Category Archives: Publishing Process

Amazon Reviews

A fellow She Writes Press author posted this on her web site and I just love it. Every little review is so very helpful and so much appreciated.  Thanks to all who have posted already. I’m up to 27 and need just 23 more to reach 50. May I count on you? I would be so very grateful.



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BEA Badges

My badge will say “Author” for the first time at Book Expo America (BEA). It’s a whole new experience for me and I wonder what the largest US book convention will have in store as I wear, nervously, this unfamiliar label. Every year for 21 years beginning with 1988, I was a faithful BEA trade show warrior, setting up the booth in a dingy tee and gym shorts and then transforming myself into “Trade-Show-Marianne,” donning my best biz attire and perpetual smile. It was an exhausting three-day annual ritual, hawking the books of those who employed me.

But this year will be different. I’ll be working the show for no one but me, talking about my own book, coming and going as I please. Will that make all the difference? Will it be easier to bury my taciturn tendencies, the introvert in me longing to escape to a quiet hallway after chatting up one person after another? (The better question, perhaps, is will anyone want to talk to me at all, besides my friends from the book world with whom I’ll reconnect?) Will my feet hurt any less after trolling the temporarily carpeted concrete floors looking for opportunities? Will I make any helpful connections at all? A book or travel blogger, perhaps? I’ve been away from the industry for five years now, and although much has changed, I suspect much will be the same: authors and books looking to find their audiences by doing the always necessary ritual dance of talking to endless “industry professionals” in the middle.


Posted by on May 26, 2015 in Publishing Process


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In Print

The advance copies of my book have landed. They’re sitting in a box on the kitchen table and I’m shaking as I slice through the packing tape. What will I feel when I see my “baby” for the very first time? I want to like it – love it — but what if I’m not smitten and I don’t?

I so wish Joe were here but he’s beyond the reach of a cell phone, stuck working hard on a ship somewhere on Lake Michigan. I’ll have to do this alone.

I can’t wait to open the box. But I’m anxious and I can’t. I want what’s inside yet I can’t bear to see it. I give myself a moment – in fact, I give myself a few. I pour a glass of wine and then finally have the courage to commit. I rip open the carton, dig through the packing material and there they are. Copies of my words bound between two covers: Gap Year Girl. It’s a simple yet extraordinary moment – one I want to savor and recall. I’m overwhelmed and again, I start to tremble. My book is here, it’s in my hands, it’s real. I choke back a sob as I stroke the jacket, afraid that if I put it down it will vanish into thin air. I run my finger along the spine and gently caress the back. I’m grinning maniacally and I can’t imagine stopping.

But then I open my pages to the middle and read a random passage. I panic and my smile dissolves. Is it good? Is it any good at all? Will people actually want to read what I’ve written? I close my handiwork, touch the cover again and immediately feel better.

As I ready myself for bed, I prop my book on my dresser and just as I’m drifting off, jolt up to see if it’s still there. Yes, it is. Indeed, it is. Gap Year Girl remains, leaning against a picture of my children, as it is in the morning when I awaken.


Posted by on May 3, 2015 in Publishing Process


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Author Contact Redux

My soliciting endorsements kismet didn’t end with my Pico Iyer email exchange. It continued with a wake-up message from Kev Reynolds, brilliant British outdoor author and trekker extraordinaire who accompanied us on our summer 2012, five-day hike around Mont Blanc. His words were in my backpack and his voice was in my head every step of our trek from Chamonix, France to Courmayeur, Italy, into Champex, Switzerland and then back to Chamonix. When I hit “send” after carefully composing my query to him, I sighed, convinced I’d never hear back, picturing my hiking hero scaling Everest with a sherpa or holed up picking at smoke-blackened fish in a Mongolian yurt. But I’m happy I was wrong. Kev answered my email within hours with a kind, thoughtful note that, for the second day in a row, left me breathless. My composure regained, I wrote Kev back and we are now email friends, praising each other’s work and sharing our love of travel, the mountains and hiking. Writing has many rewards, some of them quite unexpected.

