First Cup of Coffee – June 21, 2022

How traditional publishing handles covers, the importance of the first book in a series, and how trad sometimes punts (or fumbles) on that second cover. Also thoughts on my new reading catnip.




Transcript
00:00.41
jeffekennedy
Good morning, everyone! This is Jeffe Kennedy author of epic fantasy romance I’m here with my first cup of coffee.

00:27.70
jeffekennedy
Ah, today is Tuesday June Twenty first and summer Solstice Longest day of the year we’ve actually already pivoted happened at 3 thirteen this morning my time and it’s a good thing. We don’t observe things by the solar calendar here you ever wonder how they managed to pull it off and like the united kingdom right? Um, it’s cloudy here today. Very overcast. We’re supposed to get more rain which is incredibly welcome. So rain rain rain!

02:01.63
jeffekennedy
And the garden is looking lovely makes me happy I have a ah guy coming by at any time now supposed to stop in between this certain window. To give me an estimate on hauling away a whole bunch of our brush remember I posted those pictures of like our all the tumbleweeds because our monsoons were so robust last year and we had so much growth and then such terrible winds this spring and we’ve got this brush just piled up everywhere. So he’s going to come by and give me an estimate on hauling it off also exciting. Um, and it’s musing because his name is hay-SOOS which is a very common hispanic name especially in this region but it is spelled like Jesus. And so I’ve had it on my calendar and it’s somewhat disconcerting to have Jesus on your calendar I almost um, tweeted about it I had a very pithy tweet about having Jesus on my calendar and then I thought should I? But is that a good idea and my policy is is if it occurs to me that tweeting or Facebooking something may not be a good idea I default to not.

04:58.30
jeffekennedy
So um, yeah, getting back in my groove I was clearly tired from the traveling and what all because yesterday afternoon I just hit tired. Um. Even hit tired before that after the second hour of writing I laid down to put my feet up because I work on the walking desk and so I occasionally like during our breaks I’ll elevate my feet get the blood going the other direction so I had my book in my hand and. Put my feet up on the you know sort of the futon couch in our bedroom and fell asleep I was late coming back I was like I was sorry gurnda I totally fell asleep and then by late afternoon I was just fighting sleep. And I considered going and taking a nap then but it was already 4 and I thought ah do I really want to take a nap at like 4 and it’s still wanted to take 1 at like 5 so I read for a while in the grape arbor the pergola under the pergola and I think maybe this is a pergola but then when you put grapes on it. It becomes the grape arbor does that seem like a reasonable definition. So I read for a while then I watched an episode of ob b one. But only watched the first episode I think david didn’t love. Love love it and he was he was sleeping because he had had a bad night the night before and hadn’t slept much so I watched ob one and I’m liking it. Um. I’m not gaga for it I have thoughts about that I’ll talk about that in a moment. Um, but then by like seven thirty I was just still feeling like I needed to sleep so I ended up starting to get ready for bed. You know, picking things up and that kind of thing and I was asleep by 8:30 people and slept until six thirty so clearly I needed it I was kind of thinking about the thing about shows because we talk about them so much. Um. My ah couple friends had recommended watching ob b one saying that they thought I’d like it and I do It’s not that I don’t like it. But I think part of it is because I don’t watch all that much tv overall I prefer to read right? you know? and so i’m.

10:37.85
jeffekennedy
Get very absorbed in the books I’m reading. In fact, I’m not sure if I mentioned I probably didn’t since this is partly over me being gone but you know I’ve been doing this whole series reread of this author who I’d liked for so very long. Um and had fallen off and. Didn’t ever get around to her spinoff seriess or not off to um, more than like a couple of them that I wasn’t wild by but then later she did some series with spinoff characters where she did the same. Ah, female male lead for 3 books and I’m discovering that this is my catnip. This is my sweet spot to have that same relationship for 3 books which is why I am considering doing that for. I have to figure out at like what point does considering become the plan I am considering doing this for the next books in the bonds of magic world I mentioned that book one is being called shadow wizard. Which I think is pretty well set. And yeah I want to do 3 books with Judgeron and Cellie and then I want to do another trilogy with somebody else I don’t know if I should say yeah because it could change right. That’s the other thing. Oh he Zeus might be here I will be back now. It was someone doing something over at my neighbors. Um, also apparently all way brush tis the season. So. So yeah, that’s some I’m discovering I really love that especially in something like epic fantasy romance or urban fantasy which is what the books I’m reading are and it’s um, yeah, where you have a lot of. External arc where you have a lot of action lot of things going on being able to have that romance that’s developed over the course of a trilogy is ah yeah, just my catnip these days and it’s what I want to read? It’s what I want to write.

