Last December, I published a crossover novel called Through the Barricades, a coming-of-age love story set during a time of war (WW1) and revolution (Ireland’s 1916 Easter Rising). With any new novel, an author must think of ways to make the book visible to potential readers. Nowadays, this is as true for traditionally published authors as it is for indies. Publishers expect it. Readers, bloggers and bookshops expect it.
It was while thinking of ways to promote Through the Barricades that I remembered my contemporary YA series, The Butterfly Novels. Published by Hachette in Ireland and translated into German and Turkish, the rights outside Ireland had reverted to me. They were just sitting there.
When I think if it, it was crazy. We write to reach people. Or at least I do. I want my stories to make readers – as many as possible – think, feel, change their minds, act in some way – even if it’s just to laugh or cry. Ambitious maybe but one thing’s for sure, none of this will happen if the books aren’t available. My Butterflies were grounded. And it was my fault.
So, I commissioned new covers (which I now love beyond reason) and this weekend I made And By The Way, And For Your Information and And Actually available everywhere outside Ireland (where Hachette retain rights). I announced that the series had ‘gone global’ on social media. And I am feeling Butterfly love all over again. On Twitter and Facebook people are getting in touch to say how much they love them.
And for me, this is a reminder of what it was like to publish for a Young Adult audience for the first time. I had always written for adults. Then, the voices of teenagers arrived in my head and I listened. What emerged was a trilogy. When And By The Way was published, I did not expect a reaction. I had published to adult audiences and silence. Then came the response. It arrived on Twitter. On Facebook. But most especially it arrived in a bookshop where I was to run a workshop for a local school. I was waiting – a little nervously – for the class to arrive. Then, I heard a voice call out, ‘There she is!’ and they came running. This was one of the highlights of my publishing career. I will never forget it. Last week, I was invited back to that school and it was such a treat to meet those girls again and to share my appreciation of their response. This time, I was invited to address the entire school and it was lovely to be able to show students I had never met that I dedicated And Actually to that school. It was special.
My point? There is more to publishing stories than sales. For me, reader appreciation is an even bigger reason to get my stories out to the world. So, how am I planning to make The Butterfly Novels visible?
I am offering And By The Way for free for a limited period so that people can sample the teenage world of Alex, Sarah and Rachel and get to know (and hopefully love) them. I will promote the fact that the book is free and I will include links to all my other Butterflies. I will also link to Through the Barricades, which, though historical, is written in a very contemporary style so that readers feel like they are present, living in the early 1900s and that it is their world. When I was writing Through the Barricades I wondered if this would work but readers are responding to the novel very positively and I am beyond grateful.
The wonderful thing about the world of publishing, right now, is the flexibility it offers. More and more authors are becoming hybrids. It simply makes sense to do so. If we own rights in territories and are not using them, it is a wasted opportunity. Why not get our books out to the world? Why not learn new skills? Why not sample new adventures? Promoting our works on social media promotes them globally – as long as we have them available globally.
I first began self-publishing when the rights to my adult novels (contemporary family dramas) reverted to me. I embraced what I saw as a whole new adventure. I renamed myself Aimee Alexander (the names of my children combined), re-edited my novels, commissioned new covers and got them up on Amazon. Such was the response that, Amazon imprint, Lake Union Publishing offered to republish one of those novels, The Accidental Life of Greg Millar. It went on to become an international bestseller.
I have loved every minute of the self-publishing adventure. I have loved the control it offers, the ability to monitor sales, especially in response to promotion. I have especially loved hearing from new readers of all ages, nationalities and walks of life. I am looking forward to seeing how far and who my Butterflies will reach.
I would encourage authors who have yet to sample this adventure to dive right in. Hiring professional editors and cover designers is a must but it’s all part of the adventure. To authors in the fortunate position of signing a publishing contract, I would think good and hard before signing away world rights – at least without asking the question are they going to be used. Never before, as authors, have the rights to our work equaled such opportunity.
(c) Denise Deegan
About And By the Way:
Six months ago, I lost my mum to cancer and my dad, ‘The Rockstar’, to work. Now, I don’t do close. With anyone. That way I won’t get hurt.
My friend, Rachel, won’t give up on me. And that’s a problem. So is David McFadden, a guy in my class who says he wants to help. Six months ago, he could have but didn’t. Now, it’s too late. The last person I’m going to listen to is David McFadden. When he calls me Ice Queen, I’ll show him just how right he is.
‘Deegan nails Alex’s caustic teen voice and leaves the reader rooting for her heroine throughout…’ IRISH INDEPENDENT
‘This is a gem of a book; intriguing, deep and thoughtful. Alex is a feisty heroine, and her voice rings strong and true. Teenagers – and adults – will adore this book. It kept me up half the night.’ IRISH EXAMINER.
‘An engaging and emotional read that leaves you wanting more – bring on the second installment.’ RTE GUIDE.
‘It was such a powerful, emotional, beautiful book, one I loved to pieces and gobbled up as fast as I possibly could. I just can’t wait to read more by Deegan – it was just so freaking amazing!’ THE BOOK ADDICTED GIRL.
‘Let it be known, there is panty melting.’ FOREVER YOUNG ADULT
‘I was expecting romance, aw, and good writing. All those things are in there but this book is so much more… This book has everything you could possibly want in a contemporary title… And By The Way is amazing in the way it is so believable. Alex’s actions make sense even when they are breaking your heart.’ LUNA’S LITTLE LIBRARY
‘We can’t explain our fascination with the spawn of the rich and famous but it won’t go away. AND BY THE WAY… is our latest addiction and it’s the first title in the new BUTTERFLY NOVELS series….super compelling.’ KISS MAGAZINE
‘AND BY THE WAY… is a journey through grief, love and self-discovery. It’ll break your heart and make you laugh – both at the same time. And by the way…you’re going to love it.’ DUBRAY BOOKS, Staff Recommended Reads.
‘I absolutely loved it. I was so engrossed in it that my family started pulling it out of my hands.’ AUTHOR, KERIS STAINTON.
Pick up your copy online here.