I began writing as an author but as I began to form a
marketing plan for my book, Henry on Fire, I realized I am an
entrepreneur. As any good entrepreneur does, I defined and studied my market.
My market is the young end of YA (Young Adult literature) which is sometimesy
labeled as middle grade. I read what was selling in that market and I spent
time with middle schoolers. It helped that I had also been one once. After my
research I developed a new and unique product to bring to market. My story of
the middle schooler Henry is similar to any number of stories available on the
market but it is also a unique product.
I spent over two years testing prototypes and refining my
product. I started by sharing my story with friends. This was not as productive
as I expected it to be. My friends read me into the story and because they love
me they loved my story. However, they were willing to identify some inconsistencies in the story and weakness in characters and plot. Workshops and conference critique sessions were very helpful. However, I had to get over the shock that they did not realize I had written the great American novel. Once I accepted this I could listen to what they had to say. I found the online writing tool Autocrit.com to be very helpful in cleaning up and refining the text. And finally I paid for a professional editor to give an overview evaluation of the work.
When I got to the final product I was able to enlisted two
people to do a line edit. This means they looked at ever line of the story and evaluated it for punctuation, verb tense, misused synonyms and other grammar issues.
I am sorry to say that over the two years of this rewriting
process which went through as many as eight full rewrites I sent my manuscript
out to over 75 agents and editors, even beginning with the very first typed
copy. I am now embarrassed that I thought those early editions were ready for
prime time. I have thought about sending letters of apology.
Once I decided I had thoroughly brought my product as far as
I could I had the choice between continuing to search for an agent or a publisher
or to self-publish through one of several avenues. I chose to self-publish.
I did as much research as I could into the various
self-publishing services and then decided I had to jump in and learn the rest
through the process. I chose Create Space which is connected with Amazon.com. While there are still vanity presses that
charge several thousand dollars, publishing through Create Space or one of the
other similar services is almost free. I spent $100 for a professionally
designed book cover and I paid less than $100 in fees to create space. My book
is now available as an eBook from Barnes and Noble or Amazon and available in
paperback from my website www.henryonfire.com or from Amazon.com.
The good thing about self-publishing is I, as the entrepreneur, retain complete control over my product. The bad thing is I don’t have the stamp of
approval that comes from being published by a traditional publishing house nor
the broad distribution that a publishing house offers.
I am now beginning the second phase of my entrepreneurial experience. I need to get Henry on Fire out onto the market. I have a lot more to learn in this area but I am developing my market through social media, book clubs, speaking opportunities and group sales with other local authors at the various fairs and festivals. The good news is, a recent news report reveals that over 55% of YA writing is read by people over 18. So the market is much larger than I originally knew.
Henry on Fire by Stuart is a novel targeted at a
middle grade audience but it has a larger appeal. Henry learns many things over
twelve days of adventure in middle school and in an alternative reality land
called Altara. I think his most significant learning is that he has so few
friends because he is such a lousy friend.