Celebrate Halloween with a Spooky Good Read!

Hey, readers and writers! Need a good spooky read for Halloween? Don’t want to toot my own horn, but…oh, what the hell. Here’s what the Washington Post said: “SUSPICION had its way with me from start to finish….If you can put this book down before you’ve finished it, it’s possible that your heart may have stopped beating.”
And my favorite comparison ever:  “Rogan’s smart reinvention of the haunted housewife, mad or menaced or both, is a honey…. Like Shirley Jackson, Rogan brings sophistication, skillful writing and subtlety to the business of ghosts.”—The San Francisco Chronicle

 

SUSPICION combines ghosts, chaos physics, and soccer. Yeah, soccer. If you haven’t read it yet, there couldn’t be a better day.

Suspicion: A Novel by [Rogan, Barbara]

Happy Halloween, all! Stay safe out there.

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MANNERS!

Huddle up, writers. This post’s for you.

As social media has eroded the once formidable barrier between writers and readers, it is now commonplace, even expected, for readers to contact writers directly via the writer’s website, Facebook, Twitter or other online venue. For the most part this is a good thing for writers. Hearing from readers is encouraging and a balm to the essential loneliness of the job.

lurkerBut with greater contact comes greater friction. Writers are now exposed to unvarnished reader reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, and other book venues, and therein lies the problem. Stories abound (and rebound) about writers retaliating for bad reviews by outing anonymous bloggers and harassing, stalking, threatening, doxxing, even physically attacking reviewers.

Writers, of course, have a long and storied history of bad behavior, but this particular form of misbehavior is seen primarily (though by no means exclusively) among self-published writers. This makes sense, because at its core, the behavior arises from a boundary problem. Overly reactive writers are like helicopter parents, fiercely protective and unable to distinguish themselves from their offspring. Writers who publish traditionally give their work over to specialists who expertly edit, package, produce and market the book. It takes close to a year. By the time the book is released, the writer has already let go and most likely is working on her next. Self-published writers go through a much shorter process, in which they control every phase. The cord is never severed, so when the book comes out, it is still flesh of their flesh, undifferentiated.

This is not a good thing. There’s a reason we speak of “releasing” books. They are finished works that we send out into the world. However they’re published, once released, they must be allowed to stand on their own. Readers have every right to their own opinions and interpretations, which at that point are just as valid as the author’s.

Much is changing in the publishing world, but some values remain constant. I have therefore taken upon myself the role of Miss Publishing Manners and jotted down a few simple guidelines:

Rogan’s Rules of Writerly Decorum

1. What do we writers owe readers? In return for their investment of time and sometimes money, we owe readers an entertaining and/or edifying experience, preferably both.

What we don’t owe are explanations or justifications. These are not good uses of our time and attention. The book stands on its own and speaks for itself.

2. What do readers owe writers? Nothing. Nada. Zilch. Their side of the contract is fulfilled by reading. Specifically, they don’t owe us reviews, recommendations, accolades, attendance at events, or financial support in the form of book purchases. We are, to be sure, grateful for any of these, but we are not entitled to them.

But writers are not saints, you may protest. We can’t be expected to turn the other cheek when our work is maligned. I agree, being neither constitutionally nor culturally equipped to turn the other cheek.  There are times when strong language is indicated, and writers have great stores of the stuff on hand. We should feel free to vent in private to friends and family about the astonishing blindness and stupidity of certain critics.

But in public? Shtum.

dianagabaldonI have a friend and colleague, Diana Gabaldon, author of the wildly popular Outlander series. Her reply to a post from a critical reader struck me as the epitome of class, economy, and good sense.

“Not all books are for all people.  I hope you enjoy whatever you read next.”

 

For more posts on the business and craft of writing, subscribe to In Cold Ink  via links above and to the right.

WHAT I LEARNED FROM J. K. ROWLING

Good writers never stop learning their craft, and the best teachers are other writers. My most recent lesson came from J. K. Rowling, a.k.a. Robert Galbraith.

silkwormVery few books in a lifetime of reading have delighted me as much as the Harry Potter series, so naturally I was eager to read the adult novels that followed them. The Casual Vacancy was a disappointment, lacking even the ordinary magic of storytelling. But the two books that followed, The Cuckoo’s Calling and The Silkworm, published under the pseudonym Robert Galbraith, showed Rowling back on track. They are wonderfully absorbing novels, hard to put down once begun.

Of course, writers can’t simply enjoy stories without poking and prodding the mechanism, trying to see how the thing works. I recognized some of the standard ingredients of good fiction: tangible settings, the skillful use of suspense, colorful secondary characters, and two exceptionally likable main characters in private detective Cormoran Strike and his assistant, Robin. As I read The Silkworm, it struck me that Strike and Harry Potter actually have a lot in common. They are both orphans, in Strike’s case functionally rather than formally, since he has a living but estranged father. And  both have painful physical problems. For Harry it starts with the scar on his forehead that burns periodically but goes far beyond that.  Everything he does to achieve his goals comes at a cost that is very often dangerous and painful. There’s a line in one of the books in which Ginny, seeing Harry enter the Great Hall, says, “He’s covered in blood. Why is he always covered in blood?”

Cormoran, who lost part of a leg to a war injury, has an ill-fitting prosthesis that causes him great pain throughout much of both novels. At one point in The Silkworm, he is unable to fit the prosthetic onto his swollen stump. Does he seek out medical help, like any normal person would? Of course not. Lives are at stake, a fiendish murderer is on the loose, and an innocent woman stands charged. He continues the chase on one leg.

RowlingCormoran, like Harry Potter, sacrifices himself to save others. I would hardly be the first to observe that the Harry Potter books are imbued with Christian theology and symbolism, or that Harry himself plays the role of Jesus, sacrificing himself so that others may live (although the Harry Potter books have a happier ending.) But Cormoran’s disability is less germane to the novels’ plots, and thus in a way more interesting. Its main purposes, as far as I can tell, are to make the character nobler and more sympathetic, and to create additional obstacles in his path to success. Rowling succeeds in both respects.

When solving a crime is just a job and the process unfolds intellectually, readers can enjoy the puzzle-solving aspect without getting deeply involved with the characters. But when the detective has flesh in the game, it’s a whole different level of story. Because I felt Cormoran’s pain subliminally throughout the story, there was an under-layer of discomfort to the experience of reading that lent a sense of urgency and fed my impatience for a resolution. I wanted him off that leg!

