Author's Perseverance Leads to Success
BY FAYE M. DASEN
"The Richest Season," Maryann McFadden's first book, originally self-published, was purchased at auction by Hyperion Books and released to national acclaim.
That success led to another novel, "So Happy Together," and now her third, "The Book Lover."
McFadden will be at The Country Bookshop Friday, June 8, at 11 a.m. to discuss her tale of love, loss and, of course, books!
Ruth Hardaway has had one passion all her life: books. For the last 30 years she's devoted her life to her store, The Book Lover, trying to bury her painful past.
Lucinda Barrett has lost everything in a life-shattering betrayal. Desperate, she goes after one last dream - to be an author. Alone and broke, she embarks on a 1,000-mile journey, from bookstore to bookstore, eventually landing on Ruth's doorstep. Ruth takes Lucy under her wing, championing her book and even offering her refuge at a nearby lake cabin.
As the two women grow closer, Lucy strikes up an unlikely friendship with Ruth's son Colin. And she begins to think of Ruth as the mother she's always wished for. For Ruth, Lucy is the one person she can confide her secrets. Or so she thinks.
As each woman begins to face her past, and the repercussions that still haunt her today, happiness finally seems within their grasp. But neither has any idea that their toughest decisions lie ahead. Or that their friendship is about to fall apart - because of a little white lie.
McFadden's journey, like Lucinda's, could be considered a long one.
"My ordeal in trying to get my novel taken spanned six years in total," McFadden says on her website. "'The Richest Season' was shelved in a closet no less than three times, as I became frustrated and gave up on the publishing world again and again."
But as a big birthday approached, McFadden says she began to do some soul searching.
"I wanted to keep writing," she says. "I didn't want to give up. But what defined success to me as a writer? To be read! And to move people when they read my work. I wanted 'The Richest Season' to be out there in reader land, for people to know about Joanna, Grace and Paul, three characters who I believed deserved to live in reader's imaginations. I wanted them to fall in love with Pawleys Island, as I had more than 20 years ago."
So McFadden took a gamble: She self-published the book.
"I found a small print-on-demand publisher in California which I'd never heard of, and I was hoping no one else had either," she says. "I wanted the book judged on its own merits, not with the stigma I knew it would carry if the truth were known."
"The Richest Season" debuted in May 2006.
"I immediately orchestrated a book launch at a local college," she says. "I was now feeling like a bit of a fraud, as it got lots of hype in the local media and most people seemed to have no idea it was self-published. I had no idea how many would show up. Despite a torrential downpour and with little parking nearby, I managed to fill the parlors. I went on to sell over 100 books that night."
McFadden had to pound the pavement because getting a bookseller to read a self-published book isn't easy.
"The big stores and chains simply won't," she says. "So I focused on the independents. I not only got them to read it, once they did, many asked me to come in for signings."
McFadden continued to market her novel for the next eight months before finally signing with the Victoria Sanders Agency.
Victoria Sanders met McFadden with a smile, assuring her that with the addi tion of a little more material, she was confident the book would sell both here and in overseas markets.
"She then sent copies of the manuscript to major publishers in New York," McFadden says. "Meeting some of them in their offices, hearing their compliments on my writing, character development, etc., well ... it was surreal!"
Shortly afterward, Sanders decided to hold an auction for the rights to "The Richest Season."
"It was an exciting and nerve-wracking afternoon, waiting for her call," says McFadden. "When it came, I was thrilled to learn that Hyperion Books won, offering me a two-book hardcover deal. This was it! After years of rejection, I was the real deal!"
In 2009, McFadden's second novel, "So Happy Together," debuted in hardcover. Both novels were Indie Next Picks, as is her new novel, "The Book Lover."
McFadden is also taking on a new career: that of writing coach.
"My advice to aspiring writers with a dream is work hard, persevere and believe," she says.
Contact Faye Dasen at fdasen@ thepilot.com or (910) 693-2475.
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