2020 Client Projects

I am so thrilled to be sharing my 2020 client books line up! There is something for everyone here: mystery, suspense, memoir, non fiction, YA. Please add to your TBR pile, Goodreads page, or pre-order now.

BEHIND EVERY LIE Christina McDonald (February 4th 2020)

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“Behind Every Lie is a deep, suspenseful novel packed with family secrets. Christina McDonald has a true gift for creating characters that are so well-developed, it feels like you know them. An outstanding achievement!”

— Samantha Downing, author of the #1 International Bestseller My Lovely Wife

“In Behind Every Lie, Christina McDonald brilliantly intertwines page-turning suspense with jaw-dropping family secrets. An emotionally-charged domestic thriller that is sure to please!”

— Wendy Walker, national bestselling author of The Night Before

“A clever, tense, and absorbing novel–this tale of family secrets had me racing towards the final pages.”

— Emma Rous, bestselling author of The Au Pair

“Christina McDonald follows up her smashing debut The Night Olivia Fell with another winner. McDonald starts with a bang, then builds the action steadily, a gradual unfolding of secrets and lies that will have you constantly switching alliances. Read it like I did, in one sitting and straight through to the end, because you won’t want to put this one down.”

— Kimberly Belle, internationally bestselling author of Dear Wife

“Christina McDonald’s Behind Every Lie is a layered, gut-wrenching domestic thriller that explores the complexities of mothers and daughters and the secrets families keep. Smart and intense, and with more than enough twists to give you whiplash, McDonald’s beautiful, emotional storytelling will leave you breathless. I don’t think I exhaled until the end.”

— Jennifer Hillier, author of Jar of Hearts, ITW Award winner for Best Novel

“Christina McDonald’s Behind Every Lie is a cleverly plotted and emotionally charged page-turner about memory, trusting yourself, grieving, and letting go. Family secrets run deep in this compelling exploration of how far a mother will go to protect her child. Full of twists and turns, this is domestic suspense at its best!”

— Karen Katchur, bestselling author of River Bodies

“In Behind Every Lie, a lightning strike survivor discovers that memories are fallible, identities are fungible, and she can’t trust anyone—including herself. With nuanced and dubiously trustworthy characters, dual timelines revealing decades of secrets, and a tension-packed plot, Christina McDonald has crafted an engrossing and utterly addictive thriller. I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough!”

— Kathleen Barber, author of Truth Be Told

“Addictive and emotionally resonant, Behind Every Lie is a twisty, fast-paced thriller with secrets nestled inside secrets. Nothing is as it seems in this story exploring the sorrow and strength of brokenness, and with complex characters and a relentlessly compelling plot, you’ll be unable to stop reading it—or forget it once you do.”

— Megan Collins, author of The Winter Sister

“[An] intriguing suspense novel… McDonald weaves together Eva and Kat’s narratives, which span past and present, to create a compulsively readable and fast-paced yarn that explores the lingering effects of trauma and abuse as well as the complex bonds between mothers and daughters. Readers who enjoy character-driven thrillers will be pleased.”

— Publishers Weekly

“Told in alternating narratives from Eva’s traumatic life and her mother’s mysterious past, the story twists and turns with one shocking revelation after another until it threatens to careen out of control. But behind every lie there is always a reason, and there is a satisfying ending once everyone’s hand is played out.”

— Booklist

“Behind Every Lie is a page-turner and an entertaining read. Many readers will enjoy Eva’s breathless race of discovery and journey of survival.”

— Bookreporter

From the USA TODAY bestselling author of The Night Olivia Fell—an “emotionally charged mystery” (Mary Kubica, New York Times bestselling author)comes a thrilling new suspense novel about the insidious nature of family secrets…and their deadly potential.

If you can’t remember it, how do you prove you didn’t do it?

Eva Hansen wakes in the hospital after being struck by lightning and discovers her mother, Kat, has been murdered. Eva was found unconscious down the street. She can’t remember what happened but the police are highly suspicious of her.

