Friday, April 22, 2016

Indie Author Spotlight! CROSSING THE BARRIER

Cover of Crossing the Barrier. Photo: Goodreads

Hello All! Today is a different kind of book blog post, and it's all about Martine Lewis' CROSSING THE BARRIER. It is a YA romance (+)* released on March 22, 2016. I have the good fortune of knowing the author, and I know she's put many an hour into creating the first book of her debut, The Grey Eyes Series. I had the happy experience of attending her book launch in Texas recently (my first book launch!), and it really gave me a lot of insight into the world of publishing outside of the traditional route. I was kindly provided an ARC of this book by the author for use during a blog tour. Her website is found here.

So this post will shine light on her work in the hopes to get the word out there. It is also one post in many in the blog tour found here. But before I delve into the makings of an independently published author in today's market, let's first take a look at the first novel in the series, Crossing the Barrier.

From the back cover:

High school student Malakai Thomas, star wide receiver of the varsity team, collides with band member Lily Morgan on his way to football practice. As days go by, Malakai cannot get the petite clarinetist out of his head.

Lily Morgan can feel everyone's emotions. She loses her ability to shield herself against them the day Malakai runs into her. Now she must try to maintain her sanity in the emotional jungle that is high school, as well as deal with her growing feelings for Malakai.

Can Malakai get over the social stigma and his own internal struggle to be with Lily? Is Lily's secret too big to accept, even for him?

Who I think will like the book: 
teens in high school, and those who love stories about that time in life. This book does deal with some issues of race, family disfunction, and romantic intimacy, but I feel like readers beyond high school would also enjoy this book very much as it does concern issues they can relate to as well. 

The characters are lovable, and even the side characters get more page time than I was expecting, and I enjoyed that the secondary characters really added to the high school world the reader is thrown into.

The language is easy to read and understand, and the issues are relevant to today's youth. You will also like this book if you enjoy slice of life plus spice books.

*What's the "plus spice" part of "slice of life"? 

The sprinkles of the paranormal found in the book. The main female protagonist, Lily, is an empath, and she physically feels the emotions of those around her. But, everything else is very much set in today's society, so intrigue is instilled in the reader to want to know more about Lily's unique situation.

Note on diversity: A main character, Malakai, is biracial and has to deal with issues that arise from that in the book as well. I'm looking forward to seeing what else Martine has up her sleeve in terms of diversity in her future books.

Martine Lewis. Photo: Goodreads

I've spoken to Martine on several occasions about the work she's done in regards to publishing her book, and I was impressed by just how much time and effort she's put in this endeavor. Here's a general overview of what it takes to produce a quality book in today's highly competitive market:
  • Editing: Martine invested in two professional editors to polish her book as well as a lawyer to go over any issues found in the book that related to the US legal system. Besides editors, she has also gone through rounds of betas and critiques with fellow writers. It is these extra eyes that elevate her writing to the best version it can be.
  • Marketing/Publicity: Martine spent a portion of her budget investing in her own marketing. This included things like having a publicist, making her presence known on various social media outlets, arranging for things like a book signing and book launch, and creating a professional website. When you are publishing outside of the traditional route, it falls solely on the author to find the resources that a publishing house may have on-hand. When publishing independently or self-publishing, the author must become a businessman/businesswoman as well as an artist.
  • Cover Design: Martine expressed her passion for the characters and world she's created, and part of that passion shows in the amount of resources and time pooled into creating a professional looking cover design. There are many aspects of creating a cover design, and if the writer is not well-versed in graphic design, it's almost always best to hire outside help for the job. Of course, there are always exceptions to this rule, but personally, I'm more likely to take a second look at a book if the cover catches my eye (assuming I am just browsing online or in a bookstore for new reads).
  • Time: I was blown away by how much time it took to publish this book outside of writing. Martine did her research by talking to the teens in the area where her novel takes place, attended games to get a sense of the "school spirit" and "school culture" that is very much a particular thing in Texas, and researched a variety of topics on the social issues in the book. She also took time to hold photo shoots for the cover and other marketing opportunities as well as took the time to do interviews before/during/and after the launch of the book. All of this showed me that Martine is dedicated to her writing and to her career as an author.

I am so very happy for my friend, and I am even happier to share her work with world. Good job on your debut!

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