Thursday, September 01, 2005


May I Recommend...

With talk of gas shortages and price gouging today, it may be a good time to suggest OILMEN AND OTHER SCOUNDRELS by James Day as recommended
reading (Barricade, Hardcover, $24.95). The book is an entertaining history of the oil industry and its scandals from its inception through the Enron debacle. The author teaches Oil and Gas Law and The Regulation of Energy at the Washington College of Law at American University.

Wednesday, August 31, 2005


A Little Thing Called Perspective

I feel a little bit like Rip Van Winkle today, as I re-enter the blogosphere, a tad wobbly on unsure footing. And yet,


It's been an interesting summer - during a traditionally slow period in book publishing, we've managed to score lots of publicity for our newest books, including WHAT GOES UP: Surviving the Manic Episode of a Loved One, a memoir by Judy Eron (June 2005), SHARKS IN THE DESERT: The Founding Fathers and Current Kings of Las Vegas by Vegas Review-Journal columnist John L. Smith, and our forthcoming YOUR PLUS-SIZE PREGNANCY: The Ultimate Guide for the Full-Figured Expectant Mom (September 2005) by Brette McWhorter Sember with Dr. Bruce Rodgers.

Also, this entry from indie publicist Susan Schwartzman, on her new blog, Book Publicity News, prompted the first ever blog post from our Publisher, Carole Stuart [in the interest of full disclosure, Susan was hired by one of our authors to help publicize her book several years ago]. Susan's post (August 29) is below, Carole's reply follows:


The hurricane preempted all the news media today, and monopolized producers' time all over the country, but fortunately, I did get responses to my pitches from some producers, so the day wasn't a complete exercise in futility. I was grateful I didn't have any authors scheduled for a morning show today who would end up sitting in the green room as the hurricane coverage preempted their interviews. That happened to an author of mine many years ago when a blizzard was deemed more important than his book, and the morning show never did reschedule his interview.


I read publicist Susan Schwartzman's comment about the blizzard that bumped
her author from a show once. Was that whining I heard or merely self-centeredness?

Years ago, I was in St. Louis, waiting to be interviewed for a book I'd
written. While I was waiting in the green room, the local news was broadcasting
and announced that the Pope had just been shot. It didn't take an
Einstein to figure out I wasn't going to be on that show that day. And they
didn't rebook me.

Years passed, and Barricade Books, our company, was publishing a book about
Justice Clarence Thomas. Publicity was all set and then September 11th
wiped everything off the media. We weren't alone, many books flopped
because of lost media opportunities.

I'm an author and a publisher but I'm a human being too. And sometimes you
have to see the bigger picture: To paraphrase what Humphrey Bogart said to
Ingrid Bergman in
Casablanca, "In this crazy world, the problems of two
little people don't count much."

It's not always about
you, Susan. There are bigger things in the world.

I've got no beef with Susan, and I am a publicist myself, but I do agree with Carole that a little perspective is in order.

- Jen Itskevich
Publicity Director

Tuesday, June 07, 2005


Readers Expo America - A Brilliant Idea

Book Expo America (BEA) has come and gone (my first one!), and in place of commentary, novelist and blogger M.J. Rose offers (what I consider) a brilliant suggestion on her blog, "Buzz, Balls and Hype": Instead of holding a yearly convention for book industry professionals and booksellers, why not hold several conventions each year aimed directly at readers?!!


This is a traveling convention. It takes place every other month in 6 big cities a year. Six different cites each year. Different authors/different cities. Unlike a book festival, readers don't buy any books at this convention. Unlike a book festival it's not run by bookstores.

REA would be all about pre publicity buzz. Just like BEA is supposed to be. But in this case it's buzz aimed where I think we don't have it and where we desperately need it.

Buzz aimed at the reader.

REA is all about the reader. And it's all about the publishers and the industry coming up with ways to get those readers jazzed up and thinking even more about books in an even more exciting way.

REA works like BEA in that the reader gets a ticket that lets you into the whole show. And this show is a forum for readers to mingle with authors and to get advance reading copies of books coming out the next 2-3-4 months. It's a forum of panels where the writers and the readers get up on the stage and figure out what they want from each other. And publishers give parties at these conventions for the readers with as much energy as they give parties for each other at BEA.

M.J. has posted some really interesting ideas on her blog in the past, but I think this is her best one yet. And I hope that some influential folks in the book industry - like Sara Nelson of Publishers Weekly, Mitch Kaplan of the American Bookseller's Association, Bob Gray, bookseller and blogger extraordinnaire, and Jane Friedman of Harper Collins - will sit up and take notice.

I must admit that BEA appealed much more to the reader in me than the book industry professional. I was overcome by excitement - walking the aisles grabbing advance copies of books with glee - so many that I was barely able to get home with my heavy shopping bags filled with (free! gasp!) books. And I can't wait to dig in and start reading them and sharing them with my friends.

Sure, I enjoyed meeting with various editors and literary agents - it's always nice (and good for business) to put a face to a name - but for me, the excitement of BEA was in the books and the "buzz" surrounding them.

Now imagine if all of that energy was directed toward our ultimate audience - readers.

- Jen Itskevich
Publicity Director

Tuesday, May 24, 2005


Guest Entry: Scott Deitche, author of CIGAR CITY MAFIA

With the paperback release of Scott Deitche's runaway hit, Cigar City Mafia: The Complete History of the Tampa Underworld (Barricade, $14.95) only a few weeks away, I asked Scott to weigh in on the blog and share his experience as a first-time author. What follows is Scott's note:

I'm getting ready for the paperback release of my book, Cigar City Mafia, in the next couple of weeks. It's the latest chapter in a whirlwind year.

