Where I share my love of books with reviews, features, giveaways and memes. Family and needlepoint are thrown in from time to time.


Friday, February 25, 2011

E-Publishing Benefits the Different Storyteller - Guest Post by Libby Sternberg

By Libby Sternberg

Thank you for having me as a guest! I’ve been on this site before, but as an author. Today I’m here as an editor to share some information about a new e-press I’m involved in--Istoria Books.

Istoria Books publishes only fiction but across a wide variety of genres--historical, romance, young adult, literary, mystery, sci-fi, fantasy and more. About the only thing we’re not handling is erotica.

My husband, daughter and I started this publishing venture late last year with only my inventory. In the coming months, we’re poised to release six books by other authors--a wonderful literary offering by a Vietnam veteran and the backlist of a superlative romance author, whose five books had been published in print by Penguin’s NAL imprint.

These books represent why e-publishing offers so many opportunities to authors. It allows “different” stories to find readers, and it gives already-published authors a chance to expand their readership without worrying about their books being pulled from shelves and returned to the publisher. Because of the marketing limitations placed on traditional publishing, these opportunities are sometimes hard to come by in the print world.

Recently, an aspiring author shared with me a rejection note she’d received from an editor. The editor praised her book and writing style. In fact, it had taken the editor awhile to get back to the author’s agent because the editor had liked the book so much that she’d “sat on it” and let other editors read it, too. Everyone agreed--it was a marvelous book, and they loved it!

But….(you knew there was a “but” in there, didn’t you?), they couldn’t figure out how to market it. It was one of those “crossover” kinds of books, sort of in this genre and sort of in another one. Therefore, they rejected it.

Hired by their publishers to use their judgment to identify good books, these editors had done just that--identified a good book. But they were under marketing constraints--probably also put there by the publisher--that forced them to push their first judgment aside in favor of “marketability” concerns.

In this case, “marketability” meant: where in a bookstore would this book be shelved, and how would appropriate readers be drawn to it?

So, despite their raves, despite what their critical judgment of a good read told them, they rejected this manuscript.

In e-publishing, however, it’s a different story. A book can simultaneously be “shelved” in romance, mystery, young adult, sci-fi, even inspirational, if it contains elements of all of those genres. There’s no marketability problem with crossover books. The only “marketability” question is: will this book sell at all?

That means that e-publishing is open to a broader array of books. That’s why, at Istoria Books, we say in our submission guidelines, if your romance is told from the hero's POV, we'll still look at it. If your young adult novel features a college-age protagonist, we'll consider it. If your women's fiction book puts romance way on the back burner, we're open to it. If your inspirational involves a sinning protagonist, we'll still take a look.

The two questions we ask when reviewing manuscripts are: do I want to keep reading this story, and do I want to keep hearing this author tell it to me? A good story, well-told--that’s what we’re looking for.

Istoria doesn’t offer advances, but we do split royalties, and we do not ask authors to “earn out” the cost of cover art, ISBN registration, editing, formatting and more. Once the book is up for sale, the royalty splits begin.

We hope authors will check out our submission guidelines, at the “About Us” page on our website--www.IstoriaBooks.com. We hope readers will check out our offerings and get on our mailing list by signing up at our website or blog (www.IstoriaBooks.blogspot.com). Freebies and discounts will be available at various times to our subscribers.


Istoria Books is pleased to announce acquiring digital rights to Gary Alexander’s up-market/literary fiction Dragon Lady. Here’s a brief summary of this wonderful book:

In 1965 Saigon, Joe, a young draftee becomes obsessed with a Vietnam girl named Mai, his own "Dragon Lady" from his beloved Terry and the Pirates cartoon strips that his mother still sends him. As he pursues a relationship with her, Saigon churns with intrigue and rumors--will the U.S. become more involved with the Vietnamese struggle? What's going on with a special unit that's bringing in all sorts of (for the time) high tech equipment? Will the U.S. make Vietnam the 51st state and bomb aggressors to oblivion? But for Joe, the big question is--does Mai love him or will she betray more than just his heart? Gary Alexander’s intelligent voice, filled with dry wit, and his own experiences give this story a sharp sense of truth, recounting the horror and absurdity of war. Reminiscent of books such as Catch-22, Dragon Lady serves up equal measures of outrageous humor and poignant remembrance. Gary served in Vietnam in ’65. When he arrived, he joined 17,000 GIs. When he left, 75,000 were in country.


All anyone could talk about was what they hoped was wrong with them. No one was anxious for syphilis or cancer, mind you, but we were yearning for nearsightedness or farsightedness, trick knees, high or low blood pressure, flat feet, slipped disks, neuritis, neuralgia, post nasal drip, the heartbreak of psoriasis. We were praying for a backassward Lourdes, where 4-F was the miracle. I had no illusions. If you could fog a mirror, you were probably in…


We got back to the 803rd, gone a mere three hours. When the captain saw what we’d parked at the curb, he looked at us as if we walked on water. “Men, I’m putting in papers to immediately elevate you to private first class.”

I thanked him as humbly as I could manage. As happy as I would’ve been to be promoted, the clerk-typist slot was foremost on my mind. As PFCs, we’d be booted out of the 803rd sooner or later. It was inevitable. I did not wish to be helicoptered into the godforsaken to hunt Victor Charles and for Victor Charles to surely reciprocate.

I wanted a clerk-typist MOS on my resume. I wanted to be where Charlie would have to barge into my clean, dry office and fire a round through my Underwood to get me.

“Thank you, sir. I request that you send Private Zbitgysz and me to typing school so we can improve our skills on the job and become improved soldiers and lighten PFC Bierce’s burden.”

Bierce didn’t look up, but his clickety-clack-clack ceased.

Thanks Libby for visiting us again today!  Being a new owner of both a Kindle and a Nook, (I never thought I would say this), I am really enjoying reading books on my e-readers and being able to have a "bunch" of books with me at any time.  I also like it because it has allowed me to read some books that I would not have had the opportunity to before.  Good luck in your new venture Libby!

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