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From the Editor: Let’s Talk Covers and Stealing From Other Artists

The Man With The Golden Mind by Tom Vater Rotten At The Heart by Bartholomew DanielsThis is Tuesday, not Monday. You may be confused (and possibly inconsolable) because there was no post from me yesterday. I’d like to say there’s some grand excuse for it, but I just plain forgot. Well, that’s not actually true. I truly thought I had written this post already and posted it but never bothered to check. I’m a genius, I know.

So let’s talk about design. Book covers specifically (you’ll notice two of our more recent covers off to the side there). I love book covers. I love browsing the book store and looking at what other publishers are doing. Some are very good and some are very bad, but the vast majority are a mix of the two. So far I think Exhibit A has done some pretty cool covers. But as I’m settling in to the role and starting to feel my independence, I’ve been talking to Marc more and more about my specific ideas for what I want in Exhibit A covers.

When we start the cover process, I usually email the author and the agent and get their thoughts (one of the benefits of being a smaller publisher btw) and then I write up my notes and send the designed some sample covers or other images. At first I was only sending covers of books that were similar to the one we were publishing, but lately I’ve been including book covers and movie posters for unrelated work that I think would work well with the book at hand. When Marc and I were in NYC we spend an hour or so just going through cover images from books and albums as well as movie posters to get a sense of what we are looking for in an Exhibit A book. I’ll be discussing this more in-depth over the next few months and maybe doing a full behind the scenes look at out cover process.

For now though, I’ve set up a Tumblr account where I’ll be posting what’s inspiring me and what I’m sending to our cover designers. It’s still rough as Tumblr is being a giant meanie about a typo in the email address I registered with, but check back regularly to see if it ever gets up and running.

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From the Editor: Bright Lights, Big City (without the cocaine) + A Photo Of My Dog And Cat

From the Editor: Bright Lights, Big City (without the cocaine) + A Photo Of My Dog And Cat

Last week I was in New York City attending to some Publishing Business, which mostly involved drinking with Marc and Mike and gossiping about Lee. But out of those drinks came some great ideas I think and you will begin to see the fruits of some of those ideas soon while others may be longer in gestation. One of the more immediate changes will be in content here on the website. In addition to this weekly note, I’d like to do some other posts on two things. Once a month (or so) I’ll talk about what types of books I’m looking for at Exhibit A as well as what types of books we might be seeing too much of.

As I’ve acquired quite a few noir novels by young white men lately, I’m looking to branch out more in race and gender as well as in tone. I don’t want to be strictly a noir or dark fiction publisher. My own reading tastes run the scale from really dark to the frothiest of light fare. During one of these extra curricular discussions, I was trying to explain to Marc and Mike what kind of light fiction I was looking for as they don’t see a place for the sort of cozy that places like Berkley and NAL do very well. What we eventually figured out was that we’re looking for “bright mysteries” exemplified by the crime shows on USA like Monk or Psych as well as some network shows like Elementary and The Mentalist. These sorts of stories take the traditional mystery format into the dark side of humanity occasionally but eventually end in on the bright side. We’re also looking for historical fiction of under represented time periods (like civil war crime, diesel punk crime, and pre-70s Vietnam crime) or under represented authors.

The comments are open for suggestions of what else you’d like to see from Exhibit A or where we might find great stories of the type I just mentioned.

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From the Editor: Exhibit A Gets Some Noir At The Bar

From the Editor: Exhibit A Gets Some Noir At The Bar

After a week off last week here to make space for the announcement of Matthew C. Funk signing with Exhibit A Books, I’m back with my weekly note to you, our lovely readers. I’m in New York City this week for publishing stuff and last night I popped in to the Noir at the Bar down in Greenwich Village to talk about Exhibit A, show off a couple of Exhibit A authors, including Mr. Rob Hart, and also read from my own forthcoming noir novel.

For those not familiar with Noir at the Bar, I first become aware of it as a reading series in St. Louis started by Scott Phillips and Jed Ayers, but it actually got it’s start in Philadelphia. After a few in St. Louis, it began spreading across the country and now there are regularly scheduled readings in various cities, including New York, that mix established writers with new and up and coming writers and booze. It’s as close as we’ll get these days, I think, to the great literary salons of Paris in the 20s. Even in this technological wonderland we’re living in with websites and blogs and social media and ebooks, these sorts of live, in-person events are vital to maintaining the spirit and community of books and writing. This is why book stores, libraries, and conferences and conventions will still be a main part of most publisher strategies for the near future, including Exhibit A.

So tell me about your favorite in-person events. Anyone out there been to the other Noir at the Bars?

