like putting their books down to make dinner. Fact 3: delicious descriptions of food-making heroes in novels might prompt those readers to order takeout, making them able to finish said book, so everyone will be happy. This is a win-win.

And before you try to tell me you can’t have multiple novels where the hero is a culinary genius, let me run some numbers by you. There are 459,000 professional chefs in America alone. There are, by contrast, 2,095 billionaires worldwide and 24 English dukes. So, who’s the more statistically likely hero now, hmm?

Marriage of Convenience vs. Marriage of Conspiracy

Okay, this one is only here because I love all things spy-related. Heists, escape rooms, secret codes, campy treasure hunts with unrealistically-preserved clues from a secret society. More of that, please. I mean, what woman wouldn’t want to be asked to join a plot on a first date?

(Is this just me? Maybe this is just me.)

Enemies-to-Lovers vs. Enemies-to-Polite-but-Distant-Acquaintances

So it’s not quite as catchy. But some of these feuding neighbors/co-workers/business rivals you see in books really need to sit down and engage in clear and mature conversation instead of sabotaging and insulting each other one minute and flirting the next. I mean, maybe there are exceptions, but most of the time, if you can’t stand someone, you shouldn’t marry them, you should put up boundaries and date someone you actually enjoy being around.

Firefighter Hero vs. Plumber Hero

Seriously, think about it. On average, how often does your house burn down? (We’re not talking about how it’s literally impossible for me to make bacon without setting off the smoke detector. Real fire, okay?)

Got that number? Good. Now think about how many times in the past year you’ve dealt with a drain clog, toilet overflow, leak, or other pipe-related problem. (Not to mention attempted princess abductions by video game villains named Bowser.)

It just makes sense, people.

Alpha Male vs. Alpha Centauri Male

Why go with your run-of-the-mill assertive and manly hero when you could actually have an alien main character? Think of the drama! The mystique! The star-crossed pathos of it all! Clearly, this is the ultimate in forbidden love.

Mail-Order Bride vs. Mail-Order Housekeeper

To be clear, I don’t mean that the heroine of the story should fall in love with the hired cleaning help. Nope. Just that she has the means to take out an ad for someone to dust and do dishes while she reads or takes bubble baths or whatever. If we’re talking female fantasies here, I think clean toilets and dog-hair-free furniture might beat rock-hard abs and dramatic declarations of love.

Love Triangle vs. Cheesecake Triangle

Do I even need to explain why this is superior? (Hint: you can only top one of these with caramel, and you never have to worry about your favorite character being heartbroken.) It can even have the drama of the original. “Which flavor do I choose?” the heroine mutters, pacing. “The Cherry Supreme or the Chocolate Mocha? They both have so many amazing qualities!”

Secret Baby vs. Secret Room

I think every romance novel would benefit from at least one secret room. Consider the classics. Like…Jane Eyre. Nancy Drew, probably. Or…Narnia. (That counts, right? Even if the “room” was a world?) The point is, there’s precedent, don’t quibble over the details.

If you really had to work in a secret baby, you could make the secret room a nursery. After all, if the baby is so all-fired secret, why keep him or her out in the open? Time for a concealed panel and a swinging door. Bonus points if it’s hidden behind a bookcase.

Which of these new tropes is your favorite? Do you have any other ideas to contribute?

February 2021 New Releases

Happy February, everyone! Even if some of your new year goals and resolutions have proven challenging, I hope you added an easy one on there: reading more books. If so, here are some great suggestions to help you stay on track. Whether you’re looking for romance, intrigue, or drama, we’ve got a book for you. Enjoy browsing the new releases below, and click on the cover if you’d like to read the first chapter.

The Way It Should Be by Christina Suzann Nelson

Plot Summary: Zara Mahoney was enjoying newlywed bliss until her life is upended by her estranged sister, Eve, and Zara must take custody of her children. Eve’s struggles lead her to Tiff Bradley, who’s determined to help despite the past hurts the relationship triggers. Can these women find the hope they—and those they love—desperately need?

