Indie Authors… working overtime

by Katie Versluis, NetGalley Sales Assistant

Did you know that over 725,000 books are published independently each year? It’s tough competition out there in the book world, and without the support of a traditional publishing house, every indie author who wants to find some level of success has to work tirelessly to reach the right audience. They have to be their own publicist, communications expert, and social media guru — and that still doesn’t guarantee their beloved literary baby will find fame and fortune.

So, how hard does an indie author have to work to get your attention over those 724,999 other authors? I, a Sales Assistant at NetGalley, attended the first annual Bookbaby Independent Author Conference 2017 to find out!

Over the course of the conference, there were three main areas of discussion: writing, production/publication, and marketing.

Writing

To those of us who have never written a book before, the writing stage seems to be the simplest; you have a good idea, you write it down, you edit it, you write more down, and then continue the process until you have a finished book. But it isn’t always so easy, as Eva Lesko Natallo mentioned in her presentation “A Self-Publisher’s Journey from Rejection to the New York Times Bestseller List”. Eva discussed having an epiphany that involved coming up with a great book idea… for someone else to write some day.

Like many indie authors, Eva never intended to be an author; her book idea kept nagging at her brain until one day she discovered she had the beginning of a manuscript. But even for a book that would later become a bestseller, the manuscript wasn’t exactly perfect. It took years of rewrites and several dozen rejections from traditional publishing houses to become the indie success it is today.

Eva stressed the importance for indie authors to hire an editor to make their book the best version it can possibly be. Professional editors (vs. a prolific friend or family member) are expensive but entirely worth it. A second set of eyes can transform a manuscript into a book that readers will love for years to come.

And that’s not all — indie authors spend years doing research, taking writing classes, and reading complex grammar books, all without getting paid for their efforts. Writing can be a full-time job without the benefits — but it’s a labor that many are impassioned enough to take on.

Production and Publication

When it comes to production and publication, this too can be an expensive but rewarding venture. Without a traditional publisher at their back, indie authors have to pay someone to format their books and design an eye-catching cover, which again can add up to thousands of dollars.

In her presentation, “Green-Light It: How Indie Authors can Publish Well in Today’s Exciting and Competitive Publishing Climate”, Brooke Warner of SheWrites Press stressed that indie authors need to work twice as hard to hold up to the standard of traditionally published books.

As readers like you know, the design of a book can have a huge impact on winning you over. Most of the time indie authors don’t have the resources or talent to design and format their own books, which can stunt the success of their book before it even makes it to the shelf. Let’s face it: all of us judge books by their covers (despite what our mothers told us), and indie authors are far more likely to lose their potential audience to a flashier, more expensive cover.

Marketing

Marketing, a big focus at the conference, can be a tricky area for indie authors. It takes a special talent that not everyone has, especially if you aren’t particularly tech savvy.

Without a built-in group of fans following their work, indie authors (particularly debut authors) have to work especially hard to get your attention. The more traditional forms of book marketing, like ads and reviews in newspapers and magazines, aren’t generating the buzz they once did, so many indie authors have to turn to social media and email marketing to get the word about their book out. 

In the panel, “#Essential: Online Book Marketing Techniques”, Ally Nathaniel, Lucy Briggs, Shelley Hitz, and Dana Kaye discussed the right and wrong ways to appeal to readers in online spaces.

It can be incredibly easy to turn off readers when marketing a book online. For example: when an eager author on Twitter promotes their book too often. One wrong Tweet can alienate a readership, so indie authors need to take special care of their online presence.

One strategy discussed was “serving before you sell”, or engaging with your audience before trying to promote your title. It can be a difficult area to navigate — indie authors are understandably proud of their work, but an audience will only tolerate overt selling for so long.

