About the Book:
Alex Kosmitoras’s life has never been easy. The only other student who will talk to him is the school bully, his parents are dead-broke and insanely overprotective, and to complicate matters even more, he’s blind. Just when he thinks he’ll never have a shot at a normal life, a new girl from India moves into town. Simmi is smart, nice, and actually wants to be friends with Alex. Plus she smells like an Almond Joy bar. Yes, sophomore year might not be so bad after all.
Unfortunately, Alex is in store for another new arrival—an unexpected and often embarrassing ability to “see” the future. Try as he may, Alex is unable to ignore his visions, especially when they begin to suggest that Simmi is in danger. With the help of the mysterious psychic next door and new friends who come bearing gifts of their own, Alex must embark on a journey to change his future.
In this enthralling debut novel, Emlyn Chand creates a world in which friendship, perseverance, and a handful of psychic powers come together to fight against what appears to be the inevitable and all-too dangerous future. This is a book you won’t want to put down—even after you finish it!
About the Author:
Emlyn Chand has always loved to hear and tell stories, having emerged from the womb with a fountain pen grasped firmly in her left hand (true story). When she’s not writing, she runs a large book club in Ann Arbor and is the president of author PR firm, Novel Publicity. Emlyn loves to connect with readers and is available throughout the social media interweb. Visit www.emlynchand.com for more info. Don’t forget to say “hi” to her sun conure Ducky!
Welcome, Em, to Reads, Reviews, Recommends. You're certainly not a stranger to this blog. I've already interviewed you on blogging, and now, I'm very proud to have you over again, and this time, it's for your upcoming YA paranormal release Farsighted. We have much to talk about today, so I want to start by asking you why you've decided to self-publish Farsighted when you already have an agent?
Great question, Kate. I actually sat down to blog about this but instead of coming up with a succint answer, I wrote this giant analogy comparing self-published authors to Salem witches. How much further off-topic can you get? :-P
So anyway, let me explain that decision. About a year ago, I thought the only way to be a writer was to land an agent and get a traditional publishing contract, which is what a lot of aspiring writers think. Then in December of last year, I started my blog and, more importantly, became addicted to Twitter. Within a couple of weeks, I amassed a pretty large following. Just like that. A few months in, I realized I had a unique gift for social media and launched my book marketing business, Novel Publicity. One month after that, my business made enough to sustain me, and I was able to quit my lackluster day job. Since then, I've only been getting better at managing social media and using it to promote my clients' books and my own blog.
My star client, Terri Giuliano Long, reached 10,000 copies sold on her self-published manuscript because of all the work we put into marketing it. Success like this is practically unheard of, indie or not. What this showed me is that the publishing industry is not only changing - it's changed. I'm not really sure there is any benefit to being traditionally published anymore, especially if you're an author who has the know-how and financial/time resources to A) professionally edit your books, B) get a stellar cover designed, and C) market your work.
With all of that in mind, it didn't really make sense for me to seek traditional publication for Farsighted. I don't want to discount traditional publishing altogether, so I still will try to publish through my agent down the road. But, a condition of my signing with him was that I get the Farsighted series as my own. Who knows, I may never need to go traditional. I <3 the indie world dearly!
The world of publishing is changing everyday, but you have to admit that there are still writers out there who are hesitant about entering into indie publishing. You have the support of Novel Publicity backing your marketing push for Farsighted. For those who might not have the resources, what advise can you give them? Where can they start in terms of building a web presence?
That is the million dollar question and one I'm constantly trying to answer on the Novel Publicity Free Advice blog. One post in particular covers my best attempt at an answer, "Indie authors can succeed." It's a two-part post with a breakdown of what authors can and should do to get their books ready for publication and promote them before and after the fact. First you need to write the best book you can, then package it in a way that will appeal to readers making absolute sure it's professionally edited and has a compelling cover, start building a web presence through social media and create a site that represents you and your brand, learn more about your target audience and interact with them as much as possible, enter writing contests, sponsor reading contests, collaborate with other authors, diversify your efforts, be creative. And most importantly, never give up and don't lose yourself in the process. Sounds simple, right? ;-)
It does sound simple. But sometimes the processes can be daunting. I guess, taking things one step as a time helps. You mentioned branding in your previous answer. I believe that branding yourself is important in succeeding when publishing. So, what do you believe is your brand and how is it connected to Farsighted?