Shadows of the White City by Jocelyn Green
The Windy City Saga #2

Plot Summary: When Sylvie Townsend’s Polish ward, Rose, goes missing at the World’s Fair, her life unravels. Brushed off by the authorities, Sylvie turns to her boarder and Rose’s violin instructor, Kristof Bartok, for help searching the immigrant communities. When the unexpected happens, will Sylvie be able to accept the change that comes her way?

The Prince of Spies by Elizabeth Camden
Hope and Glory #3

Plot Summary: Luke Delacroix’s hidden past as a spy has him carrying out an ambitious agenda—thwarting the reelection of his only real enemy. But trouble begins when he falls for Marianne Magruder, the congressman’s daughter. Can their newfound love survive a political firestorm, or will three generations of family rivalry drive them apart forever?

Do you keep track of the books you read each year? If so, how?

Seven Types of “Keeper Shelf” Books

There are some books that are fun to read once…and then you can pass them on to a friend or return them to the library. And then there are the books that you want to treasure forever, displayed on your shelf in a place of prominence. How does a reader create a collection of “keepers”? Well, everyone has different reasons for placing a book there, but here are some categories. Do you have at least one book that falls into each of these?

Personal Connection to the Author

Got an autographed novel from that one time you went to hear a favorite writer speak? No way that one’s leaving your shelf. Or maybe a relative or friend wrote a book and you just have to proudly display it. So go ahead. Name-drop a little. Create a special “I met/know the author” shelf. Put that book in a glass case on a velvet pillow with a heat-sensor alarm system. (Okay, maybe that last one is a little extreme. But we understand your protectiveness.) Those are books worth keeping.

Childhood Favorite

These are “preserve for the next generation” worthy. Some may be tattered, drool-stained, or chewed up, others off-the-shelf new if you repurchased instead of keeping the (ahem) well-loved versions from your childhood. Some might stand up to multiple readings as an adult, and others are mainly nostalgic. They’re like the Velveteen Rabbits of books: you loved them so much as a child that they became real in a special way.

Meaningful Backstory

This often overlaps with other categories, but sometimes a book is a keeper not because it was especially well-written or an all-time favorite, but just because it has an important connection to you. Maybe it was a gift from someone you love, or you read it during a hard time in your life, or you and your teenage best buddy bonded over your shared dramatic crush on the main character.

Listen, no one’s submitting these books to the Powers That Be to be recognized as classics. You might even be tempted to hide a few of them. But you know what? It’s fine to love them, flaws and all. Sentimentality can be enough to land a book on the keeper shelf.

Guilty TBR Book

This one didn’t become a keeper book intentionally. It sort of…stumbled into your life. Maybe a friend kept mentioning it to you, or you saw it come up over and over on bookstagram posts, or it’s on a list of books to read before you die, or it was just on sale. So you bought it, fully intending to read it someday…

And the day has not yet arrived. You feel bad. You really do. It’s just that other books have been a higher priority. And you can’t quite bring yourself to pass it along to another home, so there it is, dust-covered spine staring at you, shaming you.

This sort of book has an agenda, dear reader. It will haunt you. Forever.

Compulsively Re-Readable

Some authors I know re-read an inspiring writing how-to book or a favorite novel every single year. You might not be quite that scheduled, but there are certain books that you know you’re going to return to. Whether you’re the sort to underline, bend pages, or otherwise deface books to call out the most personally meaningful parts, or the sort who thinks that should be an actual prosecutable crime, it’s great to have a stock of books to come back to time and time again. (Just make sure the other books don’t get jealous.)

Pretty Edition of Classic

Admit it. You’ve bought a book just because it’s visually stunning. And if you’re like most of us, that splurge was on a beautifully-illustrated hardcover version of a classic novel. Or several. Dozen.

Sherlock Holmes. The Chronicles of Narnia. JANE AUSTEN. (Yes, I see you there, reader who has, like, six different versions of Pride and Prejudice. No shaming here.) You can find gorgeous versions of each to make your shelves look like a design piece instead of just functional book storage. There’s something irresistible about a fresh design on our most beloved characters.

