Old Publishing Blog
The book business is like the army – hurry up and wait. Weeks pass with nothing particularly exciting, and then all of sudden the phone rings, and wonderful news arrives. And here’s the latest – THE LAST SPYMASTER has been optioned by Vigorous Pictures, a young film development and production company formed by producers Jon Furay and James LaVigne, based in New York City. Break a leg, boys.
Researching THE BOOK OF SPIES
I’m often asked how I research my novels. It’s one of those topics that are difficult to explain, because so much of research is intuitive. But for you, my wonderful readers, here’s a short trip into this addictive, mysterious realm of the unknown.
The common wisdom is that only about one percent of research ends up in a novel. That’s a very small fraction, but my experience is it’s actually far less – closer to a tenth of a percent, even when the research involves a plot line. For instance my new novel, THE BOOK OF SPIES (due out March 30), has a critical historical element – the lost library of Ivan the Terrible – that required intense research.
I first read about this fabulous collection of illuminated manuscripts twenty years ago in The Los Angeles Times and was instantly intrigued. After all, Ivan’s remarkable library had allegedly been the heart of the Byzantine Empire’s grand imperial collection and contained priceless works dating back millennia to the ancient Greeks and Romans. Embedded with precious jewels, the books were bound in glittering gold. As I read that, I gave the collection a name – the Library of Gold. Tragically it vanished at Ivan’s death, in 1584.
My problem was I couldn’t see a way to use any of this in a contemporary spy story. But at the same time I was so interested I began collecting clippings that were even tangentially related, when I came across them in other research.
Then finally, after nearly two decades, the constant drumbeat of this intriguing subject meshed with an idea I had for a modern tale. I had a way to use the Library of Gold.
Excited, I began serious research. There is no actual name for the library, so I Googled “Ivan the Terrible,” “lost library,” “lost books,” “hidden library.” You get the idea. I waded through thousands of mentions, most of them irrelevant. Still, there were perhaps twenty pieces I printed out, read, and filed. I also needed to understand the environment in which the library had been assembled in Constantinople, how and why it had ended up in primitive Old Moscow, what it had looked like, where it had been located there , and why it had disappeared at Ivan’s death. More Googling.
Meanwhile I was buying books on such subjects as Ivan the Terrible, burned books, lost libraries, and the art of collecting books. In my reading I discovered gems – Albert Einstein once wrote he found book collecting an addiction second only to nicotine. That’s quite an admission from the world’s most famous shrink.
Of course I investigated the calligraphy, inks, paints, and book binding of illuminated manuscripts through the ages, too.
As you can imagine one question led to another, and then to a third, and then to a fortieth. I was cutting out articles from newspapers and magazines on almost a daily basis.
Are you getting tired? I wasn’t. The secret to research is to be fascinated by your subject, and I was truly fascinated. And if the writer is fascinated, chances are good he or she will be able to pass that compelling feeling on to readers.
I’ve always looked upon research as an opportunity to satisfy my curiosity. But the other side of the coin is one must not be so caught up in it that one never gets the book written. What happens to me is I finally feel immersed – and overwhelmed. That’s when I began writing THE BOOK OF SPIES, never particularly certain what I would need. But because I had kept my files orderly and my research books stacked close to me, on the floor around my desk, I was able to work well. And yes, I still had to stop now and then to do more research, but nothing on the scale as before, and I enjoyed every moment of it.
Bouchercon Is This Month
Commonly known as the World’s Mystery & Suspense Convention, Bouchercon boasts some 1,500 readers, authors, and publishing professionals in attendance. I’m looking forward to my panel with Laura Benedict, Lee Child, Barry Eisler, and David Morrell, who’s chairing. The panel is at 9:00 a.m. on Saturday, October 17. That’s early, but grab your coffee and come because you’ll want to hear the discussion of 100 thriller classics. The genesis of the panel is a forthcoming book by ITW authors called, naturally, THRILLERS: 100 MUST READS. David is coauthor with Hank Wagner, and all of us on the panel have contributed essays.
Spotlight Guest at ThrillerFest 2010
I’m delighted to report a great honor. Along with Harlan Coben and Lisa Scottoline, I’ll be a Spotlight Guest at the next ThrillerFest. Also in attendance will be the legendary Ken Follett, ThrillerMaster 2010, and the author of such remarkable books as The Eye of the Needle and The Key to Rebecca, as well as 2009 ThrillerMaster, the great David Morrell.
