Hello to what I hope is a readership of thousands (I’ll settle at this point for low hundreds, but hey, hope springs eternal).
Today is the day I officially start ramping up the publicity for my new soon-to-be-self-published young adult novel Action Figures. The manuscript has been fully edited and processed at Create Space, my chosen publishing platform, and is now awaiting its cover (my cover artist Tricia is plugging away at that now…unless her baby needs her, of course. She has her priorities straight).
She has already finished the novel’s logo, which looks a little something like this:
Cool, huh? Nice touch of old-school comic book logo going on there.
(That specific image, by the way, is the cover image on my new Facebook page. Expect a lot of cross-posting between that and this blog.)
To help build interest in the novel leading up to its official release, I am posting the first two chapters on this site, free to read at your leisure. You’ll meet Carrie, the main character, and get a sense of the story’s tone. It barely touches the plot proper, but hopefully this taste will encourage you to buy a copy of the full novel once it’s available — and I do plan to make it available as a trade paperback and as an e-book.
I’ve already posted once about what to expect out of the story, but I’m going to do so again in a question-and-answer format.
What is the novel about?
Smart-ass answer: about 400 pages.
Straight answer: it’s about a group of teenage superhero wannabes who find themselves in over their heads when an actual super-villain starts causing trouble. It’s also about the main character, Carrie, trying to put her life back together after her parents’ unexpected divorce and her subsequent relocation to a new home in a new town.
What can I expect from the novel?
A lot of humor (which I’m sure comes as a shock to no one who knows me), action and adventure, homages to some classic comic book tropes, and a reasonable dose of drama; I’m trying to avoid a teenage angst-ridden quasi-soap opera, so don’t expect “Teen Titans 90210.” Also, don’t expect to see what has become a cliche of the YA genre, the love triangle. I hate ’em and I’m not interested in writing one. This is not to say the characters will not have romantic experiences, but don’t expect Carrie to spend the entire series twisted in knots over whether to love Male Character A or Male Character B. Boring!
Wait, did you say “series”?
I did. This is envisioned as a finite series, of as-yet indeterminate length, and whether the second book happens depends in good part on how well the first one does (not that I’m trying to pressure anybody to buy it. Heavens, no). I say “finite series” because I do have an end in mine, and no interest in writing a series that goes on forever and ever…you know, like superhero comics do.
Hey, why are you doing this as a prose novel? Why not a comic book?
Quick, name three YA series that tell a superhero story.
You can’t, can you?
And that is why I’m telling this story this way. A superhero story told via the expected medium is going to be white noise. As a novel, I’m hoping Action Figures will stand out and really grab prospective readers’ attention.
Why a female protagonist? Shouldn’t a superhero story be told through the eyes of a male superhero?
Again, name three comic book series starring a woman. While you’re doing that, I’ll name ten times as many starring a male character. I won’t even cheat and just list off the multiple titles starring Batman or Wolverine.
The idea that comics in general, and superhero comics in particular, are only for boys (and men) is laughable. I know LOTS of women who dig superhero comics (my wife, for starters) and want to see more titles with female protagonists. Moreover, they want to see female protagonists that are presented well: as fully fleshed-out, well-rounded, layered characters that do more than back up the men while gadding about in impractically skimpy, skintight outfits.
Granted, I am taking a bit of risk here as a 40-something male writer telling a story through the eyes of a 15-year-old girl, but I was fortunate to have some beta-readers who were quick to point out when I got Carrie wrong — and aside from a complaint from my editor/sister-in-law about the cliche of girls being bad at math (which I address here), I made it through the manuscript without anyone calling bullshit on me. Hooray!
Does that mean male readers won’t like it?
Not at all. There are prominent male characters in the book, but that shouldn’t make a difference; I’d like to think male readers would pick this up as quickly as they’d snatch up The Hunger Games series or any of Cherie Priest’s excellent novels, and for the same reasons: they want to read a fun, exciting story, regardless of whether the main character is a boy or a girl.
For that matter, just because it’s a young adult novel, that doesn’t mean adult adults won’t enjoy it. Honestly, the “young adult” tag has lot a lot of its meaning over the past several years, what with us old fogies snatching up YA titles as quickly as the alleged target audience. Young adult novels nowadays are as complex and mature as many a “book intended for adults,” and I think the only thing that makes a YA title a YA title nowadays is the lack of the lack of a gratuitous F-bomb or two. But I digress.
Let’s say I bought a copy. I’ve done my part, right?
And I thank you for it (or will, when you buy one), but please remember that I’m doing this on my own here. I don’t have a publishing giant behind me to promote and distribute the book to stores across America and the world. I don’t have an advertising budget. I have this blog, a Facebook page, and (soon) a presence on Amazon.com. I know how to write and send press releases. It’s a start, but what I will need to make this endeavor really pay off is support from those who took a chance on an unknown writer and shelled out for a debut (self-published) novel.
If you like the novel, please take a couple of minutes to go onto Amazon.com (and/or, if it shows up there, Goodreads.com) and post a review. It doesn’t have to be long or elaborate, just give it a rating and say a few words letting people know why you liked it. Tell your friends and family about it, maybe even give them a copy as a gift (or at least let them borrow your copy). Share my Facebook and blog posts so new readers can learn about it. If you’re feeling really ambitious, shoot your local bookstore and/or library an e-mail asking them to carry a copy.
Okay, I’ve rambled on long enough. Go check out the sample chapters, and they stay tuned for further announcements about the release.