Ask BHP: What Are Your Headquarters Like?

The question for this month’s Ask Bethany House made me laugh out loud, so of course I had to answer it: “What are your offices like? I can’t help but imagine a magical paradise of books.”

Time for a confession: publishing company offices aren’t all that exciting. They’re mostly like other offices: lots of people working at computers, conference call tech in the meeting rooms that I still don’t know how to use, printers that mostly work but occasionally need a swift kick, a mailing room for the many packages that go out our doors. That sort of thing.

Still, there are some fun aspects of the Bethany House facilities that might be fun for you readers to know about.

  • There are more books than your average office. I know, shocking. But whether it’s editors displaying all of the projects they personally worked on, or the large library in our central space where we can check out books from our other divisions, or the marketing library of copies that are sent out for giveaways, interviews, and promotions, books are EVERYWHERE.
  • Far more nerdy bookish décor in individual offices than you’d see elsewhere. Need a map of the indie bookstores of Minneapolis and St. Paul? We’ve got it. Jane Austen bobblehead? Check. A poster featuring women’s fashion throughout the decades and centuries? Yes, even that.
  • The reference library has a sliding ladder. Yes, like the one in Beauty and the Beast (although our ceilings are less vaulted and glamorous). We still think it’s pretty cool.
  • There’s a sort-of secret, locked Archive Room with copies of all of our books, including translations. It probably has buried treasure as well. I’m not sure because I’ve been thoroughly supervised every time I’ve stepped inside, which is probably for the best.
  • Our small conference room is home to the Bell of Triumph, which can be rung to announce moments of great celebratory joy, whether personal (engagements, new babies) or work-related (finishing huge projects or a career milestone).
  • Not the building, per se, but there’s a nice little path and neighborhood to walk around outside at 3:00 break…and we recently discovered that it goes by a wild black raspberry patch.
  • Readers sometimes send us letters to their favorite Bethany House authors, which we forward along to them. It’s always fun to see those stacks of forwarded mail going out!

I’m sure others would point out different favorite aspects of the Bethany House center of command. But while it’s been fun being in the office more now that pandemic restrictions are lifting here in Minnesota, I’m always reminded that it’s not so much the place as the people that make a company feel like home. So if you ever get a chance to meet even one Bethany House employee, I can guarantee you’ll enjoy that more than a tour of our office.

Do you own a fun bookish object around your home or office? Tell us about it!

Five Bookish Reactions Explained for Non-Readers

If you’re not a reader yourself, the book world can be strange sometimes. Fiction readers especially will say or do things in response to your seemingly perfectly-normal statements that might baffle you. But don’t worry, we here at Bethany House are here to help. Read on for a helpful guide to understanding your reader.

Sometimes, crying is a good thing.

I know, I know. Seeing a reader plow through a pack of tissues while turning pages is usually cause for alarm. You’re only trying to be sensitive when you suggest putting the book down for a while. Probably, though, the reaction you get will be a strong one. Sometimes, readers actually want to cry. That can be a sign of a great book. (Although not if those are tears of rage at the author. That’s different.)

The movie is almost never better than the book.

Most of the time, it isn’t even close. So, even if you kind of enjoyed the movie, always nod along to your reader’s strong opinions. Here are a few good lines if you need to say something: “The costume design was fine, but the characters just didn’t have the same depth.” “Do you think the director actually even read the book?” “The parts they left out really changed the tone.” You’ll blend right in. Though chances are, you might not need to say anything—your reader might be content to rant alone for a long, long time. Sit back, applaud your own bravery, and pop the popcorn. There will be opinions.

They’re not “just” fictional characters.

We get it: technically, the people in novels are not real. None of them are really hiding from a serial killer, wooing a duke, or getting pummeled with the successive perils and obstacles the sadistic author decided to throw at them in the name of plot. But here’s the thing: if you remind a reader of that, you do so at your own peril. The beauty of fiction is that it encourages us to empathize—to cheer at ending victories and swoon over romantic lines and threaten the character (and author?) that they’ll face your wrath if they make one more bad decision. They’re not real, but they’re true, you know? Their emotions and situations and growth reflect the world we live in, so it’s not entirely crazy to react to fiction like it’s fact. (Within reason, of course. If your reader has actually started mixing up realities, it might be time for an intervention.)

