Thursday, January 15, 2009

One Year (or so) Later - Amanda Ashby

Amanda Ashby wrote my favorite book of 2007, the only one that made me cry, YOU HAD ME AT HALO. She accomplished something that was really hard. She took this concept that I didn't really buy into, but nevertheless, I bought her book. It turned out to be something completely unexpected. And wonderful. If she can keep making books that yank tears out of me (none of the 2008 books managed this), I'll keep buying her books. The crazy thing is, her books are funny, not weepy. So when I saw the delicious blurb for ZOMBIE QUEEN OF NEWBURY HIGH, I knew I had to have it. (No, it's not about an undead protagonist, despite the title.) Here are her thoughts about the last year and a half.
Wow, it seems so strange that my debut book YOU HAD ME AT HALO has been out in the world for over a year now. Since then it’s been an interesting time. I guess the best thing about it is that my book really did come out, since I’d had a secret fear that something would suddenly go horribly wrong (like I’d wake up from a dream and discover that I’d made the whole thing up!!).

Because of my physical location – I live in New Zealand and my book came out in the US – I didn’t really do much promotion for it apart from online interviews/blog tours etc. To be honest, I think this worked out well because the idea of having to do book signings for any sort of face-to-face interview leaves me feeling weak at the knees.

There have been quite a few highlights since my book came out. At the top of the list were some of the reviews I received. A really great one from Publisher's Weekly where they described it as ‘Bridget Jones meets Lovely Bones’. Never in a million years would I have been cheeky enough to even think of my book in those terms so their quote made me feel pretty incredible. The other great thing was not only getting a 4½ star TOP PICK from Romantic Times Bookclub, but I was also nominated for a reviewer’s choice award. I didn’t win, but since it’s one of the few awards where you don’t have to actually have to enter, I was really blown away by it.

Another great thing was when I went over to the RWA conference in San Francisco, I got to see my book in Borders for the very time. That was special (not least since it had almost been out for a year and I didn’t know if they’d even have it in stock!!!!). AT the conference I got to take part in the RWA literacy signing and my publisher also had a book signing there which was great. I had so much fun and I actually had real life readers come up and say that they’d liked my book – that rocked (and I can’t forget that I got to meet my very own lovely stalker, Laura. I definitely recommend that every author get themselves a Laura!!)

My other favorite thing was getting to meet so many great bloggers/reviewers like Tia, who gave me so much support. Knowing that there were people out there who not just liked my book but were willing to say so out loud gave me such an incredible feeling that hasn’t been forgotten.

Oh, and one final highlight. I do a bit of part time work at my local library and on my very first week there, a woman came up to the counter to check out some books AND ONE OF THEM WAS MINE. Naturally I was very controlled and polite about the whole situation (aka, I screamed like a banshee and terrified the poor woman for the rest of her life – though she hid it quite well and pretended to be excited about it which was very sweet of her!!!!)

However, it’s not all been plain sailing. Learning about how print runs and returns really work can be a bit depressing and also finding that despite all your best efforts, your book isn’t selling as well you’d like it to, is a bit of a downer. Also, my publisher didn’t buy my option book because the market had changed by the time my first book came out, so that was sad – especially since I really loved that book (about a stressed out bride who had to save the world so that her wedding could go ahead!!!).

Thankfully, just before my debut book came out, I got a contract with Puffin for my young adult books and knowing I had that definitely made everything a lot easier, and now my second book ZOMBIE QUEEN OF NEWBURY HIGH is coming out in about six weeks.

I’d like to say that my experience with Halo, will help me with promoting Zombie, but I have a bad feeling that I’ll still be compulsively Googling my name and checking Amazon rankings despite knowing how ridiculous it is. To be honest I think most authors indulge in these hobbies because they feel so helpless once their books come out and it’s their way of taking back some control. Or, of course the other reason could be that all authors are slightly crazy. Hmmmm...

But over all, I’ve really amazing to know that I’ve got a book out there and I can’t wait to go through it all again. Roll on the fifth of March!

Amanda has promised to stop by and answer comments, so fire away with any questions you have!


Tia Nevitt said...

Thanks for the post Amanda! I think you did a great promotional job considering you did it from afar. Yours is one of the best-run blogs that I follow.

SciFiGuy said...

I picked the book up because it had such a catchy title and was equally delighted with how much fun the book was. I have always loved body switching stories and the comparison to Lovely Bones didn't hurt either. I hope you get a chance to get your other book into print. Best of luck with your YA series.

Tia Nevitt said...

Yeah, I'm kinda curious about the nervous bridesmaid story. I hope you can do something with it!

I didn't know you read Halo, SciFiGuy!

Amanda Ashby said...

Tia - hahaha - I'm blushing now since my blog is completely random with no thought behind it at all!!!! As for my women's fiction book it was called A Bride's Guide to Saving the World and it was so much fun. It had superheroes, lycra and a dastardly villian from outer of space!!!

SciFiGuy - wow - thank you!!!! You've totally made my day!!!!

Thea said...

What an awesome post, thanks Amanda. I've seen ZOMBIE QUEEN in my "upcoming releases" section at amazon and cannot wait for the release! Anything with "zombie" in the title is a sure bet with me ;)

Congrats on your year of being a published author, and I cannot wait to read your upcoming novel.

And, of course, thanks again to Tia for bringing yet another new author to my attention ;)

Amanda Ashby said...

Thea - wow, thank you! I always get ridiculously excited when people have seen my books mentioned somewhere! And I agree, Tia rocks at all the great debuts she does! And, btw, Tia, I just properly read the intro you gave me for Halo - I still love that I'm the girl who made you cry (does that make me a bad, bad person??!!!)

Tia said...

Not at all! I loved every moment!

Sara Hantz said...

Fab interview, and I agree with Tia, Halo is an awesome book!!

Unknown said...

i would kill to read Zombie queen of newbury high

o love your book you had me at halo

Tia Nevitt said...

I can't wait to read Zombie Queen. I just fell in love with the blurb. And the cover.

Amanda Ashby said...

Thanks Sara and Black Roze!!!

Tia - hope you enjoy Zombie - though not sure this one will get you crying!

Lucy said...

Amanda, YOU rock. I'll stalk you any time. ;)

Oh, and so does You Had Me At Halo, one of my top three all time favorite books. Can't wait for Zombie Queen of Newbury High to come out.


Amanda Ashby said...

Hehehehe - Lucy, well you are such a great stalker that I didn't want all your hard work to go unrecognized!!!