Monday, March 21, 2011


By Elizabeth K. Mahon

Since I sold my book SCANDALOUS WOMEN (Perigee Trade) in August of 2009, I feel as if I've gotten a crash course in the publishing industry. So I thought I would share just a few of the things that I've learned over the past year and a half.

1) The publishing industry moves slowly! - Although I sold my book in August of 2009, I didn't receive my contract until October and the first part of my advance until November. That's about four months. I was actually reluctant to tell people that I had sold my book because I didn't believe that it was real until I had that contract in my hand. Even the Publisher's Marketplace announcement didn't make it seem real.

2) Seven months is not that long to write a non-fiction book. - When I first heard that the manuscript needed to be turned in on March 1st, it seemed like I had a huge amount of time t to write this book. After all, about 12 of the women to be included I had already blogged about. Wrong! That due date started to loom large as I realized just how daunting a task I had ahead of me. While writing the blog, I could take as much time as I wanted to write and research a post. Now I was faced with writing profiles of about 35 women (cut down from 40). The problem I faced was that so many of th women I was writing about were so fascinating that I didn't want to stop researching, afraid that I was going to miss that one little tidbit of information that was going to be the difference between a blah chapter and a bang-up one.

3) Alerts will suck the life out of you if you let it. - has many ways now to keep you coming back to the site to check on the status of your book. You can now see the bookscan information for your book to see how well it's selling, not to mention checking in to see your sales ranking. There are of course good things about For example, setting up your author page, which I did as soon as the book cover went up. I also linked my blog to my Amazon page. I also set up a Google Alert for the book, but I've discovered that Google doesn't catch everything. I've had reviews on blogs that I would never have known about if the authors hadn't sent me a link.

4) It's never too early to start promoting your book. - Personally I wish I had done more of this. I did do a few things, making contact with the editors at RT Book Reviews, which led to the book being chosen as the non-fiction pick of the month for April. I also made sure to get myself on the schedule at Lady Jane's Salon as soon as I knew when the book was coming out. If I had had my druthers, I would have bookmarks or postcards ready by the time I went to the New Jersey conference in October. And I certainly would have found out who books the Authors events at the Mid-Manhattan Branch of the NYPL sooner, so that I would have been booked for March, which is women's history month. Even though I have a publicist at Perigee, I've done a lot of promotion by myself. Contacting blogs to see if I can do guest posts for them etc.

5) Don't be afraid to think out of the box when it comes to author promotion. - Back in December, I was lucky enough to be contacted through my pubicist at Perigee to do an event at The National Arts Club, a private club located on Gramercy Park. Even though the book wasn't coming out in March, I jumped at the chance to be part of the event which went very well. So well that right now I'm involved with getting another event up and running at the club, hopefully in the Fall. I'm also a huge Royalty buff, so when I heard that BBC America had a contest for a show called ROYALLY MAD which would take 4 royalty fans to England for a week, I quickly got together a video (thanks to RWANYC member Hope Tarr) to send in. I didn't make the cut, but it would have been an excellent way to promote the book.

6) Start working on your next project right away. - Don't wait until your book comes out before you start working or pitching your next project to your agent or editor. As soon as I turned in the manuscript back in March, I started talking to my agent about what I wanted to write next, and brainstorming ideas with friends. My publisher has the option on my next book, and I wanted to make sure that my editor had something in hand before the book came out. Fortunately my agent loved the proposal that I put together, and I'm waiting right now to see if it flies.♥

Elizabeth Kerri Mahon is a native New Yorker and unabashed history geek. Her blog, Scandalous Women, was launched in the fall of 2007 to an audience eager to discover some of history’s most fascinating and flagrant women. The blog was named one of the 100 Most Awesome Blogs for History Junkies by Best Regularly syndicated on History Carnival, she is a member of the Historical Novel Society, The Victorian Society of America, RWA and RWANYC, where she served as President for four years. A pop-culture diva, Elizabeth has written for the popular quiz site Reward She is also a professional actress who has played virgins and vixens in everything from Shaw to Shakespeare. Visit her at the following locations:


  1. Elizabeth - thanks much for your extremely insightful thoughts!

  2. You are welcome Jeanine. Hope to see you soon!