Determined to clear her name, Eva heads from Seattle to London—Kat’s former home—for answers. But as she unravels her mother’s carefully held secrets, Eva soon realizes that someone doesn’t want her to know the truth. And with violent memories beginning to emerge, Eva doesn’t know who to trust. Least of all herself.

Told in alternating perspectives from Eva’s search for answers and Kat’s mysterious past, Christina McDonald has crafted another “complex, emotionally intense” (Publishers Weekly) domestic thriller. Perfect for fans of Lisa Jewell’s I Found You and Karin Slaughter’s Pieces of HerBehind Every Lie explores the complicated nature of mother-daughter relationships, family trauma, and the danger behind long-held secrets.

Order at: Amazon | IndieBound | Barnes and Noble | Chapters Indigo | Goodreads

 

WE CAME HERE TO FORGET by Andrea Dunlop Paperback (April 21, 2020)

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“Searing, gripping…Dunlop has crafted a complicated story of sisterhood unlike any told before.”
— Taylor Jenkins Reid, bestselling author of Daisy Jones and the Six

“Dunlop’s globe-trotting story of two sisters driven apart by a devastating event is a propulsive whirlwind of secrets, passion, betrayal, exotic locations — and hope. It’s as timely as it is riveting.”
— J. Ryan Stradal, author of Kitchens of the Great Midwest

“I wish Andrea Dunlop’s We Came Here to Forget could go on forever. I was riveted by the central story of an overachieving athlete who is finding her way in a world without clocks, without concrete goals. Andrea is a talented, intuitive leader and storyteller, revealing details at just the right moment over and over again. There is so much genuine emotion and tension throughout the book . . . a lot to think about in here, and oh yes—a lot of dancing in paradise (and in hell) too.”
— Caroline Kepnes, author of YOU

“Andrea Dunlop’s novels were made for book clubs. This one is a gripping story of family secrets and dangerous ambition that follows Katie Cleary, an Olympic hopeful who tries to live under a new identity when her career is ruined after dark truths about her sister come to light.”
— Bustle

“As fast-paced as a downhill ski run, and as magical and sensuous as tango, We Came Here to Forget is about the drive to escape the trauma of the past—and the folly of that desire.”
— Edan Lepucki, bestselling author of CALIFORNIA and WOMAN NO. 17

From the author of She Regrets Nothing, which BuzzFeed called a “sharp, glittering story of wealth, family, and fate,” a vivid novel about a young Olympic skier who loses everything and reinvents herself in Buenos Aires, where she meets a man keeping dark secrets of his own.

Katie Cleary has always known exactly what she wants: to be the best skier in the world. As a teenager, she leaves her home to live and train full time with her two best friends, brothers Luke and Blair. Their wealthy father hires the best coaches money can buy and after years of training, the three friends are the USA’s best shot at bringing home Olympic gold.

But as the upward trajectory of Katie’s elite skiing career nears its zenith, a terrifying truth about her sister becomes impossible to ignore—one that will lay ruin not only to Katie’s career but to her family and her relationship with Luke and Blair.

With her life shattered and nothing left to lose, Katie flees the snowy mountainsides of home for Buenos Aires. There, she reinvents herself and meets a colorful group of ex-pats and the alluring, charismatic Gianluca Fortunado, a tango teacher with secrets of his own. This beautiful city, with its dark history and wild promise, seems like the perfect refuge, but can she really outrun her demons?

“Searing, gripping…a complicated story of sisterhood unlike any told before” (Taylor Jenkins Reid, author of Daisy Jones & The Six), We Came Here to Forget explores what it means to dream, to desire, to achieve—and what’s left behind after it all disappears.

Order at: Amazon | IndieBound | Barnes and Noble | Chapters Indigo | Goodreads

 

SUMMER OF LOVE AND MISFORTUNE by Lindsay Wong (May 5, 2020)

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Anna and the French Kiss meets Crazy Rich Asians in this hilarious, quirky novel about a Chinese-American teen who is thrust into the decadent world of Beijing high society when she is sent away to spend the summer in China.