(Although you should also do a search for ugly covers for classic novels—in the land of Public Domain, people will slap almost any image on a story to sell a few copies, and some are laugh-out-loud funny.)

Just Plain *Fantastic* Book

Here’s what’s hopefully your largest category: beautiful five-star books that you keep because you just love them. Whether it was the compelling characters, the twisty plot, or the perfect ending, these are your most recommended books…if someone tries to borrow them, they’d better be careful. You might need to set down some strict ground rules to make sure you get them back in pristine condition. Or maybe you’ve got a no-lending rule for those fortunate books that make it to the highest tier of your reading experience.

Whatever you decide, it’s nice to know you’re in good company–with both other readers and the fictional friends on your keeper shelf.

Did I forget any “keeper shelf” categories, readers? Tell us about one of the books you would never dream of getting rid of.

Book Cover Lookalike Fashion, Part Three

And so we come to what is now an annual feature of the Bethany House fiction blog…pairing the costuming choices of some of our historical book covers with modern fashion! Take a look at these beauties, releasing in 2020 or from early 2021, and their corresponding lookalike dresses. (You can scroll through our first and second years of doing this as well.)

Which of these dresses would you be most likely to actually wear?

Meet an Audiobook Narrator!

Audiobooks have taken off in the past several years, and we love that readers can experience their favorite books while they’re commuting, folding laundry, or working out. Sometimes readers will ask me questions about what goes into recording an audiobook…and I rarely know the answer. At Bethany House, we license our audio rights to places like Recorded Books to create and distribute the content, so there’s no sound studio down the hall from editorial where I can watch the process.

However, I’m excited to share this guest interview with you, from the talented Leah Horowitz. She’s narrated several Bethany House titles, most recently Things We Didn’t Say by Amy Lynn Green, A Gilded Lady by Elizabeth Camden, and The Haunting at Bonaventure Circus by Jaime Jo Wright. (You can follow her on Instagram at @theLeahReport.) She graciously agreed to share about some of the behind-the-scenes of how an audiobook comes to be.

Amy: What made you explore audiobook narration? How did you get started?

Leah: I’ve been a professional actor, working in musical theater on Broadway, for (eek) about 20 years. But my very favorite thing has always been reading. I had been interested in narrating books for a long time, and finally got a chance to start about a year ago, through a friend in the business. Since I also have a lot of experience recording music and cast albums, I immediately felt at home in the booth, and I still can’t believe I get to read for a living.

Amy: What do you do to prepare for a recording?

Leah: The very first thing I do is read the book! That often surprises people, but of course I need to get to know the plot and the characters, instead of reading it completely cold. As I read, I keep a list of the characters, and I also jot down any words I’m not sure how to pronounce. These are often place names, character names, and words in other languages. As soon as I finish, I send my word list in to the research department, and they send it back to me with all the words written out in IPA (international phonetic alphabet).

In the meantime, I think about the characters. Sometimes I cast famous actors in these “roles,” or people I know; anything to help me differentiate them for myself and the listener. I have found that getting the essence of a character works much better for me than just thinking, “this character has a very low/high/scratchy voice.” The more specific, the better! Sometimes the author’s descriptions of the characters are so evocative that I know who they are right away. Then I go into the booth with lots of bottles of water and hope for the best!

Amy: What’s something that listeners might not notice about the final audiobook that’s a lot of work on your part?

Leah: Probably how much the narrator stops and starts during the process. I certainly never thought about that before I started narrating. And I do think, the more you narrate, the longer the stretches you can talk smoothly without stopping. But even if you don’t have to stop to drink, cough, or scratch your nose, there are always other reasons to stop. You might come to one of those words you aren’t sure of and have to stop to consult the research list.