Please join us for ThrillerFest, July 7 to 10 at the Grand Hyatt in New York. You’ll be able to hang out with hundreds of your favorite authors at our various cocktail parties, panels, seminars, and hallway chats; whistle and cheer for the winners of the highly coveted Thriller Awards; and take advantage of vibrant New York City, just steps from our convention hotel.
Gayle’s June 2009 blog
At last I can give you a publication date for my new novel, THE BOOK OF SPIES March 30, 2010. It seems a very long way away, nine months, but for those in the business, it will whip past at supersonic speed.
Why has it taken so long to settle on a publication date? Ah, the fine art of publishing. I thought you might enjoy an insiders take on what’s going to happen next….
As many of you know, co-op is an important part of the business. Book stores – both the chains and the independents – make their own decisions about which books to feature at the front of their shops. But the chains want financial investment from publishers for that all-important first look by customers who walk in the door. They won’t take a publisher’s money – co-op money – if they don’t want to feature a book.
There can be several reasons for this – they think the book isn’t strong or good enough, they have two almost identical novels arriving at the same time from different publishers and therefore want to highlight only one, or the author’s reader base has been declining and the chain is losing confidence in its ability to sell the author’s latest title.
At the same time, publishers face similar decisions. They work to balance their lists so they don’t have two big novels coming out in the same week to compete for readers’ attentions – or to compete against other publishers’ books.
I’m fortunate in that you, my good readers, have been increasing, buying and enjoying my novels in greater numbers with each title. As a result, my fine publisher, St. Martin’s Press, settled on March 30 as a date in which The Book of Spies will have less competition in-house and in the marketplace and therefore optimum chance at great co-op and attention from readers and reviewers.
So what happens next? I have one more round of editorial input from my terrific editor, Keith Kahla, and then the manuscript goes to a copy editor, who checks my facts and looks for misplaced commas. Each publisher has its own style, and commas fall into that. I’ve given up. All the rules I learned seem to change with the weather. Still copy editors play an important role, and I’m grateful for those who do excellent work. I’ve gotten copy-edited manuscripts that were tattered, decorated with brown coffee rings, and aromatic with pipe smoke.Those copy-editors were beavering away.
Then the book is set into type – yes, typesetters haven’t completely vanished, thank God – and I’ll be sent the page proofs to read for errors. It’s amazing how long reading proof can take, and by then I’m ready to chuck the whole thing out the window because I’m tired of reading my own book and just want to be writing the next one uninterrupted. Discipline, Gayle. At the same time, it’s a thrill to see the story in type, and that keeps me going.
All during this period the cover is being designed and settled upon, marketing meetings are taking place, publicity is being consulted, and a budget to support the novel is put into place. Any of this can change, too, as the publisher keeps its eye on what’s selling and how it’s selling. Some opportunities vanish, while new ones arise. It sounds tricky, and it is. It makes me tired just thinking about it and very glad my job is mostly to write the book and chat with readers like you. Being with readers is high on my list of favorite things to do.
By the time The Book of Spies is in your hands, hundreds of people have worked on it in various capacities. And that’s why the nine months will evaporate for the publisher. For you and me, it can seem an eternity.
Gayle’s April/May 2006 Blog
What a couple of months these have been. As we rush toward publication, I’ve been answering questions from interviewers, helping to plan my tour, and enjoying the excitement of the birth of a new novel.
Publishers are fascinating people, caught in the warp between loving books and having to show a profit. The result is that authors must switch hats, too, from writer deeply immersed in the work to public person trotting out to meet the world.
It’s fun, and I’m really glad I have an alternate-personality switch inside me I can flip, because I can go days without talking with anyone, and suddenly I’m on the road, making speeches. Meeting readers and booksellers is a great way to refuel.
I’m often asked what it’s like to write a book. The answer for me is that it’s like standing in the middle of a stadium full of people and stripping off one’s clothes. One fears dying of exposure, but it never happens. Instead, not to do it guarantees a weak book without insight, revelation, and daring.
I was in New York City last month and now have a brand-new and very terrific agent — Aaron Priest of the Aaron Priest Agency. It’s exciting to have a fresh viewpoint on books and the industry, and Aaron is a giant among agents, a man who knows and loves books with a deep understanding. I’m greatly looking forward to working with him.
