Fans of edgy fiction, put your reading glasses on. Perfect Edge Books is here to give you flawed characters, dark comedy and darker dystopias. A new imprint of John Hunt Publishing, Perfect Edge is pushing the boundaries in fiction and re-shaping the definition of traditional publishing. If Penguin is the Hershey’s of the publishing industry, Perfect Edge is Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory.
So what is Perfect Edge all about? Phil Jourdan, who runs the imprint, can sum it up: “Perfect Edge publishes fiction that blurs the distinctions between “literary writing" and its evil twin, "genre." We combine the indie press attitude with the resources of a larger publisher. We look for authors who are confident, talented, tireless and entrepreneurial. We don't publish hardbacks; we don't give advances; we produce our books with more efficiency than most presses because we try to be relevant and dependable. We even enjoy the horror stories about the publishing industry we read in the magazines because we're adapting quickly. We go for smallish print runs (a few hundred) to prime the pump, print more when stocks get low, over and over. And we make friends with each other along the way.”
Sorry, folks, but according to Phil, “Perfect Edge isn't looking for new submissions right now. We want to focus on achieving the best results we can with the authors we already have onboard. We do, however, intend to open the gates again to find a new group of authors, and when that happens we'll branch out into new genres and styles.”
And now for the good news: Perfect Edge has released its first title! 100 Years of Vicissitude by Andrez Bergen follows a geisha and a corrupt millionaire in their tour of the afterlife. It is the stand-alone, not-quite-sequel to Tobacco Stained Mountain Goat, which Andrez published in 2011. While most sequels follow the heroes from the previous novel, 100 Years of Vicissitude follows the villain. I have no doubt that 100 Years of Vicissitude will be well worth your time and money, whether or not you’ve read Tobacco Stained Mountain Goat.
Sure, call me biased. When my novel comes out I will officially become a member of the Perfect Edge family, so it is not without self-interest that I promote the imprint. But I’m excited about Perfect Edge because I believe in their mission, and I still wonder how I’ve managed to become affiliated with such a forward-thinking and creative group. The authors at Perfect Edge aren’t afraid to break the rules, and they have the talent to get away with it.
In an effort to capture the spirit of Perfect Edge, I asked some of my fellow authors to let loose their feelings about the imprint. It was no surprise to me when they waxed poetic about community, change and our fearless leader, Phil Jourdan. Here’s what they said:
As a writer and a book reviewer, I’ve made some observations and learned a few lessons over the past few years about the state of mind of many emerging authors. If you care to listen, I’ll share a few. Take them for what they are, the opinions of an unpublished author.
First, I think many new authors fail to take an honest account of their motivations before jumping into writing. Motivations are legion, but every writer wants their work published. It may not be the only motivation, but it’s likely the most important. I call this powerful motivation the Writer’s Drive. However, when a writer doesn’t have other goals besides publication, such as improving the quality of their work, the Writer’s Drive can become overpowering. A relentless, obsessive, and often frustrating quest for publication can cloud judgment and seriously interfere with their craft. To put it another way, too much Writer’s Drive is a bad thing.
Writer’s Drive often leads to Writer’s Desperation, the overpowering desire for feedback and validation. Desperation leads to anxiety and impatience. It often comprises a writer’s work as they rush it to publication before its ready. Alas, desperation often leads to fear.
Writers often fear criticism because writing is an intensely personal experience.
To some degree or another, writers must lower their shields and open themselves up to the judgment of strangers, resulting in varying degrees of apprehension, or what I call Writer’s Fear. Like any other human endeavor, most people who try their hand at writing fail. After the sixth grade most ballerinas and baseball players give up and become other things. Sadly, it takes more time for writers to get a clue. Unlike sports, writers can insulate themselves from scrutiny and, to avoid hurt feelings, friends and relatives sometimes aren’t entirely honest. When writers finally hit a wall of honest, often brutal, feedback, they have three choices: quit, learn and adapt, or lie to themselves. Which brings me to my last observation: writers can be self-delusional.
There isn’t a writer out there who hasn’t suffered Writer’s Delusion. We’ve often ignored a golden nugget of advice that a manuscript might need major work. People naturally hear what they want to hear, not what they need to hear. It reminds me of the movie Dumb and Dumber
when the Lauren Holly tells Jim Carey he only has a
one-in-a-million chance of ever going out with her. He smiles and says, “So you’re telling me I have a chance!” Yep, that’s us writers.
