I recently read the book On The Island by Tracey Garvis Graves. Admittedly, my primary reason for reading it was my fascination with this author’s path to publication. This is a woman who, after slugging it out trying to get her novel published via the traditional route, decided to self-publish. Now, publishing a novel yourself–if you’re hoping for any degree of success–is notoriously difficult. The biggest obstacle: without the backing of a traditional publishing house, how the heck is anyone going to hear about your book?
Well, Tracey got her butt in gear and self-promoted like crazy. And didn’t she go on to sell 365,000 books…all by herself? This is virtually unheard-of, in terms of self-pubbed fiction. This is her story, in her words, of how she did it.
Of course, as is the way, once agents and publishing houses caught wind of her success, they were all over her…she was contacted by an agent offering representation, and offers from publishers followed. She signed a seven-figure, two-book deal with Penguin, and shortly thereafter, her book was hitting the bookshelves in paperback form. She now gets to add New York Times Bestselling Author to her curriculum vitae.
So…what of the book itself? Well, it’s a terrific read. It’s got a very grabby opening, and I devoured the first several chapters in one sitting. It’s women’s fiction, but it’s also a survival story, a stranded-on-a-desert-island story, a romance. On The Island is not a heavy or overly deep read–and it’s not pretending to be–but it is a compelling, touching, enjoyable story, with two highly sympathetic main characters.
For me, it wasn’t perfect. I found a lot of the tension got sucked out in the latter half and things slowed right down as the plot changed tack (I won’t explain why, no spoilers here!)…but other than that it was a wonderful story.
And, I can absolutely see why there was so much word-of-mouth-buzz around this book–which seems to be the accepted explanation for its wildfire success.
I feel an affinity for Tracey, as I know she wrote her book in the wee hours of the morning before her children woke up and before she had to go to her day job(sounds a little familiar…). And I know all about the torture that is the submission process. I love this come-from-behind story, this Rudy of the publishing world, and I am cheering her on, all the way! She’s a terrific example of a mom chasing her dream, and I love everything about that.
The sort of success she’s experienced is the kind I can only fantasize about. However, with only five months to go before Kensington publishes my debut novel, fantasizing I certainly am.*
(*hmm…did that last bit come out too Yoda?)
Has anyone else read On The Island? What did you think?