15:35.73
jeffekennedy
So that’s why a couple of you did comment social media to me about the am I really talking about nine books in the bonds of magic world and yes, reader. I am ah I think it was Laura Darnell asked if I’m going to do these straight through or if I’m going to interweave them with other books I wish I was doing them straight through I really do. But I do have other things to write. It’s one. Things about when you have a relationship with an agent that you kind of have to accommodate that relationship. So unless she’s selling books for me, she doesn’t make money and we also kind of have to keep my name out there and so forth. So they. Secret projects secret projects. There are 2. One is totally brand new. It’s this idea that has been a twinkle in my eye I think these guys are stuck I have to go look again? Sorry okay so I think what happened is they were not going to my neighbors. It looks like they. Are delivering trees which is great season to plant them with the monsoons and I think they came around the corner a little too fast and went to the borrow ditch and they had to get the ah truck on the borrow ditch. You know he slipped a slidey with the mud people here aren’t used to it. So anyway, ah, what was I saying I shouldn’t let myself get distracted. So yeah, reading oh the new projects. So yeah, this one has been a twinkle in my eye since early in the year and Sarah is interested in that story. And then the other one is one that I’ve talked about before which is the science fantasy that I wrote like 50 pages of and we went out on submission and came this close now. These guys are roaring off again. Glad this is not my brush guy because these guys are um, not on top of it. It was oscars tree service not my lord and savior Jesus. But I can hear their engine roaring. They’re just like ah they were running around like ants around the truck. Ah always exciting around here. So anyway, um, yeah, so the other ones the science fantasy we came this close I thought I was going to sell it.

21:07.55
jeffekennedy
To Tor I mean the the editorial director at Tor said that she fucking loved this book. But it was too close to something else that they had like sold and marketed like a decade before this is how tribe publishing works. So anyway, um. I had mentioned in our beginning of your planning call to agent Sarah that I was planning to finish writing that book and self- publishlish it because I do love it and she said well since it has been since fall of 2019 my how time flies. Ah. If I’m going to go ahead and write the whole book. Anyway, would I let her take it on submission one more time because the publishing houses have completely turned over It’s you know by the time we got it out there. Well at this rate who knows when I’ll have it written but you know could be spring of 2023 and that’s coming up on 4 years so we’ll see um I need to talk to her about which book she would like to see first but I’m going to write shadow wizard then write one of those books and then um and then go to town on renegades of magic. Which is what I’m calling this trilogy but back to the trilogy that I’m reading ah I had read this I read all the way through all of this authors currently published works and it was a great reading binge I enjoyed it and those. The last trilogy she did I really feel like she just knocked it out of the park I just loved it and now I’m in the peculiar position of do I recommend it without ah tipping all of you off to who I’ve been reading all this time. Because I know I bitched about stuff in the earlier books. But I love this trilogy I love this trilogy so much that I turned around and reread it which is unusual for me part of it was because I finished that third book and I was going to be flying the next day and I wanted stuff to read on the airplane I wanted something that I knew would satisfy me get me through the airports and I wasn’t ready to leave it behind. So now I’m almost done rereading the third book and then I swear I will move on with my life and read something else. But. Wow are these books good? um it. It just hit my sweet spot. So um I don’t know what I’m gonna read next I’m supposed to read something for I’ve I’ve couple things that I’m supposed to read to blurb and so I need to start doing that.