In other news, I’m working on the next novel — the title still a secret. I was in the British Museum in March doing research for it and will leave at the end of May for Athens to do more research. Can’t wait!
Missing Dennis and Katie
As I write this, my husband and fellow novelist, Dennis Lynds, has been dead four months. It’s still unbelievable in many ways, although he had been ill several years. Through it all, he remained jaunty, with a lively twinkle in his eyes, and concerned about those around him. Remarkably, he also wrote several fine short stories which will be appearing in magazines and anthologies over the coming year. As always, they are superb.
Many of you knew about Den and have sent cards and emails of condolences to my family and me. Thank you. You’ve touched our hearts with your outpouring of warmth and sympathy, and it’s made this difficult period easier for all of us.
There’s a very bright note to this: Katie — Den’s daughter, my stepdaughter — has come out of her coma. For quite a while it appeared she would not survive. The miracle happened a couple of months ago — Katie opened her eyes and looked around, beginning an exciting journey that we hope will lead to full recovery. For more details about what happened to Den and Katie, please feel free to visit Den’s website at www.DennisLynds.com.
Of course, Den’s precarious health is why you’ve heard from me far less often over the past few years than I would’ve liked. I also owe many of you personal emails. I apologize for my slowness and want you to know how much I appreciate not only your patience but the enjoyment in my books that you express. You help to make life sweet.
A month after Den’s death, I finished The Last Spymaster. Revisiting it was a tonic, like sitting down with a dear friend. I hope the story delights you as much as it has delighted me.
Gayle’s July Blog
I’ve just returned from a wild and wonderful trip to New York City, where I participated in this year’s spectacular Book Expo America. It was great to see everyone, especially my publishers, editor, agents, many author friends, and readers. Be sure to check out our photo album for some great pictures of this legendary book extravanza.
Plus, I had the pleasure of staying with my daughter Julia, who’s a gorgeous dynamo working with Vera Wang. She’s just bought her first apartment, so we had a lot of fun alternately eating ice cream and putting up cupboards and exploring her new neighborhood in Yorktown near the East River.
In other news, the brand-new paperback edition of THE COIL is reaching stores as I write this. I love the cover (thank you to the wonderful Matthew Shear, vice president of St. Martin’s). Plus, it’s wonderful to see my story in a new format. If you haven’t checked out the special offers on our Home Page, please do. They’re a small way to celebrate THE COIL and thank you for enjoying my books.
I suspect many of you were beginning to wonder whether this would actually happen — but finally THE LAST SPYMASTER is almost finished. The reason I haven’t added to my blog in such a long time is that I’ve been wrapped up in the extensive research and writing of it.
As you probably have already guessed, I’m fascinated by the unknown. And of course adventure of all sorts has great appeal for me, as I’ll bet it does for you. Which leads me to one of those magical moments for an author: A couple of years ago a CIA contact suggested to me that perhaps what we see isn’t real. All of us know that — right?
But as he and I were chatting on the phone, on my desk lay a copy of The Los Angeles Times. I hadn’t had a chance to read it, and I couldn’t wait because beckoning from the front-page was the headline news that a top FBI officer had been arrested for espionage. That was Robert Hanssen, whom we now know was probably America’s most damaging traitor.
Ah-ha!, I thought, applying what my contact had just said about what we think we see isn’t always real. My next book! And that was how the idea for SPYMASTER was born.
I like to deal with what-if’s …
What if the CIA’s Deputy Director of Operations, the single person charged with overseeing all of Langley’s clandestine services, is arrested for selling our most closely held secrets to Moscow for two devastating decades?
What if this legend — generally considered the CIA’s greatest Cold War spymaster — pleads guilty and is sentenced to life at a maximum-security federal penitentiary?
And finally, what if he escapes . . . and a hotshot CIA hunter is brought in to track him down quietly before word gets out?
He’s as wily and dangerous as he’s fabled. She despises him. He can’t trust her. Yet he must mentor her, teach her everything he knows, if they’re to survive long enough to uncover and stop the brilliant mind behind a world-stakes chess game that threatens to transfer devastating power into the hands of the New Terrorists….
For more updates on THE LAST SPYMASTER and many special offers as its publication in February 2006 nears, sign up for The Gayle Lynds E-letter on our Guest Book page, and keep visiting this site!