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Posted by on March 10, 2015 in Publishing Process


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Authors on Pedestals

Ever since I was a child, I’ve put writers on pedestals, ascribing to them the status of gods.

Whether it was Joan Walsh Anglund whose books my mother read to me, Carolyn Keene of Nancy Drew fame (I remember railing against the blasphemy that she was merely a pseudonym for anonymous writers) or Pat Conroy, Anita Shreve and Pico Iyer, my favorites as an adult – they’ve been my mythical figures. They walk on water, do no wrong, they are my idols.

But now that I’m an author myself, a mere mortal, I’m dealing with the nitty-gritty my heroes have endured.

Long before a book goes to press, it needs the outside validation of endorsements, or blurbs, as they’re unceremoniously called. Like so many tasks in publishing these days, this one falls to the author. In years past, overextended marketing departments took on this humbling assignment. Not so in today’s parsimonious publishing world. It’s the author who’s overworked. And so for the past month, I’ve been in the uncomfortable, yet obligatory, position of asking writers, publishers and other opinion makers to say they like my book. Their words in my pocket, I can suggest to others, take a chance on me, my book is worth your time.

As a first-time author, I feel beyond awkward shopping for my own praise, cap-in-hand, especially as a to-her-core introvert. I’m self-conscious about the temerity of asking writers to break from their work to consider what I’ve written. But alas, that’s how the game is played and so I’ve forged ahead. And as I’ve so often found when I venture into terra incognita, there are unforeseen rewards.

I continued my pre-dawn, barely awake ritual of grabbing my bedside laptop to check Amazon (to be sure Gap Year Girl hadn’t disappeared) and my email (to see if there were responses to my endorsement pleas) before stumbling into the kitchen for coffee. One morning there was a note from an author based in Rome who promised to be back in touch; the next day a writer said she was delighted I’d read her book on Corsican cuisine and would be happy to read my manuscript; one publisher said he was just too “swamped” to consider my request; and one, from Pico Iyer, told me he didn’t do blurbs. What? I thought. Wait, stop the presses! Pico Iyer? I have an actual email from Pico Iyer in my in-box? In the morning shadows of my bedroom, the screen glare of my Mac in my face, I doubled over with disbelief and could barely breathe. Yes, there was a sweet, gracious email from one of my all-time favorite travel authors apologizing for not being able to help me because he’d publicly sworn off writing blurbs in a New York Times piece years ago.

My “new friend” Pico and I went back and forth a couple times: he told me about his latest book, The Art of Stillness, and that he now lived in Japan, and I told him about my travels and writing. I can still hardly believe it. Despite my hesitation and fears about the process, I’ve enjoyed an email exchange with Pico Iyer – one of my all-time authors-on-a-pedestal – because I dared to ask for approval.

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Posted by on February 26, 2015 in Publishing Process


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Making it Official

Once the cover for my book was set, I checked Amazon first thing every morning to see if Gap Year Girl would appear, knowing that once it was posted online, I could let myself believe I would become a published author. Seeing it live, I would feel validated. Like so many, I have mixed feelings about Amazon. Is it the great evil empire putting mom and pop neighborhood shops out of business or has it expanded the market by making buying books so easy.  No matter how I feel about the behemoth, the explosion of emotion in my chest the morning my book appeared when I clicked was overwhelming. There it was: the cover with me on it and the endorsements I’d gathered listed below. If this is how I feel seeing it on a screen, just how will I feel, I wondered, if a printed copy of Gap Year Girl ends up sitting on a physical, and not just a virtual, bookstore shelf. My heart flutters at the thought.

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Posted by on February 10, 2015 in Publishing Process


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Judging a Book By Its Cover

Gap Year Girl: A Baby Boomer Adventure Across 21 Countries

Gap Year Girl: A Baby Boomer Adventure Across 21 Countries

Can you judge a book by its cover? If so, I don’t know how I feel about being on the jacket of my book.  My first reaction when my publisher sent me the cover concept for Gap Year Girl asking for my feedback on “the direction,” was wow (!), I’m on the cover. You put me on the cover? Really? Not sure that’s something I’m comfortable with. At all.

