Reposting Original Book Review: “Forgotten But Not Gone” by Barbara Peckham

Forgotten But Not Gone by Barbara Peckham

OFFICIAL DESCRIPTION*:

Forgotten But Not Gone is an interwoven story about a married housewife and part-time librarian living in coastal Massachusetts in 1965. She is happy and very active in her life there. However, she has a background that no one knows about except her husband, George, and even he doesn’t know anywhere near the whole story. He knows she has amnesia about her early childhood but very little else.

All Liz really remembers is that, at the age of about fourteen or fifteen, she found herself running, panicked, down an Appalachian mountainside. She had no idea then, nor did she now have any memory of what had happened before that, what she was running from, or what had frightened her so much. So now she seldom thought about it. She had managed to get on with her life and what was past was past.

That is, until a strange letter arrives in her mailbox one day. It appears someone knows things about her that she doesn’t even know, and it frightens her. Not long after, other occurrences begin, and they escalate more and more in intensity and danger. She is sure all this has to do with the past she can’t remember, and she begins to fear for her life. Ever since she can remember, she has had some silver teaspoons with initials engraved on them and a diamond ring, but she has no idea whose they were or what the initials mean. Did she steal them? Is someone finally going to find her? Then a teaspoon exactly like hers turns up in a friend’s collection. Where did she get it? How are they connected?

Still, try as she might, all she can remember is that she ran until she came across a hardscrabble farm, where an elderly couple took her in. They treated her like the daughter they had lost. She stayed and worked the farm with them until, after a few years, they died, one shortly after the other, and she was forced to leave the only home she remembered to go out on her own with few resources and little education. The years following were years of hard work and night school.

The story weaves back and forth between the present, [with] Liz revealing more of her past, a mysterious man who has come to town with a vengeance, and a young woman who has in her possession another of the silver spoons. All comes together with a terrible fire at the end, and the truth finally comes out.

REVIEW:

Once upon a time, a girl stumbled out of the thickly forested Appalachian foothills and into the lives of an elderly couple on a small farm. Uncertain of what had happened before she entered the forest, her exact age, and even her own name, the girl is dubbed “Nell” and nurtured by the Ekburgs until their deaths send her out into the world, ready to make a new life for herself under a new name, and equally determined to make new memories to replace the ones she’d lost.

Thus begins the story of Forgotten But Not Gone: The Silver Spoons, a new cross-genre historical fiction plus mystery novel from Barbara Peckham. The novel leaps twenty-odd years into the future and catches up with Nell, now Mrs. Elizabeth (“Liz”) Everson, who lives a calm life as a part-time librarian and housewife just before Halloween in 1965. And yes, a set of silver spoons really does connect the dots between the stories of Nell/Liz/? and those of the book’s other point-of-view characters, including her husband George, the young Joyce, Liz’s new friend Elaine, the local police chief, and an unnamed mystery man who thinks he knows exactly what happened during Liz’s forgotten years––and is determined to punish her for it.

Told in a combination of straightforward narrative and flashbacks from their prior lives, Forgotten But Not Gone: The Silver Spoons perfectly melds those elements it borrows from historical fiction and cozy mystery genres. Peckham has an eye for detail, walking her readers back through the years to a time when phones were analog and had those spiral cords (you still can find them for sale as “antiques” on Etsy, which makes me feel absolutely ancient), and when people sent letters that were made of actual paper. She also embraces all the pomp and circumstance (and obsessive planning) behind many a community celebration of the variety still common in older, tourist-friendly East Coast shore towns. As a librarian, Liz enlists Elaine and her other Book Club friends to assist in organizing Seaside’s Christmas parade and neighborhood gathering––a subplot that is blessedly free of the sinister elements that are becoming routine in the Everson household suddenly. It is here, with her friends around her and a project to complete, that Liz’s fundamental personality really shines––and her natural aptitude for winning people over. It’s only when Liz returns home that she is haunted by danger and the nagging feeling that someone is out to get her for things she can’t even remember begins to sink its claws into her mind.

So, what happened in those years she’s forgotten? I can’t tell you exactly since to do so would be an unforgivable spoiler. Still, Peckham weaves together the various elements of the novel into one cohesive and compelling story of fractured and found families, suspense and seeking sanctuary, and the making of a whole and complete life.