If you follow any indie authors on social media, take note of how they’re engaging with you. Do they respond to your comments, favorite your replies, and regularly post interesting, funny, or relevant content? In her presentation, “Essential Author Led Book Marketing and Publicity Tactics”, Sandra Poirier Smith of Smith Publicity noted that there is, in fact, a strict schedule to follow when trying to promote an author brand. Post too often, lose followers. Post too little, lose followers. Social media is an art — and not everyone who participates is an artist.

Despite the sometimes grueling hoops that indie authors have to jump through to have their voices heard, publishing independently can be a rewarding and lucrative venture. Not only does it allow them to publish faster and with more control, it can even give a much larger slice of the profit pie.

If you like the idea of supporting a single person with the dream of having their book succeed, consider reading indie today. You could find your next favorite page turner!

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News from NetGalley

New! Post reviews with one-click to Goodreads, & social accounts

Can you believe that NetGalley members (like you!) submit 60,000 reviews each month?​ Your efforts are extremely valuable to publishers and authors—but wouldn’t it be great if, in that same single click, those reviews could also be shared to other readers via your Goodreads, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts? Today’s the day!

​No more copying and pasting your reviews into each social platform. ​Connect your accounts​ directly in NetGalley​ to make your review process ​more ​efficient​ than ever​:

Once your accounts are authorized, all you have to do is click each icon and your review will be automatically posted to ​those ​timelines​ ​when you submit your review​ in NetGalley​.

You’ll also start to notice hashtags on book pages, which can be automatically added (and edited) in your social posts.

Bonus!  When you authorize your Goodreads account, ​you’ll have this handy checkbox to automatically post your full review and star rating to your Goodreads bookshelf​. Give it a try! ​

​Have questions? Read more here, and reach out to our support team​ anytime.

 

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Book

Cover Love

We’ve rounded up covers we love, and we hope you will too. We’ve also gathered all of your cover votes from this month, and your most loved cover is…The Girl Who Lived by Christopher Greyson!

Click on each cover to read the full description, request (or wish for) the title, and “Like” the cover if you haven’t already. If you’ve read these titles, don’t forget to share feedback with the publisher and with your friends & followers.

Tell us in the comments below which covers you’re loving right now &
they could be included in next month’s edition!

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Grady Hendrix on Paperbacks from Hell and Why Horror Is a Women’s Genre

Originally published on Bookish.com, an editorially independent division of NetGalley.

Grady Hendrix, author of Horrorstör and My Best Friend’s Exorcism, is a die-hard horror fan. He writes, reads, and researches the genre and is an expert on its history. His new book, Paperbacks from Hell—about the paperback horror boom in the ’70s and ’80s—is a blood-splattered love letter to horror. It’s a tome to be found on the coffee table in any horror fan’s home, brimming with hundreds of full-color cover illustrations from books that influenced both the publishing and film industries. Just in time for Halloween, we talked to Hendrix about the state of horror today, Stephen King brainwashing, and why horror is a women’s genre.

Bookish: You clearly have a place in your heart for even the campiest horror novels from the ’70s and ’80s. What is it about these books that draws you in?

Grady Hendrix: These books were designed to be sold in drugstores and bus stations, pharmacy spinner racks and in newsstands, even. They’re designed to hook your attention. Either because they’re about hordes of killer cats, or they’re really lurid and full of sex and violence, or because they just make sure that something incredible or unbelievable is happening on every page. I like them because they’re not boring. But also because they’re from a different tradition.

This isn’t how books get written or published anymore and so the rules are totally different. Three-act structure—it doesn’t exist in some of these books. These books will kill their protagonist halfway through. Nowadays everyone’s used to jump scares, everyone’s used to found footage, everyone’s used to Thomas Ligotti and H. P. Lovecraft and all of those stylistic tics. The only mandate for those horror paperbacks is not to bore the readers. It’s a completely different tradition that comes more out of pulp than it does out of horror.

Bookish: How many paperback originals from the ’70s and ’80s did you actually read in the course of writing this book?

GH: The last time I did a count, it was 326. I could read two a day no problem. It’s what I was doing—I was on the couch all day reading books. Four a day was pushing it. There were a couple of days I did six and those were the days that would wipe me out the next day.