Mark Twain once said that his way of telling a story is to chase his protagonist up a tree and throw rocks at him. The harder we make life for our protagonists, the greater the obstacles they have to overcome, the more readers will care. One of the problems I see in a lot of student fiction (and occasionally in my own) is that writers feel too much for their protagonists and thus take pity on them. But writing requires a certain level of ruthlessness. Sometimes, to be kind to our readers, we must be cruel to our characters.

 

Cementing the Goal Posts

 

Writing is a rigged game in which the goal posts recede as you approach them.

champersAt first, the deepest desire of the writer’s heart is to find an agent, the necessary first step toward finding a publisher. No sooner is that achieved than the real goal presents itself: selling the book. It takes an agonizing while before that happens, but assuming it does, the writer has barely downed that first celebratory  glass of Champagne before she realizes that selling the book to a publisher is just the first step in selling it to the reader. Getting read is the real goal, the writer realizes, but for that to happen, the book must be discovered by reviewers.

The first review is a wonderful thing. Someone has taken the book seriously enough to write about it. The writer realizes that the book now has an existence of its own, separate from its progenitor. Soon, though, those elusive goal posts slip backwards. It’s all very well that Publishers Weekly liked the book, the writer thinks, but what about the New York Times? The New Yorker? People Magazine? And if the book is reviewed, where is it reviewed? Does it make the front page, or is it buried in a column somewhere?

crazyThen there are sales. In the past, writers had no way of gauging them except through publishers’ semi-annual royalty reports. Now they can track their relative standing via Amazon’s rankings, which are updated hourly: a wonderful trap for obsessive authors. Whatever his ranking, the writer aspires to rise higher. Thus writers conspire with the world to drive themselves mad.

Enough, I say. Time to stop and smell the roses. Time to look around and say in the words of the late great Kurt Vonnegut, “If this isn’t great, what is?”

So today’s post is all about having fun and celebrating what is, instead of fretting about what could or should happen. This is good for the book as well as the writer. Once it’s launched, the book is all grown up now, out in the world and fending for itself. It doesn’t need its author breathing down its back and monitoring its every step.

Here’s what I’m celebrating right now: NPR station WSHU reviewed A DANGEROUS FICTION. The reviewer was Joan Baum, who enjoyed it thoroughly and recorded this wonderful piece. Hearing my work reviewed on the station I listen to every day has long been a long-time dream of mine, and this time, I’m holding fast to those goal posts.

Lots of other critics have written wonderful reviews. A few called it “the best mystery of the year.” More cause for celebration.

Readers have written to tell me that after reading A DANGEROUS FICTION, they’re going back to read all my previous work. There are no sweeter words to whisper in a writer’s ear than those. Others ask about a sequel–and I’m writing one.

With shelf space shrinking, many published books don’t make it into bookstores. Seven weeks after publication, A DANGEROUS FICTION is still out there. How can I not be grateful for that?

A Dangerous Fiction launched!

I’m not sure where I rank on Amazon. I’ve quit checking. But I do know that the book is  the #1 choice for story hour in dog parks.

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Babies love it, too.

alex eating book

 

The story’s set in NYC and feels at home there. Here it is, in noir mode, keeping a lonely vigil over the mean streets of the city.

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Exhausted by the rigors of self-promotion, A DANGEROUS FICTION was recently spotted taking a break.

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Fair warning, though: A DANGEROUS FICTION is not for scaredy cats. This reader’s hair was black when she started the book.

 

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What about you? I know you have unmet goals, too; we all do. But let’s put them aside for once. Tell me about how far you’ve come, what you’re proud of,  and what you’ve accomplished already.

I’m delighted to announce that A DANGEROUS FICTION is now out in Penguin paperback.  (It’s perfect for book clubs, if you belong to one–I’ll even skype-bomb the discussion if I can.)  NPR called it a “clever exploration of our capacity for self-deception… an absorbing mystery that keeps its secret until the very end.” You can read the opening here.

The Inside Scoop: A Publicist’s Take on Book Marketing

 

No one writes for his desk drawer. Books are a means of transmitting stories, ideas, history, experience, and emotion; and that transmission can only succeed when the books are read. But to be read they must first be discovered by readers, and therein lies the rub. Books need publicity the way lungs need oxygen, but with so many competing for attention, how can writers attain their moment in the sun?

Ben CameronRecently I had the chance to pick the brains of Ben Cameron, founder of the London-based Cameron Publicity and Marketing. (Rather a violent metaphor, when you think about it, but I promise no publicists were injured in the production of this post.) We talked about what sells books, how writers can help (and hurt) themselves, the role of independent publicists and what to watch out for, and much more. Have a read, then tell me what you think.

 

Barbara:  Tell me a bit about yourself and your company. What made you decide to focus on publicity and marketing for books?

Ben: I always loved books so when I finished university in the US and moved to the UK 20 years ago it was always my intention to work in publishing in some way. My first job in the industry was with a book wholesaler and it was there that I discovered marketing and publicity – I love the strategy and to creatively think my way around problems (marketing), and I’m a pretty decent talker (publicity). I was there for a few years before moving to a publishing company and then setting up my own agency.

 

Barbara:  Once, at a publishing party, I heard one well-known publisher admit that he really had no idea what sells books, while others at the table nodded. Do you know? Has anyone studied the question?

Ben: Great question!  There is no one answer. What we do is push books toward people and push people toward books and to a large degree we can influence sales. But for a big seller there is also an element of luck and magic that has to happen. The spark that made Harry Potter a phenomenon was awards, a marketing and publicity thing, but there was also a kindling of goodwill and great writing that needed to be there as well. Why did 50 Shades of Grey become a hit? I have no idea – erotica was certainly nothing new but it seems like its time had come and that book was in the right place at the right time. It was lucky, but a publicist did get it in the position that it needed to be in to become THAT book.

Barbara:  Can you give an example of a publicity/marketing campaign that elevated a previously unknown or little-known writer to the bestseller lists? What do you think made it so successful?

Thinking fast and slowBen: A good example is the book Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. It is a big publisher book (Penguin) but an interesting example of how to position a book for the market. This is a very academic psychology book that was promoted as popular science/business like Freakonomics or Malcolm Gladwell books. There were great little examples and excerpts from the book that were used for publicity to get it into the media in places that would not normally be interested in such and an in-depth and difficult to read book. A lot of what publicists do is to emphasize the more popular aspects of a book.

Barbara:  Effective publicity services don’t come cheap. Are they a good investment for all writers? If not, what sort of writer should consider hiring a publicity and/or marketing firm?

