A Crazy Publication Day

A Crazy Publication Day

Yesterday was a crazy day: I sent out a newsletter, the U.S. paperback edition of The Shadow Queen came out, andquite by coincidence — my INK e-book edition of The Shadow Queen launched in the UK and beyond.

TSQfinalcover2Shadow Queen Anchor (US) ppbk cover

Any one of these requires quite a bit of on-line attention, but to have all three in one morning?

Too much!

By 11:00, I decided I needed a walk, so I went out to buy watercolour supplies for the class I’m taking this afternoon. Very therapeutic!

And soon … to the beach, where I will be reading the 4th draft of The Game of Hope with an editorial eye. I put the novel aside December 1. It will be interesting to read it afresh.

I’m reading:

Publishing 101 by Jane Friedman. Excellent. Highly recommended.

The Book of Strange New Things by Michel Faber. I’m only a few chapters in and I love it already. Will it last? I very rarely read speculative fiction. I suspect this one will hold me.

How to approach a writer for a review or testimonial of your book

I often receive email pitches from publicists, asking for a testimonial—a “blurb”—or offering to send me a book to review or mention on this blog. (My little blog!)

Recently, there were two on the same day. One was a model of a successful pitch, and the other an example of what not to do.

I’ll begin with the NOT:

The letter begins: I’m are writing to you about …

Say no more!

The second publicist knew my work and had chosen to approach me for a reason. She included a short description of the book, several glowing blurb quotes, plus a Q&A with the author. It was enough to get me interested.

I only wish publicists would also include an attachment of the opening pages of the novel. That would be all I need to judge if a book might be one I’d like.

That said, I rarely accept. As for all writers, I have a frightening pile of books I am supposed to be reading. Plus, I’m slow: the last WIP I agreed to read for a very good friend took me over a month, even reading it every day.

It takes quite a bit of time to read a novel, so an indication of a book’s length is important, as well as the deadline, should a quote be needed before publication.

What to include

In summary, a pitch for a quote or review should include:

  • why the book might be of interest to me
  • the opening pages
  • the cover
  • the deadline (if applicable)
  • book length

Nice extras would be:

  • publication details (i.e. promotion plan, print run)
  • advance review quotes, if there are any
  • a Q&A with the author


Later, as a courtesy, an autographed copy of the published book should be sent with thanks to those who have taken the time to read and craft a testimonial or review. An appreciative note from the author is always nice. It’s surprising how rarely this is done. I understand! It’s expensive, for one thing, but most of all, it’s time-consuming.

Shadow Queen high res front

Come to think of it, I’ve yet to finish sending out my own “thank you” copies of The Shadow Queen. (Reminder to self: do it today.)





Publication day!

Publication day!

A friend just emailed: Is it as exciting as the first time? 

Although there is nothing quite like the first time, I woke up this morning and thought, with a big grin, PUB DAY!

credit ChristArt.com

It’s such a miraculous thing!

I’m still in Mexico, so I can’t see it in bookstores in Canada and the U.S. If you see it, send me a photo (sgulland AT sandragulland DOT com) and I’ll post it here.

Here is the link to the newsletter I sent out yesterday: http://bit.ly/NewsletterApr72014

I’ve emailed the winner of THE SHADOW QUEEN (always fun).

Reviews—even brief ones—on Goodreads, Amazon.com or Amazon.ca are so very much appreciated now. If you’re not ready to review, give a “thumbs up” to a review you like.


And, as well, all that usual Social Media stuff: thumbs up, likes, re-tweets and tweets! It’s a noisy type of day.

But most of all, I hope you buy THE SHADOW QUEEN, or get it out of the library, or borrow it from a friend. In short: I hope you read it. And if you love Claudette and her eccentric tribe, chat it up. Word-of-mouth is still the most powerful promotion there is.

How to be published: everything you need to know, plus a really great surprise

How to be published: everything you need to know, plus a really great surprise

The HarperCollins Canada 2014 catalogue!