What helped is that I was reading by subgenre. I was reading animal attack books all at once. I was reading all the insect attack books all at once. So I knew what the set pieces were. I got a feel for the structure. Medical thrillers are really, really highly structured in a way that haunted house books are not. Animal attack books, if they’re from England, are structured in a really different way than if they’re from the U.S. Once I got a feel for that structure and where the genre’s signposts were, I could go a lot faster.

Bookish: Is there a book you feature that you think is underrated and would recommend readers pick up?

GH: Oh hundreds. Anything by Ken Greenhall. Elizabeth Engstrom’s books. Joan Samson’s The Auctioneer. If you’re going for pulpy fun, there’s a couple hundred of these books that I think work really great. If you’re going for serious why-have-we-forgotten-this-author authors, there are dozens. And a lot of them are women. I don’t think V.C. Andrews gets the respect she deserves.

So many of these authors were great. I wouldn’t have been able to write my book if the books had all been just campy. I found tons of books that were truly either deeply entertaining or truly fantastically well-written. There was a lot to admire here. I mean there’s goofy stuff too and part of my job is to inform and give context. The other part is to entertain. I wanted to do both.

Bookish: You divide the book into sections such as Creepy Kids, Real Estate Nightmares, and Splatterpunks. Were there any subgenres that didn’t make the cut?

GH: Oh sure. Nazis. There’s a ton of books about Nazis: Nazi werewolves, Nazi vampires, Nazi health resorts, haunted Nazi tanks. None of the Nazi stuff made the book. There’s also a whole category of books written by celebrities—like E. Howard Hunt, the Watergate conspirator, and Christina Crawford, Joan Crawford’s daughter. There are also a whole bunch of government intrigue paperbacks like Graham Masterton’s The Condor, and there’s another one called The Hell Candidate. And there are a lot of categories that I just didn’t have enough time to get to in a way I thought was fair. Like the YA stuff. Christopher Pike and R.L. Stine. I didn’t have time to delve into it more simply because I own a small number of those books and they go for a lot of money these days. There’s a huge nostalgia value.

Bookish: In your gothic horror section, you say that horror is a women’s genre. Can you explain what you meant?

GH: Everyone thinks horror and they think Stephen King. That’s brainwashing. The earliest horror novel that people still read is Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. And there are two great horror novels of the 20th century—The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson, and Beloved by Toni Morrison. There’s just not an argument to be made for another book by anyone to rank up there with those two. Another great haunted house novel of the latter half of the 20th century is Anne Rivers Siddons’ The House Next Door. Plus you’ve got V.C. Andrews, Anne Rice… The main proponents of the ghost story in the 19th century were women writers. One of the most famous short horror stories of all time, without which no anthology is complete, is Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s “The Yellow Wallpaper.”

This has really been a women’s genre for a long, long time. Men are late to the party and get all the attention, as seems to be the way of the world.

Bookish: This book is brimming with hundreds of beautifully printed, full-color pictures of old book covers. Does one cover stand out as your favorite? Which is the scariest of the bunch?

GH: The stuff that’s scary is usually pretty understated. I’ve always thought the original paperback cover of William Peter Blatty’s The Exorcist—that blurred photo of a young woman-is kind of creepy. But… I can’t really pick my favorite out of all the mutant children out there.

I got to know a lot of these artists too. I developed a huge amount of respect for what they did. People like Jill Bauman, Stephanie and Mark Gerber, Lisa Falkenstern, and Rowena Morrill— they’re just amazing artists who had the misfortune to be making some of their best efforts in an industry which was designed to be disposable. Illustration has never been as respected as fine art. It’s always been viewed as commercial. And it’s true, it is commercial. But it doesn’t change the fact that it’s rare that an artist can fake their work. They put everything they’ve got into it.

Bookish: In your epilogue, you write “the lesson horror teaches us is that everything dies.” What do you think caused the end of the horror boom?

