Have you read Beyond Redemption? Would you like to know more of the world and what went into its creation? http://michaelrfletcher.com/beyondwiki
Back before HARPER Voyager purchased Beyond Redemption I both heard and read a lot about what it was like to be published by a major publisher. Most of it was bad. Here is the super-fast summary: Unless you are already famous, they don’t care about you, they won’t talk to you, they won’t promote you, you will have no say in anything, you are doomed, you should self-publish, everything is going to hell, fire and brimstone.
I can’t talk for other big publishers as this is the only one I’ve had experience with, but my experience has not been like that at all. I was consulted regarding the art cover, and choice of artists. During the editing David Pomerico (Editorial Director) and I were in constant contact. Now that we’re past that stage I chat weekly with publicist Caroline Perny and we’re still a few months off from the release date when, apparently, things will get really nuts. The staff, particularly Rebecca Lucash, have been amazing about answering my questions (what the heck is a cover mechanical?) and walking me through the entire process. They’ve shared early drafts of cover art and book covers, and even let me rewrite the back of book blurb!
They even took the time to mail me a print copy of the Publishers Weekly issue the Beyond Redemption starred review appeared in! Like, how cool is that!
I know far more about publishing now than I did, and they are the reason. That said, there’s still a lot I don’t know.
This interview was really an excuse to ask a bunch of questions I really didn’t know the answers to.
Who are you, who do you work for, what do you do there?
I’m Caro, I’m a publicist at HarperCollins Publishers, and I work in the William Morrow division on mostly genre fiction. Namely, romance and SFF, in our (extremely excellent) Avon and Harper Voyager imprints. I get to spread the nerd love!
What does the job entail?
This is kind of a broad question. In very general terms, publicity handles things that you pitch, rather than things you pay for, like ads (that would be marketing). I interact with traditional media like newspapers, radio, TV, etc., but also with a lot of online, genre-focused outlets, and a lot of blogs.
The fun does not stop there, though—there’s event planning, too! That goes for anything from a signing at a bookstore, to appearances at conventions. Side note: I LOVE conventions, and getting to attend them as part of my job is the cat’s meow. Then there’s also a mishmash of other things, like coordinating social media stunts, interactive events, and working with our super-readers, to name a few.
I see myself as an advocate for the books I work on. It’s my job to get them out there to the right readers and the loudest voices in the genre. I talk about books to the people who will then talk about them to more people, and get more people to read them.
How many books do you work with at once?
Ermmmm…a lot. In any given month I’m usually assigned to about 4 books, but we work on books for much longer than just their on-sale month, so it varies. When I first started, my boss told me I’d have to learn to juggle—but it’s never boring.
How do you handle interesting books that contain things not for all audiences (you know, like sex-fiend cannibals…) Do you have to change a few tactics in order to cope with less family friendly books?
Generally speaking, I don’t work on so many books that would be considered “family friendly,” whether it’s a choose-your-own-adventure style erotica novel, or a grimdark novel starring a certain infamous sex-fiend cannibal. I always try to pick out what about a book it is that I love so much, what it is that stands out about it. That helps me position it to myself, and figure out what my personal publicity goals are for any given title.
We don’t really do one-size-fits-all campaigns at Harper Voyager and Avon, so I always change my tactics. Media changes every day, and so does the industry, and so should publicity plans. The more I can analyze the book in my head, the more I can mold my campaign to be the most effective. I wouldn’t send a historical romance to an epic fantasy reviewer, despite the fact that I happen to love both.
Do you bring your work home?
Yes. All the time. I have always been a big reader, and that hasn’t changed since I started working in publishing. I read on the subway, when I can’t sleep, when commercial breaks bore me to tears…all the time. It so happens that a lot of what I read is either for work, or related to my work. So in that sense, I definitely take my work home.
Also, publicists can never really be “off.” If I have an author travelling, and she gets delayed for an event, then I need to deal with that. Ditto for a media opportunity. It’s one of the weird side-effects of the internet age that you don’t completely disconnect all that frequently. I do try not to answer emails over the weekend, though.
Do you actually read every book you work with?
You work with authors to promote them. What is the one thing you wish they’d do/say/ask?
