“Discovered on Publisher’s Web Site, Aspiring Author Signs Book Deal.” Now there’s an attention-grabbing headline! Thanks to my dear friend CJ, I can pass along the scoop. Just a few weeks after Kerry Shafer uploaded writing samples on Bookcountry.com, a site launched by Penguin Group USA in 2011, she landed a two-book deal with Ace Books, a Penguin Imprint.
An aspiring author no more, how did Kerry hit the writer jackpot? Here’s what happened. A mental health professional by day, Kerry writes genre fiction. When Bookcountry.com launched, she was an early user. She posted chapters of an unpublished novel which attracted comments from other site users, but not a peep from agents or publishers.
Unfazed, Kerry tried again and posted selections from another project of hers called Between, a fantasy novel about a woman who must destroy a powerful sorceress. This time around, she attracted the attention of a literary agent browsing on the site. After reading ten pages of Between, the agent invited Kerry to make a submission and took her on as a client. A few weeks later, Kerry had a two-book deal in hand.
What is Bookcountry.com, you might ask? It’s an “active community” of writers, readers, and publishing professionals that encourages aspiring authors to submit original genre fiction in categories like romance, mystery, sci fi, and fantasy. As members of the community, they can submit works in progress, receive feedback from other users, raise writing issues they need help with, and find tips on the craft and business of writing. The site is free and community members are encouraged to be active and involved.
Exploring the site, I also found that there’s a major self-publishing capability which seems well-organized and sophisticated. I’m not sure how much marketing support is provided, though. There’s also the issue of protecting your work if you submit it on-line, which the site addresses directly in a copyright section.
If you’re writing genre fiction, you might want to take a trip to Bookcountry.com. Kerry Shafer certainly hit the bulls eye, though she never really expected to land an actual book deal from her postings on the site. “You always hope,” she said. “You always have in the back of your mind that maybe something like this will happen. It was an act of faith on my part.” Write on, Kerry!