After four years, it is time to say goodbye to a member of the Inkshares family. At the end of this week, Angela Melamud will be departing as our Assistant Director of Marketing. Angela has been a valuable member of this team for more than four years and was actually our first hire outside of the founders. She has secured reviews not only in publishing trades like Publishers Weekly but also major media outlets like The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Good Morning America. She has represented your novels with diligence and grace, so please join me in wishing her the best as she transitions toward freelance publicity work.
I would also like to introduce Sarah Nivala, who will be joining our team. I first met Sarah eighteen months ago, introduced to her by the CEO of Vroman’s, the largest bookselling chain west of the Mississippi and owner of Book Soup, where Sarah has worked. For those of you who don’t know Book Soup, it’s one of the most iconic independent bookstores in North America. Sarah is possessed by an infectious love for books, a keen understanding of the marketplace, and advocacy skills honed doing the hardest thing in the business—hand-selling books. Sarah will be supporting Avalon, who will retain overall responsibility on marketing. Over the next two weeks, please address the correspondence that would normally go to Angela to Avalon or myself.
Importantly, Sarah is the first of a few new faces who will be joining Inkshares and I look forward to introducing you to them over the next few months.
It’s been a while, so I thought I’d give everyone an update on how work is progressing on the novel. Some people have mentioned to me that they’ve been so busy they haven’t had a chance to read the book yet. That’s ok, I haven’t finished writing it.
In February, I received detailed feedback from the publisher on the draft manuscript that I had submitted. This is what’s known in publishing as an “editorial letter.” This was an extensive (20 page) and thoughtful critique with many good ideas. The good news is that almost all of the input is actionable. The bad news is there are many months of writing and re-writing required in order to incorporate these ideas and create a truly top-notch novel.
The publisher asked me to create a new outline which strengthens the characters and gives more of the historical context of some events during and following World War II. In particular, I have been researching the liberation of the Mittelwerk slave labor manufacturing facility by the 104th Infantry Division of the Army and Operation Paperclip, the US Government program to recruit German scientists to the US after the war. Both of these elements feature in the background of the novel.
So that’s been the focus for the past month. I’m glad to report that the new outline is complete. It’s quite a detailed document (approximately 35 pages) which describes all the characters and every scene. While it’s still the same noir detective murder mystery, there is a more ambitious middle section and an overall faster pace.
I’ll be reviewing this new outline with the publisher in the coming weeks, and no doubt there will be some back and forth as we try to determine the best way to tell what has become a more complex story.
In the meantime, it’s been a long winter in Northern Michigan. The snow is finally starting to melt, but I’ll keep the snow tires on for a few more weeks, just in case. Thank you everyone who supported this creative project. I’ll keep you posted on progress in the coming months.
PS. For those who are curious about Operation Paperclip, the US government program to recruit German scientists to the US after WWII, I highly recommend the book of that name by Annie Jacobsen. She provides a detailed account of many famous scientist and doctors who were recruited to the US, including Wernher von Braun, who was instrumental in developing the Saturn V rockets which powered the Apollo mission to the moon. He also ran the underground slave labor factory which made V-2 rockets at Mittelwerk and was both a Nazi party member and a Sturmbannfuhrer in the SS.
We’ve been a little quiet since the start of the year, largely because the ball was in our publisher’s court. We’d delivered the manuscript, and we’d delivered the preorders that Inkshares requires to move forward – in record time, thanks again to all of you – and we were waiting to hear from them.
We’re happy to report that we had our first telephone conference with Inkshares officials Friday, Feb. 15, who told us that our book will be one of the top five projects they’ll be working on in the next few months. The CEO told us he’d read 50 pages so far and planned to read the rest in the coming weeks. Inkshares’ editing team should be responding to us with an editorial letter by early March, laying out their reactions and next steps. The CEO told us that he’s very excited about this project and wants to shape it so that we can maximize our audience. (Which we are obviously in favor of).
This is a new world for both of us, as it’s the first book project either of us have ever worked on. Neither of us had any idea of what goes into publishing a book or how long that process takes. We learned a lot during Friday’s conversation. The company is already thinking about cover art and who will design it. We had done our own mock cover, just to get ideas started, but the company has professional designers it uses. We’re excited to see what they come up with.