Iris Wang is having a bit of a rough start to her summer. In an attempt to snap her out of her funk, Iris’s parents send her away to visit family in Beijing, with the hopes that Iris will “reconnect with her culture” and “find herself.” Iris resents her parents’ high-handedness, but even she admits that this might be a good opportunity to hit the reset button.

Iris expects to eat a few dumplings, meet some of her family, and visit a tourist hotspot or two. What she doesn’t expect is to meet a handsome Mandarin-language tutor named Frank and to be swept up in the ridiculous, opulent world of Beijing’s wealthy elite, leading her to unexpected and extraordinary discoveries about her family, her future, and herself.

Order at: Amazon | IndieBound | Barnes and Noble | Chapters Indigo | Goodreads

 

SPRING GIRLS by Karen Katchur (June 16, 2020)

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She’s the only one who survived…and the only one who can help find the killer.

Another spring, another dead girl pulled from a lake in the Appalachian foothills: the latest victim in a series of murders with few leads. But Detective Geena Brassard and her partner, Parker Reed, finally land a break when they receive a tip about a previously unknown survivor of the so-called Spring Strangler.

The survivor’s reluctant to help with the case for reasons that aren’t all clear. Even so, Geena uncovers a connective thread between the victims, and recently discovered DNA brings her closer to the killer’s identity. But Geena knows the survivor has the most to offer the investigation–if also the most to lose.

Geena is torn between securing the surviving victim’s help and protecting her from further danger. One thing is certain: Geena and Parker must find answers before the killer claims another life–or returns to finish off the one who got away.

Order at: Amazon | IndieBound | Barnes and Noble | Chapters Indigo | Goodreads

 

WE CAME HERE TO SHINE by Susie Orman Schnall (June 16, 2020)

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“On the thrilling backdrop of the 1939 World’s Fair, Schnall once again delivers a story both captivating and timely, as two women must struggle to make their way in a male-dominated world in this beautiful novel of friendship and ambition.” – Jennifer S. Brown, bestselling author of Modern Girls

“Set at the wondrous 1939 World’s Fair, Orman Schnall’s latest bursts like a technicolor movie right off the page, as her two heroines battle for their rights in what’s very much a man’s world, forging a remarkable bond in the process. An ode to female friendship that pulses with momentum and left me breathless.”
–Fiona Davis, national bestselling author of The Chelsea Girls

We Came Here to Shine is an exceptional work of historical fiction, illuminating the challenges of women in a world that wants to control them. There are conflicts and challenges at every turn, leaving the reader wondering how the characters can emerge from it all. Yet the skillful storytelling of Schnall succeeds at creating an ending that is both surprising and believable. Pick this one up if you enjoy books with friendship, love, struggle, triumph, and a bit of Hollywood in New York.” – Camille Di Maio, Bestselling author of The Memory of Us

We Came Here to Shine is a perfectly crafted and dynamic tale of female ambition, professional rivalry, and family secrets, all set against the sensational backdrop of the 1939 New York World’s Fair. An unlikely friendship between a struggling Hollywood starlet and a budding female journalist becomes the extraordinary centerpiece of this beautifully-told story, which reveals not only the glamorous and optimistic side of the Fair, but the sordid reality of what goes on behind the scenes. With masterful attention to historical detail, Susie Orman Schnall has gifted us with a remarkable novel about the challenges women face and the courage they must summon in order to lead the lives they deserve.” – Lynda Cohen Loigman, author of The Two-Family House

 

Set during the iconic 1939 New York World’s Fair, two intrepid young women—an aspiring journalist and a down-on-her-luck actress—form an unlikely friendship as they navigate a world of endless possibility, stand down adversity, and find out what they are truly made of during the glorious summer of spectacle and opportunity…

“An ode to female friendship that pulses with momentum and left me breathless.” —Fiona Davis, national bestselling author of The Chelsea Girls

“A remarkable novel about the challenges women face and the courage they must summon in order to lead the lives they deserve.” —Lynda Cohen Loigman, author of The Two-Family House

