READ

Let’s Talk About Blurbs…

I’ve been busy! Between defending my dissertation (yay! Finally!), wrapping up EAGLE & CRANE edits, copyedits, etc, and prepping things for the book’s publication later this year – not to mention sneaking in time to start writing something new (we writers always have to be working on something new or we kinda can’t function), the days have been… full.

But having just given my author site a nice new makeover to accommodate EAGLE & CRANE (check out my new author site here), I wanted to take a beat and talk about the subject of blurbs.

Blurbs!

In case this sounds like some kind of coded curse word to you, no – in fact blurbs are those nice little 2-3 line summaries that OTHER authors write to endorse your novel and help it find its way into the big, bad book-world. Blurbs are printed on the book jacket and help folks milling around the bookstore figure out if your novel is something they’d like to read.

How do authors get blurbs for their books? Well, basically: They ASK FOR THEM. Sometimes their editors ask for them. Sometimes their agents ask for them. And sometimes authors just suck it up and ask for blurbs themselves.

Can I just say? – awwwwwkwaaaaard! You’ve basically set yourself the task of making a list of authors whose work you ADMIRE, only to then approach them (email, Facebook, perhaps via a friend-of-a-friend) while shaking the literary world equivalent of a tin cup and trying not to look too pathetic or demanding throughout the entire process. And it’s kind of a big ask, to boot. You’re asking that author to take time away from his/her life and his/her own work to stop and read your book and then say something nice about it. You’re basically interrupting someone’s work day and demanding they do a “book report,” hah!

Needless to say, it can be quite daunting when you’re a shy person (I am, and I think a good many authors are far more timid about this than you might imagine). The hard truth is, there's an unavoidable element of self-promotion to this lil ol' "novelist" job, and it can really push you outside of your comfort zone.

So, on that note, I just wanted to take a minute and mention how GRATEFUL I am for the blurbs we were able to get for EAGLE & CRANE. Except for the thought that not everyone loves alliteration as much as I do, I almost titled this entry "Blurb Beatitude" because these folks (let me not forget, too, others who helped in the past!) have made me feel blessed. Between me, my editor, and my agent, we were able to get five extremely generous blurbs – and so quickly! Having been on the other side of this equation myself once or twice (as in, having blurbed other authors’ books) I know what a kindness this was. And I am super appreciative. As I made my website over to include all my EAGLE & CRANE stuff, I realized again just how lucky I am, and I wanted to share that sentiment!

Here are the blurbs, below, in case you’re interested. My sincerest thanks to Lyndsay Faye, Caroline Leavitt, Fiona Davis, Dominic Smith, and Adriana Trigiani!

loveyouwriter.jpg

PRAISE FOR EAGLE & CRANE:

“Suzanne Rindell takes to the heavens in this glorious story of two daring aviators during the Great Depression. She’s written an epic love story set against a time of upheaval, suspicion and change. A magnificent novel from a great writer.” —Adriana Trigiani, bestselling author of Kiss Carlo

“Wildly ambitious and filled with heartbreak (I love heartbreak), Suzanne Rindell’s third novel mesmerizingly pilots us through the Depression, the 1930s, Pearl Harbor, and the love one fierce young woman has for two very different aviators. Passionate, profound and an absolutely daredevil act of imagination.” —Caroline Leavitt, New York Times-bestselling author of Pictures of You and Cruel Beautiful World

"In this blazing saga about a flying circus, Rindell performs death-defying plot twists that race toward the shocking conclusion. Eagle & Crane is a majestic historical novel that is profoundly relevant in today’s world." —Fiona Davis, author of The Address and The Dollhouse

“A white-knuckled historical mystery and collision course of cultures, Eagle & Crane threads a fascinating tale through the half-silenced world of Japanese internment in America. Timely, expertly researched, and provocative.” —Dominic Smith, New York Times-bestselling author of The Last Painting of Sara de Vos

“Elegantly interweaving a lyrical love triangle with the spectacle of Depression-era barnstorming, the plight of Japanese Americans during the Second World War, and a bitter family feud spanning generations, Eagle & Crane poignantly plumbs still deeper waters: how far loyalty and friendship can be tested, and what it means to be an American.” —Lyndsay Faye, Edgar-nominated author of Jane Steele and the Timothy Wilde trilogy

New Book Info - EAGLE & CRANE

eagle and crane_CVR_fnl (1).jpg
 

Thought I'd make a short and sweet post out of the information surrounding my forthcoming novel, EAGLE & CRANE. Here (to the left, or above, depending on whether you're reading this on a computer or on your phone) is the cover image, and below I'll paste the description that will appear in the jacket copy. Putnam/Penguin Random House has set a publication date of July 3, 2018, and I will be posting more about it here soon! 

barnstormer.jpg

 

BOOK DESCRIPTION:

 
Two young daredevil flyers confront ugly truths and family secrets during the U.S. internment of Japanese citizens during World War II, from the author of The Other Typist and Three-Martini Lunch.
 
