Interview by Carmen Ferreiro-Esteban
Today my fellow writer Laurel Garver answers my questions about her Road to Publication for her YA novel, Never Gone.
Hello Laurel and welcome to Dare to Read, please tell us first, about your book:
Why did you write this book?
I wanted to explore how loss and grief are handled well–and poorly–in Christianity. People of faith can at times have an unhealthy stoicism about death. By emphasizing heavenly rewards for the departed, they can make the bereaved feel as if they’re spiritually deficient for having emotions like sadness, anger and loneliness. But when someone isn’t given space to fully grieve, the emotions will come out sideways and be far more damaging. Yet the story also has positive counter-examples of folks who comfort and support well because they understand the church as a body: “when one part suffers, every part suffers with it” (I Cor. 12:26). I wanted to encourage teens not to settle for platitudes when it comes to hard questions like “where is God when we suffer?” but to really engage deeply.
Writing this story was also a way to indirectly work through my grief after I lost my dad in 2003, but under very different circumstances.
What genre is it?
Young adult edgy inspirational (in other words, Christian in outlook, but with mature, challenging situations)
Who is the expected audience?
The book is intended for teens ages 14 and up. I’ve described it as The Truth About Forever (Sarah Dessen) meets Once Was Lost (Sara Zarr) with some of the style of The Sky is Everywhere (Jandy Nelson). But the story would resonate with anyone who has grieved a loss, experienced some faith-shaking tragedy, struggled to understand someone who keeps secrets, or wrestled with the question of where is God when we suffer.
I agree that grief has no age and, as I always say just because a book is labeled YA does not mean adults wouldn’t like it too.
Now, let’s start our next block of questions. Tell us about the cover of your book:
Who designed your cover?
The design concept was mine. My good friend Ruth Hoover, a former book designer for Lipincott helped me turn the idea into reality. She suggested I use custom art rather than stock photos. My husband did the pencil drawing. I hired a photographer to shoot the drawing with a leaf, and purchased all rights to the final photo from the 40+ images she shot. Ruth took that high-resolution digital negative and did some sophisticated photo editing on it. The leaf in the original was green, since the shoot was done in August. She also did some great work on the typography and sizing and formatting for both an e-book and a paperback.
How does the cover reflect your story?
The two things my protagonist loves most are her dad and art (especially pencil drawing). The autumn leaf is a subtle nod toward the subject of grief and loss. I went for lighter and organic colors because I wanted readers to connect with the emotional heart of the story — a teen’s struggle to hang onto her faith and hope in the midst of a devastating loss.
Tell us now about the book as a product, starting by telling us in which formats is it available?
Never Gone is available an an e-book for Kindle, Nook, Kobo, plus some other platforms that Smashwords supports. It’s also available as a paperback.
How did your book get published?
I worked with five different vendors who will handle sales and distribution, and in the case of the paperback, printing as well. I did have to learn e-book formatting for the big guys–Amazon, B&N and Kobo. I did it “the hard way,” using HTML and CSS, then running it through conversion software. I’m glad I did, because the final product looks as good as anything traditional publishers do.
What is your marketing plan?
I sent review copies to a select group, who agreed to do early reviews. I also sought out some published authors to write endorsement blurbs.
I’m doing a three month long “blog ramble,” with 1-2 posts per week on various blogs and some giveaways. I’ve also begun contacting grief-oriented blogs, asking to be added to recommended reading lists.
I created a trailer for the book, which is on YouTube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JY0gSZ3-nU4&feature=plcp), and I include it with most guest posts I do for the blog ramble.
I’ll also be doing Goodreads giveaways, and some additional fun things on that site including quizzes and chats.
I have a Twitter contest planned for October. Follow me at the link below for updates.
I’ve been invited to speak at a few book clubs, and hope to do more, likely using Skype. I’m also looking into podcasts.
Finally is there any advice you want to share with our readers who have a manuscript ready?
Take you time. Getting published is not a race. There are advantages and disadvantages of any publishing route you take. Be sure you know what they are before you make a decision. Know how much support and how much control you personally need to feel professionally satisfied with your work. Self-publishing is not “the easy way” by any stretch. You need a dozen other skills besides writing to succeed. But it is an appealing option for stories that aren’t a neat fit in a particular genre or market trend.
Thank you so much Laurel for a thoughtful interview and best of luck with your book.
Bio: Laurel Garver holds degrees in English and journalism and earns a living as a magazine editor. She enjoys quirky independent films, word games, British television, Celtic music, and mentoring teens at her church. She lives in Philadelphia with her husband and daughter.
Also available from Amazon’s EU sites in the UK, France, Germany, Spain, Italy
Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/never-gone-laurel-garver/1112775142