There’s one BIG thing: talk to me! The most successful campaigns I’ve worked on, there’s been a lot of communication between the author and publicist. I like knowing who you’re reaching out to, as an author, so that I don’t double-pitch. I like to know if you’ve planned an event on your own, or an interview.
It’s nice to know what the author I’m working with really is looking for, what will make them happiest. I have an author who is especially excited any time she gets local press from the area she grew up in, because it means a lot to her. That’s not to say that I won’t reach out and try to get as much of a variety of press as possible, but prioritizing does help. Talking with my authors also gives me more insight into how they came up with and wrote their book, who they are as a person. That’s helpful in pitching, but I’m just a nerd girl at heart. I like talking to my authors because it’s the coolest kind of backstage pass.
Thank-you Caro for taking the time to do this interview!
Uh…how does one normally end a blog post?
Beyond Redemption just got a starred review from Publishers Weekly.
Cool, I thought, but what is a starred review and who the heck is Publishers Weekly?
And so, after thirty seconds of googling:
Publisher’s Weekly: (lifted from Wikipedia): Publishers Weekly (PW) is an American weekly trade news magazine targeted at publishers, librarians, booksellers and literary agents.
This is one of the (if not the) main magazines booksellers and librarians look at when deciding what to stock on their shelves. In theory, such a review might result in increased book sales. Here’s hoping.
A Starred Review: (lifted from Publishers Weekly) A starred review indicates a book of outstanding quality.
Whu? My mad little novel, outstanding? Bah ha!
- Genre: Epic Dark Fantasy. The term grimdark has also been used.
- Publisher: HARPER Voyager
- Publishing Date: June, 2015
- Editor: David Pomerico
- BEYOND REDEMPTION on GoodReads.
- Received a starred review from Publishers Weekly.
“Set in a world where madness equates to power, Michael R. Fletcher’s Beyond Redemption is often as nightmarish as it is fascinating. An alarming, original and compulsive tale laced with a blackly comic sensibility. Highly recommended.”
“The journey is dark and emotionally taxing, but there aren’t many fantasy novels as smart, ambitious, and excellently written as this one.”
Faith shapes the landscape, defines the laws of physics, and makes a mockery of truth. Common knowledge isn’t an axiom, it’s a force of nature. What the masses believe is. But insanity is a weapon, conviction a shield. Delusions give birth to foul new gods.
Violent and dark, the world is filled with the Geisteskranken—men and women whose delusions manifest, twisting reality. High Priest Konig seeks to create order from chaos. He defines the beliefs of his followers, leading their faith to one end: a young boy, Morgen, must Ascend to become a god. A god they can control.
But there are many who would see this would-be-god in their thrall, including the High Priest’s own Doppels, and a Slaver no one can resist. Three reprobates—The Greatest Swordsman in the World, a murderous Kleptic, and possibly the only sane man left—have their own nefarious plans for the young god.
As these forces converge on the boy, there’s one more obstacle: time is running out. When one’s delusions become more powerful, they become harder to control. The fate of the Geisteskranken is to inevitably find oneself in the Afterdeath. The question, then, is:
Who will rule there?
THE MIRROR’S TRUTH
- Genre: Grimdark/Dark Fantasy.
- Publisher: Some crazy dude.
- Publishing Date: December, 2016
- Editors: Kristopher Neidecker, Tim Marquitz, Bob Fletcher
- THE MIRROR’S TRUTH on GoodReads.
- TMT won an r/Fantasy STABBY award for Best Indie/Self-Published Novel of 2016.
Pitch black humour, magically enhanced insanity and brutality cranked up to eleven. Highly recommended.
—Anthony Ryan, bestselling author of the Raven’s Shadow series.
Michael Fletcher’s MANIFEST DELUSIONS is the grimdarkest of grimdark, a filthy, rotting, fascinating world full of intriguing psychotics. There’s nothing else in the genre quite like it.
—Django Wexler, author of The Shadow Campaigns series.
Where belief defines reality, delusions are both strength and curse: The deeper you sink into madness the more powerful you become. But that power comes with a price. Your darkest nightmares hunt you at night. The face in the mirror hates you and wants to be free. Your fears manifest and plot your destruction.