At a time when the world seems to be either on fire or consumed by some other tragic breaking news, Peckham invokes an era when the local police were also neighbors and friends, when daily life felt comfortable like a favorite sweater, and when libraries were the surest place to discover critical information in a mystery so old the trail is beyond cold––it’s pure ice. And I find this somewhat ironic, given that fire and ice (or at least, icing bruises) are common themes in Forgotten But Not Gone: The Silver Spoons. I heartily encourage you to take a peek at this novel if you liked Big Little Lies but wished that people would just talk to each other and figure out a solution together, or if you find yourself hankering for a seasonally appropriate read in the months between Halloween and Christmas. After all, we all need a satisfying spook every now and then.

IN SUMMARY:

Compassionately written characters learn crucial details about their own lives in this cozy, genre-bending novel from Barbara Peckman. Forgotten But Not Gone: The Silver Spoons is precisely the right book at the right time for those of us who love old houses and old towns and old memories relived.

WHERE TO BUY?

Find out more about the book Forgotten But Not Gone: The Silver Spoons on the Outskirts Press author page.

I received a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. 

* Courtesy of Amazon book listing.


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ABOUT KENDRA M.: With nine years in library service, six years of working within the self-publishing world, as well as extensive experience in creative writing, freelance online content creation, and podcast editing, Kendra seeks to amplify the voices of those who need and deserve most to be heard.

Why You Should Have Your Book in Multiple Formats

Even with technological advances, I still love the feel of a physical book.

Whether paperback or hardcover, I love to cozy up on the couch with paper and ink in my hands. But even with my preferences, I’d still advise that it’s a wise business decision for self-publishing authors to sell books in multiple formats.

Despite apocalyptic predictions that digital will kill paper, the physical book isn’t going away. On the contrary, paperback books remain the most popular format. That said, it’s unwise to self-publish your book in only one format.

Readers love choice more than ever, and that love of choice includes book formats: physical books, eBooks, and audiobooks.

Here are several reasons why you should publish your book in multiple formats.

Some formats work better than others for specific markets.

If you’re a romance novelist and self-publish your book only in paperback, you’re more likely to fail. Why? Many romance readers prefer eBooks over paperback, so you’re leaving sales on the table if you’re not getting your stories digital.

Conversely, children’s books fare better in paper formats, so a children’s book in only eBook form may not be enough. Format preferences vary wildly on genre and category, so you’ll glean a wealth of market research by investigating the format most of your potential readers are buying.

But even when one format is more popular than another, it’s wise to publish in multiple formats. Related to the above, many romance readers still prefer paper to electronic—airport stands for romance novels still exist! So, multiple options are crucial to reaching your potential audience.

You increase the number of platforms you can sell your book on.

Not every bookseller sells books in every format. If you self-publish your book only in the .mobi eBook format, you’re practically limited to selling through Amazon’s Kindle section.

While Amazon is the most prominent storefront for self-publishing authors, you can do better.

If you take your manuscript’s file and export it to .epub, you open up most of the rest of the eBook market. You make it possible to sell your book on Barnes & Noble, Apple Books, Kobo, Google Play, and more. Some retailers even sell books in .pdf form.

If you record your book as an audiobook, you can play it in audiobook storefronts, such as Audible, iTunes, Google Audiobooks, Nook Audiobooks, or Kobo Audiobooks.

And if you release your book in physical form? You can sell on most of the above retailers, like Amazon, and even keep open the chance to see your book at a physical bookstore. Sounds exciting, right?

You can get the best of both worlds with exclusivity and availability.

Some retailers offer the option to sell your book exclusively on their storefront. In exchange, you’ll often get better royalties and priority in promotions and algorithmic placement. The downside is that exclusivity commits you to only one storefront. So, if you sign up for Amazon’s KDP Select, you can’t also sell your eBook with Barnes & Noble.

However, exclusivity deals usually only apply to one format. So, you could decide to give KDP Select eBook exclusivity but then sell your book in physical and audiobook format elsewhere. You can mix and match exclusivity deals and benefit from the perks of exclusivity and the availability of multiple formats.

You increase your book’s accessibility.

Not all book readers can read a physical book. For example, some readers are visually impaired. Other accessibility considerations include learning disabilities such as dyslexia, limits in motor skills, and language ability.

Fortunately, a self-publishing author has all the tools to make an accessible book. Audiobooks are an excellent alternative for accessibility. Of course, eBooks are also beneficial in their adaptability. With an e-reader, a reader can increase the text size, change the font, look up dictionary definitions, or even enable text-to-speech.