Ben: They aren’t cheap because it takes a huge amount of time and finesse to run an effective publicity campaign. A very academic book or a poetry book, for example, is not going to benefit much from a campaign – there just aren’t enough media outlets that will cover them – while something that can capture the imagination of a wide audience can pay back the cost many times over. Genre fiction is great for a shorter campaign, say 4-6 weeks, as that is enough time to reach its audience. Non-fiction often suits a longer campaign depending on the author and topic.  The important thing is to have a publicist explain why they think a certain style of campaign will suit the book and to feel comfortable with that explanation.

Barbara: Your company represents both published and self-published writers. Are there barriers to self-published writers getting reviews and coverage in mainstream media? If so, how do you overcome or sidestep them?

overcoming barriersBen: Yes, there are barriers but they are getting less significant every day. Getting reviews in the big newspapers is almost impossible still for obviously self-published books, but a lot of self-published books actually slip past the gatekeepers because they look as good as books from traditional publishers. To my mind feature articles and interviews are much more important than reviews anyway, and the journalists who do them care less about where a book came from than telling a good story. Most media understand that they need to include self-published books now but have difficulty knowing which books are worth consideration. That is where a good publicity pitch can go a long way.

Barbara: Has the consolidation of retail outlets (i.e. Amazon) affected your publicity and marketing strategy, and if so, how?

Ben: It isn’t good in many ways, but Amazon has been great for marketing. A customer can read about a book and instantly purchase it online. That is incredibly powerful for sales. Ebooks play into that as well – I myself will often read a review, buy the book immediately on my Kindle and start reading it within a minute. All that said, I personally love nothing more than going through the shelves in a good bookshop and placement of bookshops and bookshop events are helpful as well.

Barbara: What are the most effective ways for writers, both published and self-published, to help their own books and careers?

Ben: If you can afford a campaign it can really give you a long-term boost, but if not you can also buy-in the tools that you need to do the job yourself. You can pay only for a professionally written press release or a media mailing list or a listing on NetGalley (a website that showcases books to journalists, bloggers and reviewers) and it won’t cost an arm and a leg.

Barbara:  What are the biggest mistakes you see writers make in promoting their own work?

sales pitchBen: Not following up. Just sending out emails, review copies of books or press releases will get you almost nowhere. There needs to be a proper sales pitch made to the journalist explaining, in no uncertain terms, why the book is important. The author needs to be persistent and not get discouraged if they get no initial response. It takes a lot of time and effort and many people give up before they have really made the case for their book.

Barbara: A great many publicity and marketing services have sprung up to service the boom in self-published books, and some of them seem sketchy to me, offering expensive services that are unlikely to prove effective. What questions should writers ask prospective service providers? What should they beware of?

Ben: Like every part of self-publishing, the sharks are out there and there are plenty of poor services on offer. Do your research, talk to someone at the company or meet them in person and make sure that you are comfortable that they understand you and you book. Be wary of anyone who “guarantees” results – those results may well be on their own blog or podcast with very little audience, and publicity just doesn’t work in that way. Go for experience, a campaign designed specifically for you, a company that will regularly give you feedback and someone who “gets” your book.

 

Many thanks to Ben Cameron for sharing his time and expertise with IN COLD INK.  He can be reached on Facebook and on Twitter at @CameronPMtweets .

You might also enjoy these interviews with leading literary agent Gail Hochman, Simon & Schuster publisher Marysue Rucci, and publishing specialist Elizabeth Lyon. There are lots more to come, too, so do consider subscribing to IN COLD INK through links on the right.

Cafe Nevo Revisited

When published books are reissued, it’s unusual to get any critical attention at all, so I was thrilled when I learned that Ellis Shuman recently reviewed CAFE NEVO for “The Times of Israel.” I think I enjoyed his review as much as he enjoyed the book–so much so that, with his kind permission, I am sharing it with you today.

A little background first. CAFE NEVO was my second published novel, and to this day, it remains my family’s favorite; not just theirs, either. Among the writers who were kind enough to praise the book were Alan Silitoe, author of THE LONELINESS OF THE LONG DISTANCE RUNNER, who wrote: “Wonderfully vivid and well-constructed…I couldn’t put it down. Barbara Rogan is that rare writer who creates equally credible male and female writers; a great talent for the souls of people, which is what writing novels is all about.” Madeleine L’Engle called it “a wonderful novel, with richly developed characters acting and interacting… the café and its clients will long remain in memory.” And Alice Hoffman said, “From the very first line of CAFÉ NEVO we are in the hands of a real storyteller. Barbara Rogan writes with compelling grace.”

Throughout my writing career I’ve been blessed with some wonderful reviews, but the critical response to CAFE NEVO was something special. Here’s a small sample:

“An inspired, passionate work of fiction…a near-magical novel.”—Kirkus Review

“A wonderful novel … vivid … unforgettable.”—San Francisco Chronicle

“Fresh, funny, tragic, violent, sexy, mystical and romantic…Barbara Rogan’s style is utterly engaging…works beautifully.”—Christian Science Monitor

CAFE NEVO, originally published by Atheneum and New American Library, was out of print for a long time until my friends at E-Reads brought it back into the world in a brand-new ebook and paperback edition two months ago. To me it feels as if not only the book has been resurrected, but also its characters: Emmanuel Yehoshua Sternholz, the waiter and proprietor of Cafe Nevo, and its other cantankerous, argumentative, but brilliant habituees. I love these characters dearly, and I’m so glad that new generations of readers will now have the chance to discover them. I know that there are endless new books coming out, clamoring for attention, and rightly so. But I’m hoping that readers who know my work will make some time for CAFE NEVO.

Ellis Shuman has this and a number of other reviews and posts on his interesting blog; I encourage you to check it out for yourselves. Here is his review of CAFE NEVO:

“The Aroma of Tel Aviv’s Coffee House Culture

I am writing these lines on my laptop as I sip my morning cappuccino. Like many who work in Ramat Gan’s Bursa district, my day begins with a cup of steaming hot coffee professionally prepared; there are many coffee shops and cafes in the neighborhood. Some people linger over their coffee, catching up on iPhone messages and answering emails; while others, like me, pull out their laptops and type away, undisturbed by the grinding of coffee beans; the hiss of steam escaping as milk is heated; and the swish of credit cards as orders are recorded.