Vivi Holden is closer than she’s ever been to living her dream as a lead actress in sun-dappled L.A., but an unfair turn of events sends her back to New York, a place she worked so hard to escape from. She has one last chance to get back to Hollywood—by performing well as the star of the heralded Aquacade synchronized swimming spectacular at the World’s Fair. Everything seems to be working against her, but her summer in New York will lead to her biggest opportunity to find her own way, on her own terms…

Maxine Roth wants nothing more than to be a serious journalist at the iconic New York Times, but her professor has other plans. Instead, she’s landed a post at the pop-up publication dedicated to covering the World’s Fair—and even then, her big ideas are continually overlooked by her male counterparts. Max didn’t work this hard to be the only—and an unheard one at that—woman in the room.

When Max and Vivi’s worlds collide, they forge an enduring friendship. One that shows them to be the daring, bold women they are, and one that teaches them to never stop holding on to what matters most, in the most meaningful summer of their lives.

Order at: Amazon | IndieBound | Barnes and Noble | Chapters Indigo | Goodreads

 

ONE HUNDRED DOGS AND COUNTING by Cara Sue Achterberg (July 7, 2020)

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“Saddened by her emptying nest, Cara Sue Achterberg started fostering dogs—dozens of them. Here she shares the journey (and some super cute photos).”
— People (Praise for ANOTHER GOOD DOG)

“Heartwarming and humorous. Achterberg fills her readers with the warmth of hope and light of inspiration, which will likely galvanize a new wave of fosters.”
— Shelf Awareness (Praise for ANOTHER GOOD DOG)

“That’s where people like Cara Sue Achterberg come into the picture. Another Good Dog has to be the ‘feel good’ book of the year. The perfect gift.”
— Best Friends (Praise for ANOTHER GOOD DOG)

“A love letter not only to the dogs she fostered, but to all the dogs she hopes to save in the future.”
— Kim Kavin, award-winning author of The Dog Merchants (Praise for ANOTHER GOOD DOG)

“Big hearted, inspiring and passionate. Lucky are the dogs who pass through Achterberg’s arms on their way to the lives they so richly deserve. Honest and engaging.”
— Peter Zheutlin, New York Times bestselling author of THE DOG WENT OVER THE MOUNTAIN

“Achterberg has in fact written another good book about dogs, but even more so she has produced a manifesto on how to change the world: through single acts of caring and compassion stacked one on top of another without end.”
— Jim Gorant, New York Times bestselling author of THE LOST DOGS

A challenging foster dog inspires an experienced foster mama to explore where the endless stream of unwanted dogs is coming from—and how things could change.

After nearly a year struggling to find a home for a particular foster dog, Cara begins to wonder how the story ends—when will all the dogs be saved? Even after the one-hundredth foster dog passes through Cara’s home, the stream of homeless dogs appears endless.  Seized by the need to act, Cara grabs her best friend, fills a van with donations, and heads south to discover what is really happening in the rural shelters where her foster dogs originate.

What she discovers will break her heart and compel her to share the story of heroes and villains and plenty of good dogs, in the hope of changing this world.

From North Carolina where pit bulls fill the shelters and heart-worm rages to Tennessee where dogs are left forgotten in pounds and on to Alabama where unlikely heroes fight in a state that has largely forsaken its responsibilities to its animals, Cara meets the people working on the front lines in this national crisis of unwanted animals. The dogs, the people and their inspiring stories draw her south again and again in search of answers and maybe a dog of her own.

One Hundred Dogs and Counting will introduce the reader to many wonderful dogs—from sweet Oreo to quirky Flannery—but also to inspirational people sacrificing personal lives and fortunes to save deserving animals.

Join Cara on the rescue road as she follows her heart into the places where too many dogs are forgotten and discovers glimmers of hope that the day is coming when every dog will have a home.