But when formatting eBooks, you must follow accessibility guidelines. E-readers need a properly formatted file to parse text for the user. When you format your book with accessibility, your product looks more professional, and more readers can enjoy your work.

Bonus Reason: For another kind of accessibility, you can get your self-published books into libraries. This is especially easy with digital formats, and you can use book distribution services to list your book on digital lending services like OverDrive and Hoopla. In addition, the libraries that you license your book to will financially compensate you without the reader having to pay.

You can even sell readers the same book more than once in different formats

A number of retailers make it enticing to buy in two or more formats. For some Kindle eBooks, Amazon offers the option to “add Audible narration,” often at a discount. Through Whispersync technology, readers can switch between visual reading and audiobook reading without losing their place.

You can even set it up so that if a reader buys the physical version, the reader can also buy the eBook version for cheaper or even get it for free. This bundling technique significantly increases goodwill with your readers and entices them to buy your next book.

Closing

The case is strong: Multiple book formats are great for your self-publishing business and the culture of reading. Prepare your manuscript with different formats, and you’ll be a step closer to success!

I’ll turn it over to you: What book formats do you prefer? What factors influence the format you get your books in?


How to Get Started Selling Books on Social Media

No matter what path you take to publishing your book, you’ll need to learn how to sell books on social media.

If you go the self-publishing route, social media will be one of your most accessible platforms for selling and connecting. And even if you go the traditional route and submit your book to a publishing company, publishers are looking for authors who are comfortable enough to run their online presence. Unfortunately, Luddites don’t get signed in publishing.

It’s hard figuring out how to build your social media platform to the point that you can sell copies. A social media account isn’t something you can set up once and leave alone; instead, you must work to build an organic following and earn the algorithm’s favor.

As overwhelming as social media can feel, one upside is that there are numerous ways to approach social media marketing. It’ll depend on your brand and your plan to present the best parts of yourself professionally.

I’ll go over the considerations to keep in mind as you build your social media platform; then I’ll cover what you need to get started putting your book out there and getting it to readers.

Building a platform brick-by-brick

Here’s something to keep in mind: not all followers are equal. However, there are services available where you can “buy” followers, and you can get caught up in following everyone under the sun who’s willing to follow you back.

Don’t inflate your following count! At best, you’ll waste time and money on thousands of fake followers who will never buy your book. At worst, you’ll get banned for buying or even soliciting counterfeit followers.

So, as you’re building up your accounts, don’t get distracted by metrics for metrics’ sake. Instead, focus on organic growth. Follow accounts that you’re genuinely interested in engaging, whether reading their posts or keeping a conversation going.

At first, you’ll likely find that most of your followers are fellow authors and maybe other publishing professionals such as agents and editors. This is okay. Networking is gold, and social media is an excellent way to find agents soliciting books like yours or meeting writers you might collaborate with on publicity campaigns.

Just remember to also reach beyond the publishing bubble and seek out readers.

Ideas for selling your book

The most obvious tactic is the cold sell: find the account of a potential reader and pitch them your book.

The cold sell can be effective in cases where your book is the exact title the prospective buyer is looking for, especially if the prospective has asked for recommendations. Just be reasonable with cold selling. If you self-promote your book to everyone you encounter, your account may be shut down for spamming.

So, how else are you supposed to sell your book? Here’s a list of other techniques that may appeal to prospective readers more.

  1. Write about your book. Either make a post (on sites like Facebook) or a thread (on Twitter) explaining to readers what your book is and why they should read it. This is an excellent opportunity to repurpose your blurb material from your book’s description copy.
  2. Post excerpts. Isolate the juiciest quotes and passages from your manuscript, and either post them as text or screenshots; make sure that your screenshots have alt-text for accessibility.
  3. Provide relevant visuals. Curate a collection of photos of your book, along with visuals that fit the book’s mood. Instagram is home to “Bookstagram,” which is a great place for these kinds of pictures. You can also create boards on Pinterest, whether your book’s plot or characters inspire it.
  4. Shoot some videos. Unless you sink money into this, your production value will be low, so you may be better off leaning into vlogging, or video blogging. Almost every major platform has video, but videos have especially been catching fire on TikTok, home of “BookTok,” where snappy pitches of books do well in reaching new readers.
  5. Hold giveaways! Free stuff can rope in new readers and endear you to your first fans. Of course, physical copies entice the most avid readers, but eBooks are also a great option on a budget. You can even order “swag” that’s themed for your book.
  6. Share other people’s content. This will garner attention from the people that you’re sharing. If a reader posts praise, make their day by thanking them and giving their praise a boost. Keep your brand in mind when resharing content unrelated to your book; posting about your book’s genre or subject matter makes for good material.
  7. Buy social media ads. If you go this route, do the research, as advertising is a high-risk/high-reward endeavor. Ads work great once you know a platform enough to recognize what ads perform best on it and whether it’s worth buying impressions.
  8. Mix and match all the above! Variety will add spice to your book promotion and create multiple entry points for getting the sell.

