BHP Book Banter 2016

Even publishers like to party every now and then!

We want to hear what you have to say, on everything from cover design to what makes a book one you’d recommend to others to how many author newsletters you’ve signed up for.

But instead of just pushing a survey at you, we decided to throw a party! Like our author Book Banters, this will be held on a Facebook event page. There will be a set time where I’ll be posting survey questions—the time on the event—but anyone can stop by for 24 hours after the event and answer the questions and take the surveys to be entered in drawings for prizes. That way, you can come and go as you’re able and not feel like you’re missing out.

And if you really like this tag, I found it here.

 

Last year’s event was fun and jam-packed with information that I compiled. Some was helpful for Bethany House, some I passed on to our authors if I thought it might be useful to them.

Once again, there will be a set time for the party, but you can feel free to drop by afterward to see the posts and answer questions. Feel free to invite all of your reading friends!

BHP Book Banter
Thursday, July 21, 11 AM – 1 PM

Hostess
Amy Green, Bethany House fiction publicist and lover of all things Christian fiction

Schedule of Events
Note that all the times below are in Central, so feel free to do a bit of quick calculating to figure out when to set your alarms and mark your calendars in your time zone.

11:00
Welcome and Costume Party—in a comment on the welcome post, you can share a picture of an outfit you’re “wearing” to the party that might be worn by one of your favorite Christian fiction characters. (You don’t actually need to wear it—just find an image to share with the rest of us…and be sure to tell us which character you’re representing!)

Starting at 11:10 and throughout
Surveys and Q&A—I’ll post surveys for you to answer, and you can ask me questions about Bethany House if you like. I’ll do my best to answer them! Feel free to answer as many of the surveys as you like—each one will enter you into a giveaway (mostly books, but also gift cards and a few surprises).

12:00
Inside Bethany House—behind-the-scenes pictures of what goes on at Bethany House, including our costume closet and cover roughs.

12:30
Shameless Self-Promotion Post—I’ll put up a post where you can fill the comments with links if you’re a book blogger and want others to join in the fun at your site. We love helping readers gather in communities and interact—that’s the fun of it!

1:00
Conclusion—the event is officially over. But remember, if you weren’t able to be there during the specified time, you can drop by the page at any point and respond to the surveys.

Giveaway winners will be announced at noon on Friday, July 22, so be sure to give your input before then for a chance to win books, gift cards, and other reader goodies.

RSVP

Get your “costume,” questions, and opinions ready, and I’ll see you on the 21st!

Sins of the Past Mystery and Mayhem Tour

Readers, I have some shocking news for you, something that’s never before happened to anyone at Bethany House. Take a look at the letter below that Dani Pettrey received in the mail, just before the launch of Sins of the Past.

RansomNote

Enclosed with the note was a list of profiles of these three authors’ characters. Apparently Anonymous has been stalking their books for quite some time. We can only assume the “clues” Anonymous promised to reveal will help rule out some of the characters below.

Potential Victims

EvieBlackwellFrom: Traces of Guilt by Dee Henderson
Occupation: Illinois state police detective
Most Likely to be Found: Solving puzzles, watching classic movies, trying new restaurants

JillianCarterFrom: When A Secret Kills by Lynette Eason
Occupation: Investigative reporter
Most Likely to Be Found: Hiding from a killer who wants her dead, spending time with her daughter Meg

KirraJacobsFrom: Sabotaged by Dani Pettrey
Occupation: Veterinarian, owner of a shelter for rescued sled dogs
Most Likely to be Found: Caring for animals, snowshoeing, or cross-country skiing

DavidHackettFrom: No One To Trust by Lynette Eason
Occupation: Former Special Forces
Most Likely to Be Found: Doing something for his wife, Summer, or helping someone in need

CharlotteGrahamFrom: Unspoken by Dee Henderson
Occupation: Artist
Most Likely to be Found: Selling old collectible coins, drawing, attending sporting events

MaceyAdamsFrom: Blackout by Lynette Eason (novella in Sins of the Past)
Occupation: Paramedic
Most Likely to Be Found: At work or driving an ambulance

MarkBishopFrom: Undetected by Dee Henderson
Occupation: Navy commander
Most Likely to be Found: At work on a submarine, reading a good mystery

