Jo Bourne, Rogue Spy, and a Giveaway!

October 20th, 2014

Interview and Giveaway With Jo Bourne

I’m thrilled to have Jo Bourne here at the website! She’s a wonderful, RITA winning author of historical romance who is also one of the nicest people ever. She’s also one of my very favorite authors. If you haven’t read her yet, you really, really should. Rogue Spy, by the way, has been getting amazing reviews.

About Jo Bourne

Author Photo of Jo Bourne. She has curly hair and glasses

Jo Bourne

 

Joanna lives in the foothills of the Blue Ridge with her family, a medium-sized mutt and a faux Himalayan cat.

She writes Historical Romances set in England and France during the Napoleonic Wars.

She’s fascinated by that time and place – such passionate conviction and burning idealism … and really sexy clothes.

 

 

 

 

About Rogue Spy

Cover of Rogue Spy by Joanne Bourne

Cover of Rogue Spy by Joanne Bourne

Ten years ago he was a boy, given the name Thomas Paxton and sent by Revolutionary France to infiltrate the British Intelligence Service. Now his sense of honor brings him back to London, alone and unarmed, to confess. But instead of facing the gallows, he’s given one last impossible assignment to prove his loyalty.

Lovely, lying, former French spy Camille Leyland is dragged from her safe rural obscurity by threats and blackmail. Dusting off her spy skills, she sets out to track down a ruthless French fanatic and rescue the innocent victim he’s holding—only to find an old colleague already on the case. Pax.

Old friendship turns to new love, and as Pax and Camille’s dark secrets loom up from the past, Pax is left with a choice—go rogue from the Service or lose Camille forever. . .

Read an excerpt: http://www.joannabourne.com/

The Interview

Q: Rogue spy. Uh oh. Without spoilers, what happens and why does she/he go rogue?!!!

You know how I write my stories with some French spies and some English spies and then there are one or two who turn out to be both.

Pax is both.  He gets himself unmasked and heads back to London, where he just about immediately steps in the middle of a super-huge-evil-plot ™ (of course).  He also runs into Cami.

Cami is another ambiguously double agent . Cami and Pax  go way back — to when they were children.  They meet. They notice they aren’t kids any more.  And ba-zoing!!  (Sound of Sexxy Times coming.)

Cami has one agenda. The British Spy Service has another agenda.  Pax gets to choose.  (He even has his own agenda, come to think of it.)

Cummon. It’s a Romance. What do think he chooses?

A deer standing in a snowy field with trees

Deer. In The Snow

Q: You live in the wilderness. In a log cabin with no running water and no electricity. I heard you wrestled a bear for nuts and berries. Obviously, you won. Tell us about your thrilling battle. One time there was a huge stir here in my town when someone spotted a young bear walking along one of the creeks that run through town. I did not wrestle the bear. If I had, though, do you have any tips for me?

The bear wrestling — and, indeed, certain pre-technological details of the old domicile —  may be just a tad  exaggerated.

A possum and a dog. In snow. It looks cold.

Dog Encounters Possum

We do have a nice selection of possums/dog encounters.  Here they are discussing interspecies relations through the door.

And we have deer. The dog chases them to the property line and then stops.  Our grass is safe.

The deer walk off, sniggering to themselves.

 

 

 

 

Q: Pets. Tells us about your pets and how they help you write. Or not.

A Cat Sleeping on Important papers

Helping Cat Helps

I have a writer cat.  Everybody needs a writer cat.

She is particularly generous with her fur.

I find it everywhere in the crevices of the keyboard.

 

 

 

 

Q: You get a phone call from your agent. You’re being offered $10 Million to write any screenplay you want, movie is guaranteed to be made by the director of your choice. What story would you pick and why?

Of my own books?  I think Forbidden Rose is the most cinematic.  Maybe the only cinematic one.

I’d start it at the gates of Paris and go for a ‘Tale of Two Cities’ vibe..

Q: Favorite meal? Assume you don’t have to cook it or clean up afterward.

Pasta in brodo for soup. Broiled lobster with asparagus and maybe a nice beet-and-burrata salad. Lemon ice for dessert with a little thin lemon wafer cookie planted proudly in the top.

Yum.

Q: What’s next for you?

Séverine’s story.  It’s fairly late in sequence.  1820 and some.  I had to research a Long Time  to find the political background here.  And having set Rogue Spy in London, I’m putting Séverine in Paris.