Gayle’s August Blog — The New York Times Is Wrong
I love The New York Times, but as all of us know, they get things wrong, too. Sometimes they even make “facts” up. Chip McGrath, noted former Book Review editor, wrote an article earlier this year decrying what he considered the wretched state of the thriller, its irrelevance, and its lack of popularity. My, my. Put bluntly, the man’s wrong.
Esteemed book reviewer and critic Tom Nolan quietly broke a story on May 18th in The Wall Street Journal, in which he described an important publishing trend that’s escaped the notice of most other literary pundits: Female authors have infiltrated spy thrillers, and the form is thriving. Take it from me, both pieces of information are subversive.
Once the globe’s top reading choice, with tens of millions of copies selling annually, this male-dominated, reliable genre collapsed with the end of the Cold War. As New York Times critic Walter Goodman announced funereally in November 1989, the same month the Berlin Wall crumbled: “The future looks dismal for the trenchcoat set.”
He was prophetic. Sales of bestselling thriller authors plummeted, while new authors seldom found publishing homes. (This, of course, was when my first one came out. More about that shortly.) By 1998, two thriller icons, Frederick Forsyth and John le Carré, had declared it was time to accept reality: The black business of espionage no longer interested readers. Both men fled to fresh literary turf.
The gloomy forecasts have continued unabated for some fifteen years, right up to as recently as February, when Charles McGrath worried in the pages of the august New York Times: “What’s odd is that most of our thriller writers — the people who in the past have taught us most of what we know about intelligence gathering and intelligence failure — don’t seem to be interested in the post-9/11 landscape…. [T]hey’re writing instead about corporate espionage and theological cover-ups in the Middle Ages. To understand what’s going on in the world, … we readers now have to turn to nonfiction….”
Ouch. Still, with some 160,000 books published annually, it’s no surprise that even The New York Times occasionally misses a trend here or there, including the truth about today’s new thrillers and new authors.
There’s a lesson to be learned from a closely aligned genre, the mystery: Let’s take a quick trip down mystery’s memory lane to 1977, when Marcia Muller’s first book, Edwin of the Iron Shoes, was published to resounding silence. It was a tiny printing by a soon-to-be defunct publisher, who was willing to take a risk on a woman who was writing seriously about a smart, strong, realistic female private investigator (P.I.), Sharon McCone. No one noticed, including Ms. Muller, that the novel was not only ground-breaking, it dealt a roundhouse blow to the old boys’ school of P.I. fiction. (Note: The thirtieth in the Sharon McCone series, The Dangerous Hour, will be published in July by Mysterious Press.)
Five years passed. Ms. Muller could find no new publisher, but then neither could any other woman. At the same time, the genre, which had already been foundering, fell into malaise, the victim of too much of the same for nearly a half century. Finally, in 1982, within months of one another, the fresh voices of Sara Paretsky (Indemnity Only) and Sue Grafton (A Is for Alibi) burst onto the scene, soon followed by Ms. Muller’s return plus a flood of other female authors. Because a majority of the newcomers were fine writers creating interesting, relevant books, they reinvigorated the P.I. form. New men joined the field. Readers and booksellers and publishers were happy. Cash registers sang.
In his February article in the Times about thrillers, Mr. McGrath goes on to note wistfully, “[Nonfiction books aren’t] as much fun as novels, though, and they also lack the sulfurous whiff of cynicism and conspiracy that makes good thrillers so satisfying.” He’s not alone in that longing for the glory days of spy novels. Renowned reviewer Dick Adler of The Chicago Tribune wrote two months later, “Where are the new Robert Ludlums and Tom Clancys coming from?”
In January magazine, book critic David Montgomery — thoroughly steeped in the thriller — observed astutely within days of Mr. Adler’s comments, “The thriller genre has been pronounced dead so many times that it would seemingly take a miracle even to get it on life-support at this point.”
While Mr. McGrath, his gaze firmly on the past, offers nowhere to go, both the Tribune’s Mr. Adler and the youthful Mr. Montgomery do. Since I am concerned about the publishing future of new author Raelynn Hillhouse as well as that of other excellent writers at last allowed entry to the field, and since I am weary of these endless death notices for a reinvigorated literary form because they discourage readers and insult us by ignoring us, I am now going to serve myself up as evidence. Consider me the sacrificial literary goat.