PiperMcKennaFrom: Shattered by Dani Pettrey
Occupation: Co-owner of Last Frontier Adventures
Most Likely to be Found: Reading a mystery novel, traveling, planning a party with friends

OliviaEdwardsFrom: Always Watching by Lynette Eason
Occupation: Bodyguard
Most Likely to Be Found: At work since she doesn’t know what it means to relax

GriffinMcCrayFrom: Cold Shot by Dani Pettrey
Occupation: Gettysburg park ranger
Most Likely to be Found: Hiking, watching a baseball game, or making homemade trail mix

GageMcKennaFrom: Stranded by Dani Pettrey
Occupation: Co-owner of Last Frontier Adventures
Most Likely to be Found: Cooking, kayaking, practicing the trumpet or the piano

What Can You Do?

Sins of the PastMy name is Amy Green, the fiction publicist at Bethany House, and I’m appointing myself the investigative lead on this mystery. I can’t do it alone, though. It’ll take a team to solve the mystery, rescue the character, and bring the kidnapper to justice. That’s why we want you, dear readers, to join us. We’ve already recruited the help of bookstore owners and book review bloggers to help us find clues to determine which character is being held hostage and how we can rescue him or her. The stops on the tour are listed below. Make sure you don’t miss a single step of the investigation!

The Mystery and Mayhem Tour

Clues will be revealed at each stop to help you figure out which character has been kidnapped. (If you can’t make it in person to the bookstore events, don’t worry—Dani and Lynette will post the clue from the events on their Facebook pages within 24 hours of the event.)

Friday, April 29, 4 PM
LifeWay Christian Bookstore
3726 E Franklin Blvd
Gastonia, NC 28054

(You can find the clue here.)

Saturday, April 30, 1 PM
Christian Supply
1600 John B White Sr Blvd
Spartanburg, SC 29301

(You can find the clue here.)

Wednesday, May 4
Just Commonly with Annie

Saturday, May  7
Just Romantic Suspense

Wednesday, May 11
Reading is My Superpower with Carrie

Saturday, May 14, 1 PM
His Way Christian Bookstore
Southdale Shopping Center
8 Mountain Rd
Glen Burnie MD 21060

(You can find the clue here.)

Sunday, May 15, 2 PM
Barnes & Noble
620 Marketplace Dr.
Bel Air, MD 21014

(You can find the clue here.)

Wednesday, May 18
Finding Wonderland with Rissi

Saturday, May 21
Will Bake for Books with Bekah

Wednesday, May 25
The Suspense Zone

Thursday, June 2, 7-9 PM Eastern
Sins of the Past Mystery and Mayhem Facebook Party

SOTPFBpromo

Be sure to RSVP to the Facebook party on June 2—if enough concerned readers show up, we’re hoping Anonymous will make an appearance as well so we can solve the case. Don’t worry: with a team of loyal readers like you, we’re sure we’ll get the character back safe and sound!

The Importance of Leaving Book Reviews

Leaving a review on Goodreads, Amazon, or another retail site? First of all, thank you so much! This is one of the most useful things you can do to promote a book you love. Here are a few reasons why:

  • The more reviews a book has, the more often retails sites like Amazon and B&N will recommend the book to others and feature it in searches.
  • Potential buyers will use the number of five-star reviews as a quick snapshot of whether a book is worth their money.
  • Inclusion in an ebook promo newsletter like BookBub can skyrocket an author’s backlist title. And what do those sites look at when deciding which books to feature? You guessed it: reviews!
  • In a 2015 survey of Christian fiction readers, 16% said the main reason they heard about/purchased a book was because of online reviews. Based on the number surveyed, that’s over 250 readers. It adds up! (Note that 33% of the readers surveyed regularly left reviews for Christian fiction books…let’s raise that percentage!)

If you feel intimidated by the pressure to craft the perfect review, just know that even a simple five-star rating and a “This book was great! Can’t wait to read more from this author!” is helpful.

5stars

But if you want to go the extra mile, here are some tips for writing an awesome book review. Continue reading

Risen: A Roman Investigates the Resurrection

Lent begins early next month, and with it comes a season to reflect on the story of the death and resurrection of Jesus.