Order at: Amazon | IndieBound | Barnes and Noble | Chapters Indigo | Goodreads

 

LAUNCHING WHILE FEMALE: SMASHING THE SYSTEM THAT HOLDS WOMEN BACK by Susanne Althoff (October 27, 2020)

A rallying cry that exposes the obstacles that women and non-binary entrepreneurs face in the business world and a roadmap for a more inclusive and economically successful future

Journalist and professor Susanne Althoff exposes the ways in which the current start-up paradigm was engineered by and for white men, and the ways in which women, non-binary, and trans folks—especially those who are non-white—face impossible barriers to landing funding from venture capitalists to make their companies viable. Through interviews with over 100 founders of small start-ups, Althoff paints a picture of a systemically rigged start-up culture. She tackles the gendered perceptions of innovation and who is allowed to play; for example, why women are called “mompreneurs” rather than business women and why only 18 Black women founders of companies have been able to break the $1 million threshold for funding … ever.

Althoff provides a way forward, providing proof that companies started by women are a boon to society and the economy, and offering advice for non-male people starting their own companies.

Order at: Amazon | IndieBound | Barnes and Noble | Chapters Indigo | Goodreads

 

Guest Post: The 4 Platform Elements That Catch an Editor’s Attention

Headshot for Stonesong websiteEditor-turned-Agent Maria Ribas has a guest post for everyone today! It’s a small world in publishing and the story of how Maria and I know each other is a reflection of that. When Maria was an editor at Adams Media I sold her a cookbook called THE WELLNESS KITCHEN. She left Adams Media a couple years ago now and is currently at agent at Stonesong Literary in NYC. Maria represents non fiction and specializes in lifestyle and cookbooks. She has a great post about platform that I think you’ll all learn something from. You can also check out her site for more great information: www.cooksplusbooks.com or follow her on Twitter @maria_ribas.

I started out in publishing as an editor. And about once a week, I would get rejected. Our acquisitions meetings were on Thursday afternoon, and I’d spend much of that morning preparing a pitch for why everyone should get excited about that book I was so excited about.

The meetings would go something like this:

Me: !!!!

Everyone Else: …..

Me: !!!!!!!

Everyone Else: ????

Me: !!!!?

Everyone Else: No.

Having your excitement be met with disinterest is terrible. I know it’s something writers struggle with every day, and it’s a thing agents and editors have to battle through, too. But after some comically sad flops, I finally started figuring out what I needed to say so that people’s ears would immediately perk up.

And what got the most ear “perkage” (that’s not a word, is it?) from acquisitions teams? A platform-savvy author.

Any great agent or editor will tell you that you don’t need a platform to get a book deal as a fiction writer—a wonderful book is all you need. But any great agent or editor will also tell you that you can only avoid these platform-building initiatives for so long. A wonderful book may get you in the door, but only a strong publicity and marketing campaign will get your book back out the door and into readers’ hands.

That’s exactly why coming into the publishing process with those skills and networks in place can make you extremely appealing as an author. I’ve sat in many strategy meetings where an author’s editor, publicist, marketing manager, and agent put all their expertise together to formulate a strong marketing and publicity campaign. Yet the author’s lack of familiarity with the online landscape, and most often, their discomfort with putting themselves out there, crippled their ability to execute the campaign. The worst part is that this makes for a miserable, lie-awake-at-night book launch, because the author is forced to battle the fears and anxieties of platform-building at a time when they can’t afford to stumble.

Don’t let that happen to you! I know I sound like a scare-mongering PSA, but I’ve seen too many incredible books be completely ignored because the author struggled with the foundational skills of publicity and marketing.

If you’re overwhelmed about where to start, here are the 4 platform elements that most stand out to agents, editors, and acquisitions teams:

1. Connections

It’s true that you don’t need to be well-connected to break out in publishing, but it’s even truer that having connections will help you. Editors and agents know how hard it is to get even an ounce of attention for a debut book, so working with an author who has access to the megaphones of tastemakers is a huge advantage.

But remember that this doesn’t mean you need to live in New York City, attend all the right writing programs, or rub elbows with the literati every day. This isn’t necessarily about knowing celebrities, bestselling authors, and high-profile journalists. It’s about forming real connections with the people who are right there with you in the trenches. Get out and meet writers in your neighborhood; join online communities; reach out to that writer you admire just to say hello. Remember that it takes a tribe to launch a book, and it’s a whole lot easier to make real friends when you’re not plying them with information about your book.

