My name is Holly Hook, and I am a very desperate writer right now.
I have been publishing young adult fantasy and science fiction ebooks for almost 5 years. During this time I have written and published the five book Destroyers Series, a few short stories, an omnibus, the first two books of the Deathwind Trilogy (of which Twisted is the first book) and I’m getting ready to release the first two books of the Timeless Trilogy as well. Many of my stories are about teens who are much closer to the destructive power of nature than anyone could imagine.
During the last five years I have had mild success with selling these ebooks and I have gathered (mostly) good reviews. I have paid for professional covers, invested in good editors and spent hundreds on marketing. I have written and published perhaps 3 or 4 new titles per year, well more than enough to get some sales momentum going. I write in a popular genre that lots of people read: young adult paranormal and fantasy. My books are all in a series, and series books are supposed to sell well. I have my titles available on every eBook store out there, for every kind of eReader you can imagine. According to conventional wisdom in the author community, I should be selling well and growing every year.
And yet, I only sell a couple of books per day. Total. This does not change no matter what I do. There is no growth. No change. It has been this way for the past four years. My author career is stalled despite “doing everything right.”
I’m not trying to whine here. I didn’t create this post to complain. I’m saying this so you can understand why I am going to do the crazy stuff you’ll read about below. It’s time to do something different. The conventional methods of gaining lots of readers and fans have simply not worked for me.
Some people will call me insane. Some will call me an idiot, I’m sure. That doesn’t matter. What scares me most is the thought of staying obscure for the rest of my writing life.
So what are you going to do?
Right now, I’m looking to get Twisted (#1 Deathwind Trilogy) and its sequel Torn out into the world to be read and enjoyed. Like my other books, they’re professionally edited, generally well received and fall under the Young Adult category. I really love these books, and I don’t feel it’s doing them justice to let them languish in the bowels of several eBook stores where no one can find them.
Here’s what Twisted is about:
Forget the beach. Forget the teacup ride at Disney World. Sixteen-year-old Allie’s going on the vacation of her life: tornado chasing. What can possibly go wrong with that?
A terrifying, magical experience leaves Allie shocked and confused. Once she returns from her summer break, she learns that she now bears an awful curse. She isn’t an ordinary girl anymore.
Every time there’s a storm, she turns into a tornado. Literally.
Allie has no choice but to flee her hometown–if she stays, her new powers could harm or even kill everyone she loves.
With her best friend, Tommy, Allie must return to the plains and find those who made her this way. But her quest to save herself is only the beginning of her adventure. She discovers a society where others share her curse, including a kid named Dorian who hates his elemental abilities just as much as she does. Not only must she risk everything to face those who turned her, but getting close to Dorian will pose its own dangers–dangers that could decide her fate.
Twisted is the first book of the Deathwind Trilogy, a new young adult and teen paranormal romance series. The second book, Torn, is also available. Book Three of the Deathwind Trilogy, Unleashed, will be released in Summer of 2015.
I will admit I have had much trouble getting this book out there and seen, even with ads. At the time of this writing, I’ve only sold a few copies of this book. My sales rank is in the toilet. So I will begin my crazy, scary marketing plan here.
If I sell 2,000 copies of Twisted, I will let a live, fully-grown tarantula crawl on my face.
For a full minute.
I will even post it to my Youtube channel. I’ll share the video on all of my social media. I’ll share it here.
Yes. You will see my face. With a huge, hairy spider on it. It’s a nice warm up for what’s to come…
Wait, shouldn’t you do something that has to do with your novel?
Now, this next one is a far reach. It probably won’t even happen. If I sell 10,000 copies of Twisted, I will do the same thing that got Allie in trouble.
I will go tornado chasing.
I will pay for a professional storm chasing tour, take a trip to Kansas/Oklahoma/Nebraska etc and potentially meet a real, live tornado. Then I will film my experience and share it with all of you.
See that progress bar at the top of the page? Each week, I will tally up my total sales for Twisted and display it there. I already have a few sales of Twisted displayed there. If all goes well (or wrong, depending on how you look at it) the bar will creep more to the right each week.
Welcome to the 10,000 Sales Challenge.
Frequently Asked Questions:
Which book sales will you count towards this Challenge? Does it matter where people buy the book?
I will count all sales of Twisted (with the exception of the Magic Touch Bundle, which gets me almost nothing) towards the total. It doesn’t matter if it’s bought from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Apple, Kobo etc. They will all be counted. I will tally them each week and update the progress bar every weekend.
Please note that some bookstores, like Apple, don’t report sales data right away.
Do you have arachnophobia?
No. I’ve held plenty of tarantulas, including some VERY big ones. But I haven’t let a tarantula ever crawl on my face, either. That will be new.
Isn’t that dangerous, letting a big hairy spider walk on your face?
Not really. The biggest thing I’ll need to worry about is the tarantula’s hairs, which can itch quite badly and cause irritation if you’re not careful. It’s what they used to make itch powder out of! Tarantulas sometimes “fling” their hairs when distressed. It’s their natural defense. I’ll try to choose a spider that doesn’t do this often.
Have you ever been bitten?
Never. Many kinds of tarantulas are very gentle, in fact. I only handle the gentle types. The tarantula in my video will be one of my own.
Will you freak out and drop the tarantula when you do this?
Absolutely not! Tarantulas are very fragile. Even a short fall can kill one. For the safety of my pet, I’ll lie on the floor during filming.
How long will it take you to release your tarantula video after you’ve sold your 2,000th copy of Twisted?
Within two weeks, barring some kind of horrible emergency, accident, etc. There won’t be much prep work involved. I will announce its release at that time.
Okay, that doesn’t sound too dangerous. What if you really do sell 10,000 copies of Twisted? You’re hosed!
I will admit that the thought of facing an actual tornado is pretty scary, even in the presence of professional storm chasers.
And dangerous. Are you a moron?
I have a 40 mile commute to my day job and I live in Michigan, so I do something that’s far more dangerous all the time. It’s called driving on icy roads. No, really. Icy roads kill more people than lightning, hurricanes, and tornadoes combined. That’s right. They really do. Hundreds die each year as a result of this. As far as I know, there have been only 4 deaths as a result of tornado chasing, ever, and all of those were due to one super rare, freak tornado that also happened to be the inspiration for Twisted.
Of course, like with anything else, there is always a bit of risk involved.
Okay. You’re so desperate to sell books that you’ll face a tornado to do it?
Yes, I am.
What will your tornado chasing experience be like?
I cannot guarantee that I will actually witness a tornado, but the chances seem good that it will happen. I will likely be chasing for about a week, perhaps a bit longer to maximize the chances. This depends on the chasing company that I will carefully choose. At the very least, I should see some amazing storms which I’ll share with you once I return home!
What kind of videos will you share with us afterwards?
I’ll do a small video “series” about my adventure in the form of episodes. Think of them as journal entries – some of which have the potential to be quite scary!
Once you hit 10,000 sales of Twisted, how long will it take for you to go through with this insanity?
Tornado season is, at least in the Plains, from May to early July. This is when all of the storm chasing companies run their tours. I have no control over this. Once I reach 10,000 sales of Twisted, I will book a tour as soon as I can. For example, if I hit my goal in October of this year, I’ll book a tour for the following May or June (in 2016.)
Doesn’t it cost thousands of dollars to go on these wild chase tours?
Yes. It’s not cheap. But if I sell 10,000 copies of Twisted, I will have the funds.
You’re going to do the same thing that got your main character into trouble in Twisted. You won’t return home…changed…will you?
Of course not! But if my tour guide’s name is Kyle, I’m getting out of there.