For What It's Worth

Friday, October 5, 2012

Saturday Spotlight: Merrie Destefano–Fathom

Welcome to Saturday Spotlight. A feature hosted by Tina’s Book Reviews as a way of shining the light on Indie/Debut/Self Published authors. Each week I’ll have a guest post written by a featured author.

Today I’m welcoming author Merrie Destefano, who recently took the path of self publishing after being traditionally published. She shares her difficult, yet rewarding path in bringing FATHOM to her readers. It has great early reviews over on Goodreads!

Follow the FATHOM Blog Tour here.

Fathom Cover low res

Making Tough Decisions
By Merrie Destefano

Writers make difficult decisions, every day of the week. Should I kill this character; should I let these two characters fall in love? Should this book be a stand-alone or the beginning of a series? Should I set this story in Kansas or Canada or Connecticut? While most of our choices revolve around a current work-in-progress, there are other decisions that need to be made, as well.

Things like, ‘Am I writing for the right market’ or ‘Should I quit my day job’ come up frequently. As well as the familiar, ‘Do I really have what it takes to be a writer.’

However, the most difficult decision I had to make recently wasn’t any of these. It was the decision to self publish one of my novels.

See, I wrote my first young adult novel about a year and a half ago. It completely surprised me. I already had two adult books published (Afterlife and Feast, both by HarperVoyager) and I never planned to write YA. But then this character and this story came out of nowhere and I HAD to write it. The character had a such haunting voice and compelling story, that she wouldn’t let me rest until I did.

Writing that book changed everything, though. I ended up switching agents, since my then-current agent didn’t personally represent YA, and then after much editing of that book and shopping it, my next-agent and I parted ways after a year. A year and a half after writing this book, I was suddenly alone, with this gorgeous manuscript taking up room on my hard drive. At the same time, other books similar to mine were now being published; they were cropping up on Amazon and on bookstore shelves, people were talking about them on Twitter and blogs—books that were purchased back when mine was being shopped. I finally realized that if my YA book was ever going to reach an audience, it needed to be now, when public interest for this type of fiction was strong.

You’d think that the decision to indie publish would have been a no-brainer, what with all the current praise and acceptance of self-publishing and e-books.

It wasn’t. I’m probably like every other author in the universe, in that aspect. I over-think everything.
I worried, What if this is end of my career, instead of being my YA debut? What if no agent ever wants me now? What if no editor will ever publish another one of my books?

I had plenty of things to think about, things that kept me awake at night and kept me distracted during the day.

But ultimately, it was the voice of the main character that convinced me—Kira Callahan, the sixteen-year-old protagonist in FATHOM. Her story was too beautiful, too timely, too important for me to keep it locked away inside my hard drive. This book would either successfully launch my YA career or quietly sit in the shadows unnoticed, but it could not be set aside any longer.

I used to be a graphic designer and illustrator before I became a writer and editor, so I designed my own cover and formatted the interior pages of the manuscript. I contacted blog owners and requested reviews, offered guest posts and interviews and giveaways. I knew that if I did all the promotion and marketing on my own it would take a lot longer for the book to gain public attention. But I also soon discovered that there were readers out there who loved this story as much as I did. I’ve already received some excellent advance reviews. Plus, back when this book was being shopped to the traditional publishing houses, there were a few editors who liked it. One in particular wanted to buy it, but eventually couldn’t because their publishing house already had something too similar.

The indie road may not be an easy one, but for authors like me who have books they really believe in, it’s a welcome road. It may have been a tough decision to start on this path, but I’m not going to look back. I’m looking ahead at the mountain I’m climbing, one step at a time.

And I’m excited for the journey.

Merrie Destefano by barnBio: With twenty years’ experience in publishing, Merrie Destefano left a 9-to-5 desk job as the editor of Victorian Homes magazine to become a full-time novelist. Her first two novels, Afterlife: The Resurrection Chronicles and Feast: Harvest of Dreams were published by HarperVoyager. Fathom is both her first YA novel and her first indie published novel. When not writing, she loves to camp in the mountains, walk on the beach, watch old movies and listen to alternative music—although rarely all at the same time. Born in the Midwest, she now lives in Southern California with her husband, their two German shepherds and a Siamese cat.

Everything is changing . . .

Fathom Cover low resTurning sixteen can be hell, especially if everyone in town thinks your mother killed herself and your sister. All Kira Callahan wants to do is swim, hang out with her best friend, Sean, and ignore the kids who torment her at school. That is, until one day when she gets invited to a party. For three minutes her life is wonderful—she even kisses Sean. Then somebody spikes her drink and some girls from out of town lure her into the ocean and hold her underwater.

Kira soon discovers that the group of wild teenagers who have come to visit Crescent Moon Bay are not as innocent as they seem. In fact, nothing is as it seems—not the mysterious deaths of her sister or her mother, not her heritage, not even her best friend. And everything seems to hinge on the ancient Celtic legends that her mother used to tell her as a child. ~ Amazon

 Fathom excerptAuthor websiteAuthor blog  Twitter | Facebook | Author’s HarperCollins micro author site


  1. Awesome-awesome spotlight. The book sounds really great, Im going to put on the TBR...:)

  2. It's so interesting that an already published author would then take the self-pub route but it's great to hear that it was a good experience, too! The premise for Fathom sounds great, too!

  3. Thank you so much for sharing. I really enjoyed today's post. Definitely will be checking out Fathom :)

  4. Great post. I can imagine it would be really difficult to suddenly decide to self-publish. It really can be a tought road, but kudos to you. The book sounds quite good!


  5. Merrie is such a good writer. Even her posts are enjoyable. I have already purchased this book and hope to get to it soon!