26:49.65
jeffekennedy
Work that into my schedule see if I can. Um yeah I was thinking about a syndrome I was gonna just sort of tip you guys off to this. This is a part of my personal theory of how the world works. But. I think it’s correct because I would not harbor an incorrect theory. You guys. So one thing about traditional publishing is that they will really invest in the cover of the first book of a series. Um, did. They just have this whole mindset of promoting that irst book which can be a useful mindset I mean there there is a lot to be said for having control of the none um I just get over having control of that none book in the series. Because that’s the entree. Um like I was mentioning yesterday with covenant of thorns with my re-release of those books I looked at the math. It’s 3 times I have 3 times as many preorders for book one as I do for all 3 and you know so some people are giving me that vote of confidence of yes. I’m absolutely going to read all 3 but you know the other 2 thirds of readers I think this is probably a pretty reliable statistic will preorder book one and see how they like it and and I would totally do the same thing so and Amazon has a really cool deal. Where and I love this actually that when you buy the first book and then decide to buy the rest of the series. They’ll give you that series price less the book you already own. So there’s really no penalty to waiting. So you know that first book is the entree traditional publishers have that much correct. What they what they do that is really frustrating is that they will then punt on the cover of the second book. I’m trying to feel what this is behind me I could see it on the screen. Okay, it’s it was just that um fragment of that vase that I have back there for some reason it was looking dark and lurking. Don’t mind me while I get distracted. So part of why I’m thinking about this is that I don’t know what it is about the second book but they kind of they must have this make or break and I don’t have the inside knowledge on this but I’ve observed it happen where.

32:27.37
jeffekennedy
If the first book doesn’t hit some kind of watermark for them then they slap a cheap crappy cover on the second book which I can’t even um, it’s they did it to me on 12 kingdoms. The the mark of the tala has a really great intriguing cover. It’s not my ideal cover. It looks a little too YA they made me change the title of that book because it was originally called the middle princess. They made me change the title because I felt like the title was too YA which fair enough. Ah, but then they slapped a really YA cover on it and as one of my stalwart readers Mary Lynn Nielsen I don’t know if you listen to this podcast mentioned she was going through and compiling books by women fantasy writers. She was really interested that Kensington called those books fantasy. They didn’t package them as fantasy. So some of that is confusion within the house I don’t even know. But for the second book for The Tears of the Rose that cover wasn’t nearly as good. It’s um, there are a lot of crappy things about it and they gave me 0 consultation. They handed me that cover. They said here you go um I think it was even posted before I saw it and I was terribly disappointed because it’s um. If you go look at them. it’s just um it’s a dumb cover. It doesn’t look like it doesn’t look like anything um and it’s not as well done as not as well executed as the first cover. The third cover is much better and I did get. Input into that cover. So I I’m not exactly sure what happens there if they like do books one and two too rapidly and like that second cover is like okay, let’s do the same kind of thing. But as I said I’m thinking about this because I have a friend who had self-published some books and then decided to um where we don’t talk much anymore from long history. There. So I don’t know why she made the decision but she went with this small press. Publish the books for her and I know she was at least social media excited on it right? You know talk to up a good game. Really happy to have someone else publish and market these books for her yada yada they gave her a really cool cover for that first book and you know it’s like great.

38:02.65
jeffekennedy
And and this is totally legit I am not um, you know whatever people decide to do you know having somebody else package of market. Your books can be huge if you don’t want to spend the time doing it and you know if you’re hoping to break into other markets. So forth so they give her a gorgeous cover for that first book. And then just the other day I saw the cover for the second book and it’s nothing like the first book. It’s not nearly as good and it’s like what they did to me on these that’s like they just phone in that second cover and and I tend to think it’s when. That first book doesn’t sell at the numbers that they want it to so um, the mark of the talla is still still selling strong. In fact I just got this renewal of rights the other day. It’s it’s selling consistently. Um, you know my first agency. Sends me checks and she sends me little congratulations with it because it’s like still making money and I know a lot of people still pick up those books still love those books. Um I I would love to get the rights back for those books and I just think it ain’t gonna happen because they sell too well. But. I wish I could because the the other option folks is if they so well enough that they decide to put new covers on them so we could hope for that because um I while I’m fine with the first and third covers. Um I would love a new cover for tears of the rose. So let. You know that Hbo mini series when they decide to recover to match the series aesthetic. Let’s do that all right? I’m gonna go get to work today and hope you all have a wonderful midsummer day. Um. Perhaps a midsummer night’s dream tonight and I will talk to you all on Thursday you all take care bye bye.

First Cup of Coffee – March 8, 2022




Transcript
00:00.60
jeffekennedy
Good morning everyone this is Jeffe Kennedy author of fantasy romance and romantic fantasy I’m here with my first cup of coffee.