Now, this is only the beginning of online bookselling. As you work on your author career, you’ll find what works best for you.

In that light, my parting advice is to go out there and put your plan in action. I look forward to seeing your book the next time I peruse my timeline.

Over To You: How do you use social media to sell books? What success stories do you have, and what questions do you still have?

Elizabeth Javor Outskirts Press

ABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 20 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Director of Sales and Marketing for Outskirts Press. The Sales and Marketing departments are composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path.

The Value of Hybrid Publishing to Self-Publishing Authors

Despite the name, hybrid publishing can be a valuable service for writers looking to self-publish their books.

As I covered in a previous article, hybrid publishing is when you pay a company upfront to help you prepare and publish your book.

While the term “hybrid” is used in various contexts, I’ll assume for the sake of this article that you’re working with a freestanding hybrid press that upholds high standards while allowing you to retain control over your book.

If you’re looking to make self-publishing books a career, you may wonder why it may be worth hiring a hybrid. After all, it can cost considerable money for a service you could handle by yourself for considerably less.

In this article, I’ll explain how hybrids justify their service prices and why hybrid publishing can work for you.

Hybrid publishing works with you to hold and maintain your book to professional standards

It’s always worth repeating: for a self-published book to succeed, it has to be of high quality.

“High quality” means your book needs thorough editing, an eye-catching book cover, solid book production, enticing book copy, far-reaching marketing, and numerous other factors that set apart a professional self-published title from the amateurs.

If you’re a first-time author opting out of traditional publishing, it can be daunting to abide by those high standards. To do so, you’d have to learn your share of the publishing process and assemble a team of collaborators to help you with everything else you can’t handle by yourself.

An alternative is to hire a hybrid publisher. When you meet with a hybrid, their coordinator will work with you to vet your book to ensure it’s a good fit for their services. Then the hybrid will educate you about all the necessary services so you can cover all of your bases and craft a publishing package that works best for you.

Hybrid publishing can also help you save time—and often money

When you self-publish solo, you must put in a lot of time. A lot of time requires directly handling aspects of the publishing process. It also involves spending countless hours finding and managing collaborators.

With a hybrid, you instead pay a company to do all the delegation. Of course, you’ll still need to discuss your expectations and needs for a project. However, a hybrid press will then draw from their pool of talent and employ their organizational expertise to secure services in days or weeks for what could take weeks or months for a novice self-publisher.

You may even save money. For example, when hiring contractors yourself, you may end up paying more than what’s reasonable or taking on unexpected costs to replace someone who doesn’t work out. Meanwhile, hybrids are trained to handle those hitches, passing those savings to you.

Hybrid publishing allows you to keep control over how your book is published

Other publishing models require authors to yield considerable control over their books. Traditional publishers will often make choices for their authors, even against the authors’ wishes. Meanwhile, vanity presses don’t do the collaboration and education hybrids do, which may lead to a final product that the author isn’t satisfied with.

Most hybrids make author ownership a core value. This starts with the package, where many hybrid presses will allow authors to opt in and out of various services. Even after the package is agreed upon, hybrids work with authors throughout the publication, keeping regular communication and even allowing authors to veto decisions.

Do keep in mind that sometimes a hybrid publisher might say no in cases where they need to maintain high standards or a request would go above budget. But assuming your requests are reasonable, few other models outside pure self-publishing allow you as much control as hybrid publishing.

Hybrid publishing can be combined with other publishing models, including “pure” self-publishing

When you use a hybrid publisher, you’re under no obligation to publish your future books through that same service. Not only do you retain control over your book during hybrid publication, but you also keep the rights to your book and any subsequent titles in its series.

