Publisher’s Note: Publishing Challenges and Miracles


I’m going to let you in on a little publishing secret: Our best laid publishing plans sometimes get thrown a curveball. This most often happens with established series. Series branding is a very important aspect of publishing. The design (cover and interior), the way the books are titled, the way the books are numbered…all of this is essential information that must be as consistent and informative as humanly possible so that the reader (newfound or longtime fan) knows that each book is part of that series.

But what happens when a brilliant author tends to write out of order? Well, she’s brilliant, so you accommodate, but sometimes you must work miracles to do so.

The author I’m talking about is the amazing Kristine Kathryn Rusch. If you’ve followed me (or her) for years, you’ll know that the Retrieval Artist series encountered such an event. After Kris wrote Anniversary Day and Blowback (the eighth and ninth books in that series), she realized that they were not standalone novels but rather books one and two of what would turn out to be an eight-book story arc we named the Anniversary Day Saga. This meant we’d have to republish the first two books with the saga information (and some other additions). We did that in late 2014. The rest of the saga was published in 2015. You can find all of those books here.

Republishing those books in 2014 wasn’t a huge deal at the time, although we were locked into our original title and subtitle information because that’s tied to the ISBN, which is tied to your sales rankings and algorithm data. It’s a big deal to publish a book under a new ISBN. Plus, the old book never disappears in this new world because of third-party resellers, so it can be confusing for readers. We don’t like to confuse readers. Ever.

But I encountered a huge problem with that 2014 decision last week, when I went to drop the price of the paperbacks on Amazon from $18.99 to $14.99. I could successfully drop them on all of the titles except one: Blowback. For some reason that one book wouldn’t accept the update because of the series information from first publication and it wanted me to add a number 9 (as in Retrieval Artist series, book 9) to the cover and interior. No other book in the entire series has that. The Book Two of the Anniversary Day Saga was confusing the bots. Clearly, they thought, it was book two, not book nine. Sigh. After much investigation and discussion of our options, I managed to outwit the bots and get the price lowered. It’s not ideal, but it’ll do for now.

With an inventory as large as ours (700+ titles), managing our books is a full-time job that we don’t yet have the staff for. We will, but not yet. For now, it falls to me to get creative. Fortunately, I can be very creative.

This skill came in handy again recently when we were faced with publishing the newest Diving Series novel—a 263,000-word behemoth called The Renegat. It’s a fantastic book, worth every word, but the challenge came in figuring out how to fit that many words into the KDP publishing restrictions on page count so that we could publish the book direct to the Amazon universe. KDP has a strict 776-page limit.

When we ran the book using our established interior design parameters for the Diving Series paperback novels, it came in at 1,000 pages.

Originally, when faced with that information, we resigned ourselves to only using Ingram-Spark, which allows for more pages. I was still out on medical leave at the time, and we couldn’t figure out a way to cut 225 pages from the book without cutting content.

But once I returned (and, more importantly, my brain power returned), I decided to give it a go. I was an award-winning designer long before I became a publisher, so I was the best suited to such a task. But as publisher, I’m also the most expensive employee we have, so that was a call I had to make. And thanks to an amazingly successful Kickstarter for the Diving Series, we could afford me doing a redesign. So, I did.

A lot of this is very technical design stuff, but the short of it is, I redid everything: margins, fonts, type size, tracking, leading…. And I individually adjusted at least a quarter of the paragraphs in the book to gain space and reduce page count. This is not something you can do with the fancy new publishing software we happily use for other projects. And I still had to keep the feel of the Diving Series paperbacks, because the branding is so important. I leaned on all my professional design experience to pull off a miracle.

And pull it off I did. The new proof of The Renegat is exactly 776 pages (the max KDP limit). I’ll be honest, I was pretty stressed there toward the end that I would have to go back to the beginning and shave more, but it just fit.

(Brain surgery, you are so four months ago!)

This redesign has caused a slight delay in our Kickstarter reward fulfillment of the paperbacks, for which you have my humble apologies, but we’ll get things to you as soon as possible. And in the end, you’ll thank me, I think. The new book has a 2-inch spine (well, 1.94 inches, technically) and weighs 2.5 pounds. I’ve shared a photo of my 9-year-old daughter reading it. She thought it was pretty awesome. But we’re all glad it wasn’t any bigger!

