Book Titles

Do publishers tend to change the title of a manuscript? Do you have a magical formula to decide what title will work best?

We don't always change the title, but most of the time we do. See more info here.

As to magic formulas, yes. I use this one:



Formatting Your Manuscript

I was asked this question over on my blog, and to be honest, I'm clueless.

I did a blog on formatting and mentioned putting the author's name, copyright symbol, and the year on the right at the top. That's what I've always been taught to do, then someone said they'd been taught to never use the copyright symbol and wanted to know if the rule has changed. Help?
I read your post. THE most important formatting rule is your manuscript must be easy to read and to mark up--12 pt Times, double-spaced, 1" margins, white paper, single-sided, page headers with name & page numbers. Everything else is a matter of preference.

The second most important formatting rule is to follow the preferences of your publisher/agent. These are usually listed on their website.

The copyright mark and All Rights Reserved are unnecessary. You have copyright protection from the moment you put your first word in tangible form. It is understood that all rights are reserved until you sell them. I'm a professional. I know this. You don't need to remind me. However, if it makes you feel more comfortable you are welcome to include this. I won't make fun of you, not even in my mind.

Everything else in your post is fine. I have a personal peeve with using style sheets in Word instead of the hard indent. I prefer the hard indent because Word can go all skeewampus when we convert it to our typesetting program and we sometimes end up with some paragraphs converting to a hard indent and some converting to a first line indent and then we have to go through and fix it manually. (If you're using WordPerfect, don't.)


Just Do It by Rebecca Talley

It's approx three weeks until LDSBA and I have way too much on my plate. So thank you, Rebecca, for being today's guest blogger.

I’ve always loved to write, but life has had a way of getting in the way.

I wrote poems and short books as a youth, but placed writing on the back burner while I attended, and graduated from, BYU, married, and began having a multitude of children. During this time I took piano lessons, learned to knit and crochet, redecorated my house(s), studied how to raise horses, and chased my kids from one end of the day to the other.

One day, I told my husband that I’d like to get back into writing. He encouraged me to pursue it, but, once again, I let life get in the way. I figured that when I stopped having kids, I’d have time to write. Or, when the laundry mountain wasn’t as big as Mt. Everest. Or, when I could cook and freeze several meals so I could get ahead of the cooking. Or, when the dishes grew legs and walked themselves to the sink. Or, when life slowed down. Or . . . .

Then, my epiphany. Life would never slow down and I would never stop having kids (okay, maybe that will happen someday). If I truly wanted to write, I needed to stop making excuses why I couldn’t write and just do it. I needed to focus on the one thing, besides my family and the Church, that was most important to me.

I stopped taking piano lessons, put away my yarn and needles, suspended the redecorations (my husband was quite thankful for this resolve), gave the foal to my daughter for her to train, and tried to stop chasing my kids all day long (well, that hasn’t happened, yet).

I focused the little time I had on writing. I read books, took classes, attended conferences, joined email groups, asked thousands of questions, and surfed every writing-related website I could find. Oh, and I wrote. I wrote and wrote and wrote. I have notebooks filled, and many half-filled, with things I wrote—I kept misplacing the notebook I was using and had to keep finding other ones. (Important safety tip: keep your notebooks in obvious places and/or ban your children from ever using any of your notebooks as an artist pad).

I still had babies. I even homeschooled my other children for a time. I served as Primary President. I attended my children’s activities and cooked and cleaned and regularly climbed Mt. Everest, but I made time to write because it became a priority. With my newfound focus, I managed to publish a children’s picture book (Grasshopper Pie, Windriver, 2003) and sell stories to online and print magazines, including the Friend.

No, I didn’t learn to be Wonder Woman (though I’d love to look like her in that costume and have her lasso of truth); I learned to focus on writing. I learned to make writing my priority over knitting, playing the piano, and repainting my house. I learned I couldn’t do everything well, but, maybe if I put all of my effort into that one thing I enjoyed the most, I might be able to learn how to do it well enough to share it with others.

We’re all busy. We all have demanding lives. Writing should never become more important than our spouses, families, or fulfilling our duties in the Church, but, if we truly want to write, we can find the time to just do it.

Rebecca Talley


LDS Content, National Market

Suppose an author has a finely written, solid manuscript that that deals with universal issues (family, friends, self-worth, love, etc) and is set in an LDS community and has mainly LDS characters. Assume you believe the story would sell well in the LDS niche, but would also have some appeal to the mainstream market.

