I believe it was late 2011 or early 2012 when I received a request to review a new indie novel called Cycles. I hesitated at the word “indie.” Even though I wanted to support independent authors–I am one–as a book blogger I received an awful lot of unprofessional junk being passed off as indie novels. But this blurb really piqued my interest: “Renee was about to die…again.” How could I pass that up? For better or worse, I dove in.
I loved it! Cycles went on to win the 2012 Kindle Book Review Indie Book Awards’s YA category (read my review), and I made a great new contact in author Lois D. Brown.
So what? you may be thinking. There are a million wannabe authors out there. They can’t publish my book. They’re in competition with me, for Pete’s sake! What good is an author contact? Good question. Let me tell you just three benefits that came from that initial contact.
First, Lois agreed to exchange reviews with me. Yes, I know there’s a lot of “you scratch my back and I’ll scratch yours” going on out there. But there’s also a lot of honest feedback. I have the integrity of my review blog to maintain, so I gave the bad with the good. I was very pleased that Lois had the guts to do the same. In fact, only once have I had another author review one of my books with ridiculously frivolous praise. The review is still out there. It’s so fake, I imagine most people just ignore it. But again and again I’ve been rewarded by insightful comments, criticism, and praise. If they’re honestly given, all three are extremely valuable in identifying strengths and weaknesses.
Second, because Cycles and one of my books, The Quill Pen, contain similar themes, serve a common audience, and both check out squeaky clean, we teamed up in a simple way. We cross advertised at the back of each other’s books. Just a micro blurb and a buy link, but how valuable to place them before an audience that has already puchased a similar title!
And finally, when I started brainstorming other tween authors to join up with me in starting the Emblazon blog, Lois was one of the first I invited. We’re now 20 strong and discovering huge advantages to allying with other motivated, professional authors who share a similar vision. The first five members were direct contacts through my review blog.
This year, Lois released Spaces, the sequel to Cycles. I like Spaces even better! In fact, my daughter read it, too, and demanded I buy book three. I agreed to…as soon as Lois finishes writing it! Here’s my review. It’s not as in-depth as others I’ve written, due mostly to a time shortage this summer, but it nails the things I most enjoyed about this one.
Spaces takes place in a present day high school yet still contains a cast of characters I actually like instead of the usual stereotypical archetypes. Her plot is an edgy page-turner complete with some spine-tingling paranormal activity that I wouldn’t hesitate to hand off to my kids. It’s clean! And the hauntings are explained with science and logic (it’s still fantastical) instead of taking an uncomfortable dip into the spirit world. Two thumbs way up!
I’m very glad Lois emailed me that first eye-catching blurb. Our initial contact has paid off for both of us in so many ways!
Lois Brown’s love of all things fantastical began at an early age when her five older brothers made her watch television shows such as “Dr. Who” and “Lost in Space.” (Yes, the originals.) Her passion for science fiction continued when, at age 12, she spent an entire summer buying “Star Wars: Return of the Jedi” collector cards. She used her babysitting money earned over an entire year to get a full set. Now she likes to write her own books that spark the imagination.