As Mr. Nolan documents in his Wall Street Journal piece, I finished my first spy thriller, my debut, Masquerade, in 1994. My agent sent it to the president of one of the top New York houses. She told my agent, “I love this book. I want to buy it. But no woman could’ve written it, so I’m not going to make an offer.” Blatant sexism, it appears, although maybe not so. It was a low period in the thriller market, but perhaps not low enough to make the gamble seem smart, at least to her.
Steve Rubin of Doubleday, who is rightly considered a visionary publisher, saw it differently. Doubleday published Masquerade in hardcover in 1996, and Berkley sold so many copies in paperback in 1997 that it hit The New York Times extended list. Some 20 countries also published Masquerade, while People magazine named it “Page-turner of the Week.” After that, Pocket Books brought out my next two spy thrillers, Mosaic and Mesmerized, again highly political and again dealing with the post–Cold War world.
Fast-forward to today. I’m now at St. Martin’s Press with Keith Kahla, such a terrific editor he could make Maxwell Perkins snap to, and my first novel with St. Martin’s has just been released, in April. It’s called The Coil, and it’s the sequel to Masquerade.
Although Masquerade sold well, there was a stigma to it, an odor of “she doesn’t belong”. In fact, the nadir for me was when the male reviewer of a large newspaper stopped me in the bar at a writers’ conference and asked why I wanted to cut off the private parts of male authors and readers, because that’s what I was doing by writing in the field. Less insulting but still troublesome was the reviewer who “complimented” me in print for so admirably “aping” my male betters.
So this is how the business has changed: In April, BookPage not only named The Coil one of its notable new titles, it also called Masquerade a “tour-de-force”. BookPage critic Paul Goat Allen wrote in his review, “With the release of Masquerade in 1996, Gayle Lynds joined the deified ranks of spy thriller authors like Robert Ludlum and John le Carré.” Aw, shucks.
As for the Times’s Mr. McGrath and his latest death knell for the spy thriller, the capitalist truth is that the form is thriving. According to PW Newsline, the “espionage/thriller” category jumped a whopping 34 percent in sales in 2003. From his critical perspective, Mr. Montgomery agrees: “[Y]ou can’t believe everything you read these days, for not only is the thriller not dead, but it is alive and well and safe in the hands of outstanding authors such as Gayle Lynds.”
And after asking rhetorically where the new Ludlums and Clancys are coming from, Mr. Adler of the Chicago Tribune answers himself: “Here’s one excellent candidate: the tough-minded and talented Gayle Lynds, who co-wrote several books with Ludlum and introduced us to Liz Sansborough – a psychology professor at the University of California at Santa Barbara and an ex-CIA agent – in the gripping Masquerade.”
As Mr. McGrath noted, 9/11 happened. While his view is that it made little difference, I think it made all of the difference. After those horrifying attacks, Americans abruptly shook off their post–Cold War exhaustion and resumed their interest in the world at large, searching for information and, ultimately, understanding of what had happened, why it had happened, and what to do about it. We are a nation of readers, so of course we turned to books, but not only nonfiction. One of our favored resources is through the lens of good political fiction, which is what the best spy novels are all about (and which helps account for the surge of sales in 2003.)
Which is also what I write about, passionately, stubbornly, cloaked in what I hope is rousing adventure, as do many other new authors — Jenny Siler (debut: Easy Money, 1999) and Francine Mathews (debut: The Cutout, 2001), to name just two. As does Raelynn Hillhouse, whose marvelous first novel, Rift Zone, is set in the last anguished days of the Cold War and will be available in August.
It’s time for the book world to look realistically at espionage thrillers again. They’re not only alive, readers are excited about them. And as Mr. Nolan observes in the Wall Street Journal, a sea change is occurring just as it did in mysteries 20 years ago: Female heroes and villains and authors are infusing new life and much-needed sensibilities into a form that had been not only at risk of becoming disconnected but of becoming a caricature of itself.
The best political fiction is so relevant that it’s predictive, a quality we can claim. Mr. McGrath’s complaint that “most of our thriller writers don’t seem to be interested in the post-9/11 landscape” doesn’t refer to us, nor does it to Frederick Forsyth and John le Carré, who have rejoined us: They’re back in print with very contemporary tales. But then, there’s so much to write about, proving again what J. Edgar Hoover said many years ago, “There’s something about a secret that’s addicting.” When you read our books, you’ll know why.
