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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Troll dreams - trilling about Trylle

The new slick cover for Trylle book #1.
Self-published books have an unfortunate stigma.

They're often seen as vanity projects, and dismissed by mainstream book reviewers, bookstores and established authors as embarrassing aberrations on the publishing landscape.

Self-financed, often self-edited (or worse, not edited at all - some would say it's more or less the same thing!), and often sporting covers with garish fonts that only a self-published author could love, there often isn't anything to recommend them apart from their content (but hey, that's as it should be, right? Don't judge a book by its cover and all that? Wrong...but anyway...).

The point is those who do bravely dip their toe in the self-publishing waters are already working under a significant disadvantage before they even get to put their wares under the noses of the book-buying public.

That's IF the aforementioned self-published author can convince their local bookstore to stock their title, and let's face it, unless it's something akin to a local history title with a ready-made audience, it can be a hard, and oft-times impossible slog. Shelf space is money.

Anyway, I'm getting slightly off-track because what I really want to write about is modern-day trolls and princesses and love stories that give Stephanie Meyer's Twilight series a run for its money.

I want to write about Trylle. Specifically, the Trylle trilogy (Switched, Torn and Ascend) by Amanda Hocking, a 20-something American author who has also penned Hollowland (an apocalyptic zombie novel) and the My Love Approves series (all about vampires and humans, think Twilight but edgier) among others.

Anyway, Amanda has become something of a media success story with journalists focusing on the thousands of novels sold and millions made via her e-publishing exercise.

Thanks to a cheeky pricing strategy, a solid social media marketing approach and the support of the indie-loving blogging community - and let's not overlook the product, a very good product - Amanda's star has risen quickly.

And she has also filled many would-be writers with a rare kind of hope - there is, apparently, another way to get published, reach an audience and make money. That's if, like Amanda, you can get the recipe right.

But to my mind the most important thing she has done is follow her dream all the way. She believed in herself enough to exhaust every possible avenue to ensure her novels saw the light of day. She gambled. She backed herself. She won.

Intrigued by her publishing success story, I purchased the Trylle trilogy and I've been pleasantly surprised so far. I don't know what I was expecting, but whenever the word 'self-published' is bandied around one can't help but be cautious (and this is from someone who has self-published!).

Sure it's easy to be critical - editing is an issue, but to be fair I have read several books from mainstream publishers of late where words are missing and typos are a not unfamiliar sight. Sweep those concerns aside for a moment, because the essence of any book is, of course, the story. Typos be damned, the story rocks.

Sure maybe she's not the most technically brilliant writer around, but I like her style - it's relaxed and pitch-perfect for her target YA audience.

Her story ideas are original and engaging.

Her characters are suitably tortured and exciting.

And for a Gen Xer '80s tragic, there's more John Hughes references than you can poke a stick at!

Need I say more? Get thee to Trylle!

* Since I first wrote this review Ms Hocking has signed a deal with St Martin's/Macmillan and taken her Trylle series (and a suite of other titles) mainstream.

The original cover for Trylle book #1, designed by Amanda - I really liked it!

By RR with No comments


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