In your opinion, would it be better to focus on the LDS market, where the book would be seen as a great success, or try for the mainstream press, where even double the sales volume might be seen as a lackluster performance? Is there a point where you would recommend one path over the other?
Most of the time when authors tell me they have a cross-over novel, they really don't. Either they have an LDS book or a national book, and it seems clear to me which it is. But assuming it really is a story that could sell in either market...

This is one of those questions that you'll have to answer for yourself. It really depends on what your goals are, the type of story it is, and which audience (LDS or national) you feel an allegiance to. There are valid reasons for choosing either approach.

If it were me and this was my first novel and the setting and characters were LDS, I would go with an LDS publisher simply because it would be easier to make the sell. After I had 4 to 6 LDS best sellers under my belt, I would strategically plan the best way to create a cross-over novel—whether to have the LDS publisher take it national or to use my LDS market best-seller status as a springboard to getting a national agent/publisher. (If this was my long-term plan, I'd make sure there was nothing in any of my contracts that would prevent this.)

Having a novel with an LDS setting and characters published nationally can be done; it has been done. Two that immediately come to mind are Saints by Orson Scott Card and Charlotte's Rose by A.E. Cannon. However, both these authors took the opposite route—they were successful as national, non-LDS content authors first, then wrote an LDS content novel.

I know there are some readers of this blog who are making that cross-over to national publishing right now. What I don't know is if those national novels will have LDS characters or settings. I'd love to hear some of your opinions on this.


ARCs and Galleys

What is an ARC?
An ARC is an advanced reading copy. They are usually printed before the regular print run is done, either using a short run printer or a POD service. They often have a plain cover with just the title and author info. They are usually perfect bound, although I have seen some with spiral bindings. ARCs are sent out to key reviewers in advance of the release date to get the marketing buzz started. They may also be sent to bigger buyers to review before they place an order. There were no ARCs for HP #7.

What is a galley?
A galley is the press proof. There are pre-press galleys which are printed after typesetting but before they go to press. Authors are usually given these as their final proof copy—last chance to make corrections (meaning small typographical changes, NOT rewrites). But the usual use of the word is for the final proof from the printer. Publishers review this to make sure the printer has all the pages in the right order and all the fonts are printing correctly, etc.


E-mailing Queries

I got an e-mail this morning with nothing in the subject line, nothing in the body of the e-mail, and with an attached file. This happens occasionally. I always wonder if it's an author sending a query who doesn't know any better...but I am not curious enough to actually open that attachment. This is a common way to pass viruses and I am not going to take that chance. Last time I got a virus, my computer was in the shop for a week and they had to completely wipe and reformat the hard drive. I cannot tell you the problems that caused.

When you submit a query via e-mail, write it in your word processor. Double check for spelling and grammar, etc. Then when it's polished and ready, COPY and PASTE it into the body of your e-mail. Do not attach it. And always put "Query" somewhere in the subject line.

Now, I am aware that some publishers have a downloadable form on their website for you to fill out and return as an attachment, or they say to go ahead and send your query/submission as an attachment. If they say that, then fine. Go ahead and do it. But there are also those that say to query within the body of the e-mail, no attachments. When in doubt, take this safer route.


Recognizing Harry Potter

All the ado about Harry Potter reminded me of a submission story attributed to Rowling where says she was at a party and an editor came up to her and said he wished she'd submitted to him because he could have done a better job for her. Her reply was that she had, and he'd rejected her.

So I'm curious, do you think you'd recognize something that had the potential of a Harry Potter? And would you accept it?

Well, I certainly hope I'd recognize it. If I couldn't, I should be doing something else, like selling shoes at the mall.

We have no way of knowing what shape her original manuscript was in nor how much work it needed to make it publishable. But let's say it was 90% as good as the final published copy of book 1. Yes, I think I would have liked it. I think I would have thought it would be a good seller.

Would I have imagined that the series would have become the bombshell franchise that it has? No way. Nothing quite like this has ever happened before.

But recognizing a good story is not the same thing as being able to sell that story. Different people have different tastes. Markets go in and out of style. Companies have certain preferences and guidelines. There's more to the decision making process than just how good the story is. If I don't think I can sell it, I can't accept it, regardless of how much I personally may like it.

