Thursday, September 22, 2011

What I'm looking forward to...

Now that my book is available on,,,, etc...,, Kindle, etc..., I have started publicizing it to people other than friends and family.  Two days ago, I began sending press releases by e-mail to Turkish cultural organizations in the US, Canada, and Britain, soon to be followed by any Turkish cultural association I can find, anywhere.  I've also sent the release to two newspapers and  In addition to about fifteen bounced messages, I received a very kind e-mail from the president (?) of a Turkish organization in Chicago, who said that the book sounded interesting and that she'd forward the press release to her organization.  She also said she'd read my book, and that I should contact her if I went to Chicago.  Now, I don't know if she meant any of that, but it made me feel really good!

Today, I tried to find the updated e-mail addresses of the organizations whose e-mails bounced back, and re-sent them.  I found the original addresses on the website of the US Embassy in Turkey - if they are reading this, they should note that their information is not current!

Now, I need to be patient.  I know that newspapers are not dying to interview me.  But I might cold-call The Olympian, just because the main character in my novel is from Olympia, and because I used to live there.  I think they must be able to publish a little article about my book, don't you?

What I am really looking forward to, with regards to this book, is for feedback from people I do NOT know, who have actually bought the book and read it.  Maybe it's what all authors want?  But of course, the first step will be for them to buy the book.... until then, all I can do is keep trying to send out the press release, and cross my fingers....

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Form Rejection

They didn't even read my manuscript.  They had taken two months to decide they wanted to see it.  I sent it to them along with a letter explaining that I had just finished the self-publishing process but that I am very interested in selling translation rights.  They very quickly sent me a form rejection.  All writers who send out queries get form rejections, but you'd think they would have been able to write me a sentence thanking me for my submission and wishing me luck in my self-publishing journey.  But no.  I am quite sure that they didn't read my manuscript and that the admission of self-publishing turned them off.  It doesn't give me the warm and fuzzies about traditional agents and publishers.  The good news?  I wasn't at all upset when I read it.  Just annoyed that they weren't more personal.

Here is the form rejection.  Enjoy!
Dear Ms. Akyil,

On behalf of the agents here at Lowenstein Associates, thank you for
giving us the opportunity to consider your work.  Unfortunately, we do
not feel strongly enough about your project to pursue it further.

As I am sure you can imagine, we receive a tremendous number of
submissions, and we are forced to limit our focus to a select group of
projects.  Agenting is very subjective, and even though we could not
take on your project at this time, another agent might feel

As a result of a high volume of submissions, we cannot offer a
detailed reason for rejection.

Please accept my best wishes for success in your writing career.



Friday, September 9, 2011

Book Club

I am a member of a book club.  In fact, I'm a founding member.  A friend and I somehow came up with the idea to start a book club and invite a couple of friends who live nearby to join us.  I don't know how the general public feels about book clubs, but my favorite part about the book club is that it gives me an excuse to get together with a few friends once a month.  Sometimes, we even talk about the book we've chosen to discuss.  It often creates stress for me because I can be a procrastinator, and if I don't like the book too much, I find many things I'd rather do than read it.  Recently, it's been particularly hard for me to read because I've been working so hard on the printing and promotion of my own book.  But book clubs are good for reasons other than meeting your friends.

The way we run ours is that we suggest and select the books together.  This means that we all end up reading books that we might otherwise not have chosen to read.  It also means that we may not like the books.  Like English class, we force ourselves to read anyway.  Normally, I would not do this.  I have started many books I didn't like, but I don't finish them.  I have no qualms about deciding halfway through a book that I don't like it, and putting it away, forever.  Finishing the books, or at least trying to, is an excellent exercise for me as a writer.  It forces me to identify what I do and don't like about a book because I will actually have to articulate my feelings at book club. 

In my press release, I offer to join book clubs via Skype or telephone as they discuss my book.  I sure hope I get taken up on my offer, but I also hope that they're both honest and kind. 