July and the weather is steamy….
I wish. While Southern California’s chilly coastal fog has decided to keep me in turtlenecks and jeans, I’m producing some writing heat. I’ve finished Part One of THE LAST SPYMASTER, and I think I’m in love. Gosh, when a book goes well, it’s such a good feeling — shocking, exciting, invigorating, reassuring…. Love!
Now I’m facing Part Two. My research and notes are spread across the surfaces of my various desks while I contemplate how in heck I’m going to figure out what to do next. I’ll bet you thought I knew what I was doing. That’s where the magic comes in. All that I have at this moment — just ideas. Now to knit them together.
SPYMASTER deals with a small part of the hidden underworld of illegal arms trafficking. I have learned more than I ever cared to know, and yet I can’t get enough. I found one book that sounds as if it’s a how-to: THE NO-NONSENSE GUIDE TO TERRORISM by Jonathan Barker. In very simple form, it lays out what other authorities — in print and in person — say in far greater detail.
I’m enchanted by the title. It sounds as if it’s something AAA or NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC has produced — want to go to Bethesda, Maryland? Here’s how to get there. I’m beginning to worry there’s going to be a “Dummies” guide, too. There’s something wrong with this picture, although THE NO-NONSENSE GUIDE is really anti-terrorism and shows in stomach-churning facts and events how our so-called civilized world is going very wrong.
It’s also the stuff of adventure, and of character. Thank goodness there are still a whole lot of good people in the world. Now to get to work on Part Two…. Hope everyone is having a good, toasty summer…. gayle
June — Head Down, Computer Activated
I’m on deadline since my new novel — THE LAST SPYMASTER — is due in New York on September 1st, so I’m doing little else but write. Alas, mail is going unanswered, and so are phone calls. To help stay abreast of various requests, I’ve hired my wonderful stepdaughter, Deirdre Lynds — musician, artist, and serious book lover — to become something brand-new in my life and hers: Promotions Coordinator.
Neither of us knows yet what exactly that will be. She has terrific ideas for the website, including contests, so that it can continue to be a vibrant, interesting place for those interested in my books and in espionage in general. We think that’s a great place to begin, especially since the updates have been slim lately because I’ve been on book tour. She’ll be working with my great webmaster, Greg Stephens, and I look forward to whatever creative mischief they hatch.
Whew. Such relief! Now I can get back to work. Gayle
What a month!
My suitcase and I have melded. I have vague but fond memories of what my house, my husband, and my cats look like. As I write this, it’s May 11, and I’m on a jet winging my way back to Santa Barbara, tired but very happy that I’ve been able to meet many readers and booksellers over the past six weeks.
While in New York, my editor, Keith Kahla, pronounced that my next novel, THE LAST SPYMASTER, will be published in May 2005, just a year from now. Which means the manuscript must be in his hands no later than September first. There’s a lot of work waiting for me on this book, and not much time to do it. Oddly, this simply whets my appetite for it.
Touring is like chocolate — delicious, a bit fattening, and dangerous in that it could become addictive. Oh, dear — I do love it. But at the same time, my “real” life calls. To outsiders, it must sound boring — routine, simplicity, and hard work. But those qualities enable me to linger in that bright world between the imagination and fact, where possibility thrives, and novelists and marathon runners sweat right up to the finish line.
It’s April, and I’m Packing My Bags
There’s a secret to which few authors will admit: We make fools of ourselves over our brand-new books. We grip that first copy, go into our offices, close our doors, fall into our desk chairs, and gaze long and lustily.
We sniff. Yes, we really do inhale our books. Fresh ink has an unforgettable odor, rich and earthy, and since I date back to the days of newspaper hot type, I am filled with warm nostalgia. We caress and ogle. Ah, the sensation of good paper on the fingertips, smooth as a baby’s cheek. We read our running heads to make sure our name’s spelled right and no one else’s title has been substituted for ours. It’s a little late, but we are irrationally nervous that this book is truly ours. Did we write it?
Last, we read the opening paragraph. If it’s any good, we read the next. As the rhythm of the words returns, we are reassured, and vague memories of creation rivet us.