But I will say this, if you have a manuscript that is as good as Rowling's, I think you will eventually find a publisher. You may have to submit to a lot of companies and you may have to wait for your genre to become "hot" again, but if you keep at it (keep writing and submitting), you will find a publisher that is a good fit for you.


You Like Me, You Really Like Me!

The Thoughtful Blogger Award is for those who answer blog comments, emails, and make their visitors feel at home on their blogs. For the people who take others' feelings into consideration before speaking out and who are kind and courteous. Also for all of those bloggers who spend so much of their time helping other bloggers design, improve, and fix their sites. This award is for those generous bloggers who think of others.

Tristi gave me an award. That was very sweet and thoughtful of her. Maybe all those posts about blogging weren't a waste of time after all.

It looks like now I'm supposed to pass this award along to others. I would give it to Tristi because she comments here a lot and is always trying to be helpful and answer questions from her perspective—but she already has it.

This is tough because a lot of you have been sweet and kind and helpful to each other here on this blog. I thought about it a long time. I'm awarding the Thoughtful Blogger Award to two blogs:

The gals at Writing on the Wall for all their specific help on developing writing as a craft. I check them out periodically and agree with their advice about 97% of the time.

Also to the gang at Six LDS Writers and a Frog for letting us share the ups and downs of a writers journey.

So someone from those two sites come get your award. Just copy and paste the image into your blog, then pass it along to someone else.

A Rose by Any Other Name...

Do you think authors need to stick with one genre to build readership? Do you think readers will read other works by an author in a different genre? Should authors use pen names if they jump around to different genres?

This is one of those "it depends" questions. There are pros and cons to both sides of the argument.

In the beginning of a career, I think it's wise to stick with one genre, or perhaps two closely related genres (like suspense/horror; sci-fi/fantasy). It helps build readership. But sometimes authors get bored with that; or they have way too many ideas and want to branch out. There's nothing inherently wrong with that, but it needs to be handled carefully. You & your publisher or agent should make the decision on pen names together, after weighing all the pros and cons.

Many authors write in several different genres successfully. However, most of them will have a different pen name for each genre—at least in the beginning. (Ex: Nora Roberts/J.D. Robb; Elizabeth Peters/Barbara Michaels; Janette Rallison /Sierra St. James; Obert Skye/??-is he still keeping this a secret?)

I think this use of pen names is wise because yes, readers will read other genres by their favorite authors. Use of a pen name keeps the successful author's name "safe" while they're experimenting in other areas. For example, let's say an author* is a hugely famous best-seller in sci-fi/fantasy. Then they decide to write a few romances and they stink, at least compared to the sff. So here's what happens. Rabid fans of the sff read the romance and hate it. Next sff title comes out. The bad taste of the romance is lodged there in their memory. They may still buy that new title, but maybe they won't wait in line on release day. And from the other direction, readers who like both romance and sff may stumble across the sub-par romance novels first, then be unwilling to give the sff a chance, thinking the quality of the writing will be the same.

Or let's say someone is a well-known writer of sweet middle grade readers. Kids love them; parents trust them. Then they decide to write a racy YA novel. Past fans read it because of the author's name. The little kids are shocked. Parents are outraged. Suddenly all books by this author are suspect and sales of the middle grade readers drop.

Now, if the second genre is as big a hit as their first, publishers will let it leak out that the two authors are one and the same, which then boosts sales of both genres as fans of each will try the other.

In the middle grade/racy YA example, I'd probably try to keep that a secret for as long as I could, although it didn't seem to hurt Shel Silverstein (or is that an urban myth?).

From another marketing point of view, writing under a pen name is like starting out as a brand new author. You don't have a following yet. The publisher is going to have to invest more in marketing the new book. That can be a pain. The upside is that the new book under the pen name is likely to be better than the author's original first book, simply because of the experience the author has gained as a published writer. But the downside is some authors think they can write in a second (or third) genre, and they really can't.

As a publisher, I don't mind if an author writes in multiple genres, as long as they keep producing books in their stronger genre on a reasonable time frame. As a reader, I hate it when the next novel in a series is slow coming out because an author is off playing under another pen name. (cough-Robert-cough-Jordan)

Does this make sense?

*10 points to the first commenter who knows who I'm talking about.


My How Time Flies

What's the general time frame from acceptance to finished product?

Two months to two years. Depends on so many, many things. Average for me is 6-8 months.


Rejected Again


Let's say you request a full. The author sends it to you and for whatever reason you reject it. How often (on a requested ms.) do you do a form rejection as opposed to stating the reasons for rejecting?