00:16.40
jeffekennedy
It’s not bad I’m going off lattes again I decided that I was disrupting the sixteen eight fasting alas and sharp viewers will notice I did not yet fix my chimes that came apart in my hands yesterday. Ah, get to that. So today is Tuesday March Eighth snowy day here in Santa Fe revving a very snowy spring which is great. That’s great. Lots of snow on the mountains which boats well for. Water reserves come summer. So yeah, it’s supposed to be snowy all week and it’s very pretty very picturesque. Good cozy day to be inside to write. Um I am delighted to report that I got writing done yesterday. Woo. I got my 3000 words I got it got them even in a reasonable amount of time. Um, 2 hours two and a half hours basically get my 2000 words 3041 um, 3 hours and a three and a half hours total elapse time ah put a relief. So um, yeah I apparently just needed the rest. So yeah. Um, you know cross fingers knock on wood. But um, it flowed reasonably well yesterday. So hopefully I can get keep getting back into the groove the groove as it were.

02:14.67
jeffekennedy
I am a little sleepy this morning though. Well but I’m still on my first cup of coffee. So um, so yeah, yesterday was productive that way. Um, and then it kind of got away from me. But whatever, somebody asked me 1 of the many emails I sent out on Sunday and reply to people 1 person asked me how inbox 0 had gone and I said inbox 0 achieved the problem with inbox 0 is that it does not last and. When I looked on yesterday afternoon I was like back up to 46 emails fortunately, a whole lot of them were people see seeing me on things and so I did not need to um, did not need to worry about them other than to file them. I file all my emails so yesterday um I did stop into a couple of the chats and checked in with people and stuff and so hi lizette and Stephanie. Asked me a question about because I shared some of my progress counts spreadsheets which you guys know are scary. Um, and I shared my gamp charts that I used to plan releases I used to use the gant charts I didn’t have a lot of time to explain because I did need to run out but i. Used to use the gantt charts to plan more of my drafting and revising I used to have them all plotted out on that. Um, for for those who don’t know a Gantt chart is basically it’s one those ones with the horizontal bars and it just shows you. Timelines of stuff now it shows where things are overlapping so when I first started making gantt charts I did make them for like drafting revising overlapping stuff of I used to have in. And want to say a more intense schedule but that’s probably not true. Um, it was a different kind of intensity look of the little wayward curl sticking up there because I had a lot of traad books going on at the same time. And I was for a little while there I was working with 3 different publishers and so stuff would come in from them that was you know they all like would want their one week turnaround or two month turnaround or you know what have you and so I would have to.

05:05.36
jeffekennedy
Stop working on what I was doing and switch over to the thing that had the most pressing deadline. Whatever just come in the nice thing about doing largely self publishing at this point and right now I’m out of contract and. But agent’s trying to fix that but you know I kind of like know she’s like I know you want to be back under your contract I’m like do I though know that I really do um there. There’s good and bad. There are things that are great about tried publishing. Getting a whole trunk of money up front is good having a team working with you is good, um, having other people worry about stuff like covers and the back cover copy and all of that stuff. That’s good. Um, but I definitely ah have a much more even paced life when I am primarily self- publishing because I I decide what I’m working on at any given time. They don’t have to be pulled into anybody else’s timeline or schedule. So anyway and I do use gantt charts to plan out releases to get a sense of how regularly my book releases are coming out and I have instead gone to mapping out. By day. Um I only showed you guys this really small part of my spreadsheets because I have this enormous excel workbook in which I plot out pretty much my entire life and what I’m doing at any given time. But this is not what you asked me what they asked me was and I wrote down your questions so I would know is how do you deal with having multiple series at once and the concern was is that. If they start a second series and they’re already feeling overwhelmed which is a thing and scared that they’ll enjoy another one so much more that they’ll forget about the other and then never finish any of the series. So how do you do all of this. Because I do show on my spreadsheet that I showed them a piece of all of the different series and books that I have working on and I have them in different groupings right? So um, you know like.