The Renegat will be released Sept. 17, but you can preorder it in ebook here. And if you supported the Kickstarter, you should already have received an electronic copy. If you haven’t, please let us know here.

And now, I have a very large proof that I can’t wait to review.

Allyson Longueira is publisher of WMG Publishing. She is an award-winning writer, editor and designer, working mother, and brain tumor survivor.

Publisher’s Note: Short Reads for a Busy Week


If your week is shaping up to be as hectic as mine have been lately, I’ve got some short fiction to tell you about. Two new short stories by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, in fact.

The first is called “The Wedding Ring.” I find Vegas wedding stories fascinating, in part, because I’ve been married in Vegas more than once but always as a planned event (and never with Elvis officiating). I guess I just like the simplicity of a Vegas wedding. Big fuss and planning never appealed to me. And my last wedding—the only one I wore an honest-to-goodness wedding dress for because I finally knew this was the one—was the only one where we invited guests to attend. It was a wonderfully romantic ceremony made even better by the addition of our daughter to the ceremony.

But “The Wedding Ring” is not a romance. Not even close.

Here’s the synopsis:

When Serena meets Dylan in a casino hallway, she embraces the fairy tale. Whirlwind romance, Vegas wedding, all of it.

But when the fairy tale ends abruptly, she vows to find out why. And what she discovers proves more shocking than winning big in Vegas.

Named one of the best short mysteries of the year for 2018 by SeuthSayers.

You can buy “The Wedding Ring” here.

The second story is available for free this week only on Kris’ website as her latest Free Fiction offering. It’s called “Sales. Force.” and while it, too, deals with love (lost love, love potions), it’s also not even close to a romance. Here’s the synopsis:

Kaylee uses her magic to help her boss, Nia, keep the balance when Nia needs someone with Kaylee’s particular talents. But when Kaylee returns to work shortly after her fiancé dies, the assignment Nia proposes leaves Kaylee puzzled.

Nia wants Kaylee to investigate a new love potion. Kaylee wants to use her magical strength to get over her grief.

This assignment might help Kaylee move on in ways she never expected.

Click here to read “Sales. Force.” on Kris’ website or here to buy it to read whenever you want on your own device.

So, if you want a short respite from the sunny summer weather, and delightfully dark and twisty tales, give one or both of these stories a try.

Allyson Longueira is publisher of WMG Publishing. She is an award-winning writer, editor and designer, working mother, and brain tumor survivor.

Publisher’s Note: One Steamy Summer


We’re having a particularly humid summer here on the Oregon Coast. In an average year, July is our driest month, at about 63 percent humidity. We spent much of July this year at more than 90 percent humidity. We don’t normally hit that even in the winter. Our max average is just above 80 percent humidity.

And although our temperatures have been about average (in the 60s), that humidity still takes a toll. (I know, I know, those of you living in places like the Southeast, Midwest, and other regions or countries with hot, humid climates just rolled your eyes, but hear me out.) We’re not used to this here on the Oregon Coast. I’m used to having to bundle up in layers to walk to work because of the cooler temperatures and strong winds, but when you have to wear a jacket and it’s still warmish and humid: you sweat when you move. And now that I’m on that walking streak, that means even though I can now drive, I often don’t. I still prefer to walk as many places as I can…while I can. If I wanted to get all sweaty just because I stepped outside, I’d live in the Southeast near my family.

I know I shouldn’t complain. We’re far better off here than a lot of you are in other areas of the Northern Hemisphere right now, weather-wise. So, I’ll stop whining about it.

Besides, I have a much more interesting kind of steam-related topic to talk about. Steampunk. And sorcery. Because this Wednesday marks the launch of our latest Storybundle, Sorcery & Steam, curated by Dean Wesley Smith. And although most of you know the drill on Storybundles already, this one is different for us.