Thursday, September 8, 2011

What word describes how I feel?

There must be a word that describes how I feel, but I can't seem to find it.  Maybe the word doesn't exist in English.  Here's the situation: I convinced myself that I didn't need something (because it seemed that it didn't need me), and now it has appeared and told me that it might, indeed, be interested in me.  What is this thing?  "It" is an agent.  I have been sending queries off and on for about two years now, and while there have been a few that expressed interest, most have not.  My most recent round of querying was the most disappointing, with rejection after form rejection.  It was disheartening enough to encourage me to explore the self-publishing route.  As I started the process, the rejections continued to trickle in, and they didn't hurt as badly as the ones that had come before I considered self-publishing as an option.  I had the publishing process of my book in my control.  I got to design my cover, choose the font, and select the spine color.  I started this blog, and wrote about how much I liked self-publishing more than I would have liked going the route of traditional agent-represented publishing.

Well, last night at around 11pm, I checked my e-mail one last time before heading off to bed.  There was an e-mail with Re: Query in the subject line.  Another rejection, I assumed.  I opened the e-mail and was really shocked to read that it was not a rejection.  An actual agent, one I had hand-picked as a good match for this book, was interested in seeing the full manuscript.  Meredith Barnes of Lowenstein Associates wanted to see more.  Now, I know that this is not an offer of representation, but it could lead to that.

What is it called when you convince yourself that you don't want something because you can't get it, and then it becomes possible and you aren't sure if you really don't want it or if you were just consoling yourself because you couldn't get it?  If there is not a word for that, there should be.

And that is how I feel right now.  I feel ambivalent.  I admit that I have thoroughly enjoyed parts of the self-publishing experience.  I am putting a lot of effort into promoting my book, and I think that I will ultimately reach the correct audience for it.  But when it comes to getting it into actual bookstores, I am more helpless, especially given that my book is in English and I don't live in an English-speaking country.  I don't have a big publisher on my side, helping out with its connections and glossy promotional materials.  I don't have many connections in the foreign-rights department, even though I think my book would do really well in translation, particularly in Turkey and in parts of Europe with lots of Turkish immigrants (Germany, Austria, etc...).

I'm going to write back to Ms. Barnes and send my manuscript, per her request.  But I will also tell her that I'm on the eve of the official release of my book - I have a large list of addresses to which I'll send my press release as soon as the e-book appears on Apple iBooks.  (Dear Apple, if you're listening, you shouldn't bother allowing self-publishing if you make it so darn difficult for us to upload our content.  We own two apple computers but they are too old, in your opinion, to let me upload my content.  So my dear brother is tearing his hair out trying to do it for me on his newer Apple.  I'm not sure that is going to create user loyalty.)  Ms. Barnes may immediately lose interest in my manuscript, once I've told her that I have self-published it.  If she does, I guess I'll have to continue trying to convince myself that self-publishing is what I really want...

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Press Release: Secrets of a Summer Village

I have a press release.  Even saying that to myself in my head makes me giggle.  As in who am I fooling?  I am sitting at the computer at my kitchen counter, typing up a press release about my own book.  I am doing it, in part, as a procrastination measure.  Because it is so much more fun than ironing.  And yet, it's an important part of being an author/publisher.  Since I'm self-publishing, I must also be self-promoting.  But I really wonder how much publishing companies do the promoting for new authors, anyway.  I mean, if you're famous, sure.  But for me?  I doubt they'd be searching the Internet for the e-mail addresses of Turkish-American, Turkish-Canadian, and Turkish-Australian organizations.  But I see the Turkish expat community in English-speaking countries as potential readers.  (side note: Yes, I do realize they speak English in the UK and South Africa, and that there are significant Turkish expat communities in both places.  But I'm waiting until my book shows up on before I go that route).  I'm also going to contact my hometown newspapers, my high school, the colleges where I was employed... who needs a traditional publisher?  Ok, if one comes knocking at my door, I'll definitely listen to what they have to say.  Until then, here's my press release.