07:44.80
jeffekennedy
I have in my court in someone else’s court in the pipeline which needs doing on submission planned tabled potential. Um, there may not be a lot of difference between planned and potential. But. I also have one that’s interstitial. Oh I know what that was and that’s kind of gone away I think I’m I’m not doing the interstitial stuff. It was like that was like projects I was trying to work on like intermittently between other projects and that did not work for me I’m I’ll tell you what. I don’t know if it counts as a secret is this a bug or a feature. We don’t know. Um I I work on 1 thing at a time I and I do really well at that. That’s why I think it kind of counts as a feature. Ah 1 thing about me is that I’m good at concentrating and i. Do best if I concentrate on 1 thing and just work on that 1 thing and keep the whole book in my mind and that’s one way when people ask me how I’m able to write books as quickly as I do I think that’s 1 reason because I just work on that I don’t piddle around. Like I used to have this friend who used to like watch movies while she was writing and stuff and I was like how can you do that I can’t even listen to music while I’m writing I want it silent but that’s because for me bug or feature i. Don’t like any kind of destruction I want to immerse fully in that one book. So I would say that’s one trick to balancing multiple series is that whichever book you are working on you just think about that book. You don’t think about anything else you don’t think about the other series. So I did do this layering last year of releasing the bonds of magic books and the errors of magic books unrelated except that they’re both of magic that was a mistake. Um. Um, the only one who ever mentions it though I should probably stop mentioning you so I would release one book and then work on the next and I I interwove those 2 series the releases for them. Um, and I feel like it worked pretty well. I used to I think part of this is because I started out doing it this way because as I mentioned I was working for like 3 different publishers at the same time I was writing contemporary erotic romance and epic fantasy romance at the same time.

10:30.61
jeffekennedy
And 1 thing I discovered was that switching between the 2 worked really well is kind of a palette cleanser for my brain. So I would finish a big epic fantasy romance and then I would write an erotic contemporary romance which yes felt very different to write. And and I think I’m trying to figure out how to phrase this for me the contemporary romances the erotic romances always felt much easier to write part of that’s because I like writing sex scenes. Um. I think they’re also in some way simpler now arguably I’m not as good at this because those books have never sold as well. So it could be that I like am not putting the effort into them that I could be I always wonder that’s like oh maybe I should be writing them differently that they you know that they feel easy. Maybe I’m not working hard enough to be I’ve written one in a long time. So now. It’s hard to say so um I just thought of something hold on. Okay, sorry about that I am going to. Try to get rights for reversion on some of those old books and I was just thinking about something I needed to remember to do along those lines. Yeah I was gonna start talking about that. But I won’t because I’m gonna stay on topic for Lisa to and Stephanie. See how devoted I am so multiple series. Um, so I think that’s one way to look at it and I think even still even though both bonds and bonds of magic and errors of magic are epic fantasy romances. There’s. Enough difference between the world that it does work in a way to finish one obviously take my breather since I clearly needed a little bit of time to decompress and refill the well and then start in on the. Book in another series because it’s it does work. Well so one thing Deronda Jones and I talk about a whole lot is that we we have this this dream I dreamed a dream of. Writing an entire series like a trilogy probably we wouldn’t try to do more than a trilogy to write all 3 books at once one after the other um, revise them all at once be able to go back and tweak book one to match. Whatever.

13:18.64
jeffekennedy
Book 3 ends up being and not have that the breakup of time in there. The main reason we don’t do that. Actually the only reason we don’t do that is money because you really have to be swimming pretty well. A good income to take that long off between releases right? Whether it’s for your traditional publisher or self-p publishing but that’s the that’s the ideal is to be able to do it that way and then I wonder. Would we really like it. We’ve never gotten to do that. So maybe it wouldn’t work so now focusing back on on the question scared that you’ll enjoy one so much more than you’ll forget about the other this is a thing it really is um. And I think it’s inevitable also regardless of enjoying one more than the other like I really enjoy the airs of magic books I have a lot of fun writing them It’s it’s fun getting back into writing this one I’m also glad it’s the last one because this series hasn’t sold as well. As bonds of magic by like like 20% of sales for errors of magic compared to bonds of magic I mean it’s it’s remarkable the difference and that was something that. Megan Sienna Deutsche and I were talking about because I did ask her I’m like is did I do something weird on these books. Another friend of mine told me that she thought maybe the titles weren’t right and she’s not someone who self-publishes and she doesn’t know a lot about bookmark and she only tre publishes and then it’s more on the artistic. Literature is hard and she’s like well maybe the titles don’t convey enough tension because it implies the two are equal so like right now I’m writing the storm princess on the Raven King you know she’s like maybe it needs to imply more conflict I’m like I don’t think that’s it. But I’m got a second opinion for Megan. And she had some good suggestions for just how I can set up the you know marketing the complete series there. There is a very distinct arc and errors of magic that is set up from the very beginning daddy is um, it’s not going to be. Finished being told until the end and there are readers who will wait until they know that’s going to end because they know we do this you guys they know that we start a series and then we get bored and we go running after the new shiny plot bunny which is a mixed metaphor but who cares and that we may not finish it.