You can’t really have too many books.

I mean, you technically can. If it’s gotten the point where you could go on Hoarders, or the local fire department checks in occasionally because your book piles are a safety hazard, or a local film student calls to ask if they can shoot a scene in your house set in the Library of Congress, then maybe things have gotten out of hand. Or maybe you just don’t have enough bookshelves. Hard to say. Whatever you do, do not suggest getting rid of books. (Especially not specific books.) Wars have been started for less.

Dropping by the bookstore will never be a short visit.

Never. This is true even if the reader in question claims to be “just picking something up” or “just browsing for a minute.” Not going to happen. So wear comfortable shoes. Cancel your appointments. Pack a lunch…and maybe a dinner, too (but don’t you DARE smear jelly on the precious pages). This is gonna take a while. The same thing goes for libraries, actually. And don’t even get us started on how “just one more chapter” is pretty much always a lie with good intentions.

So, there you have it, a simple guide to the care and keeping of your reader. I’ve just helped you avoid lots of strain on your relationships!

And for all of you readers out there: what are some things you say or do that non-readers in your life just don’t understand?

July 2021 New Releases

We hope that you’re enjoying a summer full of excellent fiction! These three page-turners are the latest from Bethany House, and we can’t wait for you to meet the characters within them.

Forever My Own by Tracie Peterson
Ladies of the Lake #2

Plot Summary: While caring for her grandmother, Kristin encounters the brother she long thought dead. In shock, she volunteers to care for her brother’s injured friend, Ilian. As Ilian recovers, an attraction sparks between them, but both are dealing with problems that have no easy answers. With no clear way forward, can love ever thrive and the past be forgiven?

Between the Wild Branches by Connilyn Cossette
The Covenant House #2

Plot Summary: After a heartbreaking end to her friendship with Lukio, Shoshana thought she’d never see him again. But when, years later, she is captured in a Philistine raid and enslaved, she is surprised to find Lukio is now a famous and brutal fighter. With deadly secrets and unbreakable vows standing between them, finding a way to freedom may cost them everything.

A Man With a Past by Mary Connealy
Brothers in Arms #2

Plot Summary: Falcon Hunt awakens without a past–or at least he doesn’t recall one. When he makes a new start by claiming an inheritance, it cuts out frontierswoman Cheyenne from her ranch. Soon it’s clear someone is gunning for him and his brothers, and as his affection for Cheyenne grows, he must piece together his past if they’re to have any chance at a future.

What’s a book you’ve read already this summer that stood out to you?

Bethany House Road Trip 2021

Welcome to our annual setting guide for a year’s worth of books! If you like to visit new places through the pages of a novel (or if you want to see if any books are set in your own home area), this list is for you. The books below released from Bethany House from July 2020 to June 2021.

And if you don’t see the setting you’re looking for, try our past road trips: 2020, 2019, 2018, 2017, 2016, 2015.

United States Settings

Alabama: The Dress Shop on King Street by Ashley Clark (also South Carolina)

Alaska: Endless Mercy by Tracie Peterson and Kimberley Woodhouse

Colorado: A Cowboy for Keeps by Jody Hedlund, Her Secret Song by Mary Connealy

Illinois: Shadows of the White City by Jocelyn Green

Indiana: Piecing it All Together and A Patchwork Past by Leslie Gould

Georgia: Dreams of Savannah by Roseanna M. White, Let It Be Me by Becky Wade

Michigan: On the Cliffs of Foxglove Manor by Jaime Jo Wright

Minnesota: Things We Didn’t Say by Amy Lynn Green, Destined for You by Tracie Peterson

Missouri: Courting Misfortune by Regina Jennings, Night Fall by Nancy Mehl

Montana: Love’s Mountain Quest and Faith’s Mountain Home by Misty M. Beller

New York: To Steal a Heart by Jen Turano, My Dear Miss Dupré by Grace Hitchcock

North Carolina: The Crushing Depths by Dani Pettrey

Oregon: Forever by Your Side by Tracie Peterson, Minutes to Die and Hours to Kill by Susan Sleeman, The Way it Should Be by Christina Suzann Nelson