Secrets of a Summer Village by Saskia E. Akyil now available at,, and Apple iBooks

This young adult-general fiction crossover coming-of-age story follows Rachel Guo as she travels far away from her home and family in Olympia, Washington to spend her summer with a host family in Turkey.

Feldkirchen, Germany- September 6, 2011 - Can coffee grounds tell your future?   Will fate bring you to your soul mate thousands of miles from home?   How will you know if it's him?   Would the evil eye dare stop two souls on their paths to each other? 

A last-minute opportunity to spend a month with a Turkish family on the Aegean coast drastically changes the course of seventeen-year-old Rachel Guo’s summer.  This intercultural coming-of-age novel is full of exotic tastes, summer heat, promises kept and broken, and love.   In a summer village on the western coast of Turkey, you’ll meet Rachel, who doesn’t know what she wants; Aylin, who doesn’t know if she wants the one who wants her; and Leyla, who knows who she wants, but doesn’t know if she’ll get him.  Love and romance are secret pleasures in the summer village, which only make them more exciting.  Travel with Rachel on her journey far from the comforts of home, to a place that will captivate her and leave her changed forever.  Secrets of a Summer Village is a novel in which modern, middle-class Turkish culture is seen through the eyes of an American teenager.  In the 293-page novel, Rachel learns that many aspects of Turkish culture are different than her own, but that family, friendship, and love are universal. 

When she doesn’t get a place in a Mexican study abroad program, Rachel anticipates another summer behind the counter of a coffee shop in Olympia, Washington.  But she is then offered an unexpected opportunity to spend a month with a family in Turkey.  Though she knows little about Turkey and only vaguely even knows where it is, she decides to accept the offer.  Rachel’s host sister, Aylin, quickly becomes a close friend and helps her navigate through Turkish culture; Rachel teaches Aylin a bit about American culture, and the girls help each other make sense of boys, who are puzzling in any culture.  Aylin’s cousin falls for Rachel as much as she falls for him, though Rachel isn’t initially sure that a relationship with him would be wise.  In a month far from home, Rachel learns about family, friendship, love, and a new kind of coffee.  Mostly, she learns that some things are universal.  When Rachel returns home, she does so having left a little of her heart in Turkey, and bringing back a lot of Turkey in her soul. 

Secrets of a Summer Village can be purchased online at for $14.00, and will soon be available on (Barnes and Noble),, and  Electronic versions can be purchased for $7.99 from and from Apple iBooks. 

The author is available for interviews by phone, e-mail, and Skype.  She can also join book clubs discussing her book (subject to her availability) via telephone or Skype.

About Saskia E. Akyil - Born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, Saskia E. Akyil, like many writers over the age of 25, began her art by keeping a journal and writing letters to her friends, pen-pals, cousins, and grandparents.  After receiving a B.A. in International Studies from Emory University and an M.A. in Teaching English as a Second Language (ESL) from the University of Minnesota, her writing took on a more formal tone as she wrote articles for academic publications.  She gained incredibly diverse experiences while simultaneously working three jobs in Olympia, Washington; as a community college ESL professor for immigrants, as a state program administrator for displaced homemakers, and as a Spanish-language medical interpreter.  She has also taught numerous cooking classes in the United States and in Germany.  As a hobby, she collects languages, and has studied French, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, Turkish, and German.  She left her jobs behind in 2005 when she moved to Munich, Germany with her husband and proceeded to have two sons, who inspire and exhaust her, and never cease making her laugh. 

For more information about Secrets of a Summer Village, please visit or contact Saskia E. Akyil at
Book cover image and author photo attached.

