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Success Stories: Congrats to Sanctuary Editorial client Lisa Amowitz on Publishing Her Book!

Updated: Jul 7

Congratulations to Lisa Amowitz on publishing her YA romantasy, An Island Wild and Strange. We first met when she contacted me for some book coaching to help decide where she wanted to go next with her writing career. We moved from there into an edit on this very book. I remember loving the wild plant magic in the story from my very first read.


1.     Can you tell us a little about An Island Strange and Wild? What's the premise and what inspired you to write it?


The book is a very loose YA romantasy retelling of my childhood favorite, The Secret Garden. It features a brainy girl who travels to an uncharted island off the coast of Maine and discovers wonders—strange boys and sentient gardens—that science can’t explain. Little by little, she embraces magic, love, and her own role in an ancient prophesy. I can’t exactly remember the moment the idea struck me—but it originally popped up in 2013, shortly after my first book, BREAKING GLASS, released. I had been, at one point, sketching in a section of Central Park where there is a statue of Frances Hodgson Burnett and it’s possible that’s where the idea came from. I used the concept to land my third agent on the idea alone. Suffice it to say, the book never truly came together until many years later as AN ISLAND STRANGE AND WILD.

 

2.     As an author who's done the agent-and-trad-pub route and now indie, how has your experience with indie publishing been? 


While it’s been a huge learning curve for me, and sometimes I get a little FOMO and the longing to have someone do everything for me— I actually LOVE the control it affords me. I’m fortunate that I am a professional book cover designer and that I can swap my skills with my close friend, Emily Colin, who is an amazing editor. I find this arrangement both rewarding as well as practical.


That being said, my own experience as a traditionally published author certainly had its upside. I very much enjoyed the early days of my trad-publishing career due to the community it afforded me, along with the wonderful reader events. Some of my former publishing friends are now my cover design clients! However, the downside is the lack of transparency, the lack of control, and most of all the uncertainty. Even though I get an occasional pang of regret for the thrill of validation traditional publishing provides, along with the comfort of having someone to direct my work flow and provide accountability, I then remember that I prefer to be the captain of my own ship.


With indie publishing there is no failure.

With indie publishing there is no failure. There is only the building of a foundation and learning from your past mistakes. You can’t be rejected because you did not meet sales expectations. You can always keep moving forward.



3.     I know you've done quite a bit to build your street team and to market your book. Is there anything that's been particularly fun or useful that you'd want to share with other authors hoping to try the indie path?


First, let me say that there is no one single prescription that will work for everyone, at every time. My number one, most important asset is my small community of writing friends who communicate regularly on a Facebook chat. A few years back, we actually published an indie anthology together. We continue to support each other by beta reading, sharing on social media, and by in general, being supportive and great friends. Quite a few of these lovely folks have been your clients, too! They are a lifeline to me, and I’m not sure what shape my writing career would be in without them.


For the release of An Island Strange and Wild, I was very interested in getting reviews as it was my first completely original indie release. I’d previously re-released Breaking Glass which already had a good base of reviews so I did not seek ARC readers. This was new territory for me and I was as nervous as could be.I started out by posting the cover (which I designed and was very proud of) along with a description and tropes, on a number of Facebook and Goodreads groups that connect ARC readers with authors. I set up a signup form that also asked if the reader was interested in joining a Facebook group for my street team. I then created an ARC campaign on Bookfunnel (an absolutely indispensable tool for indie authors). The interest began to trickle in.


I also hired two paid-for services: Hidden Gems and Book Sirens. Then I began to post regularly on Tiktok asking for ARC readers. In the end, I gathered about 160 readers on my form and got perhaps an additional 20 readers from the paid services. In total, I ended up with about 50 reviews on Amazon and 75 on Goodreads.


While the reviews were great, the result that meant the most to me was the 86 people who joined my private Facebook group. A healthy core of this group became what I call the Wild Islanders, who worked diligently to promote the release of Island. This core group of folks mean the world to me. When I asked if anyone was interested in beta reading the prequel to An Island Strange and Wild, A Promise Bright and Fragile, 17 hands went up. In fact, who do you think helped me name the prequel?


This book is due to be released on June 25 and I know that my team will help me get the word out. So, while it is important and great to have a street team to promote, I think they serve a much greater purpose. They are my sounding board, my most avid readers, who will honestly tell me what they think of everything I plan to release going forward. In return for their hard work, I held a few incentive contests and gave out some fun swag. I’m so grateful to all of them! And while Street Teams are great for release hoopla and moral support, I found that enlisting the expert help of The Writing Wives taught me how to create a single Facebook ad that modestly drives sales in the fifth month of my book’s initial release. Eventually, the prequel will become my writing magnet and will hopefully drive more sales.


As I’d mentioned, indie is a slow build. There is no quick hurray, becoming an overnight sensation. But I feel I have both feet on the road, and am ready for my uphill climb!



4.     What’s your top tip for other writers?

1. Have a support network of other writers you trust who will celebrate your success and cheer you on when you’re feeling discouraged.

2. Do not allow comparison to be the thief of joy.

3. No matter what, no matter how stymied or anxious you feel, KEEP WRITING. For me, it is the ONLY CURE.

 

 

Also, I would be remiss not to mention that my initial consultations with Michelle helped me demystify the process of becoming an indie author. She explained the steps I would need to take, and the order and speed at which I should release my books. I am forever grateful!


 

 Live for today, before the island eats you alive…


When her fellow climate activist and secret crush dies unexpectedly, 18-year-old science prodigy Rosalie Gatell ditches her prestigious summer program for the remote, uncharted island where he was born. There, she discovers shocking secrets about her own past—and an island that defies the laws of nature, complete with a vanishing walled garden, a miraculous healing plant, and an unknown aunt trapped in a tree. But nothing confounds Rosalie as much as the enigmatic Liam, a reckless and beautiful island boy with a supernatural green thumb.


Falling for Liam is the worst idea imaginable, especially since he’s under a diabolical curse—but Rosalie can’t help herself. The closer she gets to unraveling his secrets and the island’s mysteries, the more she discovers that she possesses unexpected abilities of her own. But there’s no time to revel in her newfound magic. An ancient evil is stalking Salttain Island. And Rosalie will have to rely on her powers, instead of logic or science, to free Liam from his curse while keeping the corrosive threat from consuming her and everyone she’s ever loved.


Dive into this lush, haunting, romantic fantasy retelling of The Secret Garden, where no one is what they seem, and one wrong move can cost you your life.  



 

Lisa Amowitz is the author of An Island Strange and Wild, a young adult romantasy, a loose retelling of The Secret Garden, released February 2024. She will be releasing the prequel, A Promise Bright and Fragile in June 2024, and the second book in the planned trilogy later in the fall. In addition, Lisa has three other young adult novels, Until Beth (2015), Vision (2014), and Breaking Glass (2013). She also has a short story in the YA anthology, Unbound: Stories of Love, Transformation and Monsters. Lisa is the cover designer for all of her books, as well as the co-designer for Unbound. She recently re-released her book Breaking Glass in 2022, and audiobook version of Breaking Glass in 2023.


You can find out more on her website at: https://www.lisaamowitz.com/

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