GH: It was a bunch of things. Publishing was changing. The big publishers were gobbling up the little guys. Everything was consolidating. Some people, like Jill Bauman, say they put the end right on the Gulf & Western acquisition of publishing companies. And other people, like Jeff Conner, who was the publisher of Scream/Press (which did limited edition, really beautiful books), say that it was the beginning of the Reagan ’80s when public libraries were getting less funding and had to watch their budget more. There were definitely changes in distribution too. The mass market paperback went out of style in the ’90s and was replaced by the trade paperback.

On the other hand, Thomas Harris’ The Silence of the Lambs became huge and that coincided with the whole Splatterpunk boom in the mid ’80s. And so you had more and more books being written where a lot of editors would feel like “the more gore in this, the better! That’s what readers really want! That’s what’s popular right now!” There were more books getting produced more cheaply by fewer publishers with fewer channels of distribution. And it was a real recipe for a bubble.

Bookish: Has horror recovered? What is the state of the genre today?

GH: When I told people I was writing Horrorstör, I could see the light die in their eyes. But when I said it was about a haunted IKEA, people would say, “Oh that’s really funny,” and they’d want to talk about it. Horror still has the connotation that it’s cheap, it’s gory, and it’s misogynistic. And that really just comes from the tail-end of the boom. The hangover from the bubble bursting still exists.

However, there are also a ton of books that are coming out now, that either are or are not marketed as horror, that do really well. You’ve got stuff marketed as horror like Victor LaValle’s The Changeling or The Ballad of Black Tom. Or works by John Langan and Paul Tremblay. And then you’ve got stuff that’s marketed as literary fiction like Hari Kunzru’s White Tears, which is a straight-up horror novel about a ghost, but it’s marketed as literary fiction because Kunzru is marketed as literary fiction. I would argue that Colson Whitehead’s Underground Railroad is a horror novel in some sense—or uses a lot of elements from horror.

And then you’ve also got thrillers, which have become the horror of the day. I think Gillian Flynn writes horror. Dark Places is about a satanic murder of a family years ago and someone trying to solve what happened on that night. It’s part mystery, but its roots are in the Satanic Panic. You’ve got all these domestic thrillers that come out too, like a woman bumps her head and wakes up 39 years later and can’t remember her life. Those are gothics right out of the ’60s. They’ve got a little more thriller added to them but it’s a domestic thriller where the nexus of fear is inside the home and the possible monster is the husband. Except traditional gothics pull from the romance tradition in the ’60s and modern gothics are pulling from the thriller tradition.

Bookish: So would you say bookstores and publishers categorize books as horror only if there’s a supernatural element? Or is horror more of a sensibility?

GH: It all depends on how you define horror. If the only thing that says something is horror is whether or not it’s supernatural, then you come up with a really limited definition. Frankenstein is not supernatural—Victor Frankenstein is a scientist. Henry James’ Turn of the Screw is designed to leave you in doubt whether there’s a supernatural element or not. “The Yellow Wallpaper” is about a woman going crazy. Same as Shirley Jackson’s We’ve Always Lived in the Castle. A lot of people use the supernatural thing to determine whether something’s horror or not. But is Cujo horror? Is MiseryChuck Palahniuk’s short story “Guts” has no supernatural elements in it, yet I think anyone would be hard-pressed to read it and classify it as anything but horror.

Grady Hendrix’s first novel, Horrorstör, an illustrated story about a haunted IKEA, was named by NPR as one of the best books of 2014. He is also the author of My Best Friend’s Exorcism. A diehard horror fiction fan, he lives in New York City.

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IndieNext

Indie Next List

December edition

The American Booksellers Association has announced the selections for the December Indie Next list, drawn from the recommendations of indie booksellers throughout the US. You can request many of these titles on NetGalley right now, and view more information on the ABA site

If you are a bookseller, you can nominate titles for the Indie Next list via NetGalley, and receive special access to new galleys via the Digital White Box program. Sign up today!