Well, in marketing your book, you’re really marketing yourself as an author. You need to make it clear to the reader what type of writer you are and what they can expect from you. Don’t send mixed signals or try to embody two competing concepts at once. If you look over my website, you should readily notice that I write for a young adult audience. I’ve designed the entire site around that; my blog style is also light and casual, like my fiction.
YA has evolved as a genre in recent years. It doesn't necessarily cater to teens anymore. More and more adults pick up YA novels. So, tell us a little about the genesis of Farsighted and why it would appeal to both young and young at heart readers?
Everything started with a single image—my face in these tacky oversized sunglasses reflecting out at me from the car’s side mirror. I was daydreaming while my husband drove us across Michigan for my sister’s wedding. Something about my image really struck me in an almost horrific way. I felt the glasses made me look blind but found it so weird that there was still a clear image within them; it seemed so contradictory. At the time, my book club was reading The Odyssey, which features the blind Theban prophet, Tieresias. I started thinking about what it would be like to have non-visual visions of the future and began forming a modern Tieresias in my mind. Lo and behold, Alex Kosmitoras was born.
I think the cross-demographic appeal of the Young Adult genre has to do with the relatability of the themes explored. Everyone who made it through teendom remembers that desperate desire to find themselves and to find friends who intrinsically understand them. Even when taking a situation so other-worldly—a blind psychic on a quest to prevent a murder—there is still so much the reader can relate to when considering how Alex views his situation and how he deals with it. This factor of relatability is also what makes books like Twilight, Hunger Games, and Harry Potter so haunting—how can a time and a place so unlike our own seem so familiar? It’s something about the genre. Something special.
I agree with you there, Em! Even if we're taken into the forests of Forks or the arena created by the Capital or Hogwarts, the themes and teen issues that are prevalent in these novels resonate among readers, young and old. So, tell us a little more about Alex. What are his motivations within Farsighted?
I think readers will identify with Alex and his desire to be accepted but to also remain independent. In high school, he’s the person on the periphery—always different, which is both a challenge and a mark of pride. He’s shaped by his own way of looking at the world too—his blindness. Of course, Alex has always been blind; he’s always known the world to be a certain way. But not everyone in the book understands that, and they have trouble talking about it with him. Alex has a tendency to overcompensate. He knows who he is and what he’s capable of, and he wants the world to know it too, so sometimes he overdoes things a bit. His primary motivation is to figure out how he can save Simmi—the first friend he’s made in a long time. He has to grapple with his powers and learn how to use them to accomplish this goal, but it’s not easy.
Alex is blind. That seems to be what makes his character different from other protagonists. There aren't many YA novels that feature a main character with a disability. Was it hard to write from the perspective of a blind person? What kind of research did you do to make sure that the novel would be authentic in terms of Alex's blindness?
Writing a blind character was hard, but I think writing any character is hard. It’s such a daunting task to create a-whole-nother person! It was especially challenging to write Alex’s story in first person point-of-view, because I couldn’t describe anything visually. Sometimes I would slip and add in a non-verbal gesture here or there—my beta readers loved finding those and nailing me on ‘em (thank you, beta readers). On the whole, I think this experience made me a much better writer. I had to create an entire world without my dominant sense. This meant I had to slow down and truly think about how a line of dialogue was being delivered, or how a quilted bedspread felt to the touch, or what a specific person’s skin smells like. It got easier as I went along. And, yes, you better believe I did research. I read books and online articles about how blind students go about their days. Early on, you’ll see how Alex’s school experience differs from what yours or mine might’ve been like—but it’s really more similar than it is different.
Let's shift gears a little and talk about marketing. What are your plans when it comes to marketing Farsighted?
Oh my gosh, I’m going crazy on this marketing campaign. I’m putting everything I’ve got into it—and remember, I own a book marketing company, so I’ve got a lot! I started with making a live action book trailer that embodied the book and will hopefully be a great advertisement (I really like it). I also worked with our graphic designer to create a cover and interior design for the novel that is visually interesting all around – no boring back cover and spine for Farsighted, oh no. I’ve been recruiting early reviewers from Novel Publicity’s blog tour program and from prominent YA blogs across the web. I plan to have between 100 and 200 reviewers cover Farsighted during its first month. I’m hiring three outside blog tour companies to run supplemental tours and get even more coverage. I’m doing advertising on key websites like Kindle Nation and Parajunkee. I’m also doing Pay-per-Click advertising on GoodReads, YouTube, and Facebook. I’m networking with other authors to plan cross-promotional activities, and then there’s my mainstay: social media.