If you sent a standard form and an author asked for more information so they could improve on their next manuscript they sent you, would you respond?

Jeff Savage
(But then again. Who is Jeff really?)

It really depends on what else I've got on my plate at the time. Publishing is more than just a vehicle for putting food on my table. I am emotionally invested in helping authors succeed. (Why else would I do this blog, relatively faithfully, and for FREE?)

If it's a great read, but not a good fit for me, I almost always say so. I try to put one or two personable sentence on the usual form letter to encourage the author to keep trying.

If it needs work and I've got the time and I can capture the problem in a sentence or two AND if it's not LDSBA time or Christmas rush, I try to let them know

But if it really needs a lot of work, I assume that a few quick pointers wouldn't help because if the author knew what I was talking about they would have done it already. And it's not my job to teach an author how to write.

Sometimes when I've rejected someone and they're particularly rude about it, I'll just send form letters to everyone for awhile. Until the sting goes away.


Writing Organizations

Should writers join organizations like SCBWI or LDStorymakers?

You don't have to, but yes, I think you should. And RWA, and SFWA, and MWA, and LUW (or your state's equivalent), and Latter-day Authors, and other writer groups and forums, and reader groups and forums, and...

There are all sorts of groups out there that provide wonderful information, networking opportunities and support. Don't join them all or you'll spread yourself too thin and never have time to actually write. And don't join any that are out of your budget. But check into some of them and find one or two that fit your needs.

Readers, which organizations have you found to be most helpful?



What's the number one reason why you reject manuscripts?

There is only one reason I reject manuscripts—I don't think I can sell the book.

Only a publisher would make that distinction, but it's an important one to understand. It's the reason why great manuscripts are sometimes rejected, while lesser manuscripts are sometimes accepted. I will sometimes accept a good (but not great) book because it fills a hole in my product line, or it's really timely and there's nothing else out there like it.

I always reject bad writing—poor technique, grammar, boring, unrealistic, facts and/or citations wrong, etc. The majority of my rejections fall into this category. I haven't done the math, but off the top of my head, I'd say about 90%.

I can't, however, always accept great writing. I will sometimes get a wonderful book that I have to reject because it's not right for my market (mainstream LDS) or I just published one that is too similar or I don't publish in that genre or I don't have the budget required to market it effectively. When this happens, I try to make it clear to the author that it is not the quality of the work I'm rejecting. These books nearly always find a home somewhere, and only rarely does an author feel the need to rub my nose in it. I forgive them because they clearly do not understand the distinction between accepting a book because it is good, and accepting a book because I know I can sell it.


Favorite Book

What is your favorite book of all time? Why? Plot, characterization, description, setting? What made you remember it?

Did Jeff Savage put you up to this? He's always trying to trick me into revealing my secret identity.

Seriously, while I won't give you specific titles, the novels I like best are very strongly character driven with plot twists that take me at least two thirds of the way through the book to figure it out. I need solid, clever dialog. Setting is almost completely unimportant to me, as long as it's believable and I only need enough description to give me a sense of place.


Christmas in July

I am working on the final edits of a novel that takes place during Christmas time. It is not a "Christmas book" per se, but I've begun to wonder, because it's my first book, if I ought to change the season for marketing reasons. Does the season a book takes place in have any bearing on a publisher accepting a first time novelist?

Not really. We might schedule the release date based on the season of the book, but that wouldn't make any difference for acceptance.

I'm assuming there was a reason your book takes place during Christmas, so I'd say, no, don't change it unless a publisher asks you to.


Guest Bloggers

Yes, I know it's not Wednesday yet, but I will be out of the office for a couple of days and may not be able to get anywhere near a computer.

Which brings up my summer convention schedule. I'll be traveling a lot between now and September and doing a lot of conventions. Getting to a computer on a regular basis is hard. Finding the time to write the posts, in between regular catch-up work is even harder. So, I thought I'd open this up to guest bloggers.

If you'd like to guest blog here, write your post and e-mail it to me. Do not send it as an attachment. Paste the text within the e-mail itself.

Posts need to be about writing and/or publishing--what to do, what not to do, personal experiences. They need to be well-written, interesting and/or entertaining. I need to agree with the main premise. Include your name and credentials and your web/blog address(es) for linking. Other LDS publishers get first consideration. Published authors get preference over non-published.