Additional Indie Next titles:

Future Home of the Living God: A Novel, by Louise Erdrich
(Harper, 9780062694058)

The City of Brass: A Novel, by S.A. Chakraborty
(Harper Voyager, 9780062678102)

Year One: Chronicles of the One, Book 1, by Nora Roberts
(St. Martin’s Press, 9781250122957)

Reservoir 13: A Novel, by Jon McGregor
(Catapult, 9781936787708)

They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us: Essays, by Hanif Abdurraqib
(Two Dollar Radio, 9781937512651)

Improvement: A Novel, by Joan Silber
(Counterpoint, 9781619029606)

Mrs. Caliban, by Rachel Ingalls
(New Directions, 9780811226691)

Signal Loss, by Garry Disher
(Soho Crime, 9781616958596)

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Celebrate Picture Book Month with Lerner Publishing

 

What Is Possible in a Picture Book?

By Millbrook Press and Carolrhoda Books Editorial Director Carol Hinz

We all know what a picture book is.

But what is a picture book meant to do?

One answer to that question is that it should catch children’s interest and entertain them. While I don’t disagree with this statement, neither do I believe it is the whole truth. Picture books inform, they delight, and they offer us endless opportunities to look at our world from fresh perspectives.

I’m a believer that while a picture book must speak to a child, a child needn’t be the book’s only audience—reading a picture book can be a powerful experience for a person of any age. As an editor, my time spent working on picture books has made me increasingly curious about what can be accomplished within the confines of this format . . . and to look for possibilities to break the format’s “rules” every once in a while.

I’d like to spotlight a few forthcoming picture books from Carolrhoda Books and Millbrook Press to explore the question of what’s possible with a picture book.

I Got a Chicken for My Birthday
by Laura Gehl, illustrated by Sarah Horne

Ana wants tickets to the amusement park for her birthday . . . and instead her abuela gives her a chicken. It turns out that this is no ordinary chicken! It doesn’t like chicken feed, it’s too busy to lay eggs, and it’s building SOMETHING in Ana’s backyard.

In this picture book, a chicken is also a construction whiz, and a gift that isn’t what our main character wanted turns out to be even better than she could have imagined. The illustrations include lots of fun details that encourage repeat readings.

Meet My Family! Animal Babies and Their Families
by Laura Purdie Salas, illustrated by Stephanie Fizer Coleman

What kind of families do animal babies have? All different kinds! Main text written in rhyming verse brings together a wide range of animal babies, from the sweet to the fierce. Meet a wolf pup cared for by the pack, a young orangutan snuggling with its mother high in a tree, a poison dart frog riding piggyback on its dad, a shark pup going solo, and much more.

This book offers a look at the many kinds of families found in the animal kingdom, and it gives us a chance to look at adorable animal babies in a fresh way!

Fossil by Fossil: Comparing Dinosaur Bones
by Sara Levine, illustrated by T.S Spookytooth

What dinosaur would you be if you had a bony ridge rising from the back of your skull and three horns poking up from the front? A triceratops!

This book makes the most of a Q&A format to show readers just how much our own skeletons have in common with those of some of the best-known dinosaurs. And it ends by highlighting the scientific connection between dinosaurs and birds. (Yes, birds!)

This book may just change how you see dinosaurs . . . and modern-day birds!

Can I Touch Your Hair? Poems of Race, Mistakes, and Friendship
by Irene Latham and Charles Waters, illustrated by Sean Qualls and Selina Alko

A picture book can make us laugh, it can teach us something new, and sometimes it can help us join a conversation.

How often do you talk to the kids in your life about race? A little? A lot? In this book, Irene Latham, who is white, and Charles Waters, who is black, have a conversation that all of us are welcome to join. They imagine themselves as fifth-grade classmates who are stuck together working on a poetry project. In the course of 33 poems, they reflect on their own experiences of race while exploring relatable topics such as hair, recess, family dinners, and much more. Artwork by acclaimed illustrators Sean Qualls and Selina Alko beautifully shows how two people who begin the book as near-strangers can end it as friends.