There you have it - A strong, unchecked drive to publish often leads to desperation, fear, and self-delusion. In other words, it leads to a very frustrated writer. So I come back to the point about motivations. As a writer, if you’re honest about your motivations you can often find other reasons than publication. Getting published is a natural, long-term goal, but there is more to writing than seeing your book in print. Improving your craft, for example, is an important and attainable near-term goal.
Bottom line, you need something to keep you motivated on the long road to publication that doesn’t stress you out, keeps you writing and moving forward. Find reasons that are uplifting, relaxing, and positive. This will give you patience and peace of mind. It also beats the hell out of fear, desperation and delusion. In time, one way or another, the publication thing will take care of itself.If you enjoyed this article follow Underground Book Reviews on Facebook or Twitter and subscribe to our newsletter. You can also follow Brian Braden on his blog, Facebook and Twitter and buy his book, Carson's Love. If you are an agent or publisher you can make the smartest financial decision of your life (and alleviate Brian's fear and desperation) by offering him a contract on his brilliant novel Black Sea Gods.
My stint as a published author is about as long as I project Honey Boo Boo’s TV career will be. However, in my short two months of author-dom I’ve learned a lot. I want to take a moment and share with you my experiences as I see them in case some of you are thinking of diving into self publishing too.
First, it’s hard to know how much success is enough to make me satisfied. Sales have been okay. After the first surge, I’ve made enough money to buy myself lunch every day. I have hovered at 30,000 in the Amazon rankings. Now if you consider that is out of almost 4 million books, 30k doesn’t seem all that bad. But when you are an overachiever like I am, sometimes I feel disappointed that I haven’t rocketed to stardom yet. However, with my cognitive behavioral training I have reframed my disappointment into a real sense of accomplishment. Have any of you seen the movie Fight Club? Of course you have. Now remember the scene where Tyler Durden asks every man in the car what they want to do before they die and then lets go of the steering wheel? Well, my answer was always publish a novel. Now I can let go of the wheel and know that a major box has been checked. My children and their children on until the apocalypse comes (I write dystopian, remember?) can read a piece of me. I like that thought.
Second, there is never enough times one can check their Kindle Direct sales page that will satisfy. It has become a bad habit of mine. I check it before I go to bed, when I wake up and many, many times in between. I am thinking about going and checking it right now, so if you will excuse me... There. I’m back. You see, it’s a bad, useless habit. If only my keyboard could give me a mild electric shock every time I type in Amazon, I might get more done.
Lastly, I was blown away by the outpouring of support from my friends, family and surrounding community. I compare it to attending my own funeral without all the crying (only a few tears were shed and all by me). I knew my family would like it. I knew my friends would give me an atta-girl. What I didn't expect was everyone (and I mean everyone) I know coming out of the woodwork to fawn over me. People I hadn't spoken to since high school reposted my Facebook posts to get me sales. Colleagues told all their students to go out and buy my book. Friends of friends of friends wrote me and told me how much they enjoyed reading it. If nothing else comes from publishing, these last two months have been worth all the love I have received.
There is so much more I could reflect on, but as I said, I’m still an author-ette cutting my baby teeth on a sequel. I can smell good things ahead, and if you are willing, I’ll take you along for the ride. Thanks to everyone out there that has supported me. Lots of love coming your way.
You can buy The Breeders on Amazon or Barnes and Noble.
It's finally happened. I am now a published author.
It feels strange to type that statement. I keep thinking somewhere a record will scratch, everyone will turn and look at me and someone will say, "Umm, no Katie, you can't just proclaim yourself published. Didn't anyone tell you?" For most of my life I've dreamed of being published, but in my head it meant attention from "the industry," an agent, a hot shot editor. Not me alone at a computer late at night reading Smashwords Style Guides until my eyes crossed. Publishing felt akin to God on high descending on a billowing white cloud, raising a golden scepter and proclaiming me published. It just wasn't gonna happen.
But then I started this blog and I met all the lovely, self-published authors who had written really great books. They were smart, normal and good at what they do. They were putting it all out there and reaping the rewards. They had readership, an outlet for their work and were having fun in the process. I finally realized they were just like me except one thing: I was afraid.
So I started examining my hidden fears. I was afraid I couldn't get my book ready without the help of a fantastic editor, so I hired one. I was afraid to navigate the confusing mire that is formatting, so my husband and I slogged through it. I was afraid of what people would think when they actually read my book, so I got over it. One by one my fears fell away until all I had was excitement. And man, am I excited.
There are lots of great reasons to stick with traditional publishing, but I think I have found my path for now. The joy of reading that first five star unsolicited book review is something I will always remember. The path hasn't been easy, but it's been worth it. And I'm happy to say I'm no longer afraid.