Louis Thorn and Haruto "Harry" Yamada -- Eagle and Crane -- are the star attractions of Earl Shaw's Flying Circus, a daredevil (and not exactly legal) flying act that traverses Depression-era California. The young men have a complicated relationship, thanks to the Thorn family's belief that the Yamadas -- Japanese immigrants -- stole land that should have stayed in the Thorn family. 
 
When Louis and Harry become aerial stuntmen, performing death-defying tricks high above audiences, they're both drawn to Shaw's smart and appealing stepdaughter, Ava Brooks. When the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor and one of Shaw's planes mysteriously crashes and two charred bodies are discovered in it, authorities conclude that the victims were Harry and his father, Kenichi, who had escaped from a Japanese internment camp they had been sent to by the federal government. To the local sheriff, the situation is open and shut. But to the lone FBI agent assigned to the case, the details don't add up.
 
Thus begins an investigation into what really happened to cause the plane crash, who was in the plane when it fell from the sky, and why no one involved seems willing to tell the truth. By turns an absorbing mystery and a fascinating exploration of race, family and loyalty, Eagle and Crane is that rare novel that tells a gripping story as it explores a terrible era of American history.

***COMING JULY 3, 2018*** 

From Hardcover to Paperback

THREE-MARTINI LUNCH first hit shelves in hardcover form last year. Now the book will be reborn as a paperback in a little over a week, on August 8th 2017. I'm still bogged down with quite a lot of work, but I thought I'd take a beat here to share a few fun factoids about my experiences re the hardcover to paperback process with the uninitiated who happen to be a tiny bit curious about publishing. 

First, the book's design. With my first novel, THE OTHER TYPIST, the publisher decided to keep the same cover on the book as it transformed from hardcover to paperback. But oftentimes, publishers will create an entirely new cover for the paperback. The old wisdom used to be that the hardcover would get a more "literary" cover (and usually more on the illustrated side), and then the paperback would get a more "commercial cover" (more typically involving a photograph). Publishing is a rapidly changing beast though, and I've found that these old school cover rules are certainly not set in stone, so take this with a grain of salt.

In any case, THE OTHER TYPIST didn't get a different paperback cover, but THREE-MARTINI LUNCH did. It's interesting to see, and I certainly appreciate all the work that goes into restyling the book and all its promotional materials. On that note, I'd like to share the updated "Book Club Kit" that the Penguin people created and updated for THREE-MARTINI LUNCH's paperback release (below). If you or anyone you know is interested in picking up the book, I'm happy to pass the "kit" in PDF form to all who'd like to have these materials and possibly print them out for a book club meeting. 

Which brings me to paperback point number two: Paperbacks are more affordable (duh), so they make better book club recs. Having your book come out in paperback is a cause for celebration, because when a new friend or acquaintance says, "Oh, I want to buy your book!" you no longer have that twinge of guilt about the whopping twenty-five bucks the hardcover is likely to cost a person these days. I remember someone from Penguin (I think it was someone who ran one of their paperback imprints, so...) telling me the old saying, that "a book really LIVES in paperback." As someone who herself spends way more money than she should on books, I can get onboard with that.

Viva la paperback!

On Turning in My Latest Novel: Musings on the Question of “Audience”

It’s been a while since I’ve posted here, and part of the reason for that is because I’ve been writing like a lunatic. The nice thing about writing like a lunatic is that it means you actually finish stuff… like a new novel.  Yep, I turned in my book and my publisher has accepted it. They’re saying it’ll hit shelves in Summer 2018, and hopefully I’ll have more specific details to share soon as things shape up.