Bedeckt defined himself by the list of crimes he was unwilling to commit. It was such a short list. How could straying from it have gone so wrong?
Now Bedeckt must undo the damage caused by wandering from his precious list. The Geborene god seeks to remake the world with his obsessive need for cleanliness and perfection, but Bedeckt is going to bring him down. Nothing can stop him. Not even death.
The two friends he abandoned in the Afterdeath chase after Bedeckt, bent on revenge. Psychotic assassins hunt him. Something cold and evil follows, lurking in the clouds above, shredding reality with its delusions. Madness and sanity war, stretching and tearing the very fabric of existence.
The dead shall rise.
SWARM AND STEEL
- Genre: Grimdark/Dark Fantasy.
- Publisher: Talos.
- Publishing Date: Aug 22, 2017
- Editors: Bradley Englert, Oren Eades
- SWARM AND STEEL on GoodReads.
Zerfall awakens in an alley, wounded and unable to remember her past. Chased by an assassin out into the endless wastes of the desert, she is caught, disfigured, and left for dead. Her scabbard is empty, but the need for answers—and the pull of her sword—will draw her back to the city-states.
When Jateko, a naïve youth, accidentally kills a member of his own tribe, he finds himself outcast and pursued across the desert for his crimes. Crazed from dehydration, dying of thirst and hunger, he stumbles across Zerfall.
Hunted by assassins and bound by mutual need, both Zerfall and Jateko will confront the Täuschung, an ancient and deranged religion ruled by a broken fragment of Zerfall’s mind. Swarm, the Täuschung hell, seethes with imprisoned souls, but where gods—real or imagined—meddle in the affairs of man, the cost is high.
In Swarm and Steel, the power of belief can manifest and shape reality, and for political and religious leaders, faith becomes a powerful tool. But the insane are capable of twisting reality with their delusions as well, turning increasingly dangerous as their sanity crumbles. It is here that a long prophesied evil will be born, an endless hunger.
GHOSTS OF TOMORROW
- Genre: Young/New Adult Science Fiction.
- Publisher: Some crazy dude.
- Publishing Date: March, 2017
- GHOSTS OF TOMORROW on GoodReads.
- TMT won an r/Fantasy STABBY award for Best Indie/Self-Published Novel of 2016.
The children are the future.
And someone is turning them into highly trained killing machines.
Straight out of school, Griffin, a junior Investigations agent for the North American Trade Union, is put on the case: Find and close the illegal crèches. No one expects him to succeed, Griffin least of all. Installed in a combat chassis Abdul, a depressed seventeen year old killed during the Secession Wars in Old Montreal, is assigned as Griffin’s Heavy Weapons support. Nadia, a state-sanctioned investigative reporter working the stolen children story, pushes Griffin ever deeper into the nightmare of the black market brain trade.
Deep in the La Carpio slums of Costa Rica, the scanned mind of an autistic girl runs the South American Mafia’s business interests. But she wants more. She wants freedom. And she has come to see humanity as a threat. She has an answer: Archaeidae. At fourteen, he is the deadliest assassin alive. Two children against the world.
The world is going to need some help.
Ghosts of Tomorrow is a re-edited and rewritten 88 (below) with a few new scenes and a new ending.
88, a brilliant autistic girl, has been genetically engineered and raised from birth to serve one purpose: become a human computer. Plagued by memories of a mother she never knew and a desire for freedom she barely understands, she sets herself against those who would be her masters. Unfortunately for 88, the Cuntrera-Caruana Mafia clan have other plans for her.
Griffin Dickinson, a Special Investigator for the North American Trade Union, has been tasked with shutting down the black market crèches. Joined by Nadia, a state-sanctioned reporter and Abdul, the depressed ghost of a dead Marine inhabiting a combat chassis, Griffin is drawn deep into the shady underbelly of the brain trade. Every lead brings him one step closer to an age-old truth: corruption runs deep.
An army of dead children, brainwashed for loyalty and housed in state of the art military chassis, stand between Griffin and the answers he seeks. But one in particular, Archaeidae, a 14-year old Mafia assassin obsessed with Miyamoto Musashi, Sun Tzu, and Machiavelli, is truly worthy of fear. Archaeidae is the period at the end of a death sentence.