Rebecca Hamilton’s first work of fiction was a short story in elementary school about King Midas. She added this twist: everything he touched turned to chocolate. “In the end, he turned himself into chocolate and a dog ate him,” she says.
In January, the 27-year-old Florida-based mother of three with no prior writing experience published her debut novel, The Forever Girl. And some of her peers in the indie writing community regard her as having the “golden touch.”
In six months, her best-selling paranormal fantasy novel has sold more than 6,000 copies. (To put this in perspective, a book is a Canadian bestseller if it sells 5,000 copies and that could take years.) She has almost 70,000 followers on Twitter and 300 reviewers have rated the book mostly five-stars on Amazon. “I expected to sell a few copies and figured that would be better than selling none,” she says.
People invariably ask her how she has done this in a market so saturated with independent writers jostling for attention. The golden touch, according to Hamilton, is simple: do the work.
“I guess people ask because it was an unusual response. But really, I swear, it’s just my unhealthy obsession to working to get word out there,” she says. “I wish there was some kind of magic potion.”
What does this unhealthy obsession look like? Almost 40,000 Tweets in two years. That averages out to more than 50 Tweets a day. She also takes part in blog tours and provides giveaways. She’s currently offering an e-reader on her website in return for promotion.
The Forever Girl follows the adventure of a young Wiccan woman who is plagued by mysterious voices in her head. The book won the Reader’s Choice Awards at the inaugural Blogger Book Fair in the paranormal and new adult categories. She wrote the novel in six weeks and spent more than three years preparing it for publication. After a year of “close calls” with agents and publishers, she decided to be an independent author.
“No one wanted to take a risk. And Sophia being Wiccan made her unlikable. And my fantasy wasn’t ‘fantasy-enough,’” she says. “I decided to take matters into my own hands. I figured if I was getting that much initial interest (agents and publishers were contacting me without me soliciting them) then maybe readers would be interested in my book.”
And they are. Readers are eagerly anticipated the second book in the series. It’s due out in January 2013. Her novella, Her Sweetest Downfall, is out now.
Her best advice for authors: “Enjoy their family and friends, read, write, edit, and engage with their readers.” It is simple advice — but worth its weight in gold.