The act of turning in my new book, coupled with some recent travel, really got me thinking. When you travel you often cross paths with lots of different people (you sit next to someone on an airplane or chat with new acquaintances at a wedding – these sorts of interactions). People will say, “Oh, how exciting – you’re a writer! What should I read of yours? Would I like your books?” It’s a very kind question. And… willing readers! Wow. People can be awesome, and God bless people who still occasionally opt to read a book instead of binge-watch Netflix – amiright?

In answering the question, I find myself picturing the person sitting down to read one of my books, and I always wonder, “Is my book their type of book? Will they like it? Are they going to be like, ‘What the eff is this?’ ” Because… you know… not every book fits every reader, and for better or worse I feel pretty aware of what someone may or may not like about my first two books.

My first book (The Other Typist) is a mystery, but it’s also a little bit girly. I don't picture a lot of dudes reading it (but they are certainly welcome to read it!). But perhaps my saying this now is more revealing of my own gender assumptions than anything else. Who knows. I can tell you, there’s lots of dressing up and drinking cocktails in Prohibition-era speakeasies. There’s girl-on-girl obsession, à la Single White Female. There is also a (purposely) fussy prose style, an unreliable narrator, and an ambiguous ending that has since prompted strangers to write to me, demanding I explain “WHAT REALLY HAPPENED.”

My second book (Three-Martini Lunch) has three first-person narrators. I’ve found readers either love that kind of thing or hate it, and there are very few who land somewhere in between. And while my first book erred on the side of “girly-ness,” my second book has two male narrators and one female – I was told it consequently had significantly less “women’s fiction” appeal. Furthermore, the voices were very stylized (for instance, one of the male narrators talked like a Jack Kerouac-wannabe). They were interesting but flawed characters, and I think if you’re the type who needs your books to contain likable characters who always make likable choices, my second book might be a tough sell.

Then there’s also the fact that I’m a politically-left-leaning person (sorry, but most writers are). So that’s going to show up in some of the stuff I write. When I picture some ultra-conservative member of the Tea Party reading, say, my second novel – a novel that is very critical of 1950s-era white male patriarchy – I’m thinking, “Hmm, this person might not love this book.” And you know, that’s okay. They don’t have to.

As a writer, one of the questions you must constantly ask yourself is about your perceived audience: “Who am I writing this for/who can I picture reading it?” And it’s probably a good thing if you can accept that old proverb, “You can please some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.” MFA students, for instance, often take a lot of heat for writing in such a way as to please their fellow MFA students, their professors, etc. I actually have no dog in that fight. I find I sometimes read and very much enjoy books by authors considered “writer’s writers” – which means exactly how it sounds: Writers who’ve studied the craft in depth who write for other people who’ve also studied it. The frequent complaint is that they’re writing for far too narrow an audience, but if you think about it: There’s a sort of language-within-a-language to be appreciated there. It’s not like academics who write criticism aren’t doing the same thing (i.e. communicating via a coded convention, a language-within-a-language). We seem pretty okay with the expectation that academics are writing for a smaller, more specific audience.

Anyway, I’ve gotten away from my point. Ironically, the point I’m about to make will now fly in the face of everything I’ve written in this blog entry so far, and that is: My third novel, Eagle & Crane – the manuscript I just turned in – is about as close as I’ve ever come to writing something for EVERYBODY. Instead of realizing I’ve written something for a narrow or niche audience, I feel like… well, it turns out I kind of wrote this for about the widest audience I can imagine. It’s pretty balanced in terms of gendered appeal, I think. It contains a mystery plot that hopefully keeps the pages turning, but it’s also driven by character development. There’s love, there’s tragedy (but also happiness/upbeat events, too), there are epic generational tales and also an historical backdrop of political turmoil. The writing (I hope?) makes it an easy read and it’s told in a fairly straightforward third-person voice (as opposed to some of my other prose experiments). There are likable characters and a twist ending that is not at all ambiguous (there you go, annoyed/anguished fans of The Other Typist, I present you with a twist that resolves itself with lots of clarity; I hope you like it!).

I have no idea how I’ll feel about it in three months’ time, six months’ time… or a year from now when it finally hits the stands. I also know that it is IMPOSSIBLE to write a book that everyone loves. Books are definitely NOT one-size-fits-all. But as of this moment right now, it feels like I’ve written something I could pretty much recommend to anyone and not be too embarrassed to picture various different individuals reading it and trying to get into it (as a writer, if you have any humility at all, it’s always a little bit embarrassing to picture someone reading your book – a tiny hint of that being-caught-naked-feeling). Perhaps it’s the subject matter itself, or the voice and tone – but for whatever reason, I feel like this book is genuinely easier to recommend to people from all different walks of life. I really hope that’s a good thing.

