Thursday’s Post-Publication Post: Book Clubs, Reading Guides, and Another Call for Suggestions

I’ve already mentioned the wonderful news that my story collection, Quiet Americans, has been selected as the next title for the Jewish Book Council’s Twitter Book Club. We’ll be chatting online on Tuesday, April 12 (12:30, U.S. Eastern time), and you are all cordially invited to attend!

What I haven’t yet shared is that last week, I learned that two more clubs have chosen Quiet Americans to read and discuss. These are groups that meet face-to-face. They happen to be located in different parts of the country (and not in any state I’ve lived in, which for some reason I find remarkable).

With this happy development, I have turned my attention to a project I know I should have managed awhile back: writing a reading guide/discussion questions. (Again, remember, Last Light Studio is a very new and very small press. It’s not as though there’s an employee whose responsibility it is to write the questions.)

This really shouldn’t be so difficult, right? Especially for me, with years of teaching experience behind me. After all, how many times have I created and circulated questions to help guide my students’ reading?

But, of course, this set of questions is different. I’ve been looking at reading guides and questions for other authors’ books for some guidance. But, as usual, I’m again turning to all of you. Especially those of you who participate in book clubs. How many questions do you like to have on hand? If there’s a “type” of question that seems to work well (or badly), might you share it here? This inquiring mind wants to know! Thank you very much!

(Oh, and when I’ve completed this project, I’ll be sure to post the questions/guide on the website.)

Thursday’s Post-Publication Post: The Ebook is Coming, The Ebook is Coming

Next week, if all proceeds according to plan, Quiet Americans will begin its conversion into ebook format. Which is exciting and, I’ll admit, a bit unnerving (it’s not possible for me to approach any sort of change without at least some anxiety–that’s the only explanation I can give you).

We’ve had some discussions among the Last Light Studio (LLS) publisher and authors about ebook pricing, but I think it’s safe to say that we haven’t determined anything conclusive or across-the-board. In fact, part of the beauty of the LLS model is that each author has quite a bit of say in the pricing of her own book.

Which means that I’d love to hear from those of you with more ebook experience, whether you consider yourself primarily a reader, author, or publisher. What are your thoughts about ebook prices? How much is too much? Does any price ever strike you as perhaps “too little”? What differential do you expect to see between a print and ebook version? (Yes, I’ve read through a number of blog posts and articles on these matters, but I’m interested in what you have to say.)

Please don’t limit yourself to pricing matters if you have more to share. Feel free to comment with any tips you may have about ebook promotion or other relevant issues, too. Are there specific venues you trust specifically for their ebook reviews? Please tell me about them!

Quiet Americans and I thank you!

Thursday’s Post-Publication Post: An Eventful Season

Spring is coming here in the U.S. Northeast, and with the new season I’m happy to share news about a batch of upcoming events, some of which will focus on my new story collection, Quiet Americans.

On March 26, I’ll be participating with an impressive roster of women poets coordinated by Diane Lockward (who, as I’ve mentioned before, happens to have been one of my sister’s high-school English teachers). This free event, titled “Girl Talk: Women Poets Reading Poems that Celebrate the Lives of Women,” has been designed in honor of Women’s History Month. It will be taking place in West Caldwell, N.J., so I hope to see some of my Garden State friends & family there!

On April 10, I’ll be reading in the Sunday Salon series in New York City. Although not all of the details have been posted, I can tell you that if you come to hear me read, you’ll also get to hear Paul Lisicky and Karen Abbott. (Big thanks to Sara Lippmann for the invitation.)

On April 12, you can “chat” with me online when the Jewish Book Council (JBC) hosts its next Twitter Book Club. (Quiet Americans is the April club title!) To ensure that your tweets show up in the chat stream, be sure that your account has been activated at least a week ahead of time. Not sure what’s involved with a Twitter Book Club? Check the JBC’s instructions and archived chats.

And on April 30, I’ll be up in Boston for Grub Street’s Muse & the Marketplace Conference. Want to learn about opportunities to write about writing (book reviews, author profiles, etc.)? Sign up for my session (#1E)!

I’m very excited about these opportunities to catch up with old friends and meet newer ones face-to face, and to have the chance to converse with readers from around the world online. Please check my News & Events page for updated information about these and other appearances. Many thanks!

P.S. One more thing. The end of March signals the end of the first quarter of the year, and at that point, I’ll be reviewing sales data since January (my publisher’s business model provides monthly royalties) and issuing a check to The Blue Card per my commitment to donate a portion of sales earnings to that organization. This “event” will be private and quiet, but it seems worth sharing nonetheless.

Thursday’s Post-Publication Post: (More than) a Little Help from My Friends

Just after publishing last Thursday’s post, which featured John Kremer’s list of “30 Ways to Help a Book Author You Love,” I became the grateful recipient of still more support and encouragement for my own new story collection, Quiet Americans.


  • A new acquaintance, following up on an email I’d sent, invited me a) to present a reading/discussion on her college’s campus and b) to participate on a conference panel. (More details about both of these events as they become available.)
  • A former colleague, having noticed Josh Lambert’s mention of Quiet Americans online, emailed to ask if I’d like him to query a contact about the possibility of a reading back in Cambridge. My answer: YES, PLEASE (AND THANK YOU!).
  • News trickled back to me about a reader who was apparently so caught up in Quiet Americans that, at the conclusion of her New-Jersey-to-New-York train ride, the conductor had to knock on her window from the Penn Station platform to remind her to leave the train. (She’d received the book from a family friend of ours, who had gifted copies to all the members of her Mah Jongg group!)
  • And, in a glorious gesture of generosity and friendship, four of my co-workers lured me into an office late one afternoon to surprise me with their four, just-arrived copies of Quiet Americans, which they promptly asked me to autograph. (They were not, by the way, the first co-workers to order the book and surprise me with an autograph request, but they were the first to do so en masse!)

What’s really kind of astonishing is that I doubt that any of these instances resulted from the people involved having read last week’s blog post. I’m just that blessed.

My Awesome Co-Workers (with Autographed Copies of Quiet Americans)

Thursday’s Post-Publication Post: How to Help An Author Out

I’m one lucky gal. When my friends and family started hearing that my book of short stories, Quiet Americans, was going to be published, they didn’t only ask me about ebook availability.

They also asked how they could support me.

I had a few ideas–and I was and remain overwhelmed by the generosity others have shown me. But I can’t help wishing that I had known/been able to point them to John Kremer’s list of “30 Ways to Help a Book Author You Love” from the start. (NB: The original link seems to be broken; here’s an updated link, with “51 Ways, which I’ve added in 2020—prompted by the FB “Memories” feature.)

Kremer is a book-marketing guru, and I discovered his list this week (thanks to another marketing maven, Dana Lynn Smith). The best thing about it is that it’s still useful to me: Even if my friends and family were kind enough to offer their assistance pre-publication, most of Kremer’s suggestions can still be used now that the book is out.

For instance:

1) Buy your friend’s book. Encourage other friends to buy the book. Go to your local library or bookstore and encourage them to buy the book. Buy books as gifts.


16) Suggest catalogs, associations, and other special sales opportunities. If you receive mail order catalogs that feature books like your friend’s book, tell her about the catalog. The same with associations, groups. corporations, etc. that might be interested in buying bulk copies of your friend’s book.


25) Recommend your friend’s book to your reading group. If you belong to a reading group, suggest your friend’s book as part of your reading program. Or at least tell your reading group about the book.

You get the idea. It’s a terrific list, and I am grateful to have it.

Why don’t you peruse it, too? And then, if you think of any other tips that could be helpful, please share them here!