A few weeks ago I made my second trip out to Berhman House, in New Jersey, to meet with my publishers. These are always exciting trips for me, as we pack as much as in as we can, as we so rarely get to work together in person (it’s all emails and phone calls and Skyping). And they are SO smart, and kind. It’s such a pleasure to go from over a decade of mostly being the solitary writer to now – in the publication phase – to be part of a team.
I am excited to share with you all we worked on and what it means for Seltzertopia in 2018. The publishing process is all so new to me so I thought you might be interested in learning with me all the steps one has to go through.
1. Pitching the Book
First we explored two upcoming opportunities this spring to build buzz in the book industry.
The first is at the Jewish Book Council Network. They have 120 or so member organizations and provide over 250 authors a way to share their books each year. To quote from their site, “For authors, this is an opportunity to promote current books of Jewish interest and make connections to communities around North America. For program directors, JBC Network provides a wide selection of interesting authors who will present book programs for no honorarium.” Oh, I don’t think I’d seen that last part (and the bold was their work, not mine). In any case, and here’s the fun part, “Each spring, the Jewish Book Council sponsors a conference for the professional representatives of JBC Network member sites and their lay committee members…”
Long story short, this May I will have THREE MINUTES to impress these 120 member orgs – it’s my own shot (and, yes, I am going to take it!). Then, like a Jewish book-match-maker, the JBCN then coordinates sites with speakers. Anyone who knows me knows, I love a good set of constraints, and can’t wait to start condensing 14 years of research, and 200 pages of a book, into three solid gold minutes.
But wait, there’s more! A few weeks later is the New York Book Expo at the Jacob Javitts Center (if that name doesn’t mean anything to you, just think BIG. That’s where we host ComicCon). I am honored and so delighted that my publisher has select ME to be one of the two books they will promote during the event through a book signing (I presume it will be what I now understand is called an ARC – an Advanced Reader’s Copy) to build interest among book stores. Also, I won’t be alone. ANOTHER Behrman house author will also be signing her book. It’s not yet locked in but I will flip out if it turns out to actually whom I was told it MIGHT be (I have to be mums about it for now, but you’ll be the first to know. Hint: She’s also Jewish).
2. Working the Networks
Next, we explored what networks exist that might hold interest in Seltzertopia. What are the industry tie-ins? What are my personal connections, like my college Alum magazine? What about those people featured in the book – whom might THEY know? Who is organized around an interest-group related to seltzer or some aspect covered in the book?
We then shifted to SOCIAL networks: How will Facebook’s new algorithm affect our strategy? Should I make a presence on GoodReads? Should we make a YouTube promotional video (I have a rap in mind)? Should I re-launch my dormant seltzer podcast (more on that soon)?
Now that we’d gotten through the promotional opportunities, we turned to blurbs, the few sentences of praise and recommendation for the back cover, or the inner front pages. Who did we know whom potential readers might know and respect? Who in the public eye represents any of the different facets of Seltzertopia: health, food, science, comedy, and more. Mel Brooks – I am coming for you!
4. The Cover
I thought it was hard to write a 200 page book. Compared with summarizing it all in a book cover, writing was the easy part. The designer, whom I have not met (my editor works directly with her), has been great, exploring and developing with us all sorts of ideas. But we are not. Yet. There. My son was with me and he contributed his opinions as well. Hopefully the results of this meeting helped move the ball forward.
Bleh. Not my favorite part. But what text in the book requires a permission, and from whom? Berhman will help, but it’s my job to identify them and do the reaching out. In fact, until I wrote this just now, I forgot I had to do this. That podcast thing might need to wait another month…
Everything above we COULD have done remotely, but not this last item, which was the main motivation for this meeting. We cleared the table, I poured out hundreds of photos and illustrations, and we went to work identifying the best for the book. The photos of the people profiled. Old illustrations of locations otherwise only described in words. The technology behind the machines and the bottles. Old ads. So so much, and so fun to look through, and imagine which ones we will get to eventually share with you in the final book (coming to a brick-and-mortar or online store this October!).
Phew! So it was a busy afternoon. In the weeks that followed we finished revising the text of the book (I wrote a new section, moved a few things around, and many many lines were edited) and now a chapter is being designed to see what the book will look and feel like, visually. The cover is still being finalized, and soon, I understand, we will prepare the Advanced Reader Copies, for all the reasons one does.
And yes, as I just reminded myself, I need to get on those permissions (but boy, wouldn’t that podcast be SO much more fun…)