I will respond to all submissions as soon as possible. If I won't be using yours, I'll let you know why and you'll have a chance to rewrite and resubmit. If I will be using yours, I'll give you a ballpark posting date.


Odds & Ends

How will the prospective readers "visit" talk shows and radio shows? On the television and radio, I suppose, but those would probably be local stations in Salt Lake City and would therefore exclude anybody living outside broadcasting range.
Turn it into a podcast (easy to do) and post it to author's & publisher's websites and anywhere else we can get it.

I don't know what a "jump drive" is.
Also called "thumb drive," it's a small portable storage device that plugs into your computer via the USB port.

you said you'd provide all the buyers with this jump drive thing, right? So if somebody bought it off the internet, it would be included in the package? Or could they have the possibility of asking you, the author, for the promo piece once they can prove to you that they've bought the book? They could answer a question or forward their e-mail ordering form, or whatever, and then you'd send the jump drive in the mail?
If I did this, which I wouldn't because it would be way to expensive, I'd put a mail-in "proof of purchase" form on one of the back pages of the book that they'd have to photocopy and mail in with a copy of their sales receipt.

Coming in a little late as usual, but I've seen the expression "sticky post" on several blogs. What's a "sticky post?"
On a forum, it's a way of creating the discussion category that keeps it at the top of the list. It's an option you select when you create that category. As for a regular blog...? Not sure. Anyone else know?


June 2006 Promo Contest Winners

Thanks to everyone who participated in the June 2006 Promo Contest--both those that entered promo ideas and those that voted. Really appreciate it.

Winners are...

Publisher's Choice:
#6 Eli Slater
I picked this one because it has the potential to get the most free media attention--nationwide. That's what you want--other people doing your marketing for you. A little bit of controversy doesn't hurt either. It's also the easiest and least expensive.

Reader's Choice:
The Jump Boys.
(Which would have been my first choice except for the cost and other things I mentioned on the post itself.)

I put comments on all of the entries, why I thought it was good or wouldn't work, etc. To see all posts, click here. Authors, take credit for your work in the comments section. Winners, e-mail your mailing address to me so I can send the cheesy prizes.


Phone, E-mail or Snail Mail

If you decide to publish a manuscript, do you email, snail mail, or call with an acceptance?

If you decide to reject it, is it always with a form letter?

Does it depend on the manuscript? Does every publisher do it differently?

I always call with an acceptance. If I can't reach the author by phone, I will e-mail or snail mail, in that order.

Rejections are always with a form letter, although sometimes I will add commentary if I have the time and the inclination. If an author gives me their e-mail, that's how I send the rejection. If not, then snail mail.

I do all manuscripts the same. I suppose some publishers will differ, but most of the ones I know call with acceptance. I don't know anyone who has the time to call with rejections.


Behind the Scenes Acceptance Process

Can you tell me what happens when you receive my manuscript? Do you have a first reader that sifts through all the manuscripts and then passes on his/her picks to you? When does a manuscript go to outside readers? Do all publishers use committees to decide the fate of a manuscript? Who has the final say? Do you follow the same procedure with all manuscripts?

I have an assistant who does a pre-read and sorts them into piles--ones I will probably want to read and ones that I will probably reject. We've worked together for a long time, so she's pretty accurate at guessing what my response will be. If she really likes something, I put it at the top of the pile.

I go through the rejection pile first because those are pretty obvious and there's no need to keep those authors waiting. I write my own rejection letters--most of them are form letters, but sometimes I offer suggestions on what to improve.

The manuscript goes to outside readers if the in-house staff likes it enough to consider publishing it. We need to make sure it will appeal to a fairly wide spectrum of readers.

If they're smart, publishers have some type of committee giving them input. Who is on that committee depends on the size of the company. It may be the readers or it may be a group of employees, or it may be an official committee which includes the finance and marketing departments.

Who has the final say? Depends on the company. It could be the head editor, the president, the marketing VP, or a majority vote of the committee. In my company, it's usually a unanimous vote of the committee.

We follow the same procedure 99% of the time. Sometimes we'll publish something that has a majority vote, but not very often.


Sincere Apologies

My sincerest apologies to the last three submissions that came in under the wire. I had some severe technical difficulties and wasn't able to post them until just now.

To make it fair, if you already voted for one of the first three, but would have voted for one of the last three if they had been posted on time, you may delete your previous vote (click on the trash can) and then vote again.