Pennsylvania: The Stone Wall by Beverly Lewis

South Carolina: Paint and Nectar by Ashley Clark

Texas: Love and a Little White Lie by Tammy L. Gray, The Kissing Tree by Karen Witemeyer, Regina Jennings, Amanda Dykes, and Nicole Deese, The Heart’s Charge by Karen Witemeyer

Washington: The Sowing Season by Katie Powner, All That Really Matters by Nicole Deese

Washington, D.C.: The Prince of Spies by Elizabeth Camden, Backlash and Power Play by Rachel Dylan

West Virginia: The Right Kind of Fool by Sarah Loudin Thomas

Wisconsin: The Haunting at Bonaventure Circus by Jaime Jo Wright

Wyoming: Braced for Love by Mary Connealy

Other Countries

England: Line by Line by Jennifer Delamere, Set the Stars Alight by Amanda Dykes, An Ivy Hill Christmas by Julie Klassen, Vying for the Viscount and Winning the Gentleman by Kristi Ann Hunter, A Portrait of Loyalty by Roseanna M. White, A Castaway in Cornwall by Julie Klassen

Canada: A Bride of Convenience by Jody Hedlund, A Haven for Her Heart and To Find Her Place by Susan Anne Mason, Sustaining Faith by Janette Oke and Laurel Oke Logan

Germany: Soul Raging by Ronie Kendig – and Taiwan, Italy, England, South Africa, and more

India: A Tapestry of Light by Kimberly Duffy (also England)

Isle of Scilly: The Nature of a Lady by Roseanna M. White

Israel: The Shepherd’s Wife and A Woman of Words by Angela Hunt, To Dwell among Cedars by Connilyn Cossette

Spain: The Promised Land by Elizabeth Musser (and France)

How many of these books have you already read?

Ask BHP: Why Do Books Release on Tuesdays?

Good morning, all! It’s time to answer another puzzling publishing question. We had someone contact us with a question that might be on your mind if you’ve paid close attention to multiple authors’ social media: “I’ve noticed that a lot of books release on the same day. Why is that? Why not spread them out?”

Ask BHP 2021

The short answer to this is: most major traditional publishers release books on Tuesday, with the first Tuesday of the month being the most popular. And, well, there are only so many Tuesdays in a month, so you’re going to see some significant overlap in “book birthdays.”

But why Tuesdays? Part of it has to do with giving a book a stronger shot at appearing on a bestseller list. Many bookstores often tab up sales on Mondays, so if a book releases on a Tuesday, it has the maximum time to gain sales to appear on a bestseller list like the New York Times.

Another practical reason is that holidays rarely land on Tuesdays, so there are fewer interruptions. Shipping time also used to be a factor, and warehouse or printer logistics sometimes still is. And, in some ways, Tuesdays is just now a publishing tradition.

From my point of view in marketing, there isn’t much of a need to spread book releases out. It’s actually helpful to have books releasing at the same time, because then we can run ads featuring multiple books, knowing they’ve released on the same day, or authors can join together to run a giveaway or online celebration of their releases. In publicity, sometimes it’s “the more, the merrier!” (Within reason, of course.)

If you Google this question, you’ll find that other publishers have a variety of opinions on which factor is most important, but it’s clearly a mix of reasons. Bethany House follows this tradition as well, so you’ll often see authors celebrating their release date on a Tuesday…and now you know why!

Have you noticed the Tuesday trend before? Or is this your first time hearing that publishers have a date they prefer for new releases?

Fiction Celebration Giveaway!

Last week, several Bethany House authors won and placed in the 2021 Selah Awards, connected with the Blue Ridge Mountains Christian Writers conference.

The Right Kind of Fool by Sarah Loudin Thomas

2021 Fiction Book of the Year and First Place in Historical/Biblical fiction

right-kind-of-fool

Forever Hidden by Tracie Peterson and Kimberley Woodhouse

Second Place in Historical Romance Fiction

Forever Hidden

Veiled in Smoke by Jocelyn Green

Third Place (tie) in Historical/Biblical Fiction

Veiled in Smoke

The Promised Land by Elizabeth Musser

Third Place in General Fiction

promised-land

To celebrate these authors and their lovely books, we’re giving away all four of them in a special prize package. To enter, just comment on the blog with one of your favorite places to read a good book. We’ll choose a random winner on 6/16, so be sure to enter before that!