2. Press

Similar to connections, press mentions are a way to get attention for a book, and they’re the foundation of a publicity campaign. So when a book comes in to an editor or agent and the author already has press experience ? That’s a big, big plus. Publishers think of it as a two pronged advantage: 1. The author already has a relationship with gatekeepers in other media (reporters, producers, bloggers, etc.) and can call on those connections to get coverage for the book, and 2. The author has already proven that he/she is comfortable with being a public figure and understands that pitching and public speaking skills are essential to the successful promotion of a book. This shows editors that you know how to position yourself and your work in a way that receives favorable attention, and that is always a good thing.

3. Analytics

Ten years ago cold, hard numbers had no place in the acquisitions conversation for a debut author. Today, they can be the #1 reason why an author and agent hears a “yes” rather than a “no” from an editor, particularly in the practical nonfiction world. Again, this is something that’s make-or-break for nonfiction, but still a big plus for fiction writers, too. These numbers are a concrete way of showing editors that you already have a readership—that you’ve spent years building relationships across different online channels, and that those people think what you have to say is worthwhile.

Analytics can be anything from traffic on a website or blog to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or other social media followers.

4. Email List

Yes, you could put this under analytics. But I’m breaking it out for a reason—it’s a breakout number. That means that even if your social media numbers are middling, having a significant email list can get an agent’s or editor’s attention. This is because sending an email is the most direct way to reach potential readers, and it’s also the only way you can (nearly) guarantee that the recipient will see an important announcement. With so many changes to social media algorithms lately, it’s hard to guarantee that important updates (like a launch announcement!) will actually make it to the people who want to know about it. That’s why I preach the gospel of the email list to all my authors—it’s the best thing they can focus on building, because it’s the only channel they can themselves own.

I know platform-building can be overwhelming, fraught with emotional pitfalls, and overall more pleasant to ignore than to face head-on. But the business of publishing, in any genre, always hinges around sales, and the sooner authors can build marketing and publicity skills, the sooner they’ll find their readership. And the less often that their exclamation points will be met with a cold, hard “No.”

Maria Ribas began her career on the editorial side, first at Simon & Schuster and Harlequin Nonfiction, then at Adams Media, where she was an associate editor before moving to the agency side in 2014. At Stonesong, she specializes in practical and narrative nonfiction from authors who understand how a thoughtfully produced, proudly promoted book can grow their brands and their businesses.

She also writes about writing, platform-building, publishing, and cooking her way through books at www.cooksplusbooks.com

 

The 4 Platform Secrets No One Has Told You

Platform.

Platform.

Platform.

It’s all anyone in publishing wants to talk about! Writers are feeling this top down pressure to check all the boxes publishers and agents are looking for. Including platform. But we’re talking about platform for a reason. (Need a platform primer? Try Jane Friedman’s here.)

Let’s be clear: non fiction authors understand that platform is non-negotiable; it’s a must. However, fiction authors don’t require one–but we won’t be sad if you have one. Now that we’re all on the same page. Let’s breakdown the secrets to platform that you probably haven’t discovered how to leverage. Ready?

The secret to a meaningful platform is engagement. It doesn’t matter how many tweets you send or pins you post. If there is no engagement on the other side you’re wasting your time speaking into a black hole.  You don’t always need to go searching for more, more, more. Try focusing on the small fans you’ve cultivated this far and work with them. What does your current audience require to be more connected to you? Be authentic, be honest, learn from online greats like comedians, authors, and journalists. See how they’re doing it. Guess what? They’re out of their shells and interacting with people, tweets and memes. Platform is not self promotion, it’s engagement.

The secret to building a platform is following other people. It goes against our desire to be “cool” when we follow other people hoping to get followed back, but guess what: it works. Following other people is a signal to the world that you exist. You’re not a satellite circling alone, you’re a compass pointing visitors to your brand. A vacant platform can be a sign of fear: are you afraid to follow other people because you’re afraid you won’t be any further ahead? It’s also a sign of disinterest: are you too “busy” for your brand? Then a publisher isn’t going to make time for you. Many of today’s success stories revolve around authors who have understood what their fans expect and want from them. Never before have you had a water cooler at your fingertips. A missing platform is a sign that you don’t understand technology and that scares us: how can we expect you to market your book if you don’t have time for social media? So to build that platform you have to tell the world that you are here and you have something to say.