But have you ever wondered what the empty tomb looked like from the point of view of the occupying Romans?

14527-RISEN memes_1
That’s the concept behind the upcoming film Risen. I had a chance to see an early preview of the film and really enjoyed the perspective it gave on both the life of Jesus and the witnesses to his resurrection who became the leaders of the early church.

The reason I got that sneak-peek look at the movie is because Bethany House is publishing the novelization, written by Angela Hunt!

The novel follows the story of Roman Tribune Clavius who is assigned by Pilate to keep followers of Yeshua from starting a revolution by claiming their lord has risen from the dead. It also includes the point of view of Rachel, a Jewish woman, who had to be cut from the film due to length, but whose story, I think, adds depth to Clavius’ search for truth.

Although the book is fiction, Angela put in hours of careful research, which she explains in the author’s note, to make sure that her story is an accurate portrayal of what might have gone on in the investigation of Jesus’ death…and his disappearance from the tomb three days later. The entire plot is an intriguing what-if: What if the original witnesses of the resurrection had some of the same questions and doubts people have today?

As Clavius searches for the truth, he wrestles with the following objections:

  • The disciples stole Jesus’ body and lied about it.
  • Jesus wasn’t really dead when they took him down from the cross, but actually revived later on.
  • The guards were hallucinating or lying in their second report about angels.
  • Jesus’ followers imagined Jesus was alive because they so badly wanted him to be.

Risen
And a number of others as well. If you or someone you know wants to think critically about the resurrection and get a more complete view of the life and times of Jesus that we kind of skim over sometimes when reading the Bible, Risen is a great choice. You can read an excerpt by clicking on the cover of the book above.

Be sure to check out the movie’s website to watch the trailer and get tickets!

Question for you, readers: what is your favorite tradition around Good Friday or Easter to remember the crucifixion and resurrection?

Ask Bethany House: What Does a Line Editor Do?

Welcome to the last Ask BHP post of 2015! We’ve already talked to one of Bethany House’s copy editors, Elisa. This week, we have Karen, one of our fiction line editors, on the blog to talk about her part in the process of getting great books into your hands. (Be sure to check out the rest of the Ask Bethany House series covering common questions readers ask us.)

Whom

Hopefully when you’re done with this series, you’ll know that there’s much more to editing than fixing grammatical mistakes. But this is still amusing.

Amy: How would you explain your job to someone not familiar with the publishing industry?

Karen: As a line (also known as developmental or substantive) editor, my main responsibility is to work with fiction authors after the first draft of their contracted manuscript is submitted. Often with input from other editors and reviewers, I compile an editorial-comment document, outlining strengths of the story as well as areas we believe need to be revised and fine-tuned. The author and I use that document to discuss revision possibilities and objectives, and after the author had submitted the rewritten manuscript, I complete the first edit.

At this first-edit stage, though many of our concerns have been addressed during the author’s rewrite, I edit the story to enhance big-picture elements like pacing, clarity, plot and character arcs, character development, etc. Though most books receive a copy edit, I also correct/revise typos, grammar, writing flow, and the like, if I notice them.

I am very collaborative and much prefer working through the more significant editorial issues with an author rather than making the decision/revision independently. Of course I make numerous editorial/revision decisions on my own in every manuscript (always taking care to stay true to the author’s vision and voice), but I often find the best solution for larger concerns comes from collaboration (both with the author and with other editors).

Fiction line editors at Bethany House are also responsible for managing each book project through later revisions and corrections from proofreaders and the author, either entering the corrections ourselves or, once the manuscript has been paged, combining the corrections and sending them to typesetters/designers—who enter the corrections in the paged book—and then making sure the revisions have been correctly entered.

Amy: What happens after the work you do with the manuscript?

Karen: After I work with the author on the first edit, the manuscript is copy-edited, proofread (usually three different proofreaders), and reviewed twice by the author—first as a Word document and then as Paged galleys (a representation of what the actual book pages will look like). Once all the corrections have been made, checked, and checked again, the book is off to the printer. The process is more complicated than that, but those are the essentials.

Amy: What is one of your favorite parts of what you do, and why?