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From the Editor: More Talk About Photos + Social Media Stuff

From the Editor: More Talk About Photos + Social Media Stuff

Today is going to be a short post. Last week sucked. My wife had the flu, the kids were sick, I was sick and I fell behind on a bunch of stuff that I need to catch up on. But I wanted to take a second and follow-up on the discussion from last week about photos in blog posts. Over in my own personal world I joined Instagram in an effort to orient myself more to visual storytelling as well as using words and so far I’m pleased with the results. I really don’t NEED another social media stream to manage, but this offers something different, I think. I hope. I also have to confess that I was watching GIRLS and one of the younger writers was talking about Twitter and said he didn’t have it but he would find her (Hannah) on Instagram. It made me feel old and I don’t like feeling old. So that’s Instagram.

How do you all as readers and writers feel about more social media streams? I think everyone is firmly establish on Facebook and Twitter, but is there any value to other social media like Instagram or Tumblr or Pinterest? Myself, those others just baffle and frustrate me so I hope you say no. Especially even as Caroline and I have regular discussions on how to keep the social media feeds we already have fresh and useful. But if the readers are all heading in one direction, I don’t want to be with the publishers heading in the other direction. So talk to us in the comments.

P.S. The photo up there is what my office at home looks like where I write this little bursts of genius. I’ve thought a couple of times about moving into a separate, dedicated office, but for now this works best for me and I like being able to look through that cutout and see the TV, especially as baseball season approaches.

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From the Editor: How Many Words Are Pictures Really Worth?

From the Editor: How Many Words Are Pictures Really Worth?

For someone who is as visually oriented as I am, the issue of photos in blog posts has always been a complicated one for me. When I first started blogging back in the dark ages of 2004, blogs were very text oriented with a few scattered pictures. Over the ten years or so since then, it has moved almost completely in the opposite direction with pictures dominating posts with a scattered bit of text. I have not taken well to this transition.

I love photos on other people’s sites, but I always forget to include them in mind because I’m just not generally a fan of taking photos. I don’t know why either. I think I’m good at it and I have plenty of ideas for photos, I just usually would rather write about something that photograph it. But Marc has kindly suggested I add more photos to my posts, so here we are.

As most of you know I work from home here in Michigan. My son is in school all day, but a few days a week my daughter is home with me and I’ve named her the unofficial Exhibit A US Intern. Here she is at my old laptop taking dictation for me (or playing Curious George games possibly). She is much more photogenic than I am, so I think this is a fine tradeoff for all of you.

I am curious about your thoughts on photos in blog posts though. Do they really make a difference? What kinds of photos would you like to see here at Exhibit A…within reason of course? As always, have your say in the comments.

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ColdWater Books Signing for Robert Bailey

ColdWater Books Signing for Robert Bailey

Following last week’s sold-out launch for The Professor, Robert Bailey enjoyed a great book signing over the weekend, and here he is to tell you about it:

We had a fantastic book signing this past Saturday at ColdWater Books in Tuscumbia!  As part of Loving Locals Winter Fest, I joined over thirty other authors for a fun afternoon of books, coffee and conversation.  All total, we sold 24 copies of The Professor and got to meet a lot of nice people.

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The Professor: Sold-Out Launch Celebrations!

The Professor: Sold-Out Launch Celebrations!
Robert Bailey’s The Professor (February 2014) is a thrilling and enthralling legal novel that has been lauded by authors such as Winston Groom (Forrest Gump), Mark Childress (Crazy in Alabama), Homer Hickam (Rocket Boys), booksellers, reviewers, and readers alike. Last week, Robert launched The Professor in Huntsville, Alabama with Homer Hickam introducing him on stage, at the Huntsville Museum of Art. Homer praised the “richness” of The Professor and expressed his envy of those who have yet to read it. Robert has captured the evening in the below blog post, kindly reproduced from his site, RobertBaileyBooks.com. Well done on such a fantastic night, Robert!
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Cover Reveal: Hangtown by Karen Sandler

Cover Reveal: Hangtown by Karen Sandler

Fresh off of her debut novel Clean Burn, featuring Janelle Watkins, an investigator with a troubled (to say the least) background (recently featured in a nice review at Mystery Scene Magazine), Karen Sandler drops Janelle smack in the middle of trouble in her home town in her new novel Hangtown.

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Cover Reveal: Hard Kill by JB Turner

Cover Reveal: Hard Kill by JB Turner

Following up on last year’s blistering thriller Hard Road, JB Turner returns to the shadowy world of operative Jon Reznick with Hard Kill, an equally exciting adventure that would cause us to use all sorts of wonderfully descriptive words if this weren’t a post about the cover, which is worth 1000 words.

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Total Film eBook Promo: Get Richard Parker’s Scare Me for FREE

Total Film eBook Promo: Get Richard Parker’s Scare Me for FREE

January’s issue of Total Film not only features on-set exclusives for Spider-Man 2, interviews with Colin Farrell, and reviews of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug but excitedly, there is a FREE eBook of Scare Me by Richard Parker for every reader!

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