Prayer for Authors: June 2021

Since it’s Sunday, 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 June:

Rachel Dylan
Laurel Oke Logan
Janette Oke
Susan Anne Mason
Lauraine Snelling
Jaime Jo Wright
Karen Witemeyer

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.

“Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all.” – 1 Chronicles 29:11 (ESV)

General Suggestions for Prayer:

  • For God to get glory from these new books and authors’ interactions with readers.
  • For good physical, emotional, and mental health for these authors and their families.
  • For readers finding these books to encounter truths that they need to hear.

It’s delightful to have all of you praying along with us here at Bethany House. Thanks for taking the time!

June 2021 New Releases

This June is full to the brim of wonderful new novels, including these six from Bethany House. We hope that you’re able to make time for some summer reading. These releases come highly recommended for that, whether you’re looking for a beach read, a road trip audiobook, or a quiet staycation page-turner.

Sustaining Faith by Janette Oke and Laurel Oke Logan
When Hope Calls #2

Plot Summary: With more children on their way from England who need caring homes, Lillian and Grace must use every ounce of gumption to keep their mission alive. But when startling information about the past surfaces and a new arrival comes via suspicious circumstances, they’ll have to decide what is worth fighting for and what is better left in God’s hands.

The Heart’s Charge by Karen Witemeyer
Hanger’s Horsemen #2

Plot Summary: On a mission to deliver a baby to a nearby foundling home, Mark Wallace and Jonah Brooks encounter two women who capture their attention. When a handful of urchin children from the area go missing, a pair of Horsemen are exactly what the women need. As they work together to find the children, will these two couples find love as well?

Power Play by Rachel Dylan
Capital Intrigue #1

Plot Summary: Recruited to join an FBI task force after witnessing an attack, Vivian Steele finds her by-the-book ways clashing with Diplomatic Security Agent Jacob Cruz. When Vivian’s past comes back to haunt her and secrets hidden by the government thrust her into a web of danger, can she accept Jacob’s reckless ways as exactly what she needs to stay alive?

Seeds of Change by Lauraine Snelling with Kiersti Giron
Leah’s Garden #1

Plot Summary: After turning the tables on a crooked gambler, Larkspur Nielsen flees her home with her sisters on a wagon train bound for Oregon. Knowing four women will draw unwanted attention, she dons a disguise as a man. But maintaining the ruse is harder than she imagined, as is protecting her sisters from difficult circumstances and eligible young men.

To Find Her Place by Susan Anne Mason
Redemption’s Light #2

Plot Summary: In the midst of WWII, Jane Linder pours all of her dreams for a family into her career at the Toronto Children’s Aid Society. Garrett Wilder has been hired to overhaul operations at the society and hopes to earn the vacant director’s position. But when feelings begin to blossom and they come to a crossroads, can they discern the path to true happiness?

On the Cliffs of Foxglove Manor by Jaime Jo Wright

Plot Summary: In search of her father’s lost goods, Adria encounters an eccentric old woman who has filled Foxglove Manor with dangerous secrets that may cost Adria her life. Centuries later, when the senior residents of Foxglove under her care start sharing chilling stories of the past, Kailey will have to risk it all to banish the past’s demons, including her own.

Where will you be reading a book this summer?

Ask BHP: Who writes the description on the back of a book?

We had a fun question come in asking, “How does the description on the back of a book get written? Do authors write it, or is it Bethany House?”

My name is Rachael and I work in the marketing department at Bethany House. Many of you know me as the Instagram coordinator, but my main job is the company’s copywriter. I’m dropping in today to answer this question because writing book descriptions is one of my greatest responsibilities.

If you’ve never heard the title “copywriter” before, I like to describe it as being the person who writes nearly everything that’s not inside a book. If you see web or print ads, emails, and author bookmarks with our logo on it, that was me! Of all the copy I write, though, back covers are my personal favorite! Not only do I get to spend a portion of my work day reading our upcoming releases, but I also get to interact with our authors and the editorial team to make sure I delivered the plot in the most compelling way possible.

I thought it would be fun to give you a glimpse into what my process looks like when writing a book blurb, while also showing you a few of the back covers of our June releases!

The first part of my process is to read the book—right now, I’m working on our November releases. When I’m reading, I take notes of important plot points, the characters’ emotional drivers, and captivating phrases. Then I use those notes to really think about the book. What is the reader going to experience when reading this story? Who will they be? Who will they fall in love with? What emotions will they experience while reading? What is the main conflict? Then I use all of this to start my summary.