Karen: There are so many things I enjoy about my job, but I think the most exciting and fulfilling aspect of my job is working with every author to enhance the wonderful story they have already created. Though the stories are theirs, and theirs alone, I like to compare myself to a loving aunt, standing alongside and supporting proud “author parents” as they send their “book babies” out into the world. I guess that is a bit corny, but it is exciting for me.

Amy: That’s not corny at all! (I always think of myself as the teachers of those book babies—I have several at once when they’re a little more mature and their “author parents” have sent them out into the world.) So, any words of advice or encouragement for those who might want to become editors someday?

Meet Karen...she's the best!

Meet Karen…she’s the best!

Of course, schooling experience is helpful—often whether applicants have schooling in a clearly related subject area is a natural selection cutoff for potential employers. And any publishing/editing/writing craft classes you can take or experience you can get is beneficial. But more than that . . . read, read, read—anything and everything, but especially from the publishing area you are hoping to get a job in someday.

It is not enough for you to simply like a book, or dislike it. Analyze the books you read, figure out what is working and what is not working—why, and how could they be improved? Being analytical, whether by nature or through practice, and learning to communicate concerns clearly and graciously, is very helpful skill for people interested in becoming a line/substantive editor. I like to think such a trait allows me to effectively help the authors I work with create more logical, intriguing plots and consistent, compelling characters.

If you are interested in a job with Bethany House (and I expect this is true of any publisher), you can’t have read too many of our books—it is a plus when you can name favorite books you have read and articulate what you have appreciated about them. And read a broad range of books, even genres you are not particularly drawn to. In most publishing houses, there are many genres you might work with. We all have our genre preferences, but we don’t often get to focus solely on our favorites. Analyze what works in every genre, and learn to appreciate what individual genres have to offer.

Before I started working at Bethany House, other than a few of the classics, I had read few fantasy/speculative books and had little interest in that genre. But soon after starting at BHP, I read Kathy Tyers’ Firebird series and was hooked, and since then I have been blessed to edit several fantastic fantasy/speculative books and series. Learn to appreciate well-drawn characters, compelling plots, and captivating writing regardless of the genre a book is categorized by and your potential as a valuable asset at any publishing house will increase.

Thanks so much, Karen! To get some practice with those analyzing skills, tell us about a book you loved and one specific reason why you loved it!

Happy Thanksgiving from Bethany House!

13159-MULTI DIVISION Thanksgiving memes_BHPfic

As we celebrate Thanksgiving, here’s one of my favorite verses:

“The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”—Philippians 4:5-7, ESV

Because God is near and present in our lives, we don’t have to worry. And we replace fear and anxiety with prayer and thanksgiving, both asking for what we need and praising God for what we have. The result? Peace, based not on our circumstances, but on Christ and what he has already done.

Blessings on your Thanksgiving!

Five Reasons We’re Thankful for Readers

About once a year at a Bethany House meeting, someone will read excerpts from reader letters, either sent directly to us or to our authors. Hearing stories of people whose lives have been changed by the books we publish is always very meaningful to me, and it made me realize how much the end goal of what I do—getting great books to readers—motivates my daily routine.

Because of that, and because Thanksgiving is coming up, today I wanted to list a few reasons why we here at Bethany House appreciate readers.

I can't send you all cookies, but you can print this nifty tag here!

I can’t send you all cookies, but you can print this nifty tag here!

One: You give us feedback.

Everyone’s participation in the Ask Bethany House survey has been great, and last January we held a BHP Book Banter where you answered survey questions and helped us brainstorm. Look for that to be coming up again this year! All of that is really helpful for us, and we appreciate you giving of your time. (If you’d like to be invited to future BHP events, add BHP Amy on Facebook.)

Two: You interact.

I can’t tell you how fun it is when people comment on the blog or Bethany House Facebook posts. I love it when readers share novel recommendations, spread around the latest book news, and give feedback on cover designs. Keep it up! There are actual, living people behind author social media, and even (gasp!) publisher social media. And we really do enjoy hearing what you have to say. (And here’s one super-relevant way you can interact: vote for The Secret of Pembrooke Park in the Goodreads Choice Awards final round! I’m so excited that Julie made it to the finals, not just because it’s great that inspirational fiction is represented, but because I loved this book.)