Where to Find Jo

Website  http://www.joannabourne.com/
Blog  http://jobourne.blogspot.com/
Facebook    https://www.facebook.com/joanna.bourne.5
Twitter   https://twitter.com/jobourne

Giveaway

Jo is giving away paper copy of Rogue Spy to a US winner.

Rules: Void where prohibited. No purchase necessary. Must be 18 to enter and have a US mailing address. Winner chosen at random from among the commenters at my blog. Comment before midnight Pacific, Thursday, October 30, 2014. An alternate winner will be chosen if the winner does not reply to my notification after 10 days.

To enter, answer this question in the comments: If you were a Rogue Spy, what would you wear?

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Christmas in The Duke’s Arms

October 19th, 2014
Cover of Christmas in The Duke's Arms

Christmas in The Duke’s Arms

Find out more at my book page

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Boundaries

October 18th, 2014

This post is an author’s tale of how she confronted a reviewer who did not like her book, an article published in The Guardian, and so given legitimacy.

This post was written by a man who felt his ex should continue interacting with him even though she did not want to.

I see little difference between what’s behind these two articles. In one, an author can’t get past someone’s bad review. Despite all evidence that the reviewer did not wish to be known, this author tracked down the reviewer and made contact. On multiple occasions.

In the other, a woman no longer wished to see her ex, and he writes and publishes an article in which he details why he should get what he wants.

In both, we have the words of the person who pursued a relationship despite clear evidence the other person did not wish, want, or invite the contact.

Both people have written a long justification of actions that violated the peace and privacy of another person.

Both of the people who were contacted against their will, repeatedly, were women. I don’t think that’s an accident.

People like the authors of these articles terrify me.

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Book Covers and Branding

October 10th, 2014

As some of you may know, I’ve been rebranding my book covers with a more consistent look. I’m also using a custom name font. My name is the same on every single new cover. I have given my cover artists very specific instructions about what I’m going for, and one of those instructions is that my name should be big. Bigger than the title, even.

Today, I saw a great illustration of why that’s a good decision. Amazon (as of Oct.10.2014) is now showing pages of top selling books in categories with two sections to the right that look like the below. Take a look. Which authors are in that Hot New Releases category?

Well, the ONLY author name you can read is Eloisa James. If you are a fan of historical romance, and you were thinking, maybe I’ll buy something else, how likely are you to click on a cover where you don’t even know the author?  I think it’s very likely that buyers will say, oh, hey, I’ve heard good things about that author ….

Who's on First? No name shown

What’s in a Name?

And, of course, the image above illustrates the problem with covers in the digital space. The two boxed sets have issues. Yes, the images convey boxed set, but nothing else. The first one is just a blobby mess. The second one is partially saved by a recognizable image. This is the reason I’m not wild about boxed set covers like this… They are a design challenge that is not currently being met.  So. The 3rd book in the top row. What the hell is that background? I can’t see the name OR the title. This cover is a fail. Truce — I can’t even tell what the eff that is. The title is big but you have to stare, and cheat with the title text below. All I really see is T[something]UC.

The Eloisa James cover is a win. Not only can you read her name, you can read the title, too! AND the image is recognizable. I would have asked for a fix at the upper left corner, which is too dark, but over all, that cover works.  That last one? I can read the title, I have no hope of reading the author’s name. But the image is compelling and atmospheric so it I’d give it a marginal pass.

These books are doing well, that’s why they’re in that corner, but this corner real-estate is not doing the authors any favors. I imagine the click-throughs are disappointing because Amazon isn’t showing the author name and so loses a key reason for clicks. (I’ve heard good things about that author….)

There are six books there, and yes, a click will get you a Hot New Release, but there is nothing here to compel the user to click any given title (aside from rank).  The publisher (whoever that might be) needs to provide a cover that will compel clicks on THEIR book over the other five.

I ask you, which book, other than the Eloisa James book, does that?

I expect Amazon to redesign this real-estate. They should remove “Kindle Edition” and show the author’s name so that buyers have more reasons to click. Plus, all these authors, except James, are losing name recognition moments. Free advertising that, in this set of covers, only accrues to  James.

So, the image above was directly to the right of the one below. And you should be able to see why I was looking at this page.

 

Image showing book covers with author names of varying readability

Names. Yeah. Who can you Read?

