Thursday, November 09, 2006

Authors Harley Jane Kozak and Susan McBride at the Great Manhattan Mystery Conclave.

Kozak: Polished Product

Helps Publishing Chances

MANHATTAN, KS — One has to empathize with Wollie Shelley. She just can’t find Mr. Right.

It’s no wonder. Author Harley Jane Kozak has Shelley, the protagonist in her first two books, attempting to navigate the dating scene in novels entitled Dating Dead Men and Dating is Murder.

Kozak, a graduate of Lincoln East High School, was on hand at the Great Manhattan (KS) Mystery Conclave, Nov. 3-5, to discuss a challenge that can be as daunting as finding Mr. or Ms Right — getting published.

Kozak, along with fellow authors Susan McBride (The Lone Star Lonely Hearts Club, The Good Girl’s Guide to Murder) and Laura Durham (For Better or Hearse, Better Off Wed), hosted a discussion entitled “Everything You Wanted to Know About Publishing But Were Afraid to Ask, Presented by the Book Babes, Who've Been There and Done That.” A polished manuscript is the biggest key, Kozak said.

“You might think ‘well, if they see that there is a lot of raw talent here, they’ll take me on.’ That’s actually not true,” she said. “People are so overwhelmed in the publishing world with unsolicited manuscripts. You have to send your absolute best.”

The publishing business is just that — a business, she said.

“In this publishing climate, it’s very rare to have someone who seriously edits your book. An editor’s job is not as it was in the olden days,” Kozak said. “They need to see a manuscript that they think can realistically make them money. You have to be prepared for that reality.”

Kozak, who has a long list of acting credits from soaps such as Guiding Light and Santa Barbara to feature films including Necessary Roughness, The Favor and Parenthood, has managed to conquer the book business as well. Her third novel, Dead Ex, is currently in the final stages of editing with her publisher, Doubleday. It is scheduled to be released around August 2007. In Dead Ex, Wollie is dating a correspondent on the fictional talk show SoapDirt. Kozak was able to tap into her experience on the soaps and spent some time on the set of General Hospital as well.

“It was really fun. That was the easy part because that’s the part I did not have to research except for going and spending a day on the set of General Hospital,” Kozak said. “It turns out I knew half the people at General Hospital cause they had done other soaps that I had done. It’s very small world.”

Kozak got some assistance with her research from readers of The Lipstick Chronicles , a blog to which she contributes.

“I thank at least a dozen of them in the acknowledgements,” she said. “When I finished the first draft I had this 15-page list of things I had to check out. People wrote in and said ‘I’ve got number seven for you.”

Marketing plans for Dead Ex are still hazy, but a trip to Lincoln for a book signing is almost a foregone conclusion.

“I’m sure I’ll come back to Nebraska just because I’m always looking for an excuse to come back to Nebraska,” she said. “It’s dear to my heart and I dearly love the bookstore (Lee Booksellers) there. I just have friends there that I always love to see.”


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