Three: You love books as much as we do.

Okay, some of you may love books more than we do, especially if you measure that by the sheer number of books you read per year! It’s always fun to be around people with a common interest, who “get” your desperate need to know what happens to people who don’t exist (but should).

Four: You pray with us.

Besides our monthly “Prayer for Authors” post, I know many of you routinely lift up both the authors and readers of our books in your prayers, and that’s so important to the success of what we do. Though I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again: thank you!

Five: You encourage our authors.

This is last on the list, but it was easily the first thing that came to mind for me personally. At Bethany House, we want our authors to feel like part of our family. So, just like a mom appreciates the coaches, teachers, and friends of her kids who pour into their lives, I’m very grateful to those of you out there cheering “my” authors on and encouraging them. Whether that’s in a professional way by promoting and reviewing their books or a personal way by being there for them when life gets hard, your support matters, not just to the people writing the books, but to those of us who are watching.

Thanks, everyone, for being part of the larger Bethany House team. We wouldn’t exist without readers, and the fact that you’re enjoying our books makes what we do worth it.

To celebrate, I’ll be giving away one of our December releases to five random followers of the blog. (You can follow the blog by clicking the little red button on the left sidebar and entering your email. It will send you weekly updates when we post.) If you’re already a follower, there’s nothing more you need to do. I’ll notify you via email by 11/30 if you’re a winner!

What’s something that you as a reader do to encourage authors? (Or, if you’re an author, what’s something readers have done that has been encouraging to you?)

Ask Bethany House: What Does a Copy Editor Do?

This week’s Ask Bethany House question seems straightforward at first: “What does the job of an editor at Bethany House involve?”

Of course, my first response to this is: “What kind of editor?” Yes, it makes a difference, and to add to the confusion, publishing companies don’t always use the same terminology to refer to each type of editor.

The ancient version of copy editors?

The origin of modern copy editors?

If you’re interested in the perspective of an acquisitions editor, check out this Q&A. Today on the blog, we’re chatting with Elisa, one of our copy editors, about the work she does on Bethany House books.

Amy: If you were explaining to someone totally unfamiliar with publishing terminology what you do as a copy editor, what would you say?

Elisa: I work to make a book consistent and polished so that the author’s vision is clearly expressed to the reader. People usually associate copy editing with grammar and spelling, which are certainly a large part of the job, but it also includes keeping character descriptions consistent, tracking timelines, verifying sources and references to real people and places, making sure all necessary pieces are included, and following the first rule of copy editing: Do no harm. It’s not my book, and in a sense I aim to make my work invisible so that the author’s message is cleanly delivered to the reader.

Amy: Interesting—I don’t even know that I would have thought of all of those areas. So, then, what three qualities would you say are most important in someone who wants to be a copy editor?

Elisa: A copy editor should be attentive, cooperative, and patient.

Amy: Someone reading this might think, “Yes, I am all three of those things.” What practical advice would you give a person interested in a career in editing?

Elisa: Find as many possible ways to gain experience now. This could include working on a school newspaper or literary journal, doing freelance proofreading for a local magazine (this is how I started), volunteering as a writing tutor, proofreading newsletters for an organization or ministry, doing an internship or informational interview in the industry, and taking editing, proofreading, and writing classes. When you are first starting, also look for opportunities to develop the skills you will need as an editor, even if the tasks may not seem to directly correspond to editing. In college I worked for over two years as an assistant to our band director and managed our music library, learning about Excel, data entry, organization, and how to manage stacks and stacks of paper all around you (all of which are still applicable in my job today).

Elisa likes to visit libraries in her travels. This is the view from the top floor of the Amsterdam Public Library (Openbare Bibliotheek Amsterdam). On this same trip to the Netherlands, she had the chance to visit the Corrie ten Boom house museum, to see the location of The Hiding Place in person.

Elisa likes to visit libraries in her travels. This is the view from the top floor of the Amsterdam Public Library (Openbare Bibliotheek Amsterdam). On this same trip to the Netherlands, she had the chance to visit the Corrie ten Boom house museum, to see the location of The Hiding Place in person.