Go back twenty five years. The fictitious Café Nevo of the Barbara Rogan novel of the same name is the “oldest and certainly the grungiest of the Dizengoff cafés”. The coffee shop, originally established by two enterprising Polish brothers, attracts not only common workers, but “writers, actors, and artists who by virtue of their socialist ideology styled themselves members of the proletariat, but who in fact constituted the Tel Aviv elite of their day”.

“If they were that good they’d be working,” one of the characters of the novel says of Café Nevo’s clientele. “Nobody with any serious work to do hangs out in cafés”.

Quirky and colorful regulars

Café Nevo has quirky and colorful regulars – they hang out in the coffee shop for hours at end. Each of them has an opinion about the establishment. “Nevo was like some great puzzle whose pieces wandered around of their own accord,” one says, while another notes that “Nevo was a place where events and chance meetings broke over one’s head like waves. One could duck or jump them, but swimming for shore was not one of the options, not unless one chose to opt out completely.”

The man serving Café Nevo’s patrons, when he bothers to do so, is Emmanuel Yehoshua Sternholz, a “jealous and exacting waiter.” Sternholz “was the keeper of Nevo, no more, no less. If Nevo was a stage, and all his customers protagonists in their separate dramas, then Sternholz’s roles were manifold but uniformly subsidiary. He was the propman, the janitor, the Greek chorus, and the machinist of the deus ex machina; he was everything to others and nothing to himself.”

The_philosopherTourists are often turned away from the Café Nevo tables, as Sternholz feels they might disturb the regulars. But “a customer on whom Sternholz deigned to wait” would not always get “what he asked for, for the waiter reserved the right to edit all orders. He gave his customers what they needed, not what they wanted.”

The café serves as just the center of this wondrous stage. Rogan’s novel takes us into the lives of its regular customers one by one. We meet a cabinet minister with secret real estate deals in the West Bank; a celebrity prostitute who only takes on Jewish clients and ends up pregnant by one of them; a disillusioned kibbutznik who walked away from his Israeli army service, upsetting not only his IDF general father but the entire kibbutz; a young painter who sets up her studio on Sheinkin when that street was still affordable; a famous Israeli author at odds with his Palestinian collaborator on an anthology; and the author’s estranged wife, who has a casual affair with that same Palestinian.

Sternholz doesn’t hesitate to sit down with his customers, listening to their life stories and offering solutions to their problems. Frequently he tries to kick them out of the café, to get on with their lives. As one of his regulars observes, “He was always telling customers, ‘Go home, get a job, get out of here.’ Sometimes they went, but they never stayed away. Whatever changes, growth, or petrification took place in their outside lives, they kept on coming back, as if Nevo were their spawning or their burial ground.”

Tel Aviv’s legendary Café Kassit

breaking_upRogan admits that the Café Nevo of her novel was modeled on Tel Aviv’s legendary Café Kassit, which was also located on Dizengoff Street.  An Israeli documentary a few years ago featured Cafe Kassit, which for five decades served as a home and meeting place for the best artists in Israel. According to an article in Haaretz about the film, the cafe “helped Hebrew creativity flourish thanks to a constant flow of alcohol, food and regular or incidental muses.”

As Rogan adds on her blog, “If a missile had struck the cafe on a Friday afternoon, Israeli culture would have been pulverized.”

“My café was modeled on Kassit, not the thing itself, which could not have been encompassed in a novel; but it was also a tribute to an institution I’d thought would last forever,” Rogan writes. “But Kassit was gone, long gone. It existed only in the memories of its patrons…and, in a way, between the pages of my novel, where its fractious customers are forever presided over the café’s tyrannical waiter and secret owner, Emmanuel Yehoshua Sternholz.”

Coffee culture

Café Nevo, the book, transports readers to Café Nevo, a coffee house that was trendy long before there was a trend to visit gourmet coffee shops on a daily basis. Today Israelis flock to the local Aroma, Arcaffe, and Café Café chains and drink their espressos, their café hafuch, and their simple, instant nescafe, without worrying whether a jealous and exacting waiter will refuse to take their orders.

As for me, I will finish my cappuccino, think about the memorable Café Nevo, close my laptop and continue to my office.

Café Nevo was originally published in 1987 but has just been re-released in both e-book and paperback editions.  Barbara Rogan lived in Israel for many years and was the founder and director of the Barbara Rogan Literary Agency. During that period, she served on the Board of Directors of the Jerusalem Book Fair. Her new novel, A Dangerous Fiction, will be published in July.

Originally published on The Times of Israel.”

CAFE NEVO is available on Amazon or B&N or your favorite online bookseller.

It’s no secret, by the way, that I based my fictional Cafe Nevo on a very real cafe in Tel Aviv called Kassit. Last time I was in Israel, we had an interesting encounter with that site. I wrote about it here– have a read, if you’re interested.

 

BREAKING NEWS: If you’re on Twitter, let’s make a date! I’m appearing on #LitChat this Friday, Sept. 6, between 4-5, to talk about A DANGEROUS FICTION and my checkered career as a writer/editor/literary agent.

Don’t know about you, but audio books are as essential to my car as gas. I wouldn’t get much cooking done without them, either. So I’m delighted to announce that A DANGEROUS FICTION  is now available as an audio book, just issued by Audible.com. I understand that you can get it free if you join the service.

 

Launching a Novel, Then and Now

Last week my new novel, A DANGEROUS FICTION, was published by Viking Books. Exactly ten years ago, Simon & Schuster came out with HINDSIGHT. The contrast in these experiences, from this writer’s perspective, is astonishing.

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I’m not talking about the difference between the publishers. Each book launch is a unique experience, depending on the team members. I’m talking about the difference ten years has made to the publishing scene. HINDSIGHT came out before the explosive spread of social media.  Facebook, Goodreads and Twitter didn’t exist. Ebooks didn’t exist. Amazon was just an online purveyor of print books. Writers didn’t blog; few even had websites. There was no way for readers to contact writers except through letters sent via their publishers; nor could writers reach out directly to readers. The only time I ever met my readers was at personal appearances, book signings and the like. The only reviews were newspaper and magazine reviews, which took weeks, even months to appear. Once the book was published, it was totally out of the writer’s hands. Consequently, the period immediately following a book’s publication was a curiously barren one, empty-nesthood for writers. There was nothing to do but sit and wait for print reviews to trickle in, or not.