15:59.70
jeffekennedy
So 1 thing that happened to me is sorcess moons. My six book series which I am is going into audio now and I am putting new covers on I have a new cover felon and swo and I’m waiting on the rest. Should probably start rereleasing these soon but I don’t have all the new covers and I’ve been going back and forth should I like just start releasing book one and then release the books as I get the covers or should I wait till I have all 6 feel free to weigh in. So. What happened with sorceers Moons was I originally thought it was gonna be a trilogy. It wasn’t I always do this. My series are longer than I think they’ll be I also this was the first series that I selfpublished from the very beginning and so I didn’t entirely. Plan out what I was doing I didn’t have I wasn’t working with a tread editor who was sort of guiding my steps on it I didn’t have a contract where I had like book 1 2 3 so that you know that I I ran wild with that freedom. So I ended up writing the first 4 books and then. A traditional publishing contract got in the way I got I sold 2 3 book deals at the same time rebel base and st martins and I ended up putting off writing those books 5 and 6 for a fucking year. You guys an entire year. Before I got back to writing book five and it was a problem and I confess freely that if I did not have a lot of readers saying when are you finishing this series I probably would not have so. That is a consideration. Um, if you don’t have the readers clamoring for you to finish the series then you might not do it. Another example cautionary tale as these contemporary romances that I wrote missed connections. Really love those books last dance with the prince since last christmas and it’s about 5 girls living together after college young women. And yeah I totally planned on books four and five in that series and those books if not sold well and. Every once a while somebody will ask me now. It’s been long enough that like nobody asks me anymore. But every once while someone would ask me saying are you gonna write books 4 and 5 in this and I only recently earn out these are self- publishled too I only recently earned out my investment on those books.

18:51.54
jeffekennedy
So at least now I’m making money on this series. Ah not much but so I’ve like 0 incentive to finish it and I don’t sell well in contemporary romance. So I don’t know well ever finish it. Maybe not so the reader pressure helps. It was really really hard for me to go back and finish books 5 and 6 of sorceress moons not only getting my head back in the world but I had written so many books in that interim that I had changed as a writer and so how I approached the story. And how I thought about it characterization world building everything I’d I kind of moved past what I was doing in that series. So I would say be very wary of taking a long break between books in a series because. The odds that you will not come back to It are very high. Yeah and so Stephanie said what if I can’t make my brain behave and I mean some of that’s the writing habit some of that’s being ritualized and I think that having my schedules and my charts and so forth. Make a difference there because like I’ve known that storm princess and the Raven King was coming next for a long time I had that set up with my cover artist. The covers already. Um, put on the show notes today because I haven’t shared that widely yet because I got the cover right? as gray magic was coming out and it was It’s hard to promo a couple of things at once and I’m trying to get better at staggering my my promo. So. I don’t know does that answer the question gals. Um I think really having a schedule. That’s why I love excel you know I’ve got my dates figured I know releases. Um, it’s not something you can control but having people. Really wanting that next book makes a difference I would say with series keep them short. You know plan short series to begin with until you know you can commit to longer ones ah like with bonds of magic I was really planning to do 3 but then that world is so big that by the time I was writing book two and people were loving it so much that I realized I needed to expand that and keep it going and and I’m loving it so much so all right? So those are thoughts ask me more questions. Sorry i.

21:37.68
jeffekennedy
Be on typing all this out but it was much easier to talk it out. So um, hope you all have a fabulous Tuesday and a fabulous Wednesday too because I will be back to talk to you all on Thursday morning take care bye bye.