When an author proposes a new book or series to us, they will write a synopsis which gives us a rough summary of the book and an idea of who the characters are. And though we don’t use a lot of this for the back cover copy, I do like to read these when writing that copy to look for any intriguing phrases or descriptions that I can fit in.

The reason we don’t use an author’s synopsis is because it is so different from the back cover copy. A synopsis is essentially a timeline of the plot, whereas the blurb I write is intended to sell an experience to a potential reader—it’s less about plot and more about escaping through the life of another. Once a reader is drawn to a cover, the back cover copy is what convinces them to pick up the book which is why it’s so important to make it as absorbing as possible.

When I’m finished writing the back cover copy, I run it by the author. It’s important to me that they feel confident in what we are delivering to their readers, and that they also believe it perfectly captures the essence of their story. If they want to make changes, we work together to brainstorm different wording and phrases. Once they give their thumbs-up, it goes on to their marketing and editorial teams for approval. These teams are also making sure that the blurb is engaging and well-worded, and our proofreader fixes any grammatical mistakes.

It doesn’t end there, though! This back cover copy is taken through yet another review process once it’s designed. We see proofs of the copy on the designed back cover (like in the images above). In this stage, multiple teams (editorial, marketing, and design) are reviewing the copy and design one last time and are now asking questions like, Does the text look too crowded? Do we need to use different colors or fonts? Do the images on the back flow with the front? When the copy makes it to the designed back cover, I’ve had some time away from it and use this opportunity to re-read it and make any last-minute changes to what I’ve written.

Then, a few months later, I get to hold the book in my hands and celebrate another exciting release!

What back cover pulled you in recently?

10 Difficult Would-You-Rather Questions for Readers

Today on the blog, we’re going to have a little fun. It’s time to make some difficult choices about hypothetical scenarios that will likely never happen. (And sometimes that’s a good thing.)

Let us know in the comments which way you’re leaning on these ten rounds. Then, feel free to share with your friends on social media and see what they’d say to all of these. I’m interested to hear the answers!

Would you rather go on a road trip to a top vacation spot with your favorite fictional character or go on a road trip to the setting of your favorite book?

Bonus if you tell us where you’re going!

Win a free home makeover to theme one room of your house after a favorite children’s book or win a year’s supply of a food mentioned in the last book you read?

Be sure to share what design or food you’d pick. (I’m choosing between a Hobbit-themed guest room and a year of Parisian croissants—so tricky!)

Would you rather forget the ending of every book shortly after reading it or not be able to re-read a book ever again?

We know, we know. Cruel.

Would you rather time travel to save all of the books from the Library of Alexandria before it burnt down or time travel to bring a cure to Jane Austen so she could live longer and write more books?

For the moment, we’re just skipping past difficulties like whether this would impact other things in the space-time continuum. We’ll save that for sci-fi authors.

Would you rather have a favorite book turned into a T.V. miniseries or have a favorite book used as the inspiration for a local restaurant?

No specification on whether either the miniseries or the restaurant is actually good. Use your imagination!

Would you rather be banned from all libraries for the rest of your life OR Be banned from all bookstores for the rest of your life?

Not sure how they’d do this, but I’m imagining Wanted posters of your face posted all over, Wild West style.

Would you rather find out the villain of the last thriller/fantasy novel you read is trying to kill you for some reason or learn that your favorite author is never writing more books.

Given that I wouldn’t last five seconds against my last villain, and also that my favorite author is deceased…this one is pretty easy for me.

Would you rather suddenly gain an ability/skill possessed by the main character from the last novel you read or suddenly have the job of the main character from the last novel you read?

Can’t wait to hear what you’d be choosing for this!

Would you rather own Belle’s library from Beauty and the Beast or have a cozy bookstore and coffee shop within walking distance of your house?

Hmm, the library wouldn’t really fit in with my home style, but I’d go broke if a bookstore was that close…

Would you rather have bookshelves that randomly re-sort all of your books in a different order every night or be forced to dog-ear the page to mark it every time you stop reading a book?

It feels like my bookshelves randomly re-sort anyway. 😊

All right, readers! Feel free to share a few of your favorite answers below.