YA Novel Review
Between the Lines by Tammara Webber
I’m just now dipping my toe into the expanding waters of the eBook world with my novella THE LIBERATION OF MAX MCTRUE. It’s given me a wonderful opportunity to showcase a short piece that might have struggled to find a traditional home; it’s no secret the midlist is ebbing in traditional publishing. And while e-publishing gave me this opportunity for MAX, it also brought some questions about what team I was playing for. “Wait a minute,” a reader wrote me, “are you indie now? What happened?”
What happened was I had a choice. Turns out, I’m not alone. Plenty of authors are choosing to put their books out as eBooks and many are thriving.
This month I wanted to highlight one such author, Tammara Webber, who writes a series of YA contemporaries. I read her first, BETWEEN THE LINES, and found it fun, sharply-written, and engaging. Tammara’s had great success with her books so I contacted her and asked her how she came to find herself in the eBook world. I think her story is one of great optimism – a sign that authors can thrive in this changing market.
She was humble, of course, and suggested she “hit the ebook market at a very good time” when it wasn’t quite as “flooded” and this let her build a readership, build relationships with bloggers, find her footing early on. The cool thing about her story is that she didn’t have a long list of rejections from agents. This eBook move wasn’t done in despair. It was a choice. And her books have hit a sweet spot in a waning contemporary market.
Tammara would blush at this, but I think her success has mostly to do with Tammara. Yes, she had a good story to tell, but she also did her homework and made sure the manuscript was polished and professional. “I didn’t write in a vacuum. I had critique partners (other writers/authors for whom I in turn critiqued manuscripts), and beta readers.” And she made sure her covers were bright and engaging. This, I think, is the key to indie publishing: going about it with grace and professionalism as part of the writing community at large – not a secondary part, an important part. Tammara, for me, represents the very best of an online writing presence: thoughtful, hardworking, kind. When two of my Goodreads covers suddenly vanished, she emailed me to let me know so I could fix them. Yeah, she’s that nice. She participates in the writing community in a helpful and supportive way. She writes without some sort of chip on her shoulder. It’s refreshing.
Hers is the community I want to be a part of as a writer, the community that knows the value of having a mix of good, polished work out there. I don’t know if I’ll write another eBook. In my typical Gemini way, I don’t want to have to choose a team – traditional or indie. I just think it’s nice to have options. The irony isn’t lost on me that Max McTrue, the MC of my novella, finds out that simply making a choice is greatly liberating, another example of art imitating life. Mostly, though, this eBook choice for MAX gives me the opportunity to meet cool writers like Tammara who have shown me the kind of wide choices authors currently have. And that feels like a success story to me.
I love the title of Tammara’s novel, Between the Lines, because her book deals with Hollywood and acting and this title is a nod to the role subtext plays not only in acting but also in our relationships with other people. For this writing exercise, I would like to encourage you to write a poem, scene or story where there is a subtextual issue – a piece of bad news, a love interest, a secret – that is not revealed in the poem, scene, story. Let it simmer there, unsaid, and see how subtext can enrich the language and arc of your piece of writing.
Outside Reading School Project
Emma Pierce just got her big break – she gets to star in a Hollywood movie. What would your “big break” be? Create a collage with images that showcase your “big break.” Then, write a paragraph where you explain how these images showcase your dream.