Bookitcon Chapter 2 Recap Panel 1: Surprises in Publishing


bookitcon chap 2

What is Bookitcon you ask? Its a charity event run by the seriously awesome Nori (of ReadWriteLove28) held in South Jersey to help promote literacy in children. The event raised money buy new books for two K-8 schools in Camden, NJ whose libraries need updating as well as create a library for the nonprofit group Grace in the Mud.

Well that’s the official reason – the unofficial reason is its an event for South Jersey that brings in a boatload of YA authors from across the genre divide so readers can meet, greet and be merry. Which I totally did and more importantly survived. Read my first recap to find out about the author shenanigan’s – this recap covers the first Panel of the day, so come back tomorrow for the second Panel!


Surprises in Publishing Panel

Mod: S. Usher Evans


  • Lee Kelly
  • Julie Eshbaugh
  • Jodi Meadows
  • Kathryn Holmes
  • Martina Boone
Left to right: Lee Kelly, Martina Boone, Jodi Meadows, Kathryn Holmes, Julie Eshbaugh and S. Usher Evans

As the first panel of the event, this kind of set the stage (so to speak) for the second panel. S freely admitted she was a little loopy from driving for so many hours. After a round of introductions from each panelist S got straight into the questions.

Question: What was your biggest surprise when your book first came out?

  • Julie said that what surprised her the most was that people read the book and knew the story that she has had in her heart for so long. Strangers became friends because they understood.  Also surprising was the first time she heard her characters’ names out loud – it suddenly all became so real then.
  • Kathryn said that hearing from readers is astonishing especially how the stories struck them and impacted them personally.
  • Jodi said it was really how anticlimactic her book’s publication day was.  She had spent months anticipating this big huge event and it was just an ordinary day in the end.
  • Martina said that its how much people loved Eight Beaufort (the male love interest of her “Heirs of Watson Island” series) and how generous everybody was. She relayed that part of what made her want to be a writer was seeing how her daughter (who struggled with reading) became such an avid reader because of books like Scott Westerfeld’s “Uglies” series and Melissa Marr’s “Wicked Lovely” series. She wants her books to reach people in the same way.
  • Lee said that the people who responded to her book aren’t necessarily the people she thought would be her audience. Also how her book is shelved—sometimes young adult, sometimes science fiction, sometimes somewhere else.

 Question: Name a recent surprising read.

  • Lee named EVERY HEART A DOORWAY and I lost my composure because reader, I adore this book.  She said part of it was that it defied category classification…part young adult, part romance, part murder mystery—it was everything seamlessly.
  • Martina said she was going to embarrass Jodi and mentioned MY LADY JANE. Having read (and loved) THE PRINCESS BRIDE the fact that Jodi (Brodi & Cynthia) used parentheses throughout really pleased her.
  • Jodi said THE WRATH AND THE DAWN. She found the writing to be spare, but so vivid.
  • Kathryn said LOOK BOTH WAYS as she felt the way the relationships played out felt real and complex. They played opposite what her expectations were as a reader.
  • Julie said THE LOVE THAT SPLIT THE WORLD as she wasn’t quite sure what she expected, but it was such an epic romance in the end.

Question: About covers and input therein.