My book was released in hardcover on January 18, 2004, just in time for my first signing. I should have known something was up when about 80 people came to the first signing and the store ran out of books. Over the next year, I did over 30 signings, appearances, and talks (yes, you can actually get paid to talk about your book!). In addition, I was interviewed by all the local TV stations (I'm now the de facto Tampa mob expert), newspapers, two Florida magazines, radio, The History Channel and the Discovery Channel.

Quite a whirlwind indeed. Of course, I had to politely brush off the "Wow, you must be rich" and "When are you quitting your day job?" comments - both woefully out of sync with reality! I still work full time - I’m an environmental scientist/marine biologist for Pinellas County in Florida.

I did learn a few things from being a first-time author with a fairly successful book. The first was to get an entertainment lawyer to help with contracts and ancillary deals. The second was to pace myself better in the future. I got caught up in the excitement of the book's success and ran myself ragged with signings. My wife and daughter forgot what I looked like. My future signings will be better spaced apart.

A lot of really cool things came about because of the book. First and foremost were the stories. When I was writing the book I couldn't get anyone in Tampa to talk to me. After the book was published, I was swamped with people telling me their personal stories of Old Tampa. But the best stories have been those of the mobsters themselves. Seven have contacted me, including two who are in federal prison. All have stories they want to tell. The local mob boss has read the book, and I heard through a friend of his that he hated it. No surprise there.

Recently, I was a "prize" in a big fundraising event for Moffit Cancer Center in Tampa. The winning bidder will have dinner with me and eight people at his house, prepared by a local celebrity chef. I think I'm going to be the winner that night!

Currently, I am working on a television project. I signed a development deal with a local production company, Tampa Digital Studios. Based on my expertise in organized crime, we developed a TV series idea- a crime show based in Tampa set in modern day. It was a lot of fun to flex my fiction muscle and we are currently preparing the pitch package for the networks. I'm realistic; there's a slim chance the show will come to fruition, but it was an offer I couldn't refuse!

So with the TV show, two current book projects, and a new batch of signings (June 4th at the Waldenbooks in Citrus Park Mall, Tampa is the first), I'm settling in for a busy summer.

Friday, May 20, 2005


They're Just Not That Into Them - And Neither Am I

Over at his blog, BookAngst, "Mad Max Perkins," a pseudonym for a senior editor at a major publishing house, airs the grievances of two authors - one previously published, one as-yet-unpublished - unable to sell their current projects.

Mad Max responds:

As an editor, as a member of the industry about which both examples are ranting, I found myself reacting unfavorably - even (I confess) unsympathetically - to the Rants and their authors. My first impulse was to walk on by - neither respond nor to post them...It's not that I disagree with them wholly, or that I can't see merit in their respective perspectives. Yes, there are obstacles (lots) to access; yes, the publishing industry, like the culture generally, is disposed toward youth, hipness, currency, platform, etc., sometimes to the detriment of those with more experience and perspective but less likely, say, to win a guest-host's squat on OPRAH.

On the other hand, if these represent the ways in which (some) writers reach out to the publishing industry, and if said industry (represented by Max) is put off by the strategies these writers employ, then these strategies aren't working...And maybe (I'm not certain, but maybe) this justifies my turning the bright lamp of the Rant back upon its creators.

Funny, my first impulse was to rant myself - has either of these authors (or their agents) even considered submitting his or her proposal to an independent publisher??? Their rants left me with the impression that they hadn't. Or are they so hung up on "hitting it big" with a major house that they'd rather their latest work remain unpublished than stoop to the level of publishing with a smaller independent?

For a moment, I thought: should I try and contact these authors (I was particularly interested in the plight of the previously published author, and truthfully, the topic on which he or she writes) and offer them a chance? But no, ultimately, I'm just not that into them either. For now, I'm tired of ranting and raving about the many strengths of independents -the intimate working relationship, substantial author input in all aspects of the publishing process, no such thing as "mid-list" authors (at least at Barricade), agents welcome but not a necessity, etc. (Note to Ranting Unpublished Author - some independents actually make time to sort through slush! I know because I used to read unsolicited submissions as a Barricade intern, and, in fact, still do sometimes)

Anyway, I think we're moving closer and closer to the time when authors and their agents will get wise to this on their own.

- Jen Itskevich

Thursday, May 19, 2005


A Touring Author's Thoughts on Book Tours

Having wrapped up the publicity tour for the paperback edition of his book, Crossing California, author and Book Standard columnist, Adam Langer, offers some interesting suggestions regarding how to improve book tours, in particular, and the book industry in general:

#2 Develop an Interactive Regional Book Source. It would be quite convenient for authors, readers and industry types to have a resource where they could click on a specific bookstore and learn not only which author would be appearing there in the future, but also who had read there in the past, what they read, how many people showed up, etc. Publicists and authors on the road could contribute in a style such as:

Date- May 6
Place - Kishnev, Wisconsin
Attendance - zero
Overall vibe - 1.5 (Sucky)

After a while, one would have a pretty good idea of the venue, its customers, and its events.

Amen to that!

Langer's earlier dispatches from the road are also available on

- Jen Itskevich
Publicity Director

Monday, May 02, 2005


What Gives, Adam Moss?

Has anyone else noticed that the last four or five issues of New York Magazine have featured a solitary, white male on the cover?

What's up with that??

- Jen Itskevich

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?