We also discussed the importance of media coverage, particularly radio interviews, to promote the project. Company officials believe the editing process can be completed during the spring. But the earliest possible publication date would probably be in the fall. Inkshares will be doing market research to see if similar books are coming out and when, to determine a strategic release date. But we’re probably looking at fall at the earliest, maybe into the winter.
Clearly, we’re going to be learning a lot. Neither of us ever thought much about market research in terms of timing a release. But that’s why they’re publishers and they’ve got expertise that we don’t.
We do hear from many of you wondering when the book will be published. We plan to keep you updated throughout the year. A few people have asked when the book will be mailed to them. Unfortunately, it hasn’t been published yet, but it will be.
Doyle first approached Lou with a draft of the book in Oct. 2015. We’ve been working together ever since. And now we’re getting closer to reaching our dreams – this book, published by a real publisher, with our names on the cover – than ever before.
We wouldn’t be where we are without the support of all of you. Thanks again for your support, your faith in us, and your continued patience. If we could deliver a finished product to you tomorrow, we would. But this has been a multi-year effort for us, and we’re committed to making this the best product we can and offering the best experience possible to our readers. It may take a few more months, but we are going to get there.
Doyle and Lou
It’s a little late for Happy New Year, but nonetheless, I wanted to provide an update on my progress with “Gumshoe Rules.” My goal was to finish the fourth draft in January. I am happy to report that I met that goal and submitted the manuscript to my publisher Inkshares last week. There are a few other books in the editing hopper ahead of me, so I expect it may be late February before I get feedback.
The fourth draft is much improved over earlier versions with more developed character arcs, stronger atmosphere and faster pacing. I received especially valuable input from my editor and a couple of beta readers. Most of these changes occur in the second half of the book when things get, ah, a bit weird. I have also made minor changes in the first twelve chapters that have been posted online at Inkshares.com under the READ tab. These changes help establish the 1950s noir mood and hint at some of the strange things that happen later on.
I knocked and was greeted by a shapely silhouette in a black dress lit from the hallway behind her. “Well if you’re not the fuzz, I don’t know who is.” She said the word fuzz with a few extra Z’s on it and the effect was like Lana Turner blowing a kiss at you. She tipped me for a moment, but I was all business.
She was a student at Miskatonic University, that never-quite Ivy league school to which the rich forwarded their less ambitious offspring in the hopes of educating, drying out or marrying them away. But there was always something a bit off about the school and Arkham in general. Amidst the bucolic colleges of literature and late-rising frat houses shaded by the city’s famous Dutch elms, there was a sanitarium for the criminally insane. Every college had it’s share of misfits and pranks, but Miskatonic always seemed to rise to the top when it came to unexplained scandals, secrets and suicides.
In the meantime, it’s been cold and snowy in Michigan. Now that I’ve put the novel aside for a few days, I thought I might see if I can create a short story about Jack Waters, set between his return from the war in 1945 and 1950 when Gumshoe Rules takes place. I have some ideas that tie to a still unsolved case set in Adelaide, 1948. We shall see what that leads to.
Thank you everyone who supported this creative project. It’s because of your support that Gumshoe Rules is being published. I’ll keep you posted on any updates from my publisher in the coming months.
Thank for all your support on this project.
PS. I don’t know why I committed to Dry January while editing my book. Nonetheless, I put an early end to that on January 30 when I submitted my manuscript. Cheers!
I’m still working on my second developmental rewrite. I’m on chapter 13 of 42 and this draft is much harder. As I’m learning more and more about what it takes to make a book exceptional, I’m working more slowly to try to incorporate what I learn.
I woke up around 5am for about a week to try to get writing in before the kids woke up, but then my daughter started waking up at 5am. Lately I’ve just been squeezing in writing time wherever I can.
Inkshares had me read a manuscript of another in-production book an an exercise. I wrote a letter about the idea, characters, theme, conflict, plot, prose, and setting, and soon they will send me the official editor’s letter about those same things. It should be really interesting to see what I caught and what I missed and then apply that to my own book. It’s not a book I would usually pick at all, but I loved it. Writers, read outside your genre!
I usually ask y’all to send encouragement, but this month...send babysitting!
Thank you, as always, for following along and for all of your support!