Check your links and blue cake

The day I announced to my friends and family that my paper book was available for purchase, I had a few things on my mind.  First, I had to make a cake for my son's at-school birthday celebration.  I don't know how it works in the US or elsewhere in the world because I didn't have kids when I lived there, but here in Germany, it is totally ok to bring homemade cakes to school.  So I had cake on my mind when I wrote the announcement e-mail and insterted the CreateSpace and Lulu links.  I chose around 150 friends and family to send the e-mail to, and clicked send.  Yahoo immediately identified me as a spammer and wouldn't let me send the message.  After chatting (online) with a Yahoo rep, I learned that you can only send 50 e-mails per hour to Yahoo addresses and 50 to non-Yahoo addresses, and that having links in the e-mail can also id you as a spammer.  So I removed the links by typing them in manually and deleting the links I had copy-pasted into the e-mail.  I didn't do what my computer expert husband would have done - I didn't check the urls before sending the message.

A few hours later, when the US woke up, I started getting e-mails from friends and family, telling me that the CreateSpace url wasn't working.  I had somehow inserted an unnecessary "0" somewhere, and so the link was broken.  At least I could tell who was actually trying to look at the site, right?

That was pretty frustrating. And I was not about to e-mail 150 friends and family to let them know that I had sent a broken link.  I'm only telling them if they e-mail me back.  The correct link is  Of this, I am sure.

The cake was more of a success.  It was blue.  As in blue cake, not blue frosting.  If you dye a yellow cake blue and bake it, the baked part on the outside becomes brown.  It is extremely ugly.  But then you can frost it and cover it with a layer of marzipan.  And make green marzipan mice to decorate it.  And then you get thanked 10 times by your son for his mouse cake.  And then you don't feel so bad about the bad link, because the blue cake was definitely the bigger (and more important) success of the day.

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

"accept proof"

Since both the Lulu and CreateSpace versions of my book needed changes, I made those changes and then ordered new proofs.  More waiting.  As soon as I had sent new files to CreateSpace, I called their customer service to make sure they could see the fonts the way I thought they should be.  It was a huge relief to talk to a human being - who gets to talk to human beings any more?  Might be reason enough to publish a book with CreateSpace because I called, a human answered, and she was knowledgeable and answered my questions in full, without rushing me through the process.  I paid the extra money so that the proof would get to me as quickly as possible.  They told me they would arrive on Wednesday, and boy were they accurate.  They arrived on Wednesday.  When I was not home.  And the thoughtful (NOT!) UPS driver left them with our across-the-street neighbor.  Hello!  I didn't sign anything saying for him to leave it with the neighbor!  I arrived home at around 3pm, and the neighbor wasn't there.  At all.  I listened and jumped every time I heard a car drive by or park nearby, but the neighbor never arrived.  Why did he accept the package if he knew he wasn't going to be home!?  I rarely get in terrible, very bad, no good moods, but I was in such a mood because I wanted my proof, it was across the street, and I had no idea when mr. Neighbor would be home.

The next morning, said Neighbor's car was in his driveway.  I went over to ask for my precious UPS package at about 8:30 the next morning - his car was in the driveway, so he must have been home - but there was no answer.  My husband tried again at 8:45, no answer.  I tried again at 9, no answer.  And then, finally, perhaps at 9:15, he answered the door.  I didn't tell him how furious he had made me.  I just asked for my package as calmly as I could, thanked him for returning it to me, and ran home.  I tore open the packaging.  AND the proof passed my test.  It is still not perfect. I don't know how many tries it would take for me to get it perfect, but it was definitely acceptable.  So I went to the CreateSpace website and clicked on "Accept Proof".  The distribution was set to begin - they said it would take 6 to 8 weeks for it to appear on and other mainstream sites.

Two days later, the new Lulu proof arrived.  The print quality was better than the first proof, and I accepted the Lulu proof, too.  In spite of CreateSpace's fabulous customer service, I do still think that the Lulu quality is better.  Too bad it is so expensive.  It's fair for Europe, and is printed here so I have to have that option, but the US Dollar is just too weak for its prices to be acceptable for US customers.

Next time I get a chance to blog, I will tell you about my announcement to my friends and family...