An original premise is worth it’s weight in gold. That’s why Hero: The Unknown Territories
drew my attention from the onset. The opening scene shows Tilger, a bold and valiant hero, bored to tears with his job. This hero has seen it all and is frankly sick of the daily grind: rescuing maidens, saving cowering townsfolk and fighting off vicious hordes. He longs for something new... and, of course, he finds it in an unexpected place. Tilger meets a wizard who sees through him and realizes what he really needs: to be stripped of his armor, his strength and his muscles. On a bet, Tilger loses it all and is told he can only regain his looks, strength, armor and weapons if he goes on a quest to search them out. Tilger is forced into a barbaric world completely unprepared. Luckily he has his faithful warhorse, Sho and along the way meets the tinker, Standback. Together the three embark on adventures where Tilger learns the real secret to being a hero has nothing to do with what he wears and everything to do with what is inside. Hero
is a well-written hero’s journey story chocked full of interesting characters, intriguing creatures and thrilling fight scenes. One of the best parts of this book is Fritschi’s humor which is woven in nicely. He made me chuckle on many occasions. It is a fun read. I did find myself wishing for two things however. One is that the world Tilger inhabits would be more vivid. Many times creatures were introduced with a basic description that left me longing for more. Also this book falls prey to the “saggy middle” syndrome. The scene did not build in intensity as the story unfolded. It is fun watching Tilger and Standback wander into different situations, like a cluster of monks with a very unusual leader, but I never felt a sense of urgency to read into the night.
Overall, if you love to explore new worlds and read about valiant knights who earn their stripes, check out Hero: The Unknown Territories
. It’s a fun, light read that will give you a new outlook on heroism and keep you chuckling to boot.
You can find Hero here.
You can find Chris Fritschi on Amazon
. If you enjoyed this review follow Underground Book Reviews on Facebook,Twitter and subscribe to our newsletter.
You can also follow Katie French on Facebook and on her website.
For the last two years I’ve been engaging with my peers in full scale book demolition and rehab. My manuscript, scrawny, tattered and structurally unsound, gets whisked away by my lovely renovation partners, Brian, AB and Kimberly. They restructure it, gloss it up and set it right. When I get it back, I gasp with joy and wonder at how they were able to fix the flaws, shore up the cracks and turn my project into something worth reading. It is, at times, a small miracle.
Not everyone is so lucky.
Many emerging authors struggle through their drafts alone, isolated at the keyboard. When they have a great idea, they have no one to share it with. When they’re stuck, there’s no one to lend a hand. It’s a rough way to work and often unproductive. It is with this in mind that Kimberly, our friend Brandi and I have started The Book Docs. The Book Docs specialize in editorial services for emerging authors. We want to help those writers floundering alone in sea of uncertainty. We’ve been there. We know it’s no fun. We can get you smooth sailing in no time.
So, check us out at www.thebookdocs.com.
The first person to contact each of us and mention Underground Book Reviews gets a free first chapter review.
A Wog Named George...
Blog... I hate that word. It’s an ugly word. It sounds like an unwanted biological function. “In the event of vomiting, diarrhea or sudden blogging, immediately discontinue use of this product and consult your doctor.”
Blog is a shortened version of “web log”. B-log. I get it, but I still don’t like it. I prefer the term wog. Wog has a warm, fuzzy element totally lacking in blog. “Hey, everyone, I’m wogging!” (Sounds like jogging, but without the knee pain.) Wog brings to mind something fuzzy and warm, like a puppy. “Look at the adorable little wog! I will love him and hug him and squeeze him and name him George!”
Alas, since I’m certain the universe will not drop the word blog in favor of wog, I suppose we’re stuck with it. In that event, I guess this is a good a time to tell our Underground readers I’m adopting a wog... I mean starting a blog.
I’m no stranger to blogging. I had a few over the past few years, but, they’re dead now. One died of neglect, one was devoured by trolls, and one I had to put down because, well, it got a little
out of hand. I buried them in the backyard next to the cat.
This time it’s going to be different, I promise. I’m going to make sure this blog has all its shots, a collar in case it gets lost, and will be fed and watered every week. I will love it, and hug it and squeeze it and name it George.
Naw.... actually, it’s just going to be called my blog. I might rename it if something catchy pops into my head at 2 in the morning. If you want to read the debut post click here
and take a look. If you like what you see, keep checking back every Wednesday for a new installment.
I know what my editor, AB, is thinking: “This blog is your
responsibility, Brian. You have to take care of it, take it for walks, and clean up after it.” Yes, AB, I promise I’ll take care of it.