For more thoughts on picture books, check out these blog posts:

Greetings from PictureBookLand

How Picture Book Pagination Keeps Readers Turning the Pages

The Element of Surprise in Nonfiction Picture Books

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Librarian's Choice

Librarians' Choice: top 10

Librarians’ Choice has announced the Top 10 titles for November 2017 that librarians across Australia love. You can request or wish for the featured titles below on NetGalley right now, and view more information on the Librarians’ Choice site.

If you are a librarian in Australia, you can nominate titles for the Librarians’ Choice list via NetGalley!

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Top Ten Books from the UK – Dec ’17 & Jan ’18

A very exciting Books of the Month roundup comes at a very exciting time for NetGalley UK. As I hope you’re aware, www.netgalley.co.uk went live on Wednesday – our new home for UK members. Here you’ll find all the books you love, all in one place. And these ten titles are a great reason to sign in and have a look around!

Joanna Cannon – author of the phenomenal bestseller The Trouble With Goats and Sheep – is back with her next warm-hearted, witty and deeply affecting novel, Three Things About Elsie, while our top pick for thrillers in early 2018, Anatomy of a Scandal, is causing quite a stir already with NetGalley members. There’s also some top YA action, including the truly wonderful I Am Thunder by Muhammad Khan, and a beguiling new literary novel, Peach by Emma Glass.

We do hope that you love the new NetGalley UK site and look forward to reading all your reviews. Enjoy!

BOOK OF THE MONTH

Three Things About Elsie
Joanna Cannon
The Borough Press
UK Edition

84-year-old Florence has fallen in her flat at Cherry Tree Home for the Elderly. But as she waits to be rescued, Florence has other things on her mind than her health. The charming new resident for example. If he is who he claims to be, why does he look exactly a man who died sixty years ago? And does his presence mean a terrible secret from her past is about to come to light?

A captivating, engrossing and brilliantly told tale from the bestselling author of The Trouble With Goats and Sheep.

Anatomy of a Scandal
Sarah Vaughan
Simon & Schuster
UK Edition

Already one of the most reviewed 2018 titles on NetGalley, Anatomy of a Scandal is shaping up to be one of the year’s biggest thrillers. When Sophie’s husband is accused of a terrible crime, she is convinced of his innocence and prepared to do anything to support him. But Kate, the prosecuting barrister, is adamant of James’s guilt. Is James telling the truth? Or is there something sinister afoot? A provocative, compelling and suspenseful psychological thriller with real bite.

Trying
Emily Phillips
Hodder & Stoughton
UK Edition

The can-women-have-it-all? question remains one of the bedrocks of contemporary fiction, but this fresh take on modern womanhood is searingly honest, genuinely funny and stylishly original. Olivia and Felix are trying for a baby. They both know Olivia’s cycle and sex is organised with military precision. They’ve even moved to the suburbs. But as her friends procreate around her, nothing’s happening to Olivia. And soon she begins to ask: does happily ever after really have to involve a child?

I Am Thunder
Muhammad Khan
Macmillan Children's Books
UK Edition

An exciting new voice in YA, Muhammad Khan is a teacher in South London who takes his inspiration from the children in his classes. I Am Thunder is his debut, and centres on 15-year-old Muzna Saleem, who dreams of being a writer but is being strong-armed by her super-controlling parents into studying medicine and marrying a cousin from Pakistan. Her life seems mapped out, until high-school hottie, Arif, takes an interest in her. But first love can be hard – especially as Arif has a dark, and deadly, secret…

Peach
Emma Glass
Bloomsbury Circus
UK Edition

A mesmerising, deeply disturbing and stylistically daring debut, Peach reads almost like an incantation of dread and fear. As the novel opens, Peach is walking home, battered, bruised and bleeding. Her parents do not even notice her condition, and she patches herself up to meet her boyfriend, Green. What follows is a visceral and unflinching journey through one woman’s internal life. Like A Girl is a Half -formed Thing before it, this is a ground-breaking work of experimentation.

