We all have dreams. Some of us have aspirations that are tangible—solid as concrete and vivid as a Technicolor sunset. Some aren’t much more than vague notions hovering on a far off horizon. Although I have been fortunate enough to see many of my hopes realized, a sizable portion of my best and brightest prospects are, quite literally, boxed up and languishing in a dusty attic in the form of paperback novels my publisher optimistically printed in greater-than-realistic quantity for an indie effort by a new author.
These two YA coming of age adventures—and their several thousand clones—have triggered outbursts of every emotion imaginable. Excitement, when I was writing the first one, The Chrysalis, chapter by chapter online, with the input of a teenage audience from places like Bermuda, Indiana, and across town. Grief, when the roof of the bindery caved beneath the weight of a freak snowstorm days before delivery, and we poked through wet rubble in an effort to salvage as many of the newly printed books as possible (most emerged unharmed.) Elation, when I got good press from objective reviewers whom I had never met (“witty, incisive, a joy to read!” said the now- defunct California based Book Reader.) Gratitude, when bookstore owners and coffeehouses opened their doors to me. Fear, when I actually had to face a live audience, and subsequent disappointment when my sky high expectations for these events did not always materialize. Still, marketing The Chrysalis yielded results that made me confident I could make a go of Drink the Rain, the sequel. In a small way, I was living my Very Big Dream.
But then the economy turned, and it seemed the only literary characters to emerge unscathed were vampires and werewolves, which was bad news for my little band of summer camp counselors and their issues with faulty plumbing, poor weather, and an unexpected litter of bad puppies. Over time, sales trickled and finally, ceased. Every outward indication was that the dream was over, but even as the months turned to years, I could never just let it go.
Enter a chance encounter with a live facebook chat with indie author Lucy Kevin, who is tearing up the nook and kindle e-book charts with sales of her YA novels. Like me, Kevin had run out of print options after her traditional publisher dropped her. On a whim, she posted several of her old books through several e-reader platforms with jaw-dropping results. Kevin seems to have a magic touch when it comes to marketing, but she insists she’s getting most of her results through social networking—and at least one other key thing.
According to Kevin “books sells books,” as in, you’ll gain traction a lot faster if readers know you’ll be with them for awhile. Which is really good news for me, as I planned to bring a whole cast of characters through this fictitious summer camp of mine.
I’m a big believer in second chances, and even though I will always love a bound book that you can hold in your hands, I’m choosing to view pixels as a portal to a whole new realm of possibilities. So I’ve followed Kevin’s lead and posted The Chrysalis and Drink the Rain on nook and kindle for just .99 cents (which I’m told is the Magic Price. We’ll see.)
Now all I need is…you. Download, pass along, tweet, text, smoke signal: whatever grassroots-pass-the-word-along sort of communication works for you would be appreciated by me! Because an author without readers is like summer camp with no campers—eithe of which sounds dangerously bereft of plotline to me.
Oh. One more thing. If you’re sans e-reader, I still have a few print copies ;)
Mini Q and A:
To what well known books do these titles compare?
Since my protagonist is a lovable klutz, I often think of these books as Paddington Bear meets the Traveling Pants, but one of my readers compared them to Sarah Dessen’s books. I’d suggest reading them for yourself and developing your own opinion.
What age group are they for? I’ve had readers from middle school age to moms. I also had at least one middle aged man, but I’d say he’s outside the target demographic.
What are the themes and messages? Confidence and self-esteem get pretty big billing.
Fun fact: Both covers were designed by teen girls (Leslie Norman and Tiffany Lyon)who later went to art school and went pro.