Thanks so much for joining us, Elisa! And readers, watch the blog for more behind-the-scenes interviews with Bethany House employees in the coming months!

What question do you have about what goes on behind-the-scenes at Bethany House? We may cover it in a future blog post!

Announcing our BHP Fiction Pinterest Page!

Time for a little fun on the blog! Bethany House is starting something new on Pinterest. We have our official BHP page, with both fiction and nonfiction to highlight new releases, and now have a more informal Pinterest page, shared with some of our authors. We’d be happy to have you follow either of them for book-related fun!

Here are a few of my favorites from some of our boards. Enjoy!

From our “BHP Pets” board, I give you Dewey, owned by one of our editors, Jeff, and named after the Dewey Decimal System (only at a publishing company…).
Dewey
We’re pulling out our inner word nerd on the “Book Stats, Trivia, and Infographics” board. (See any ones on here that are tricky for you?)

Misspelled
For a little laugh, check out the “Book Humor” board. I’m sure you’ve experienced something similar to the cartoon below:

PinterestAnd quotes about writing, reading, and other book-ish things on the “Book Smart” board.

Pinterest2
And, of course, many more! There will be new pins to the BHP Fiction board…this is just the beginning. Feel free to make suggestions in the comments of this post. We want to know what you’d like to see from us!

Don’t forget to stop by the boards of some of our authors (they have fun stuff that will help you picture the characters and settings of their books):
Elizabeth Camden
Julianna Deering
Jody Hedlund
Dani Pettrey
Becky Wade
Connilyn Cossette
Sarah Loudin Thomas
Tamera Alexander
Leslie Gould
Kristi Ann Hunter
Kate Breslin
Dina Sleiman

What’s your favorite thing to pin on Pinterest? Any boards you’d be interested in seeing on the Bethany House page?

Ask Bethany House: Where Did You Get Your Name?

This month’s Ask Bethany House question is a bit more on the trivia spectrum, and something a number of readers have probably wondered: “What inspired the name Bethany House?”

This question takes us back to the early days of Bethany House. In 1956, when BHP began, it was part of a larger missions organization called Bethany Fellowship, an organization dedicated to training and supporting missionaries. Printing books became one of the ways they funded international missions, along with donations and various other business endeavors.

As of today, this novel has sold more than a million copies!

As of today, this novel has sold more than a million copies!

BHP started out with an exclusive focus on nonfiction until publishing Janette Oke’s Love Comes Softly in 1979. It is often considered the first inspirational novel. Ever since then, we’ve had a proud history of publishing books from some of the best Christian fiction authors out there. (Scan the bottom corner of the spines on your bookshelf, and I’m guessing you’ll see a few of the BHP quill logos there!)

But none of that explains why the the missions organization decided to use “Bethany” in the first place. According to Bethany International’s website, “The name ‘Bethany’ was chosen because it was a place Jesus would retreat with his disciples for rest, prayer and reflection.” (So if your guess was that it was named after the city Bethany in the Bible, most famous for being the hometown of Mary, Martha, and Lazarus, you were right.)

In 2003, Bethany Fellowship sold Bethany House Publishers, and we became a part of the Baker Publishing Company family. Of course, it wouldn’t make sense to change our name. So even though it can get confusing to people living nearby (Bethany International, Bethany Church, and Bethany Global University, a college training young people for ministry, are all our neighbors, even though we are no longer officially connected to them), we still proudly have the name Bethany House.

If you didn't realize this was a quill, don't worry...it took me a full year working here to make the connection.

If you didn’t realize this was an inkpen quill, don’t worry…it took me a full year working here to make the connection.

Fun side-note on names: Remember the first Bethany House fiction book, Love Comes Softly? The editor who acquired that novel and hundreds of others through the years was Carol Johnson. She and her husband Gary led Bethany House’s editorial team for many years. Carol was instrumental in starting up the Christy Awards to recognize Christian fiction authors, and the American Christian Fiction Writers honored her recently by changing their fiction award to the Carol Awards.

 

So here’s my question for you: Bethany House was named after the place Jesus went for rest and reflection. What’s your place for rest and reflection? (It can be a room in your house, a favorite local restaurant, a vacation destination…anything.)