For the first time since we’ve been doing Storybundles, the three books in this bundle are exclusive to the Storybundle. We’ll release them wide once the Storybundle ends, but until then, this bundle is the only way to get them as soon as possible. (With one exception: Fiction River Presents ebook subscribers received the new volume the same day the Storybundle launched, per their subscription terms. For more information on Fiction River Presents subscriptions, click here.)

Those books are: Killing the Angel of Death by Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Luck Be Ladies: A Poker Boy Collection by Dean Wesley Smith, and Fiction River Presents: Sorcery & Steam, edited by Gwyneth Gibby.

Here are the synopses for each book:

Killing the Angel of Death

When Roderigo and Izzy form a group to stop the Angel of Death from taking more innocent lives, they realize they need help. One by one, Roderigo recruits people who see the creatures, who know their evil magic, who suffer from the damage the angels wreak.

When Roderigo enlists the newest recruit—a war-damaged sniper—he achieves the formula for the group’s ultimate success. But he might have just doomed the group to the ultimate failure.

A gut-wrenching story about love, loss, and the powerful inevitability of grief.

Luck Be Ladies

Superhero Poker Boy works for Stan, the God of Poker. But sometimes Poker Boy and his team come to the aid of Lady Luck, the most powerful God of them all. And the boss of everything.

In these five Poker Boy stories, meet three of Lady Luck’s four daughters. In the novella, “For the Balance of a Heart,” Lady Luck asks Poker Boy to find her missing daughter, the Queen of Hearts. In “That Lost Riddle,” Poker Boy helps the Queen of Diamonds solve an ancient riddle. And in “The Rules of the Game,” Poker Boy assists Lady Luck with her warrior daughter, the Queen of Clubs.

But Poker Boy also gets to save Lady Luck in “Luck Be a Lady” and rescue Lady Luck’s one great love in “You Forgive the Night’s Scream.”

Enjoy the crazy world of Poker Boy, one of the newest and most puzzling superheroes you might ever meet.

Fiction River Presents: Sorcery & Steam

Steampunk and sorcery offer fantastic flights of imagination in this latest volume of Fiction River Presents. From the merciless march of Lovecraftian prose to the echoes of Russell Hoban’s Ridley Walker, these nine authors create convincing and compelling worlds that feel like familiar places from some past life or dream. With engaging characters often caught in agonizing situations, this spellbinding volume proves why Adventures Fantastic says the Fiction River series “is one of the best and most exciting publications in the field today.”

Includes:
“Murmuration of a Darkening Sea” by Lee Allred
“Heart” by Leslie Claire Walker
“The Whirring Dreams of Aberrant Blood” by Cindie Geddes
“The Clunkety” by Brenda Carre
“Skinwalker” by Valerie Brook
“Dead Men Walking” by Annie Reed
“The Airship Adventures of Captain Jane Fury” by Anthea Sharp
“Trouble Aboard the Flying Scotsman” by Alistair Kimble
“The Scottish Play” by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

For more information or to buy this Storybundle, click here.

I can’t think of a better distraction from the steamy weather outside than sitting someplace cool and reading great books.

Allyson Longueira is publisher of WMG Publishing. She is an award-winning writer, editor and designer, working mother, and brain tumor survivor.

Publisher’s Note: Be Still My Beating Heart


Last week, I had my first post-surgery screening MRI. This was to check to make sure my brain is healing properly (and that the tumor isn’t regrowing). I’ll have many more MRIs in my life, but this first one, I think, will have been the hardest.

I didn’t realize that the imaging check-in desk and waiting area at Oregon Health & Science University (for MRIs, ultrasounds, etc.) was right down the hall from where I spent most of my days in the hospital. OHSU is a very big complex—we had to take a tram, for example, to get from where the MRI was done to my neurosurgeon’s office—so it didn’t occur to me I’d be so close. And I didn’t expect the PTSD-like reaction I’d have upon realizing that.

My heart started racing, and I wound up pacing back and forth in the hallway for a good half hour till the staff called me back. Thankfully, the MRI itself was on a totally different floor, and I find the loud repetitive noises in an MRI oddly calming (like focusing on the sound of your own breathing), so I did fine during the test. But that’s not the kind of pulse-pounding experience I enjoy.