Promo Contest Entry #6

BOOK: Confederate Sergeant Eli Slater had an assignment to complete and it only included a coffin, not a hostage; especially not the LDS daughter of a Northern general. Forced to take her in a raid, Slater now finds everything at risk--especially his feelings for the 'Mormon' Church. He was hoping to forget his experience in the Utah War and his involvement in an assassination attempt on Brigham Young but the dark-eyed hostage is now forcing him to face his past and his heart. With his troop of highly trained sharp-shooters waiting orders to assassinate Abraham Lincoln along with several top Northern generals, and a mysterious series of unbreakable codes flowing over the wires, Slater doesn't need more things to draw his attention away from his assignment. Then a single bullet finds the sergeant and he is left to live or die in her hands. And she now knows he has been sent to kill her father. I remember this one from a previous contest too. Is it finished yet? Have you started submitting?

PROMO IDEA: Start a media sweep with facts on the real, but little known, assassination attempt on Brigham Young during the Utah War. Visit talk shows, radio shows and send press releases discussing the actual history of that assassination attempt. (Teasers and headlines here could be great.) Then let people know that the truth is found in a new fictional book, Beyond Enemy Lines, which goes beyond North and South to discuss the LDS role in the Civil War. In addition to the attempt of Brigham Young's life, did you know the failed Utah War was the reason for the Civil War? Did you know that Robert E. Lee, who hated slavery, was sent by God to lead the South? Do you realize the assassination of President Lincoln was foretold and
that Lincoln needed to die? The truth of the Lord's hand in the Civil War, found in Beyond Enemy Lines, may change your entire view of the war.
GREAT IDEA! You've got enough controversy to get the media interest. As long as you have the facts to back it up. Radio interviews are FREE because you can do them over the phone. I'd include podcasts with as many people as you can. Maybe to a trivia game/test on your website that scores people with cute titles depending on how many questions they got right.

But we need a contest as well, where people can win something--free copies of the book.

Promo Contest Entry #5

Title: All The Colors of Blue

Teaser: Angela Baker is an artist that doesn't paint, living in Salt Lake City - a place she doesn't want to be. She hasn't been to Astoria, Oregon since she was 18 and has no intentions of changing that, but when old family friends invite her for a visit in the middle of August -- she can't resist. When she finds out the family has a handsome son she'd never met, life takes an interesting turn. Things become complicated when he turns up missing, linked to drug trafficking in a private school and her simple summer vacation turns upside down as she wonders if any of them are going to come out of it alive. Interesting...

Promo Idea: I'm thinking a key chain with the Astoria Column, or one that has something representing Seaside or Astoria in a memorable way. A kind of cheesy touristy item that will get the person thinking of Oregon and how beautiful it is there, and wanting to read about it.
Like the concept, but this is another one that is not financially feasible--unless you can think of a way to run a contest from it. But at that, I'm not sure a key chain would be enough of a motivator to get people to participate in the contest. What about a digital camera? I could cough up enough for an inexpensive digital as a prize--IF you had a way to really get people excited about the contest, like if you had an e-mail list of 1,000 or were getting a lot of hits on a website/blog. What would we have them do to try to win it?

The key chain idea would work at LDSBA--give one out to all the book buyers who visit the booth during your signing. In fact, that's a really good idea. Maybe I'll do something like that this year...

Promo Contest Entry #4

Book: Grasshopper Pie

Synopsis: Mom is busy cleaning when Logan and Madolyn insist they "cook" for her. They whip up some imaginary dishes like Watermelon Burritos and Sunflower Soup and Mom grudgingly plays along. But, what happens when Mom asks for Grasshopper Pie and the dish isn't so imaginary after all? Cute idea. Recipes included?

Promo: Since this is a children's picture book, I would schedule a reading and while wearing my antennae headband, I'd offer a free book to anyone who'd eat a live grasshopper. (I'd have a jar of grasshoppers).

Okay, I love this idea! It appeals to the perverse side of me. Reminds me of the time my seminary teacher brought chocolate covered grasshoppers to class so we could discover what locusts and honey might taste like.

However, there could be potential liability problems here. Even if you got signed releases from the grasshopper eaters. If someone got sick, we could all be sued--me, you and the bookstore. I don't think I could actually let you do it. Darn!

Maybe make a fake Grasshopper Pie as refreshements for anyone who comes to the book signing/reading? Although that has liability potential as well...