Wow! I would say that you have a total media blitz in your hands. But if we were to think in terms of marketing 101, how would you simplify the process for those who might not have the funds or the support of a business? What are the things indie authors can do when marketing their own novel?
This is a question I intend to blog about with a great deal of transparency. As I go along, I will post updates as to what I’m doing and how it’s working. My story will either serve to empower or warn others who might want to go indie—depends on what happens with Farsighted. I already blog tons of social media advice on the Novel Publicity Free Advice Blog, and social media is a great place to start for authors whether or not they have any semblance of a workable budget. Another strategy that costs nothing is contacting bloggers, especially if you can find ones who are willing to review eBooks. Yes, both of these things will take tons and tons of time, but they’re so worth it!
As in everything that we do, especially us writers, everything does take time. Em, you're not just a writer. You are also a business woman, one who is conquering the social media world one social networking site at a time. What made you decide to start Novel Publicity beside just concentrating on your writing?
Novel Publicity almost happened by accident. I started writing blog-style content a couple of years back when I was recruited by the local paper as a “book expert” because of the large classics book group I run (almost 400 members now). They let me write about books, liked my stuff, and made me the lead columnist. After a year-and-a-half of that, I discovered WordPress and Twitter. Both utilities felt like they were just made for me! I decided to combine the two as a way of getting more interaction in the twittersphere and more content for my blog – and thus the twitterview was born (you can read all about twitterviews here). I ask you, what author doesn’t love free and highly visible promo? I don’t know of any! And thus, the twitterview took off hard and fast. Other writers began to look to me as a social media expert, and I began blogging how-to advice. One day I decided to learn more about monetizing my blog and saw that one way to make money was to sell products or services. I got the idea for helping authors with social media marketing and within one month, I launched Novel Publicity. A month after that, I was making more money with NP than I did with my day job, so I quit and became a full-time publicist. I work about 100 hours per week, but I just love what I do. My whole life is books—what could be better?
You're absolutely right, what could be better? On that note, let’s bring this interview to a close. As a writer and as a business woman, what are your final words for our dear readers?
Never give up on your dreams; you have them for a reason.
I just love that! Thank you so much for answering my hard hitting questions, Em. It was a pleasure having you visit my little slice of the Net. And dear readers, if you want a copy of Farsighted for review, make sure to stop by on October 31 for the official Review Request to be posted. It's certainly a great treat to have in your plastic pumpkin!
Blog Tour Notes
THE BOOK: Alex Kosmitoras may be blind, but he can still “see” things others can’t. When his unwanted visions of the future begin to suggest that the girl he likes could be in danger, he has no choice but to take on destiny and demand it reconsider. Get your copy today by visiting Amazon.com’s Kindle store or the eBook retailer of your choice. The paperback edition will be available on November 24 (for the author’s birthday).
THE CASH PRIZES: Guess what? You could win a $100 Amazon gift card as part of this special blog tour. That’s right! Just leave a comment below saying something about the post you just read, and you’ll be entered into the raffle. I could win $100 too! Please help by voting for my blog in the traffic-breaker poll. To cast your vote, visit the official Farsighted blog tour page and scroll all the way to the bottom. Thank you for your help with that.
THE GIVEAWAYS: Win 1 of 10 autographed copies of Farsighted before its paperback release by entering the giveaway on GoodReads. Perhaps you’d like an autographed postcard from the author; you can request one on her site.
THE AUTHOR: Emlyn Chand has always loved to hear and tell stories, having emerged from the womb with a fountain pen grasped firmly in her left hand (true story). When she’s not writing, she runs a large book club in Ann Arbor and is the president of author PR firm, Novel Publicity. Emlyn loves to connect with readers and is available throughout the social media interweb. Visit www.emlynchand.com for more info. Don’t forget to say “hi” to her sun conure Ducky!
MORE FUN: There's more fun below. Watch the live action Farsighted book trailer and take the quiz to find out which character is most like you!