Monday, February 8, 2010

Guest Blogger, Angela Henry

Please join me in welcoming author Angela Henry as the guest blogger here today at Thoughts in Progress.

Angela is the author of the mystery novel, “Schooled in Lies, A Kendra Clayton Novel.” She joins us here today on her first virtual book tour through the blogosphere.

Here a brief synopsis of her book:
GED instructor Kendra Clayton’s high school days were nothing to brag about. So she’s not too thrilled when on top of having to take a class to renew her teaching certificate or be fired, she gets roped into serving on her high school’s reunion committee.

Spending time with her former classmates is even less fun than having a root canal. Then to make matters worse, Kendra and the other committee members start receiving strange messages and having freak accidents. When one of the accidents results in a death, Kendra is convinced it’s murder. Unfortunately, neither the reunion committee nor the police take her seriously.

To try and prevent another death-and to keep from worrying about all the time her sweetie, Carl, has been spending with his scheming ex-wife-Kendra digs into the lives of her fellow committee members and uncovers enough secrets, lies, and betrayal to make her head spin. When a second murder occurs, Kendra realizes she needs to watch her back in her search for the truth before a killer turns her into another buried secret.

Angela is here to give us some insight into the problems authors face when getting their books published.

Before I got published, I had a lot of preconceived notions of what it would be like.  Boy, was I naive. I’ve learned a lot since getting that first book deal; most of it was learned the hard way. I thought I’d share what I wish I’d known before getting published. So, in no particular order, here they are

1. Authors have no control over their book covers.

It always makes me crazy to hear criticism about an author’s book cover. Most of us have no control over cover design.  At best we might get a questionnaire about our cover. But that doesn’t mean the art department will have the same vision that we do. Mostly, we have to take what our publishers give us. Many covers have nothing to do with what the book is about. Many books have the same—or very similar—cover art or stock photography as other books on the market.  I read someplace that the average book cover costs about $3,500 to create. So you can see why publishers aren’t bending over backwards to change them at the whim of every upset author. Unless you have control over cover design put into your book contract, which I hear is hard to get, don’t expect to have any say in what your book cover looks like.

2. Sales and marketing departments are where much of the power is at publishing companies.

Once upon a time, editors wielded a lot more power than they do now. They had their own budgets and if a manuscript came across their desks that they were excited about, they could acquire it, no questions asked. Those days are long gone. Now, committees make decisions on what editors can acquire, with the final decision usually coming from the sales and marketing departments. In nutshell, an editor can fall in love with a manuscript and badly want to acquire it–and it can be an excellent manuscript by a very talented writer–but if the sales and marketing department don’t think they can successfully market it, the editor will have to pass on it. The sales and marketing departments also have a lot of influence over cover design, book titles, and print runs.

3.  There is an author hierarchy.

There is a definite author hierarchy in place when you get published. At the very bottom of the pile are debut authors with no track record or sales history who’ve yet to make a name for themselves.

Next in line is what 99.9% of all authors are, myself included, and that’s a midlist author. Being a midlist author just means your books sell consistently but you’ve yet to achieve bestseller status. By bestseller I mean making one of the major lists like the New York Times, or USA Today lists. A lot of us will always be midlist and never break out to bestseller status.

At the top of heap you have the top tier authors like James Patterson, Stephen King, and Stephanie Meyer, who consistently hit the major lists and whose books sell like hotcakes. These are also the authors who will be getting the most in terms of marketing and promotion from their publishers. Why? They’ve achieved household name recognition, and have solid, impressive sales. In other words, they are making their publishers money.

4.   Publishing is a business.

All of the things I’ve mentioned above are connected to one very big reality that most authors don’t truly get until after they get published. And that is the fact that publishing is a business. Publishers are in the business of selling books and the things I’ve talked about in this post are the means with which they feel they can make money.  That’s the biggest thing I wish I’d known.

Thanks Angela for sharing this information with us. There’s a lot that goes into getting a book published.

For a little background on Angela, she was once told that her past life careers included spy, researcher, and investigator. She stuck with what she knew because today she's a mystery writing librarian, who loves to people watch and eavesdrop on conversations. She's the author of four mysteries featuring equally nosy amateur sleuth Kendra Clayton, and is also the founder of the award-winning MystNoir website, which promotes African-American mystery writers, and was named a "Hot Site" by USA

When she's not working, writing, or practicing her stealth, Angela loves to travel, is connoisseur of B horror movies, and an admitted anime addict. She lives in Ohio and is currently hard at work trying to meet her next deadline. You can visit Angela online at,,

Janel is the winner of Kate Collin's "Evil in Carnations" book giveaway. Please send me an e-mail with her name and address so we can get your book in the mail. Congratulations!!


  1. Great post, Angela and Mason!

    It's so true about the way publishing works. I think people are surprised to learn it's a business to make MONEY! :) They act like it's in the same category as PBS--non profit, sponsored, artistic. That couldn't be farther from the truth, could it?

    Mystery Writing is Murder

  2. Very interesting stuff. I think even without input, Angela ended up with a great cover :)

  3. Great post again, Mason.

    Angela, you have given me new information(a look)into the world of publishing. Love it.

  4. Mason - Thanks as always for opening up your blog to guests : ). Angela, thanks for your insights. It is a cold reality that publishers are focused on the bottom line. It's a good reminder for us authors. And I love the cover, too! The book sounds really interesting as well : ).

  5. Thanks Mason and Angela ... Lots of realities of the publishing world here, it's good to know the intricacies of the operations. I love that cover too, definitely effective in drawing attention.

  6. Elizabeth, I think it's one side of the book business that readers never think about and authors have to face all the time.

    Jemi, the cover is very catchy isn't it.

    Theresa, thanks.

    Margot, the plot does sound intriguing. Something about high school reunions that automatically make me thing mystery. :)

    Joanne, thanks for dropping by. I love a book cover that makes you want to pick it up and have a closer look.

  7. Great insights into the industry. It is a business and authors are now, more than ever, having to realize that and become part of the machine that promotes the book and makes it a success.

    Straight From Hel

  8. Hi Everyone! Thanks for all of the kind words about my post and my cover! And a big thanks to Mason for hosting me today ; )

  9. Thanks for introducing me to Angela Henry, Mason! Angela, your publishing insight was great and I look forward to seeking out your books in my local bookstore.

  10. Great insights into the publishing business. I have a milestone high school reunion coming in a few years. I never thought of turning that torture into a murder mystery!

  11. Helen, I would think that would be one of the hardest aspects of being an author - getting published. And nowdays, it's probably even harder.

    Angela, thanks so much for guest blogging here today. Your take on the publishing a book is very eye opening.

    Bobbi, thanks for dropping by.

    Janel, I think we all will have a different outlook on high school reunions from now on. LOL.

  12. Lots of useful info here! Sad stuff too--still--I'd rather be a debut author than unpublished.

  13. You know, it's almost more fun preparing and writing the book than it is once you're published. You're points are on-target.

    Best Wishes Galen.
    Imagineering Fiction Blog

  14. Thanks so much my dear for the lovely introduction and every success to you Angela.
    Warm regards to you both,


I'd love to hear your thoughts on today's post. Thanks for dropping by.