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Sunday, April 22, 2012

Independent bestsellers

"Self-pub" is out. "Indie" is in.

And there are two indie books on the NYT fiction (print and eBooks) list this week.

At number 7, having raced out of nowhere, is On the Island by Tracey Garvis-Graves.

And at number 10, rising fast from its number 15 slot last week, is The Marriage Bargain by Jennifer Probst.

On the Island is billed as adventure. In this book,  30-year-old school teacher moonlighting as the tutor of a 17-year-old lad is stranded with him on an uninhabited island, after their seaplane has a heart attack. The plot sounds fairly ho-hum, being an account of how they managed the castaway experience, with a racy hint of the sexual problems that lie ahead. 

What is remarkable is Ms. Garvis-Graves's own resourcefulness.  She published via createspace, and then launched herself into an intensive publicity campaign. Currently #1 in its category on, On the Island was promoted with a video trailer, lively blogging, the snaring of lots of good reviews from online magazines and other indie authors, and a virtual book tour. 

The author's energy has paid off handsomely, providing an excellent model for other ambitious indie writers. A good start would be a good look at her vivacious website.

The background of The Marriage Bargain is very interesting indeed. Jennifer Probst published through Entangled Publishing, which appears to have a much closer relationship with its clients than other outlets for indie authors. Set up by a team of dedicated professionals, they go about the production of a book in an apparently very businesslike fashion.

They only produce romances, some -- like The Marriage Bargain --with a paranormal element. Thus, at the start of this book, the protagonist, bookstore owner Alexa, casts a spell for a man with lots of money.  And guess why she needs the money -- to save the ailing bookstore, of course.

Having cast this spell, she expects the hero to walk through the door. Instead, it's her best friend, who has a brother who has broken Alexa's heart in the past.

But that doesn't signify, as she's not in search of love. And this bloke seems to have been sent from heaven -- he needs a marriage of convenience in order to inherit Dad's fortune.  And so a marriage bargain is struck, where they pretend to be married for a year, no intimacy, no strings attached.

Well, for anyone who has idled away an afternoon with a book from Harlequin or Mills and Boon -- or enjoyed the movie The Green Card, for that matter -- this is a predictable plot, as well.

Apart from the expertise of the producers of the book, what seems to be in Jennifer Probst's favor is that she had a loyal following already.  See her website for more.

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