The secret to platform isn’t just primary social media sites. Everyone thinks Twitter and Facebook are the only platforms that matters. Guess what (depending on what you do) there are many platforms for you to leverage: YouTube, Instagram, Vine, Pinterest, blogging, journalism, podcasts, or online TV. Where can you show your voice, expand your brand, and engage with like-minded people best for your message? That’s where you need to be. There is no right or wrong way to develop platform, but the success comes from the most authentic way to share your voice. What do YOU want to say? And how or where can you say it best?

The secret to platform is numbers. Do you know yours: Followers? Impressions? Shares? Sales? Subscribers? As soon as you learn to quantify your platform you know how to transition to leveraging your engagement. How many people clicked on your links? How many people signed up for your e-newsletter? How many people do you speak in front of per year? Numbers means audience. Audience means sales. Sales is what business is all about–even publishing.

Experiment: take a week and follow a few hundred new people (and engage with them!) and then report back to me how many new followers it got you. Deal?

What happens if your book gets cancelled or series doesn’t continue to get published?

contract signingThere are many reasons to have an agent in your corner, but the dreaded book cancellation–or having the plug pulled on your series–is a big one. Your agent will be your shoulder to cry on and help you with next steps.

Unfortunately, it happens and it’s not fun for anyone. This is not legal advice, but some experiences that you might have heard about.

Here are a few scenarios: 

1. Your book gets cancelled before you sign your contract. This is heartbreaking, especially for debut authors. You’re so thrilled to have a book deal. Your agent negotiated the terms and accepted the offer. Next is the contract. However, sometimes things happen in this stage that stop it in its tracks (the publisher gets bought, the editors leaves, the publisher shutters an imprint, you can’t agree on terms etc). This is why agents usually like to wait until publishing contracts are signed to announce deals: to prevent this heartbreak from being too public in case we need to shop it again. But yes, we can shop it around again. Until the contract is signed, it’s nearly impossible to keep anyone accountable without suing them and even then you might not win if you don’t have a paper trail. So instead of taking legal action we dust ourselves off and continue to seek out a new home. You want a book deal because a publisher is crazy about your book (and will promote it with excitement), not because they have to.

2. Your book gets cancelled after you sign your contract. This can be a breach of contract if done without reason, but also could be that someone didn’t hold up their end of the bargain. Did you deliver late? If so, you’re the one holding things up, but because publishing is an art not a science editors are usually okay with this sort of thing (for a few weeks, not a few years!). Being honest is always the best policy. Did you deliver really, really late? Then publishers are less forgiving. If you deliver a year late and it’s not quite the book the publisher hoped it would be (more the case with non fiction) then the project can be cancelled. (I won’t get into the scenario if someone cancels a book without reason. That’s another publishing law issue. Follow Susan Spann on Twitter for more copyright law.)

3. Your series stops after a few books and you hadn’t wrapped it up yet. This scenario is hard to attribute to anything other than low sales or a publisher closing its doors. One is somewhat in your control and the other isn’t at all. Publishers will offer a multi-book deal for a series, but that could be 2 books or 10 books and they’re only required to publish those under contract. If your books didn’t find their audience it’s hard for a publisher to continue to invest in your storyline. It’s purely a business decision and not personal. They signed it up originally because they loved it. If so, you can shop around the rest of your series (which can be hard because the new publisher can’t cross promote easily and it’s hard to find a new audience for something they can’t rebrand) or self publish it.

Publishing is time-intensive endeavour and careers are long. The best thing to do is get sad and get mad (to your agent only) and then learn from the experience and start on your next project. Everyone is trying to make the best business decisions they can–even if they’re not the ones you want to hear.

Feel free to share experiences or concerns in the comments below.

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