 

Right. So at least these images have text that includes the author’s names. But that’s going to be the second or third thing people look at. Even if you have no interest in Scandal because you never heard of me, you see my name.

Miriam Minger has a similar success even with a cover that looks cramped. Those horizontal lines are a problem for Bolen’s books, too– whose name is barely legible and has a further problem with a busy background that distracts.

Now, I heartily dislike that P&P cover, but here I will give a pass on author name because the title is so famous. Yes. It’s Jane. Have we learned our lesson about horizontal lines? None of them are well done here.

The other two, well. The leftmost author’s last name is Cook. That’s really all you can read. And, I fear, someone seems to have actually tried to make Mary Campsi’s name invisible. It’s actually possible to look at the cover and think the author’s name is Sophie Seacrest.

The take away? I’m outselling Jane Austen in free books. Read it and weep. And who the hell is giving Jane fewer than 5 stars?

 

 

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Scandal is Free!

October 9th, 2014

I have set my RITA finalist historical romance Scandal to free:

Here are vendor links:

Amazon | iBooks | Nook | Google Play | Kobo | All Romance eBooks

 

Cover of Scandal by Carolyn Jewel

Cover of Scandal

If you haven’t read Scandal yet or don’t own a copy, here’s your chance… I hope you enjoy the book.

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The Flush Pile – An Author’s Perspective

September 29th, 2014

Some of you may know the current situation with Ellora’s Cave. If not, this post at Dear Author should get you to the information you need.

The TL;DR is that several authors who write for Ellora’s Cave have said they are not being paid money due them. The rumblings began at least a year ago. Recently, EC laid off all of its freelance staff. Jane at Dear Author recently wrote a post in which she discussed the ongoing situation at EC. The owner of EC has now sued Jane for defamation. Do head over to DA if you want to know more about this situation.

I am an author who was with a publishing company that was heading toward bankruptcy. (Dorchester Publishing) This post is about what the experience was like for me. My situation ended up with a silver lining, but the outcome I had was never certain, just as it is not certain for any of the EC authors who are wondering if they’ll ever get paid or if they are going to lose their books.

If you have books with a publisher in the Flush Pile, here’s what’s quite likely:
1. No, you are never going to be paid money owed to you.
2. Yes, you could well lose your books. Gone.

Every publishing contract I’ve ever signed has had a bankruptcy clause. The clause means nothing. Zero. Zlich. It might as well not be there. If your publisher declares bankruptcy, your book is an asset of the company to be liquidated and turned into cash to pay to creditors. Authors are dead last on the list of creditors.

At Dorchester, authors talked amongst themselves. Advances and royalties due to authors were paid slowly. Some of use waited months for advances to be paid. More and more often, authors just weren’t paid. Foreign rights got sold and authors were never told. Those monies never appeared on royalty statements. I was surprised, for example, to find that one of my books had a Dutch translation. Toward the end, I also learned about other translations I was never told about and never paid for. One of them did not even have a signed contract despite being on sale. As royalties continued to be paid in haphazard fashion, there were consolidations and reductions in books, imprints and staff, and sales of rights to backlist titles of prominent authors to other publishers. (Marjorie M. Liu’s titles were sold to Avon, for example.)

None of this is legal advice. I’m not a lawyer. But if you’re an EC author, I do have some non-legal advice. In fact, I have advice for ALL authors with traditional contracts.

In 2010, my agent, who did not represent me at the time of my Dorchester contracts, was working hard to get reversions for me. I wanted them anyway, because the books were out of print and/or I was not being paid the money due to me. Dorchester had not filed for bankruptcy, but there was wide speculation that they could not recover from their difficulties and a filing was felt by some to be inevitable. I was advised that it was possible that rights reversions made within the year prior to a bankruptcy filing could be deemed fraudulent and any reversions negated. I was horrified to learn there was case law to that effect.

Even before the non-payment issue was a severe problem, it was clear to me that at long last, there was a good reason (ie, self-publishing) for an author to vigorously pursue reversions for all books that met the criteria of the out of print clauses. I’d read all those clauses and had begun that process with all my titles well before this. And by the way, I was roundly ignored everywhere except for Harper-Collins, who noted the request and put it on their schedule for a decision 6 months later. Literally. The meeting was in 6 months. Let that sink in.