Anyway, there isn’t any room left in my backyard to bury another wog.
I don’t know how it happened, but I finally found someone crazy enough to represent my work. Not only that, but I’m working with some really awesome people to do the final touches. The Atheist’s Prayer
will be published by Perfect Edge Books, a new imprint of John Hunt Publishing
. Right now that’s all I can say. Except that they rock. I can say that too.
Wait, what’s The Atheist’s Prayer
about? OK, I’ll tell you, but only because you asked so nicely...
A year ago, nineteen people were found dead in a remote area of the National Forest. They were lying in a circle, holding hands and wearing plastic fairy wings. The cause of death remains unknown.
Experts claim that there is no possibility of a reoccurrence, but Candy knows better. She knows that there are copycats out there, and another suicide is imminent.
The problem is, Candy is a coke-dealing stripper, and the only person who will listen to her is an alcoholic mall Santa named Hank, who’s only listening because, well… she’s hot.
If Candy and Hank don’t figure their shit out, and quick, two innocent children will be dragged along on yet another deranged, fairy-worshiping suicide mission.
Next Sunday, the ritual will begin.
Inspired by Chuck Palahniuk and Christopher Moore, The Atheist’s Prayer
follows a mentally disturbed woman, an alcoholic and a seven-year-old as their lives are brought together by a stripper and torn apart by a suicide cult. Underneath the crass humor, The Atheist's Prayer challenges our stereotypes and explores our interpretations of religion and myth.
Dying to know more? You can follow me on Twitter
, become a fan on Facebook
or check out my website
and I'll keep you updated.
Till next time,
It’s over and we’ve all returned home to reality and our normal lives. After a day of brutal traveling and a decent night’s sleep, here are my lessons learned from the NYC Pitch Conference. This is the down and dirty from anyone thinking about attending this event. Was it worth it? That is a resounding yes, and here is why:
I think a trait shared by all aspiring writers is they labor alone in a vacuum, struggling for years in front of their keyboards, unsure if their work is any good. Is my story is marketable? What chance does it have of getting published? They may have never met another writer and their friends and loved ones, albeit supportive, often don’t truly understand. I can confidently say now that I am no longer in that vacuum. I met dozens of writers like me, who share my aspirations, frustrations, dreams, fears and struggles. Although we come from varied backgrounds, our stories and passions are similar. You will leave this conference knowing you are not alone.
What was this conference about? First, I’ll tell you what it’s not about. It’s not about your novel and how cool it is. It’s not about your creativity or how long you’ve struggled to be a writer. It’s about the cold and hard facts of selling ideas. It’s about setting a course to becoming a disciplined, professional writer. Read and heed, brothers and sisters! This is plain-language advice I wished I had before I showed up.
If you want to come to the New York Pitch Conference, be warned. It’s not for the thin skinned or faint of heart. Everything you think you know about writing, publishing, and your book will be challenged. The facilitators are professionals who’ve already met someone like you a thousand times. They know all the mistakes and want nothing more than to help you avoid them. They are on your side, but you will not be served by getting frustrated or angry when they tell you the ugly truth. Leave your ego at the door and be ready to shut up, sit down, listen and learn. They will start not necessarily with the quality of your pitch, but with the concept behind your book.
They say that home is where the heart is – and, of course, our hearts are always with our families. However, there’s a piece of our hearts that is always searching for those who share our same passions, those who will drive themselves to the brink seeking what may, or may not, be the impossible dream. This is what the Algonkian conference is all about – it is for those who refuse to give up on their dream.
There are four groups that are divided into approximately 20 people. Ann Garvin, the author of On Maggie’s Watch, is a vivacious, petite, curly haired group leader for AB and I. Ann is so engrossed with helping the l7 people who are in her group that she is more nervous than we are when we get our two minutes with each editor. She is not only a gifted writer, but passionate about helping other writers.
Ann and the other three leaders of the workshop spend hours on end helping us perfect our pitch to make sure it will be clear to the editors what we have written. Word count, genre, title and comparable works of fiction are all gone over so the editor can have a clear vision of what it is we write. These are worked on both in group session and individual sessions.
The group eagerly awaits their turn to pitch
Yesterday, we pitched one editor; today we pitched two. The pitch is only the beginning. The editors hear the pitch (roughly a 150 word overview of our novels) and then if they like it, they ask for the manuscript. If they like the novel, they try to convince the marketing department that the book they are sometimes putting their career on the line for will be well worth the advertising dollars spent. This is the beginning to yet another long wait.