Everless
Sara Holland
Orchard Books
UK Edition

For fans of The Red Queen, comes the first novel from a brilliant new YA voice – one set in a fantasy land with very contemporary undertones. In the land of Sempera, the rich control everything – even time, which they extract from blood. The rich live for centuries; the poor bleed themselves dry. To save her father from debt, Jules takes a job at Everless, the grand estate of the cruel Gerling family. The truths Jules uncovers there change everything – including, possibly, the future of time itself…

Save Me
Mandasue Heller
Macmillan
UK Edition

In terms of gritty, streetwise fiction, Mandasue Heller is the only real competition to Martina Cole – and Save Me is her most gripping novel to date. When Ellie Fisher misses her train home, she has no idea that being in the right place at the wrong time will change her life forever. That night she comes across Gareth, a young man about to take his own life, and convinces him that there’s always something left, always something to cling to. It’s a good deed that will put her life in mortal danger…

This Is How It Ends
Eva Dolan
Raven Books
UK Edition

Eva Dolan is one of the most consistently impressive British crime writers, her Zigic and Ferreira series lauded by the likes of Ian Rankin, Mark Billingham and Val McDermid. This stand-alone shows all her skills of suspense and plotting, set against the gentrification of our cities. How it begins is with two women in a deserted building with a dead body in a lift shaft. But how will it end?

The Tattooist of Auschwitz
Heather Morris
Zaffre
UK Edition

Based on the true story of Lale Sokolov – the man who tattooed the numbers on his fellow prisoners’ arms in Auschwitz – this is a harrowing and powerful story of love in a time of absolute darkness, and humanity in the face of the worst kind of brutality. Tender, rich and terrifying, Heather Morris’s novel is a survivor’s tale like no other, and a love story that you will not forget.

Bad Girls With Perfect Faces
Lynn Weingarten
Electric Monkey
UK Edition

The bestselling author of Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls – which NetGalley members loved – returns with another pitch-perfect thriller. Sasha’s best friend is Xavier, but his cheating ex-girlfriend Ivy is back, and Sasha won’t let him be hurt again. So she poses as a hot man online, determined to prove Ivy’s cheating ways. But Sasha gets more than she bargained for…

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News from NetGalley

Announcing NetGalley UK!

It’s been a long time coming, but at last UK members have their very own dedicated NetGalley site – www.netgalley.co.uk!

On .co.uk, UK members will find books that are the most relevant to them, meaning they’re more likely to be approved and are more likely to find the books they love. When they see a title on .co.uk, UK members will know they won’t be declined based on region, and that the edition of the book they see is the right one for them.

UK members will still be auto-approved for the same publishers, and all existing approvals will stay exactly as before. UK members will also still be able to sign in to www.netgalley.com using their existing accounts, but as all books they’re likely to want will be loud and proud on .co.uk, please bookmark www.netgalley.co.uk.

This has been a real labour of love for us at NetGalley UK, and we’re so excited that you can now sign into the site. There you’ll see featured titles specifically from the UK, and UK-centric category spotlights, making it even easier to find your next great passion.

Your reviews make NetGalley – and we hope that this new site will encourage you to leave even more feedback and even more reviews. If you have any comments, suggestions or general thoughts, do feel free to email stuart.evers@netgalley.co.uk. We want www.netgalley.co.uk to become the destination for all UK readers of influence – and we appreciate all of your input.

For more information, please see our FAQs about NetGalley.co.uk

So there it is: all the books you love, all in one place. We can’t wait for you to sign in and get involved – so head to www.netgalley.co.uk now!

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Adapting One Historical Novel to Another: How to Make It Work

Originally published on Bookish.com, an editorially independent division of NetGalley.