HC catalogue

The main reason for this post is to share a great blog post on writing and publishing.

“25 steps to being a traditionally published author: Lazy Bastard Edition”—a post by Delilah S. Dawson—is an excellent overview of the writing and publishing process, as good an overview as I’ve ever read. I just sent the link to four friends who are working on novels. (Heh. By mistake I  typed “wording” on novels.)

To give you the funny-but-hard-hitting sense of it, Step #1 is: If you’re actually lazy, GTFO. 


On the home front:

THE SHADOW QUEEN has a pub. date: April 8, 2014. I’ve sent off the corrected 1st Pass pages and I’ve only the Acknowledgements and the very last sentences of the novel to tweak. I’ve a storage box on my office floor where everything to do with The Shadow goes now, labelled “archival.” (I.e. my crowded basement.)

No more surprises, right?

Wrong! Yesterday evening, I got this Tweet:

I was speechless! A portrait of my Claude? I didn’t think one existed. (I Googled for it when I began my research and came up with nothing.)

Claude portrait

Look familiar?

Shadow Queen


I’ve emailed Doubleday to find out if they used the portrait as a basis for the cover.

I was pleased when I first saw the cover because the woman looked like how I’d imagined Claude to look. (Eyebrows!)

And now: well! To find out that it looks like the real Claude: I’m blown away.

Late breaking news (two days later): my editor at Doubleday, Melissa Danaczko, checked: the cover designer had never seen a portrait of Claude, much less this one.

Is that spooky-amazing or what?!

On author questionnaires, first pages, daily word count for my YA about Hortense, and a wonderful granddaughter, all at once

On author questionnaires, first pages, daily word count for my YA about Hortense, and a wonderful granddaughter, all at once

I’m working on the Author Questionnaire for Doubleday’s publication of The Shadow Queen, and that requires quite a bit of time mucking about in my promotional and publication history.

Any day now, I will see the first pass on the book cover: I’m excited. I’m already madly in love with the interior design.

Meanwhile, I’m cranking up the word count on the Young Adult novel about Hortense, going slowly at first. We will have the pleasure of our now 1-year-old granddaughter Kiki, our daughter Carrie and her mate Bruce this long weekend, so I’m only aiming for 50 words a day. Dipping a toe in—that’s all—but it’s important to do it every day. This morning I aimed for 50 and chalked up over 200. I’m very much enjoying exploring this youthful story.SaveSave


Gutenberg’s fingerprint: how much is a smudge worth?

Gutenberg’s fingerprint: how much is a smudge worth?


I’ve posted a few times of late about The Paradise Project, author Merilyn Simonds‘ limited-edition letterpress publication of short stories. In an age when publication is becoming more and more digital, I’m finding this hand-made centuries-old process fascinating.

Merilyn has been blogging about the process. Her latest post, Gutenberg’s fingerprint, is especially evocative.

The studio is crowded today: all the people who worked onThe Paradise Project have gathered to see the final pages printed and put the press to bed. …

Mico looks at the press as he will one day look at the person he loves. “He let me run this thing when I was 14, and ever since, I’ve wanted to come back. It was a big mistake. Now I never want to leave.

Me neither.

On the news front, I’m awaiting the delivery of my edited last draft. I’m told that there are only about 50 small suggestions. (That’s nothing!) I’m also told I was described by an editor as “Queen of Revision.” I love that!

I’m considering changing my main character’s name from Claude (her historical name) to Claudine or Claudette. A number of readers get confused by what they consider a male name. I like the androgynous name and it suits Claude’s androgynous character, but I don’t like confusing readers (at least unintentionally). Your thoughts? Preferences? I’m leading toward Claudine.

I put off sending out my newsletter until later in August so that I could give more concrete information about the publication date, a possible title, the Josephine documentary as well as Sandra Gulland Ink publications.

Yes, there is a lot coming to a head next month!

Illustration at top is from Bibleodyssey.