My reversions from Dorchester came through at the end of 2010. Other publishers were an even harder nut to crack. St. Martin’s Press was spectacularly uncooperative. Hachette — I don’t even have words. And I have loads of hind-sight advice about what reversion clauses should say.

Eventually, quite late in the game, and months after I had my Dorchester reversions, Amazon bought the Dorchester backlist. Authors were given the option of a reversion or publishing with their Romance or Horror imprint. I don’t recall if Amazon agreed to pay outstanding royalties to those authors or not. By then, I was thousands and thousands of dollars ahead of the money Dorchester owed me, and more than happy with my own outcome.

My Advice to Authors with A Publisher in the Flush Pile

My advice is going to sound harsh. But, assume you will never be paid. The risk of waiting to see if your publisher rights their ship is the complete loss of your rights in your books. This is your career and you must not fail to take steps to protect your back list and front list.

You should take steps now to get your rights back. Read the reversion clause of your contract(s) and for all books where you meet the criteria follow the requirements for requesting a reversion and get it in now. Right now. If you have titles for which you have not been paid, then request a reversion on the grounds of non-payment. Get a lawyer to help you, if you can afford it. This is your professional writing career on the line, and this is not the time to be nice.

If you elect to wait it out, then make sure you understand the nature of the risk you’re taking. It cannot be that you hope everything works out. You must be sure that you can accept the worst case outcome — you lose control of your books and will never recoup your losses and never make another penny from those titles. The books will disappear from the market and you lose all benefit that accrues to your author brand when you have multiple titles on sale to the public.

In the current environment, every title you control is a title that can be earning you money right now every month. This is NOT a “I don’t know if my book is good enough situation.” A publisher bought your book. Therefore, that book can be making you money right now and you only have to worry about the vendor paying you.

This is also not a situation where you need to find another publisher. That might have been true in 2009 but it’s not true now. An author with reverted backlist can decide whether she wants to self-publish on her own or find another publisher or something in between.

My Advice to Authors With Traditional Publishers or Considering The Traditional Route

For future contracts, negotiate the fuck out of your reversion clause. If the publisher is making you both money, that is awesome. But the minute you’re not both making money or you’re below a mutually satisfactory threshold, then you should be able to ask for and timely receive a reversion. There is no nice girl here. This is your business and you should be in control of its operations. Therefore, you need to stand firm on reversion clauses.

Do not assume a publisher has an interest in your book selling well. They should, but they don’t. Their interest is in seeing which books unexpectedly hit. That’s it. If it’s not you, you’re screwed.

I have 5 books still with traditional publishers and I know for a fact that if those books were in my control, I would be making more money and more effectively controlling my author brand and, therefore, my writing career. That was not the reality of publishing prior to 2010, but it’s the reality now.

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General Update

September 28th, 2014

General Update is a fine military man. I like him lots. I would share pictures with you, but I don’t want to get in trouble.

In other news, I will soon have the new covers for Passion’s Song, Not Wicked Enough, and Not Proper Enough.

I have the final print cover for A Notorious Ruin and hope to have a print proof pretty soon . . .

We’re zeroing in on the final cover for Christmas in The Duke’s Arms.

I’m hoping to see a sample for Dead Drop.

My son is back at college. The house is too quiet.

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Decisions, Decisions

September 25th, 2014

I can’t decide if this is the funniest tweet in the history of the universe or the saddest.

Thank You For Giving Us A Choice

But, I like a world where women have choice. You know?

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Seven Wicked Nights is a Bestseller

September 24th, 2014

Today I found out the the boxed set I’m in, Seven Wicked Nights, debuted on the US Today Bestseller List at #126.

So. I am officially a USA Today Bestselling author. And that is gosh darned exciting for all the authors in the set. It’s a great collection of stories by some pretty wonderful authors. So if you didn’t pick up your copy yet, you should.

Amazon

iBooks

Nook

Kobo

Google Play

Cover of Boxed Set: Seven Wicked Nights

Seven Wicked Nights

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Seven Wicked Nights

September 20th, 2014
Image of eReader with cover of 7 Wicked Nights and a cup of coffee

Seven Wicked Nights With Coffee

You should get this now. It’s $0.99 for a limited time. When else can you get a combination of stories like this? Answer: Right now. That’s it. Go.

Amazon

iBooks

Nook

Kobo

Google Play

Excerpt Links

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