A new book also means it’s time for me to pack my bags for my author tour. This happens only because many generous and imaginative professionals have made the book’s publication and tour possible.
St. Martin’s events guru, Harriet Seltzer, arranges the stores I’ll be visiting, while my great publicist, Joan Higgins, orchestrates publicity, hotels, flights, and media escorts. Jim Di Miero, marketing genius, has been busy creating an online campaign plus print ads and events with store managers. Artist and webmaster Greg Stephens has given a final polish to GayleLynds.com. Database diva and personal assistant Barb Toohey has readied postcards and is sending out email notices and newsletters. Keith Kahla, editor extraordinaire, is everywhere, coming up with ideas, overseeing drawings and contests, tracking reader responses, and monitoring distribution.
My cats are getting nervous. They see my suitcases and roll their eyes. If you’re reading this, I hope you’ll check our “Tour & Events” webpage to see whether I’ll be near you. Please come.
I’ll regale you with spy stories, and if you want a copy of THE COIL, I’d love to autograph it to you. I remember now … I really did write it, and it was fun.
March is Great!
I’m writing my next book. That’s such a simple statement.
THE COIL begins arriving in stores this month. The reader reviews have been terrific. Sales to book clubs, audio, overseas, and large print have been fabulous. Jacket testimonials from my peers have been stupendous.
Requests arrive daily at my desk by phone, fax, snail mail, and email. Will you fly to Amsterdam to promote THE COIL in October? Of course, I am delighted and honored. Will you read my manuscript in case you think it worthy of endorsement? Of course, I am intrigued. Will you cross-check this address you gave us, because the ARC was undeliverable? Yes, my mistake. Will you be available to sign the second Saturday of the month? It will be my pleasure. Will you spend a day answering interview questions?… Will you write an article for our journal?… Will you give a speech to our luncheon? Will you…
And I’m thrilled. I can’t wait to hold a copy of THE COIL in my hands.
Such is the odd life of the author — to hunger for the new book to be published while full-to-bursting with the next, ravenous to write. This is not sickness; it is optimism. It is also paradox. But then, we humans are the only species capable of embodying paradox.
My editor calls this period the doldrums. He, too, waits … for the stir of a newly published novel to hit, for the reviews to roll in, for the bookstores to report on sales, for the results that tell him how well and high his creative groundwork and vision will soar. But at the same time, he’s busy not only keeping publication on track but also with other authors (how dare he!), other books, and other responsibilities.
Ah, yes. The suspense of it all.
I’m writing my next book. That’s such a simple statement. But behind it, around it, inside and outside of it is an entire industry and literary community in constant movement, making new beginnings, middles, and endings.
Still, when I write, I do not think about publication and all that that entails. I do not think about waiting. Instead, I escape into, am trapped by, am enraptured by “now,” this scene, this paragraph. This one word. Is it perfect? Does it sing and dance? That matters. In this single moment, it is the whole world, simple and uncomplicated, untouched, and in the next moment (it seems), it is on its way to publication. And I — all of us — begin again.
February Spells Relief
As I write this, the new paperback version of MASQUERADE is winging its way to stores across the nation. Odd to feel deeply attached still to this novel, which was my debut, now some seven books ago. In an author’s life, that’s a long time. But there you have it. I’ve always been crazy about MASQUERADE, and I’m thrilled with its new life through St. Martin’s Press.
Did I tell you that St. Martin’s makes no profit at the $3.99 price they’re charging? It’s all because they, too, loved the book.
When MASQUERADE was first published, there was a teenage girl from Greenland who was so excited that she emailed, “I want to be a spy, too!” There’s nothing quite as invigorating for a writer as that sort of spontaneous eruption. Her spirit of adventure was infectious, although at the time I thought she was quite mad. But then, when I was that age, I was a lunatic, too.
Now, of course, with the passage of the years I wonder whether she really did go into intelligence work, because she’s old enough at last. Hmmm.
January was a long, tedious month. It saw the end of much of my compiling of lists for marketing and publicizing THE COIL, now only 2 months from publication. (I’m delighted to report I’ve sent all of the damn lists off to New York. Hosannas of thanksgiving.)
The good news is that St. Martin’s terrific publicity director, John Murphy, and the remarkable Joan Higgins, project manager, have settled on which cities I will tour for the book in April and May — San Francisco, Santa Barbara, Los Angeles, San Diego, and New York City. The highly organized and funny Harriet Seltzer, events manager, is at this moment making the arrangements.