In any case, I’ll insert the brief blurb from Pub Marketplace that describes Eagle & Crane below. Descriptions from Pub Marketplace tend to be almost tweet-length, so this won’t be too illuminating but at least it will give you an idea of my new novel’s topic until we can settle on some good jacket copy.  Thanks for reading!

--------------

EAGLE AND CRANE, set in the world of a 1930s flying circus in California, about two young aviators -- one of them Japanese American -- and the girl next door who loves them, focusing on the effects of Pearl Harbor on their relationships and the fate of their daredevil act.

Where have all the men gone in publishing?

***This piece originally appeared in The Irish Times. Read it in its original format online here.  

Suzanne Rindell set her novel, Three-Martini Lunch, in the New York publishing world in 1958 when sexism was rife. Today, women dominate the industry, except at the top

Tue, Jun 14, 2016, 11:15

Suzanne Rindell

As publishing salaries have failed to keep pace with inflation and similar professions, it has become an industry dominated by women, yet a glass ceiling persists

---

In my novel, Three-Martini Lunch, one of my characters wants to make it as an editor in the world of New York publishing. Given that she’s a woman and the year is 1958, she encounters the kind of sexism you might expect when you watch an episode of Mad Men. Female editors were rare in those days, and most only edited cookbooks and children’s books.

Fast-forward to the present: nowadays this aspect of my plot would be unthinkable. According to a 2015 survey conducted by Lee & Low, women make up 78 per cent of publishing’s overall workforce, and 84 per cent of the editorial field. More and more, statistics show that publishing is becoming almost uniformly run by straight white women. This lack of diversity – especially the lack of minority representation in the business – is both puzzling and troubling. It is clear something needs to be done to ensure a more inclusive, diverse workforce.

But circling back to Eden, my thwarted female wannabe-editor in Three-Martini Lunch, I find myself curious about the current gender trend, too. It seems women cracked into the field and have taken over. But it begs the question: where have all the men gone?

I decided to ask my editor, Jake Morrissey, for his opinion. He is, after all, a man and an editor and therefore something of a rarity, according to the statistics.

I asked him: just for the sake of argument, let’s assume there is a set of men who would’ve pursued publishing back in the 1950s, but in today’s world are doing something else. What happened? Did they get edged out by their female competition? Lured away? If you had to make a wild guess, what are they doing instead?

He replied: “My guess (and it is a guess) is that a bigger paycheck in other industries has, over time, lured men away from publishing… men who might have been interested in publishing have tended to look for jobs elsewhere because they could make more money in other professions: the law, Wall Street, advertising, and other media (television, for example). Women have, too, of course.”

While Jake made it clear this was only an off-the-cuff guess, there is certainly data to suggest his impression bears out some logic. Publishing salaries are notorious for being stuck in the past, not increasing to scale with inflation or comparable professions (such as those Jake named). According to Publishers Weekly’s 2015 salary survey, an editorial assistant makes as little as $25,500, while a senior editor averages $70,000. Take into consideration that to work in publishing in the States, you must live in or near the New York City area, and suddenly that (coveted! competitive!) editorial position starts to sound less like a job and more like a passionate pursuit that comes with a vow of poverty.

The fact women have come to populate this industry to the point of making up its majority suggests they are not put off by the ratio of education required versus dollars paid. Or, if they are put off, there are other factors that atone for this lack of salary – such as placing a higher value on passion over pay, or even harbouring the expectation (either conscious or unconscious) that the salary gap will be bridged by a partner. Of course, without conducting a true case study, this – just like Jake’s guesses about why there are fewer men in publishing than previously – is mere conjecture.

But consider this: Two other facts consistently reported by these surveys are: (1) women’s salaries in publishing trail men’s by an average gap of $20,000, and (2) while women make up a whopping 84 per cent of editors, this majority drops to 59 per cent at the executive level.

If my character, Eden, were a real person living today, I would salute her desire to become an editor and I’d assume her gender wouldn’t hinder her chance to achieve this goal (as it almost definitely would have in the 1950s). I would, however, still warn her not to bump her head on the glass ceiling. The matter is clearly more complicated than simply whether or not the publishing industry has decided to let women in.