What a difference ten years has made! The first reviews of A DANGEROUS FICTION came out before pub date—not just in PW, Library Journal and Booklist, which review for the trade, but also on popular blogs and sites like Goodreads. On pub date there was an avalanche of dammed-up reviews, followed throughout the week by a steady stream as more people read the book and blogged about it.  Dozens of readers contacted me directly through email, twitter, and comments on my blog. Others posted reader reviews on Goodreads and Amazon. The feedback was immediate—and, I will add, deeply encouraging. I can’t share all the reviews in full here, (much as my ego would love that!) for copyright reasons and also because really, who but a mother would want to read every word of every review of mine? Instead I have taken brief excerpts from all the reviews I’ve seen so far and compiled them here to share with you. If you’ve seen any others, do let me know. Many thanks to the authors of these reviews for spreading the word.

I know writers who claim they never read their reviews, and I’m sure some of them are telling the truth.  I’m not of that camp. If someone has taken the time to read my book, think about it and write a review, I want to hear what they have to say.

So here are the reviews, along with a few pictures from the events surrounding the book launch. Speaking of which, I have a reading  in NYC at the Mysterious Bookshop, 58 Warren St. NY Wed. Aug. 7 at 6 PM. Do come if you’re in the area. You don’t want me reading to empty chairs and answering my own questions, do you?

A Dangerous Fiction launched!

“Required Reading: A glamorous New York literary agent has a lot to fear — and not just from really bad novels. In Rogan’s thriller, uber-agent Jo Donovan finds members of her uptown inner circle brutally murdered shortly after she rejects a manuscript. But things may get worse: She is certain the detective sent by the NYPD is not New York’s finest. In fact, he’s her ex-boyfriend. You might want to lock your door.” —New York Post

“Rogan does a masterful job of juggling the mounting suspense with a full-bodied portrait of New York literary life and Jo’s complex backstory as the widow of a major novelist in the Norman Mailer/Philip Roth mold. The fresh setting, the tricky plot, and the strong characterizations make “A Dangerous Fiction” one of the outstanding mysteries of 2013.” —- CT News http://blog.ctnews.com/meyers/2013/07/29/a-dangerous-fiction-stalking-murder-in-manhattan/

“VERDICT: This literary mystery veers back and forth between insider-gossip tone …and genuine terror at warp speed, fulfilling many of the requirements for a perfect beach read.” —Library Journal http://reviews.libraryjournal.com/2013/05/books/genre-fiction/mystery/mystery-reviews-may-1-2013/

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“You won’t get much argument from anyone (including writers) that writers are crazy — but the writer stalking New York literary agent Jo Donovan seems especially bent on harm….Rogan does give readers a lot of insider publishing tidbits and provides a very likeable and believable protagonist in Jo.” —Cleveland Plain Dealer http://www.cleveland.com/books/index.ssf/2013/07/karin_slaughter_mike_lawson_an.html

“Boasting an exciting pace, well-constructed scenes, and inside information about the publishing word, this engaging mystery will attract readers of P. D. James’ similar Original Sin (1995).”—Booklist

“Someone in the New York publishing world is targeting literary agent Jo Donovan, the appealing, empathetic narrator of this clever mystery from Rogan (Suspicion), herself a former book editor and agent. “ —Publishers Weekly http://www.publishersweekly.com/978-0-670-02650-0

“If you love a tautly-spun web of deceit and revenge, put A Dangerous Fiction by Barbara Rogan at the top of your summer reading list….Rogan’s book takes you by surprise as she deftly reveals the publishing world, sprinkles around red herrings, and makes you question the secrets you may have forgotten from your own past.”– Dolce Dolce http://www.dolcedolce.com/?tag=a-dangerous-fiction-by-barbara-rogan-review

“Barbara Rogan (Hindsight; Suspicion) provides a fascinating glimpse into the New York publishing world…Fast-paced and witty, full of deftly drawn characters, Rogan’s literary mystery introduces a tough but compassionate heroine and an entertaining new series.” —Shelf Awareness:  http://www.shelf-awareness.com/readers-issue.html?issue=218

2013-07-29_19-44-03_747“I read a lot of great books, but this one is outstanding! I resented every moment I had to be away from it—and I read it from cover to cover today….A Dangerous Fiction will get my vote for best mystery novel next year.”—Meritorious Mysteries, http://mysteryheel.blogspot.com/

“We love this new series from Barbara Rogan—how can you go wrong with a literary agent turned PI? Jo Donovan is one of the most successful literary agents in New York City, and she’s being stalked by one of her clients. When her stalker starts to harass her other clients, Jo finally turns to the police—where an ex-lover is now an NYPD detective. This is one you won’t want to put down.”—Shelf Pleasure http://www.shelfpleasure.com/news-new-releases-7-23-11/

“This story had me turning pages at a fast and furious pace. I finished last night and could hardly wait to start spreading the good word for A Dangerous Fiction… If you’re searching for a smart and snappy summer read, this is the one to watch for, folks.” — http://livingreadgirl.blogspot.com/2013/07/barbara-rogan-opens-page-to-dangerous.html

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“I loved getting behind the scenes of the publishing world, from the agency’s monthly ‘slush-pile’ meeting where submitted manuscripts are waded through (and mostly discarded), to glittering book launch parties.” —Crime Fiction Lover http://www.crimefictionlover.com/2013/07/a-dangerous-fiction/

“It’s cliched to say ‘I couldn’t put it down!’, but that’s how I felt about A Dangerous Fiction. Rogan brings an insider’s keen view, pulling the reader into the New York publishing milieu with all of its jealousies, intrigue, excitement and larger-than-life personalities. At the heart of the story is a woman’s need to uncover the truths about her own life, even as she’s the target of malevolent foes she can’t identify. Danger, suspense, romance and the deep bonds of friendship–A Dangerous Fiction has it all.”  —Darlene Marshall http://darlenemarshall.blogspot.com/2013/07/review-dangerous-fiction.html

“A Dangerous Fiction is a witty and intense mystery full of twists and turns and a few omg moments. …One minute I was laughing and the next I was crying….I recommend this book to everyone, but especially those of you who are avid readers, writers, or interested in the publishing industry.”—It’s a Book Life http://itisabooklife.blogspot.com/2013/08/review-dangerous-fiction-by-barbara.html

“Sometimes, but not often, you open a book, read the first few pages, and know without a doubt that you will thoroughly enjoy a book. A Dangerous Fiction by Barbara Rogan was just that sort of book.” —The Picky Girl http://www.thepickygirl.com/?p=3134