Ironically, I also had with me a copy of Fiction River: Pulse Pounders, edited by Kevin J. Anderson, which I had brought along to give to the oncology radiologist I met with a couple of months ago for a consultation. During my appointment, we got off track talking about Marvel and DC comics and his love of sf books, especially the Dune books. When I mentioned that we had published an original Frank Herbert story in one of our early anthology volumes, his eyes lit up. I resolved at that moment to bring him a copy of that book on my next visit. His professional skills helped me tremendously to feel comfortable with the long-term course of treatment we agreed on (not to do radiation at this time), so I wanted to repay him with the fruits of my professional skills.

He was thrilled to read it.

Which reminded me that we have so many gems in the Fiction River collection. Debut stories for authors who would rise to great acclaim over the years, award-winning stories, original prequels to bestselling series’ and stories like the original Frank Herbert. It’s really quite a series.

So, to remind you of this particular release from Fiction River’s second year, here’s the synopsis:

Starts with a bang.

Ends with a bang.

And a lot of bang in between.

Pulse Pounders. Ranging from straight thriller to science fiction, fantasy to pulp adventure, these stories make your heart race. Share the excitement as a woman held hostage in a chair has only a few minutes to escape, and a man trapped in a time loop revisits a crisis point in the past. Including an original never-before-published Frank Herbert story, these page-turners show why Adventures Fantastic says Fiction River “is one of the best and most exciting publications in the field today.”

Table of Contents
“The Chair” by JC Andrijeski
“Change of Mind” by Kevin J. Anderson & Peter J. Wacks
“A Man of His Times” by Patrick O’Sullivan
“Tower One” by Thomas K. Carpenter
“Big and Shady” by David Farland
“Daisy Wong: The Hell of the Unprepared Sinners” by Jamie McNabb
“The Yellow Coat” by Frank Herbert
“Fraternization” by Ron Collins
“Frostburnt” by Brigid Collins
“The Scent of Amber and Vanilla” by Dayle A. Dermatis
“The Mer” by Phaedra Weldon
“Sole Survivor” by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
“Three Strikes” by Chuck Heintzelman

If you haven’t read this one in a while, you might consider giving it a reread. And if you’ve never read it, there’s no time like the present. Click here for more information.

And click here to read more about the entire Fiction River line.

Now, this kind of pounding pulse I’m more than okay with.

Allyson Longueira is publisher of WMG Publishing. She is an award-winning writer, editor and designer, working mother, and brain tumor survivor.

Publisher’s Note: Proximity is Everything


One of the most annoying things about my brain surgery recovery is that I’m not allowed to drive. That will end at some point, but I have no idea yet when. So, for the most part, I must get where I need to go on foot.

This is a mixed blessing. The brain tumor itself had weakened my body to the point that doctors were surprised I could still walk when they finally discovered it. Now that the tumor is gone, walking is actually the best thing I can do for my recovery.

But I need to rebuild my muscles and stamina as I go, so I can only walk so far.

As a result, I need to confine my walking to a limited radius from my house so I don’t wind up accidently stranded somewhere or way overdo it getting myself home.

As I was figuring out where I could and could not go, I realized something that having ready access to a car had robbed me of: my house, which I bought 13 years ago, is in the best possible location one could ask for. Who knew?

From here, I’m within 2,000 steps of the following (and this is not an all-inclusive list):

  • My office
  • A grocery store
  • A natural foods store
  • My doctor’s office
  • My salon
  • Urgent care
  • A dentist’s office
  • The police station
  • A fire station
  • A pharmacy
  • The post office
  • City Hall
  • The local library
  • An outlet mall
  • The cultural center
  • My daughter’s karate dojo
  • Beach access
  • Lake access

Oh, and add to that a good dozen restaurants, including a coffee shop, pizza place, two Thai food places, Mexican food, high-end seafood place, a fish ‘n chips place, barbecue place, ice cream shop, two fast-food places and more.

Plus, the two nonprofit boards I’m on hold their board meetings within that same radius.

Ironically, I can also walk to the car wash, but, you know, not so useful…

I had no idea until I needed it how very close I am to just about everything.