Also, during the pandemic I’ve been recording at home, in a closet (yup!), and our house is two blocks from train tracks, so I have to pause a few times an hour to let a train go by. Or my husband will slam a door downstairs, or a motorcycle will zoom by. So you stop, wait, then pick up from right before the pause/disturbance occurred. And because of all this, recording an hour of a book might take 75 minutes or even 2 hours! And the listener will never know. Well, I guess now they do.

Thanks so much for giving us a glimpse into your world, Leah! Talk to us, readers: when do you enjoy listening to audiobooks?

Ask Bethany House 2021…and a Giveaway!

It’s a new year, readers, and that means that we need new questions from you to answer in our Ask Bethany House Publishers monthly feature. I always enjoy hearing what readers want to know, from the quirky to the informative to the wow-that-one-even-stumped-me.

Take a second and think through this list to generate ideas. Have you ever wondered…

  • Whether the tips about what a writer should “always” or “never” do when interacting with a publisher are actually true?
  • How one of the steps between an author writing a book and you picking it up off a shelf actually happens?
  • What we at Bethany House think about various trends or new developments in publishing?
  • If the nagging question that others have passed around on social media reader groups has an answer?

These are just a few prompts out of many to start your thinking. We welcome any and all questions to our Ask Bethany House poll.

Once you’ve submitted at least one question, just for fun, come back here and comment with a book that you’re looking forward to in the new year. We’ll enter you in a giveaway to win one of our January or December new releases and choose the winner on 1/14/21.

Prayer for Authors: January 2021

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 Lokkesmoe, 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 January:

Misty Beller
Jody Hedlund
Tracie Peterson
Roseanna M. White
Kimberley Woodhouse

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.

“Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”—Matthew 11:28 (KJV)

General Suggestions for Prayer:

  • For true and renewing rest after (and even in the middle of) busy seasons.
  • For these authors to be encouraged by messages from readers describing the impact of their books.
  • For all those who work in roles to connect these books to readers, including bookstore owners and employees, librarians, and publishing staff to start the year off with new energy and goals.

As we start this new year, thank you for joining with us in prayer for these authors and their books. We all appreciate it!

January 2021 New Releases

Welcome to a brand-new year! We’re excited for all that 2021 will hold…especially when it comes to filling out many of your “keeper shelves.” If you’re looking to use a Christmas gift card or just need a cozy read to cuddle up with, we’ve got some fantastic releases this January for you to check out. Click on the cover to start reading and see what’s perfect for you!

Endless Mercy by Tracie Peterson and Kimberley Woodhouse
The Treasures of Nome #2

Plot Summary: When Madysen Powell’s supposedly dead father shows up, her gift for forgiveness is tested and she’s left searching for answers. Daniel Beaufort arrives in Nome, longing to start fresh after the gold rush leaves him with only empty pockets, and finds employment at the Powell dairy. Will deceptions from the past tear apart their hopes for a better future?

Faith’s Mountain Home by Misty Beller
Hearts of Montana #3

Plot Summary: Nate Long has always watched over his twin, even if it’s led him to be an outlaw. When his brother is wounded in a shootout, it’s their former prisoner, Laura, who ends up nursing his wounds at Settler’s Fort. She knows Nate wants a fresh start, but struggles with how his devotion blinds him. Do the futures they seek include love, or is too much in the way?

Dreams of Savannah by Roseanna M. White

Plot Summary: After receiving word that her sweetheart has been lost during a raid on a Yankee vessel, Cordelia Owens clings to hope. But Phineas Dunn finds nothing redemptive in the horrors of war, and when he returns, sure that he is not the hero Cordelia sees, they both must decide where the dreams of a new America will take them, and if they will go there together.

A Cowboy for Keeps by Jody Hedlund
Colorado Cowboys #1

Plot Summary: After being robbed on her trip west to save her ailing sister, Greta Nilsson is left homeless and penniless. Struggling to get his new ranch running, Wyatt McQuaid is offered a bargain—the mayor will invest in a herd of cattle if Wyatt agrees to help the town become more respectable by marrying…and the mayor has the perfect woman in mind.

Is there a new or upcoming release in 2021 that you’re excited about? Tell us about it!