book publishing

Tomorrow’s guest on Let’s Talk About Books is author and transformation coach Lynn Serafinn who will give us insights into her book’s success. My cohost Stephanie Gunning and I will also be talking about eReaders and book marketing, and we hope you find our insights and tips helpful. Feel free to call in as you’re listening at The show is from 11:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. Eastern Time.

Also, I wanted to add something to what I was saying last week about book endorsements. Don’t forget that you can also ask a potential endorser to write a foreword for your book! The coauthor of my book Raising a Sensory Smart Child had admired Temple Grandin, the famous cattle-handling-facility designer and author of books on autism, for years, and wrote to her, cold, asking if she would consider giving us a foreword. She did and that’s been incredibly invaluable for us. Don’t be afraid to ask, even if you don’t know someone. If you’ve written a marvelous book that offers great value to people, people may very well be willing to lend their name and write a foreword or endorsement.

book publishing

The New York Times reports that Google is now selling and offering free eBooks through their site, readable on smart phones and eReaders (although for now, only the free books can be read on Kindle–boy, that Amazon is determined to keep its grip on the market). They can team up with bookstores so that you can buy Google books through an actual brick-and-mortar store. So, if you’re loyal to the corner bookstore, you no longer have to “betray” them by buying eBooks through the online retailers.

To me, this signals a move toward a greater emphasis on guiding readers to the books they might like in order to distinguish yourself as a retailer. If I go into bookstore A and they carry a paltry number of books in my favorite genre, I’m unlikely to feel the desire to patronize them over any other bookstore or online retailer (especially if they don’t carry books I’ve written!). However, if I go into bookstore B and they carry a good selection of books in my favorite genre, host author appearances and discussion groups that appeal to me, and offer great recommendations that go beyond simple software generation of related titles (“If you bought Diary of a Wimpy Kid, you will love Diary of a Wimpy Kid II and the Diary of a Wimpy Kid trivia book”–gee, I coulda figured that out by myself!)–that’s where I’ll be buying my books. For now, and have the software that many readers rely on for recommendations, as well as helpful reviews from actual readers, while independent bookstores have the advantage of creating a sense of community, with handwritten “shelf talkers” that provide recommendations by employees (helpful if you happen to have similar tastes, not helpful if you don’t.

Of course, many of the books we buy are gifts for others. Now we have some choices. If I want to buy, say, the new Mark Twain autobiography and wrap it up to place under the Christmas tree for someone I love, I purchase it in a brick-and-mortar bookstore or order it to be shipped to me, or to my loved one (in wrapping paper if I pay extra). Or, I can “gift” it to them using their email address attached to their eReader device (a new service from for Kindle)–not nearly as much fun to receive but still, an option. What if I could wrap up a “look in your Kindle” or “look in your Nook!” card in a box and send the book to the person’s device? Again, all are options–but where do I buy the book if there’s no big price difference? (There probably wouldn’t be a price difference on eBooks). Where do my loyalties lie?

In the future, I think we’ll see improved recommendation software combined with personal recommendations offered through online or brick-and-mortar stores that create a sense of community for the people who love a certain type of book (Christian books, mystery novels, children’s books, New Age books, etc.). We love to support our community, however we define that community, and retailers can capitalize on this. If I can buy my favorite New Age/Spirituality books from one main retailer yet still use that retailer to access helpful guidance on buying y.a. and children’s books for the kids in my life, that would be my ideal.

It’ll be interesting to see how general bookstores, chain or independent, will find a better way to reach out to niche customers. “It’s politically correct to support us” just isn’t enough when it’s clear they won’t help you find books you’re likely to love–or make up for it by offering cheaper prices and better service than or

book publishing

Lawrence Peel Ashmead, editor and publishing legend, has died.

Larry was one of my mentors when I was a green young editor at HarperCollins back in the 1990s. His corner office was a congregating point for up-and-comers like me. We knew that Larry would help us figure out the best way to present a project at ed board to maximize our chances of a getting thumbs up. It didn’t help me when I put up “Hot Dog Soup and Other Man Food” but boy, was he encouraging.

When I had a run in with a crotchety editor who felt like ripping into an assistant for no particular reason one day (perhaps the coffee shop had run out of Hazenut?), it was Larry who made a point of tracking me down and telling me a story revealing the roots of that person’s irascibility to boost my confidence. “Forget about it,” he said, pressing into my hand a cassette tape of some homegrown midwestern choral group he thought I’d appreciate. He always remembered I was a midwesterner and told me that was one of my finest qualities.

Whenever I came into the office and found a perfect red tomato on my desk–and on the desk of all my colleagues as well–I know it was as gift from Larry who loved to share the bounty of his country garden. And whenever I took life too seriously, Larry seemed to know just when to pull me and some other assistants into his office and regale us with a story about Isaac Asimov’s skirt chasing, or his own auntie who turned out to be an uncle after all (apparently, Auntie quite a skilled cross dresser). We’d talk shop after hours, listening to his wisdom as we fiddled with his collection of tacky salt and pepper shakers. And every holiday, I looked forward to the plane trip home with Larry’s Funnies, a photocopied collection of funnies people from all over the world sent Larry that he wanted to share so we could have a good laugh.

Larry introduced me to the wonderful K.T. Foster, a British book packager with a rock and roll sensibility, as he just sensed we’d hit it off. I bought my very first book from her–a book on how to play lead guitar like the rock and roll greats. Of course, before we met, he told me a funny story about her that summed up her personality. I will always remember Larry saying, “You know, I know a funny story about him…” Once, he even said it about the person as he was walking up. Larry turned beet red! But what an honor, to know that Larry could tell a good one about you.

They don’t make him like Larry anymore, but the tales of his funny exploits, his kindness, his willingness to mentor young people, his desire to be the hub in the six degrees of separation that connect us all, and his bottomless passion for a good book will live on, retold over many a drink in bars all over Manhattan. To Larry!