“There is behind-the-scenes quality to the book that is fun and informative.  The thriller aspect of the novel had me jumping at noises in my house…This is a good, solid mystery with great characters and I hope there is a sequel in the works.”  —Shari’s Book Notes http://sharisbooknotes.blogspot.com/2013/08/a-dangerous-fiction-by-barbara-rogan.html

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“Smashing new thriller…Every aspect of A Dangerous Fiction works together and works so wonderfully well. Rogan’s experience as a literary agent provides a fascinating look at how the business works….marvelously realized….Just make certain you have time set aside when you start A Dangerous Fiction because this fast-paced novel is the kind you don’t want to put down until the last page is read.”— Lynne’s Book Notes http://lynne-booknotes.blogspot.com/

“Readers who take this one to the beach should find themselves engaged, entertained, and enlightened.”—Reviewing the Evidence, http://www.reviewingtheevidence.com/review.html?id=9753

“I have never read a novel from cover to cover at one sitting in my life…until last night.”—Donna Rubino blogspot  http://www.donnarubino.com/recent-reads-2/#comment-42

 

If you’ve read A DANGEROUS FICTION and you’re waiting for the next Jo Donovan story, be assured there’s one on the way. In the meantime, you might enjoy one of my other books. Five of them have been reissued as ebooks and paperbacks, including SUSPICION, a mystery and a ghost story combined, and CAFE NEVO, my family’s favorite and a book that earned praise from Alan Sillitoe, Alice Hoffman and Madeleine L’Engle.

T Minus Two and Counting!

Most of my posts on In Cold Ink focus on writing and publishing, with lots of advice and not a few opinions drawn from my own checkered history as a former agent and editor. Today, though, I’m wearing my writer’s hat. In two days, A DANGEROUS FICTION (my first new novel in nine years!)  is coming out with Viking Books. I need to share some news about that. If you’re allergic to anything resembling self-promotion, turn away now; I won’t hold it against you. But if you’re interested in learning about this huge event in my life, then read on, McDuff!

DangerousFictionHC_jacket2Viking has done a beautiful job packaging the book. I couldn’t have imagined a more perfect cover or one that better captures the spirit of the story. The pre-publication reviews have been wonderful. From Library Journal: “This literary mystery veers back and forth between insider-gossip tone…and genuine terror at warp speed, fulfilling many of the requirements for a perfect beach read.” From Booklist: “Boasting an exciting pace, well-constructed scenes, and inside information about the publishing world, this engaging mystery will attract readers of P. D. James’ similar Original Sin.” Publishers Weekly loved “literary agent Jo Donovan, the appealing, empathetic narrator of this clever mystery from Rogan (Suspicion), herself a former book editor and agent.” PW also interviewed me.

I’ll be doing a few readings and signings in the New York vicinity. I love meeting readers. It’s one of the best part of the whole book-writing enterprise, especially for slow writers like me who spend years at a time locked in our caves.  I hope you’ll come out and say hi if you’re going to be in the area.

Monday, July 29, 7PM:

Barnes & Noble

Old Country Rd., Carle Place, NY

 

Wednesday, Aug. 7 , 6-8 PM

The Mysterious Bookshop,  58 Warren St. New York NY

 

Saturday, Aug. 17 (Aug.. 18 raindate) 3-5 PN

Berken residence, 60 Bayview Dr. East, Sag Harbor, NY

For those of you outside the New York area, I have a special offer. If your bookclub chooses A DANGEROUS FICTION or any of my other novels, for that matter, I’ll drop in on your meeting via Skype or phone. Of course, visiting that way means I’ll miss the refreshments, but one can’t have everything. Contact me to make arrangements,

Right about now I imagine you’re saying to yourself, “I’d love to help Barbara launch her book successfully, but her fancy New York publisher seems to have things well in hand; and besides, what could I possibly do to help?” (If you’re not asking yourself that question, why is that, exactly?) But in fact, there’s a great deal you can do to help, not just me, but your favorite authors whoever they may be. Here are a few things readers can do:

1. Buy their books. Doesn’t matter what format. Writers live and die by their sales.

2. Write a review and post it on Amazon and your favorite social media sites. Tell your friends, too. Word of mouth sells books. It always did, but the internet is a huge multiplier of that process. I know writing reviews takes time, that precious commodity, but it’s one of the most helpful things you can do for a writer. Reviews needn’t be long, literary masterpieces. Just think of what you’d say to a friend who asked about the book, and write that.

Writers read those reviews, btw, and they can be wonderfully encouraging. I found this new review posted for “Rowing in Eden” from a reader named “Kheseygirl,” which I quote here in its entirety: “I love, love, love Barbara Rogan’s writing. I hope her new book, due this summer, tips that balance for her in getting the kind of widespread readership her writing so deserves.” Thanks, Kheseygirl, whoever you are. You totally made my day!

3. Books make great gifts. Not only are you doing something nice for the recipient, you’re supporting your favorite writer.

4. Look for other books by the author. I’ve got five other books that were re-issued this year as paperbacks and ebooks, and if you liked A DANGEROUS FICTION, I’m pretty sure you’ll like them too.

suspicionRowing in Eden coverSaving-Grace510x680p

I have a major surprise that I’ll be sharing in just a couple of days, so if you haven’t already, you might want to subscribe to the blog via a link on the right. Thanks for reading!

A DANGEROUS FICTION GIVEAWAY

I owe you all a proper blog post, and will have one soon, but in the meantime I had to share this bit of news with you. Viking is doing a  giveaway of A DANGEROUS FICTION ARC’s.  There are 100 going out to readers who enter a Viking sweepstakes. You don’t have much time, though. Tomorrow, May 22, is the deadline, so get thee to the signup page!

Batting three for three on the pre-publication reviews, by the way.  Publishers Weekly’s just came out, and it starts like this — “Someone in the New York publishing world is targeting literary agent Jo Donovan, the appealing, empathetic narrator of this clever mystery from Rogan (Suspicion), herself a former book editor and agent.”  Library Journal wrote, “This literary mystery veers back and forth between insider-gossip tone…and genuine terror at warp speed, fulfilling many of the requirements for a perfect beach read.”  And this from Booklist: “Boasting an exciting pace, well-constructed scenes, and inside information about the publishing world, this engaging mystery will attract readers of P. D. James’ similar Original Sin.” P.D. James, eat your heart out!

DangerousFictionHC_jacket2

Anyway, folks, you can’t beat free. Here’s the link again. Good luck, and let me know if you win a copy!