And if I truly needed it, I’m just a block away from a bus stop.

That proximity to so many things has made what could feel like a very restrictive part of my recovery into something kinda cool.

And once I started back to working in the office, I pretty much walk everywhere. I’m on a streak now. I’ve hit at least 5,000 steps every day since June 8. And I’ll make sure I have enough rain gear so that doesn’t have to stop once the weather turns all Oregon Coast again this fall.

It’s amazing what close proximity will do for you.

But sometimes, proximity (albeit of a different variety) is not your friend. I discovered that recently, too, when we were alerted to a problem with our newest release’s books cover.

We mostly use stock art for our book covers. We’re not alone. The big trads do this a lot, too. But sometimes you wind up in a situation where another cover looks far too similar to your own. This happened with Hidden Charm. A reader alerted us to this fact. I had conducted a search prior to using that particular art, but Amazon shows different things to different people, so the cover at issue did not come up for me at that time. This is not unusual.

Normally, I wouldn’t stress out about another cover having the same art. This is a known quantity when it comes to using stock art for cover design. But in this case, the topic of the book (also an alternative take on the Rapunzel fairy tale) was too close for comfort. The other author released her book first, so we redid ours. It’s more about common courtesy than anything else, frankly.

So, here’s the redesigned cover of Hidden Charm. I used the same model but she’s in a different pose. This was important because we’d already launched the book, and done a lot of sales and marketing, and we didn’t want to confuse the readers who had already bought the book. That would be even worse than an unfortunate coincidence.

This is not the first time we’ve run into another book using the same art on the cover as ours (although it’s not common). But it was the first one where we decided we had to redo ours. This time, it exceeded the proximity threshold.

Oh, and one final note about proximity: You’re running out of time to buy the Space Travelers Storybundle, curated by Kristine Kathryn Rusch. Click here to learn more about this bundle—which includes WMG books Duplicate Effort, A Retrieval Artist Novel by Kris, Sector Justice: A Seeders Universe Novel by Dean Wesley Smith, and Fiction River Presents: Space Travelers.

As for me, I’m off to the post office—on foot, of course.

Allyson Longueira is publisher of WMG Publishing. She is an award-winning writer, editor and designer, working mother, and brain tumor survivor.

Publisher’s Note: Sizzling Release to Mark the Start of Summer

Here on the Oregon Coast, we mark the start of summer not at Memorial Day weekend (as is the custom everywhere else I have lived) but with the Fourth of July, because that’s when the tourist season really heats up in this little coastal town.

And I can’t think of a better way to kick off the summer than with our latest Fiction River volume. It’s a special edition edited by Kristine Grayson called Summer Sizzles. And wow, does it.

Here’s the synopsis:

In this fourth Fiction River Special Edition, bestselling romance author and editor Kristine Grayson takes readers into the world of romantic suspense. These nine breathtaking stories—from military romance to love in the criminal underworld, from a highly unusual shipboard romance to a modern gothic novella set on an idyllic island—make a perfect beginning to summer reading. The heat of attraction, the sparks of passion, and the frisson of suspense all thread their way through every story in this spectacular volume.

Table of Contents:
“Night Moves” by Katie Pressa
“Safe Like Cedar” by Lisa Silverthorne
“Flying Above the Hindu Kush” by M.L. Buchman
“Love on the Run” by Kelly Washington
“Need to Know” by Sabrina Chase
“Bribing Ghosts” by Leah Cutter
“Come Summer, Come Winter, I’ll Come for You” by Rei Rosenquist
“Totality” by Kristine Kathryn Rusch
“That Summer on Blue Heron Island” by Dayle A. Dermatis

This scintillating volume is available in ebook and paperback here. And don’t forget about the subscription option so you never miss a volume. Learn more here.

So, once the Fourth of July fireworks have faded (or if fireworks just aren’t your jam in the first place), grab a copy of this latest Fiction River and watch sparks fly on the page instead.

Allyson Longueira is publisher of WMG Publishing. She is an award-winning writer, editor and designer, working mother, and brain tumor survivor.