This arrangement gives you choices throughout your publishing career. For example, you could start traditionally or self-publishing your first book, then switch to a hybrid press. Conversely, you can switch hybrid publishers between projects or go the hybrid route for one project but opt for self-publishing for future publications.

You can even bring a previously self-published book to a hybrid press for a fresher print run or vice versa.

When it comes down to it, the value of hybrid publishing to a self-publisher comes down to quality and control. Of course, whether you work with a hybrid publisher will widely depend on your needs, but their existence as an option enriches the pathways you can take in your career as a professional author.

Over to you: If you have experience with hybrid publishing, what value have you gotten from the process? If not, what type of services are you hoping to find while self-publishing?

Elizabeth Javor Outskirts Press

ABOUT ELIZABETH JAVOR: With over 20 years of experience in sales and management, Elizabeth Javor works as the Director of Sales and Marketing for Outskirts Press. The Sales and Marketing departments are composed of knowledgeable publishing consultants, customer service reps and book marketing specialists; together, they all focus on educating authors on the self-publishing process to help them publish the book of their dreams. Whether you are a professional looking to take your career to the next level with platform-driven non-fiction or a novelist seeking fame, fortune, and/or personal fulfillment, Elizabeth Javor can put you on the right path.

Libraries in the Time of Coronavirus—How You Can Help Libraries

Library closed during covid
Image by Queven from Pixabay

Like many physical locations, public libraries were massively affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. In the pandemic’s first year alone (2020), the American Library Association (ALA) reported significant impacts on libraries by the coronavirus.

While the ALA has yet to release a report on year 2 (2021), they’re likely to report many continuations of trends started by the pandemic’s beginning: a mass pivot from in-person services to virtual, a significant increase in library use because of those virtual services, lots of concerns about reopening and reclosing between virus waves, and the turmoil of book banning.

In the face of much strife, supporting libraries is more important than ever. On top of book lending, libraries assist communities by providing education, tech access, literacy, meals for kids, community building, and even vaccine clinics.

If you’re a self-publishing author, you may wonder how you can help libraries. Here are several ways you can do so, whether as an author or a patron of your local library.

Offer copies of your book to libraries, both physical and electronic.

Libraries have varying policies for acquiring books, so do your research to maximize your chances of getting your book into collections. Greenhorn authors will have the best luck reaching out to local libraries due to being regional writers.

If you do submit your physical editions for consideration, make sure your titles are available by a wholesaler. Libraries usually acquire their copies through wholesalers rather than retailers, so they can expand their collections with the least amount of money while still supporting authors and publishers.

Even if you have no luck with a physical copy, digital lending is another trend influenced by the pandemic. If you use an eBook distributor to publish your book to multiple sites, then you likely have the capability to submit your book to eBook lending services such as Overdrive. In addition, with digital books, libraries don’t have to worry about shelf space, so they’re more likely to agree to acquire.

By making your book available to libraries, you can reach more readers who may otherwise not be able to read your book, all while expanding your library’s collection.

Offer to host book events. Libraries love featuring local authors. By offering to do an event, you give the library’s patrons another reason to visit. This is especially doable if you can demonstrate that you can bring in your readers.

A book signing is the most obvious event, but other options exist. For example, if you’re a children’s author, you can host a story time for the library’s youngest patrons. If your book is nonfiction, you can host a class based on your book’s subject. Your novel could become a candidate for a book club. And if you collaborate with other local authors, you could cohost a panel together.

And because of increased tech services, it doesn’t have to be an in-person event: libraries may be willing to host you for a virtual seminar, which allows the possibility to reach even more people.

Support public libraries politically.

Public libraries rely primarily on funding from their local and county governments. Vote in municipal elections to support propositions and referendums that raise library revenue.

Pay attention to your local government’s budgetary proposals and give your feedback so that they opt for funding increases, not budget cuts on libraries. If your local libraries are underfunded, consider even campaigning for increased funding.

Also, stand up for libraries when they’re threatened with book bans and censorship.

Visit libraries and use their services.

Librarians want you to use the library! So, borrow books, attend on-site and online events, take classes, volunteer your time and efforts, buy old copies from book drives, and more.

Libraries are made to be pillars of their communities. By benefiting from a library’s services, you’re fulfilling its purpose. You also demonstrate the library’s benefits in the process, which only contribute to libraries as a lasting institution.

Remember, no matter your status as a writer, the best way to support libraries is through your role as a member of its community.