We’ve all been there: We read a novel, and wonder “How did the author do that?!” Sophfronia Scott has written just such a novel. Her book Unforgivable Love is a retelling of Dangerous Liaisons that will enchant and entertain readers with its historical flair. Here, she tells Bookish readers just how she went about adapting the original.

Ideas are a dime a dozen—they exist in multitudes and any creative thinker knows there is no shortage of good ideas. Still there’s a fascination with ideas and they are considered scarce—that’s why authors consistently get asked how they found the idea for their latest work. But the idea is only the beginning. Two writers can start with the same basic idea and create entirely different products. I think that’s a much more interesting question: How did the writer bring the idea to life?

My latest novel, Unforgivable Love, is a retelling of the 18th Century French novel Les Liaisons Dangereuses. The original was an epistolary novel, written in 1782, and told a story of seduction and betrayal among the aristocracy. I set the tale against the glamorous backdrop of 1940s Harlem, with two wealthy people playing games of sexual intrigue to feed their sense of ego and power.

Essentially I took one historical novel and turned it into another historical novel. How did  I make it work?

It’s all about the elements: understanding what makes a good story and building an interesting world in which the story can unfold. In order to do this, I couldn’t just retell the story. I had to create a new one.

Creating a story begins with characters. I chose to tell my story in close third person, giving voice to four characters and their inner lives.

Marquise de Merteuil became Mae Malveaux. Both characters are wealthy but they are also restricted by the conventions of their times. They act out accordingly. For Mae, I added aspects of her having felt something like love in her early years.

Vicomte de Valmont became Valiant “Val” Jackson. I sensed a vulnerability in this character that I wanted to explore. What makes him prone to fall in love? His story explores themes of race and class as well.

Madame de Tourvel became Elizabeth Townsend. My Elizabeth is just as virtuous as Madame de Tourvel but she also has a sense of not being complete somehow as a person, as a human being. She’s looking for meaning in her life.

Cecile de Volanges became Cecily Vaughn. This character, I think, has been given short shrift in the various adaptations of this novel. She’s often portrayed as clownish and awkward, but she’s also a character who makes a full journey from innocence to experience. I wanted to see how Cecily behaved once she began to act with agency.

Once I had my characters I had to create the world in which they lived their lives. For Unforgivable Love, I created social circles to suit the time and the African-American community.

Church: I had no doubt in my mind that the main social setting of this book would be in a church, especially since morals and virtue were going to be important themes. I modeled Mount Nebo Baptist Church, in size and influence, after the granddaddy of Harlem churches, Abyssinian Baptist Church.

Jazz music and night clubs: I used the setting of two clubs to illustrate the different classes. The Savoy Ballroom inspired the Diamond, Val Jackson’s club in my novel. The fact that the Savoy was crowded with people from all walks of life made me think about how Mae Malveaux wouldn’t be caught dead in such a place. That led me to create the Swan, a more refined setting for Mae and her cohort.

Fashion: I used fashion as another way to set Mae apart. I was particularly inspired by the designer Christian Dior’s “New Look” that was introduced during the time of my novel. The look was defined by a narrow waist, full skirt, and dramatic hats. One outfit with a yellow jacket reminded me of a costume worn by Glenn Close in the film Dangerous Liaisons and I knew I had to describe Mae wearing that Dior ensemble.

This is also a story about sexuality and how the way we wield it can be the deepest expression of our human nature. What happens when we take ownership of our sexuality? This question, I think, is why the story of Dangerous Liaisons is still so captivating today. We are still on this quest when it comes to exploring sexuality. It is the foundation that grounds Unforgivable Love, giving the reader a place to stand while at the same time launching him or her into this other world.

Sophfronia Scott hails from Lorain, Ohio. She was a writer and editor at Time and People magazines before publishing her first novel, All I Need to Get By. She holds an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts and a bachelor’s degree in English from Harvard. Her short stories and essays have appeared in numerous literary journals. She lives in Connecticut with her husband and son.

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