To get the creative process rolling, I’d sent She Writes Press several book covers I liked along with a couple dozen of our own photos, never dreaming they’d choose the one that featured me so prominently. We’d taken gorgeous shots of castles, colorful doorways and narrow, cobblestoned streets, but they wanted me. I couldn’t even show my husband, Joe, the image for a couple days, putting it facedown on my nightstand telling myself each night that I’d deal with it “tomorrow.”

But the more I looked, peeking at the image, lifting just its corners, the more it grew on me. I loved the colors, I loved the type and I loved the framing. Maybe it’s not such a bad cover after all, I thought, maybe it’s something I can live with. And actually, maybe it’s something I actually like.

A book’s jacket should give visual form to the writing inside. It should enhance the reading experience and reflect the tone of the book. Is that what this jacket does? Does it create the mood I’m looking for? Will it appeal to potential readers of my book? If I’m on the cover and my audience doesn’t like it, does that mean they don’t like me? Does that mean that they don’t like my writing?

Joe loved the cover the minute I showed it to him, and was especially proud that he’d taken the shot of me sitting on the Aix-en-Provence fountain. I sent the cover art to my editor, closest friends and former publishing colleagues for feedback and received universal approval. The only suggestions were related to the typeface and its placement and so the designer and I went back and forth a couple times until we were both happy with the result.

And thus, the cover for Gap Year Girl was born. I like it, all those closest to me like it and fingers crossed, my audience will as well.

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Posted by on January 31, 2015 in Publishing Process


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The Editing Process

Connecting and working with the right editor is joy, pure joy, a writer’s muse, a gift from the gods. The right partner can make you not only a better writer, but a braver one as well. Having an honest broker who believes in you and the words you put on the page — but who also tells you, gently and constructively, when you’ve gone astray — allows a writer to take chances.

The editing gods lead me directly, without passing go, to Annie Tucker. Sensitive and sage, sincere and smart, Annie had my and my story’s interests at heart and reviewed my writing wisely. She asked careful questions, challenged what I wrote and examined how I wrote it. Over the six months we worked together, she became a trusted friend and ally, but not so close that she couldn’t tell me the truth for fear of hurting my feelings. Writers know it’s all about “the voice,” and good editors know this as well. Annie came to appreciate my writing voice and did all she could to drive me to enhance it. Her mission was clear from the beginning: to help me tell a genuine and compelling travel tale for readers. She enlightened me to the sad fact that audiences are always looking for reasons to give up on a narrative and that my job as a writer is to thwart reader desertion by making sure they always want more.

Like any effective relationship, a writer’s with her editor should make her world better.

And so it was with Annie. I looked forward every week to our half-hour calls, when she would gently make suggestions about the 5,000-word segment I’d sent her the week before, yet be perfectly clear about her point. Authors want others to read their writing and editors want the same, so there’s little time for coddling when you’re an editor and no room for defensiveness when you’re a writer. An enviable aspect of being a writer is that you can always edit, always revise, always enhance to better articulate those feelings and experiences that defy facile description. And while writers write first drafts, knowing what they want to say, word by word and line by line, editors instinctively recognize when clarification is in order. My editor, my Jiminy Cricket, whispered in my ear and was my clarification companion on my book-writing journey. Thank you, always thank you, Annie Tucker.


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Posted by on January 15, 2015 in Publishing Process


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Hi there and Happy New Year! I’m so pleased you’ve found my author site at She Writes Press will publish my first book, Gap Year Girl: A Baby Boomer’s Adventure Across 21 Countries, in September 2015, and I plan to write about the publishing process, from editing through when I have finished books in hand (and I hope beyond the publication date). Thanks for following along and sharing the ride with me.

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Posted by on January 1, 2015 in Publishing Process


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