I feel very taken care of. Coddled even.
Am I grateful? Deliriously so. Because they give me time to write. I’ve finished the Prologue to my next thriller. As I sit here, I’m sniffing the air in my office, smelling the change in the wind. I predict I can return to writing full time within a couple of days. I’m hungry for the new book.
Gayle’s January Publishing Report
So life just got more complicated. I’d forgotten how much goes into publishing a book.
In the good news department: Keith (Great Editor — you remember him) tells me that THE COIL has just sold as a Featured Alternate to both Book of the Month Club and Mystery Guild. It’s an honor, the first time one of my novels has been selected. Also, my international agent, Danny Baror, negotiated a terrific contract last week with Editions Grasset of France. That brings us up to three overseas sales.
And finally, St. Martin’s is returning to press, printing a second run of ARCs — Advance Reading Copies — which means St. Martin’s will be able to put the book into the hands of more readers and book sellers, and the new design will include the author quotes and the information about subsidiary rights sales (book clubs, audio, overseas stuff).
Now there’s me. I’m delighted to report I finished the outline for the next book, which will be out a year after The Coil. I sweated on it four months, researching in depth, pacing, cogitating, brainstorming … periodically interrupted by life, my husband’s recovery from major surgery, and the needs of New York. Finally I finished it, and eagerly began writing…
… then slammed to a screeching halt. Wrote the opening paragraph to the Prologue, but now it’s back to working on lists for New York. My last novel, Mesmerized, received a lot of review attention. I’m trying to reconstruct who did what and when, but my mind has turned recalcitrant. Much rather write than do this. Am digging through dusty files. Sneezing. Owell. Part of the business.
And anyone who tells you writing novels isn’t a business is lying or nuts. It IS. There’s that darn mortgage every month, for one thing, that most authors face, including yours truly. And publishers seem to have this rather novel idea that the company should at least pay its way if not turn a profit. Gosh.
But given a choice, would I do any other work? No way. And I’ll bet most editors and publishers wouldn’t either. This is fun, folks. Interesting. Every day is different. We grumble and groan, but at the end of this complicated process is a brand-new book, a new literary life. Can’t get much better than that. More, next month.
Gayle’s December Publishing Report
My editor, Keith Kahla, tells me St. Martin’s has just sold THE COIL to Books on Tape. This is the first time one of my stand-alone adventures will appear in audio, and I’m excited.
More excitement — a LOT of excitement — is the raft of endorsements for THE COIL that have just flowed in, especially since they’re from authors I admire. Dean Koontz, Thomas Perry, David Morrell, Douglas Preston, and Gregg Hurwitz. What a team!
Lots of work this month. The galleys undergo two more proofreading checks, and the sales force is out contacting independent bookstores, chain bookstores, and warehouse outlets, whispering sweet secrets about the story, enticing them to place orders.
My international agent, Danny Baror of Baror International, Inc., has just sent out a wave of ARCs. As of today — December 3rd — houses in the Netherlands and Bulgaria have bought the rights to publish. I love receiving those foreign copies, looking at the words I can’t read but that I know I wrote.
There’s a problem with the ARCs — they’re all gone! There was such a demand for the sequel to MASQUERADE that we’re out of ARCs. And there’s still five months to go until the hardback comes out!
I have to behave myself, not allow myself to get distracted. I’m almost finished with the outline for the next book. Mustn’t think too much about THE COIL, or the odds and ends of questions that appear in my email inbox from New York. My work for THE COIL is slowed for the time being, and I’m in waiting mode, working hard and happily on the new novel.
Still, I wonder what news tomorrow will bring.
Gayle’s November Publishing Report
After months of waiting, the ARCs — Advance Readers Copies — have arrived!
This is our first real look at THE COIL. ARCs are soft-covered books the size of the actual hardcover. The hardcover won’t be shipped to stores until April, so you can see why we couldn’t wait to get our hands on them.
ARCs are created by the publisher and sent to book reviewers, store owners and managers, and trade shows — a select audience of industry insiders. When you read an early review of a book, it’s based on an ARC.
Gayle’s publisher, St. Martin’s Press, has donated 10 copies in December to GayleLynds.com, so that 10 of her fans can be on the inside, too. Hope you win!