  • S started this off, as the only self-pub author on stage, by saying she’s the first and last line of defense for her covers. She recently changed her “Island” trilogy covers because she wanted to and felt like they didn’t reflect the story appropriately. So she was interested in how the traditionally published authors experienced such.
  • Julie said she had no say whatsoever with her debut book IVORY AND BONE, but she expected that. She was not however ready for the cover email her editor sent her. She had a certain cover type she wanted in her head and wasn’t sure the actual cover would live up to that. Over time she began seeing the good in her cover design and ended up loving it…only to have them switch the cover AGAIN to what is currently on the book. She really likes the current cover however. She was asked for some feedback on the sequel’s cover.
  • Kathryn had no say whatsoever either when she got the cover to her newest novel, HOW IT FEELS TO FLY. In fact the balloons on the cover were not present in the original draft for the book. During the third revision, after seeing the cover, she added the balloon scene into the manuscript so that it felt “right” to her.
  • Jodi had one request for her first book, INCARNATE – she did not want a pic of a girl’s face as the center stage of the cover as at the time that was the rage of YA book covers, so how would it stand out exactly? Her editor cautiously showed her INCARNATE’s design—which is gorgeous by the way—and Jodi felt reassured. The design is unique and suits the story quite well. So for THE ORPHAN QUEEN she thought they’d do the opposite of what she wanted—which was a girl with a weapon on the cover. Instead they followed her suggestion and added the cloak (which is not in OQ, but is a feature Jodi added in THE MIRROR KING to justify its presence pretty much).
  • Martina expected to have a say, but when it came down to the wire (for the previews catalogs) they still didn’t have a cover for COMPULSION. They had 30 different ideas before finally settling. Martina really didn’t like it, felt it didn’t convey the feeling of the book at all so she pulled author rank and asked them to design something else.
  • Lee said for CITY OF SAVAGES (her debut) her and her agent had floated around an idea based around the band Vampire Weekend’s album “Modern Vampires in the City” cover – a little otherworldly, atmospheric and subtly creepy. She didn’t expect anything of it however, so half a year later when she saw her cover she was ecstatic. Apparently her editor had really gone to bat for her “vision” of the cover. Which turned out to be a good thing since the designer wanted to make it “seriously bold” (very in your face ostentatious instead of the subtly).

Question: Would you like to swap your characters for another book world?

  • S said she wants her space pirate (Lyssa/Razia) to go to bat with an anxiety dragon (like in EMPATH). Space Pirate vs Dragon – let’s make that happen!
  • Julie is a big fan of genderswapping stories. IVORY & BONE is loosely inspired by PRIDE & PREJUDICE for example with Mya being influenced by Darcy and Kol being influenced by Lizzy. She’d like them to meet their respective counterparts (and might write that fanfiction one day).
  • Kathryn would like to put her main character, Samantha from HOW IT FEELS TO FLY, into a traditional ballet book like TINY PRETTY THINGS. She’d like to see how she’d do in the high drama/high tension world of ballet.
  • Jodi said that Jane Grey (or their version from MY LADY JANE) is pretty much a straight swap with Hermione Granger and you’d notice almost no difference at all.
  • Martina would like to swap Barrie with her current WIP high society thief.
  • Lee would like to make her male main character, Alex Danfrey of A CRIMINAL MAGIC to become the protégé of Elliot Ness.

Question: When writing, do you get ideas for other books? Do you stop and pursue that idea or stay the course?

  • S is usually working on three books at a time—one in drafting, one in copy edits and one in pre-publication.  When she finishes a book she “banishes” it from her mind almost to make room for the other books.
  • Julie says it’s hard to be a new writer and to not leave the book you’re working on but maybe stumbling with for a shiny new idea. It’s very easy to fall into the trap of “I have all these ideas for this new book so it will be easy to write!” and never go back to any. It’s best to learn to ignore the shiny new idea until you finish the book you are on.
  • Kathryn is intensely jealous of writers with lots of ideas. She feels you should take a moment to indulge in the new idea/jot down a couple details, but only go back to it after you are done with your current WIP.
  • Jodi has long since realized that sometimes what’s really cool in the moment of inception, that you’re excited to write about and get out there, isn’t always as cool years down the line when you take it out to examine further. For her it was about three years from idea to writing the first draft for INCARNATE.
  • Martina loves complicated books and keeps an idea journal. She loves turning those ideas into concepts but hates drafting.
  • Lee will keep the idea aside and recognizes what they are is basically a high level form of procrastination.


  • STALKING JACK THE RIPPER was mentioned – not for the weak of heart, but they felt sucked in and intrigued despite this.
  • S assuring us that while Nori isn’t the girl on the cover of SPELLS & SORCERY, she kind of is (at least if she asks ;))
  • Jodi trying to math out how many manuscripts she’s written (in completion) vs how many she’s had published/are on the road to pre-pub. Spoiler – a lot.


Lexie Words

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