Diana Gabaldon Interview Part 2

I promised you the second half of my interview with Diana Gabaldon, the internationally bestselling author of the Outlander series, and you shall have it in just a moment. First, though, I have some exciting news of my own to share, and a confession to make.

The confession is this: I used to envy Diana. Not her work—I love her books, but they are hers and I have my own. No, what I envied was the fact that they were all in print, all the time. Readers who aren’t also writers may not realize how rare that is. Publishing is a bottom-line business, and shelf space is valuable; books that don’t sell very well are quickly replaced by new books. Just a few years ago, there were only a handful of living writers whose entire body of work could be found on the shelves of bookstores, even virtual ones. For the rest, the most one could hope for was to have a new book in hardcover while the one before it was still available in paperback. Once the stores started returning copies, the books were essentially dead, except for copies circulating in libraries and used-book stores. They’d be remaindered and declared officially out of print. Writers could then get their rights back, but there was nothing much they could do with them.

The explosion of ebooks has changed all that. Now it costs nothing for publishers to keep every book they’ve ever published in print perpetually, so long as they own the rights. And writers who have regained the rights to their old work can reissue it with an ebook publisher or on their own: the literary equivalent to the elixir of life.  One year ago, Simon & Schuster published ebook editions of my last three books, SUSPICION, HINDSIGHT, and ROWING IN EDEN, and since then I’ve had the pleasure of seeing them out in the world, making friends and finding readers.

And now for the news I promised. Two of my earliest books, CAFÉ NEVO and SAVING GRACE, have just come out in e-book editions with E-Reads. Print editions will be available within a week. I’m quite proud of those books, and when they first came out other people seemed to like them too. Saving-Grace510x680p

cafe-nevo-510x680pKirkus called CAFÉ NEVO “An inspired, passionate work of fiction…a near-magical novel,” and Madeleine L’Engle praised it as “a wonderful novel…with richly developed characters acting and interacting…the café and its clients will long remain in memory.”

Library Journal wrote of SAVING GRACE: “Readers are quickly enmeshed and will be staying up all hours to see what happens next…what BONFIRE OF THE VANITIES tried to be.”

I know you’re all waiting for MOBY, as I am. In the interim, may I commend SAVING GRACE and CAFÉ NEVO to your attention?

And now, back to my interview with the delightful Diana Gabaldon, whom I no longer envy but admire as much as ever. If you haven’t already read Part 1, you can find it here. In Part 2, the second half of the interview,  Diana talks about her life as an international literary star, her relationship with her fans, the book industry’s attitude toward women writers, and lots, lots more. Enjoy!

Q: I read some time ago about certain fanatical GAME OF THRONES readers who were furious that George Martin doesn’t churn the books out faster, ignoring any possible link between quality, time and effort.  They seemed to feel he was holding the books hostage and could release them in the blink of an eye if he chose.  The Outlander series inspires equal devotion among its readers. Have you ever had to deal with overzealous or irrational fans?

A: Deal with them?   Well, they’re there, certainly.  Most people have no idea how writers work, and many of them seem to feel that a writer is a sort of artistic Pez dispenser:  all the stories are stacked up inside, one on top of the other, and all you have to do is bonk the writer on the head hard enough to make them spit one out.

(In re which, James Patterson and his marketing machine have done a lot to promote this injurious notion.   For the record, folks—when the cover says, “by JAMES PATTERSON and someotherperson”,  it was someotherperson who wrote the book.  Don’t believe me?  Google “James Patterson ghost writer.”)

That is, of course, not how it works. <cough>  I explain, periodically, how it does work, and most of my readers are intelligent, well-meaning people who are happy to direct new readers to the places where I’ve explained my working methods.

dianagabaldonBut as for dealing with people who clamor for the next book, all I can be is honest.  I.e., it’s my name on the front of the book, and with luck, said book will be out there for a long time.  Ergo, it’s going to be as good as I can make it before I send it to the publisher.

 

Barbara: Would you like to have lived in the world you created?

Diana: To a point. <g>  That point stopping well short of life-threatening disease, warfare, injury, extremes of temperature or gross poverty.

Barbara: Lord John Gray is one of my favorite characters of your invention. What made you choose a gay man in particular as a series character?

Diana: Well, that was an accident. Some years ago, I was invited to write a short story for a British anthology: historical crime stories.  “Well,” I said to the editor, “it would be an interesting technical challenge, to see whether I can write anything under 300,000 words.  Sure, why not?”

The obvious first question was—what or whom to write about?  I didn’t want to use the main characters from the OUTLANDER series for this story, because—owing to the peculiar way I write—if I were to incorporate some significant event in this story (and it would need to be, to be a good story)—that would make the event a stumbling block in the growth of the next novel.

“But,” I said to myself, “there’s Lord John, isn’t there?”  Lord John Grey is an important character in the OUTLANDER series, but he isn’t onstage all the time.  And when he isn’t…well, plainly he’s off leading his life and having adventures elsewhere, and I could write about any of those adventures without causing complications for future novels.   Beyond that obvious advantage, Lord John is a fascinating character.  He’s what I call a “mushroom”—one of those unplanned people who pops up out of nowhere and walks off with any scene he’s in—and he talks to me easily (and wittily).

He’s also a gay man, in a time when to be homosexual was a capital offense, and Lord John has more than most to lose by discovery.  He belongs to a noble family, he’s an officer in His Majesty’s Army, and loves both his family and his regiment; to have his private life discovered would damage—if not destroy—both.   Consequently, he lives constantly with conflict, which makes him both deeply entertaining and easy to write about.  So I wrote the short story—titled, “Lord John and the Hell-Fire Club”—for the British anthology.

Well, it was a good story; people liked it.  But just as word was spreading into the US about it, the anthology went out of print (it was called PAST POISONS, edited by Maxim Jakubowski, for those bibliophiles who are curious).  People kept asking me about the story, though, and I thought, “Well, I enjoyed writing it—maybe I should write two or three more short pieces about Lord John, just as time an inspiration allow…and when I have a handful, we could publish them as a book, and all the Lord John fans could get the stories easily.”

So I did that.  I began writing the second Lord John story after returning from a book-tour, as a way of easing back into my writing routine, and continued working on it, picking away with one hand whilst picking up the threads of my novel with the other…and six months later, I’d just about finished it.  Well, at this point, I left for another book-tour, in the UK, and stopped in New York on the way, to have lunch with my two literary agents.

I was telling them all about what I’d been doing, and casually mentioned that I’d nearly finished the second Lord John short story.  “Oh?” said they.  “How long’s this one?”

“Well, I knew you’d ask,” I said.  “So I checked last night.  It’s about 85,000 words; I need maybe another 5000 to wrap it up.”

The agents looked at each other, then looked at me, and with one voice said, “That’s the size normal books are!”

“I thought it was a short story,” I said.

“Well, it’s not,” they said—and proceeded to take it off and sell it all over the place.  Publishers were thrilled.  “It’s a Gabaldon book we weren’t expecting—and it’s short!  Can she do that again?” they asked eagerly.  To which my agents—being Very Good agents—replied, “Of course she can,” and emerged with a contract for three Lord John Grey novels.

scottish-prisoner-3wide-200x300Now, the Lord John books and novellas are in fact an integral part of the larger OUTLANDER series.  However, they’re focused (not unreasonably) on the character of John Grey, and—Lord John not being a time-traveler—tend not to include time-travel as an element.  They’re structured more or less as historical mystery, but do (like anything else I write) include the occasional supernatural bit or other off-the-wall elements.  (Yes, they do have sex, though I don’t consider that really unusual, myself.)  And they do reference events, characters (particularly Jamie Fraser) and situations from the OUTLANDER novels.

In terms of chronology, the Lord John books fall during the period covered in VOYAGER, while Jamie Fraser was a prisoner at Helwater.  So if you’re wondering where to read the Lord John books in conjunction with the larger series—you can read them anytime after VOYAGER.

In terms of further chronology:  As well as the three Lord John novels under contract, I’ve also written several novellas for various anthologies.  Three novellas (two previously published and one written specifically for the volume) are included in a book titled LORD JOHN AND THE HAND OF DEVILS, while two further novellas have appeared or will shortly appear in anthologies.   The original short story (“Hell-Fire Club”) preceded the first novel, and—just to be confusing—the novellas fall between the novels.

The books and novellas do stand alone, and can be read separately in any order.  If you do want to read them in strict order, though, here it is:

“Hell-Fire Club” [short story. Originally published in PAST POISONS, ed. Maxim Jakubowski.  Collected in HAND OF DEVILS]

LORD JOHN AND THE PRIVATE MATTER [novel]

“Lord John and the Succubus” [novella, originally published in LEGENDS II: Short novels by the Masters of Modern Fantasy, edited by Robert Silverberg.  Collected in HAND OF DEVILS]

LORD JOHN AND THE BROTHERHOOD OF THE BLADE [novel]

“Lord John and the Haunted Soldier” [novella.  Published only in HAND OF DEVILS]

LORD JOHN AND THE HAND OF DEVILS [book-length collections of three novellas: “Hell-Fire Club,” “Succubus,” and “Haunted Soldier”]

“Lord John and the Custom of the Army” [novella, originally published in WARRIORS, edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois.]

LORD JOHN AND THE SCOTTISH PRISONER [novel.  This one is actually a hybrid, as it’s half John, half Jamie.]Gabaldon-Outlander-220x322b

“Lord John and the Plague of Zombies” [novella.  Published in DOWN THESE STRANGE STREETS, edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois,  2011.]

NB:  “The Custom of the Army” and “A Plague of Zombies” are both available (in the US and Canada) as standalone ebooks (as are a couple of other non-Lord John novellas).

Barbara: Was his sexuality or your portrayal of it an issue for any of your publishers, domestic or foreign?

Diana: I think some of the foreign publishers may have boggled slightly at it, but no one’s ever said anything directly to me about it, no.

Barbara: The upside of great literary success is plain to see: millions of books sold, legions of devoted fans, awards, invitations to the White House, the opportunity to inhabit a wider world full of interesting accomplished people. Is there a downside?

Diana: The major drawback is the sheer amount of travel and appearances (both in person and online) associated with being very popular in a lot of different places.  I really like to talk to readers and sign books—but I could do without the enormously time-consuming (and energy-sapping) travel involved in getting to them.

Then there are the constant demands for “content”—updates to websites, phone interviews, interviews for blogs <g>, podcasts, Twitter, Facebook, etc.  (though I know how to deal with Twitter and Facebook; I spend an average of 10-15 minutes a day on each, and that’s It.  I have no Friends <g>, and I don’t follow anybody).

And there are the readers who think they’re entitled to dictate when and what a favorite writer writes, and yap at me in public about why am I writing all this Other Stuff, when THEY only want Jamie and Claire?  And why am I gallivanting all over the place, when I should be home WORKING?   These people are, of course, sadly mistaken about the importance of their opinions, but can be a little annoying.  Luckily most of my readers are very intelligent and have beautiful manners.

Barbara: What do you know now about writing that would have helped you when you first started out?

Diana: I’m not sure I actually know anything more about writing now than I did when I started—though I like to hope that I improve with experience.  Most of the novel (sic) things I do, in terms of ambitious structure, time-juggling, and playing with literary devices, are things that are the result of experience; I couldn’t have done them when I was first writing, whether I knew about them or not.

Barbara: What do you know now about publishing that you wish you’d known earlier?

Diana: Just who has the power in various situations.  For example, it took me eight years of hassling with Barnes and Noble in an attempt to make them move my novels out of the Romance section—until I finally got fed up and wrote a rude letter to Steve Riggio, then the CEO.  Twenty-four hours later, I got a call from the B&N VP of Marketing, telling me they were moving the books to Fiction, where they’d belonged all along.  Had I know that Mr. Riggio was the only person in that company who could change the diktat on where books went, I’d have started with him.

Barbara: Do you think women writers are taken as seriously as men by the literary/critical establishment?

Diana: Of course not.

Barbara: What’s the most common misconception readers have about you? (Here’s your chance to correct it!)

Diana: Well, they all seem to think I’m much taller than I actually am, and they can’t pronounce my name, but neither of those misapprehensions is actually offensive. <g>  (For the record:  I’m five-foot-two-and-a-half.  And my name has two pronunciations, both accurate:  If you’re speaking Spanish (it is a Spanish name, and it is my own, not my husband’s), it’s pronounced “gaah-vahl-DOHN” (rhymes with stone).  If you’re speaking English, it’s “GAH-bull-dohn” (still rhymes with stone).

That’s it, folks. Thank you, Diana!

Looking for something good to read between Outlander titles? Diana Gabaldon recommends A DANGEROUS FICTION: “A terrific read! A thriller with a psychological heart of mystery, a double-ended love story, and a fascinating look at the world of high-stakes publishing.”